Film Review: The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (2020)

Also known as: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (working title), The Very Excellent Mr. Crocodile Dundee, Mr. Dundee (alternative titles)
Release Date: July 17th, 2020 (Australia, New Zealand – Internet)
Directed by: Dean Murphy
Written by: Robert Mond, Dean Murphy
Music by: John Foreman
Cast: Paul Hogan, Rachael Carpani, Jacob Elordi, Chevy Chase, John Cleese, Olivia Newton-John, Reginald VelJohnson, Wayne Knight, Paul Fenech, Shane Jacobson, Kerry Armstrong, Charlotte Stent, Luke Hemsworth, Jim Jefferies, Costas Mandylor, Nancy O’Dell

Clock Sounds Productions Pty, Kathy Morgan International, Piccadilly Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“He’s back, whether he likes it or not.” – tagline

I grew up loving Paul Hogan, which is honestly why I even watched this in the first place. I certainly wasn’t lured in by the trailer or the 4.9 out of 10 on IMDb. But Hogan is a hell of a cool guy and I wanted to give this a shot because I immensely enjoy Crocodile Dundee I and II.

Needless to say, I thought that this was better than a 4.9 but not by a large margin. I enjoyed it, mostly, but it isn’t something that I’ll probably ever watch again. It was certainly better than the mostly terrible Crocodile Dundee III but a hair beneath Hogan’s Almost An Angel.

That being said, it’s nice spending time with Hogan again, as well as some of the other people he brought into this movie like Reginald VelJohnson, John Cleese, Wayne Knight, Chevy Chase and Olivia Newton-John. It’s also chock full of cameos from a lot of Australian celebrities and other friends of Hogan’s.

The plot sees Hogan playing himself and I guess it’s a lot like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where the actor playing himself constantly screws up in every situation. For the most part, though, Hogan means well and not to offend but he either doesn’t fully understand the situation he’s in or someone else is a complete asshole but Hogan is blamed for it – like when the nun gets knocked out, which was due to Hogan protecting himself from an object thrown by a raging imbecile.

Most of the gags are still amusing, even if you see them coming from a mile away.

I thought that was is just a charming and lighthearted picture because of Paul Hogan. But honestly, there’s not much reason to watch it more than once and you should already have a love for its star.

Rating: 5.5/10

Film Review: Next of Kin (1982)

Also known as: Hell House (Philippines English title), Terror Fatal (Brazil English title)
Release Date: April 30th, 1982 (Australia)
Directed by: Tony Williams
Written by: Michael Heath, Tony Williams
Music by: Klaus Schulze
Cast: Jackie Kerin, John Jarratt, Gerda Nicolson, Alex Scott

Filmco Limited, The Film House, SIS, 89 Minutes

Review:

I had never heard of this ’80s Australian horror flick but Joe Bob Briggs did me a solid when he featured it on the most recent season of The Last Drive-In. Man, what a neat treat it was.

The film is basically a haunted house story but then, is it really? We’re never actually sure whether or not the house is full of vengeful spirits or if it’s all being orchestrated by someone sinister.

The house is an old folks home and the main character inherits this place and is left to run it. Upon her arrival there, old people start dropping like flies, as they’re murdered in strange and brutal ways. The woman is obviously in fear of what’s happening and while it appears like the threat is possibly supernatural in origin, we never see evidence of actual ghosts or demons.

What might be a turnoff for some viewers is that this picture is a real slow burn. But as Joe Bob pointed out while hosting this movie, the slow burn movies usually have the best pay offs. In regards to this one, he wasn’t wrong.

The climax is pretty incredible, actually. And it was made even better by how incredible some of the shots were. The scene where the woman is fleeing the house is cinematic perfection. Additionally, the general cinematography is impressive, especially during the final sequence in the house.

After exiting the house, there is the real climax, which takes place in a diner. This whole part of the film is also well shot and greatly executed.

Overall, Next of Kin was a pleasant surprise and immediately moved up near the top of my list of favorite Australian films.

Plus, it also features a young John Jarratt, who would later go on to be the killer in the Wolf Creek films and television series.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Australian horror films.

Film Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

Also known as: Untitled Universal Monster Project (working title)
Release Date: February 24th, 2020 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Based on: characters and concepts by H. G. Wells for The Invisible Man
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Nash Edgerton

Goalpost Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures, 124 Minutes

Review:

“He said that wherever I went, he would find me, walk right up to me, and I wouldn’t be able to see him.” – Cecilia Kass

As a lifelong fan of the Universal Monsters film series and all its reinventions (good and bad), this one just didn’t resonate with me at first glance. I thought the marketing was pretty dull and then it came out just before COVID shoved movie theaters into a flaming dumpster.

I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this, though.

Initially, I wasn’t a big fan of seeing a modernized take on the classic story but honestly, this is just inspired by the original H. G. Wells novel and is very much its own, unique thing.

This takes the Invisible Man formula and brings it in to modern day, showing a psychotic ex-boyfriend using his ability to be invisible to destroy the life of the woman that left him. Since he’s invisible, he obviously does horrible things that only she’s aware of while her friends start to think she’s going insane. As the film rolls on, the scumbag gets more and more ballsy and eventually, people are aware that the woman (now in an asylum) isn’t lying.

Since this takes place in modern times, the Invisible Man in this is a Tony Stark type of inventor that has made a legit stealth camouflage suit. Also, the suit is really f’n cool looking and inventive, being comprised of what appear to be hundreds of small cameras/projectors. The scenes where the suit is partially exposed come off really damn well and the special effects, as a whole, are pretty seamless, believable and impressive.

What I found most impressive about this movie, though, was Elisabeth Moss’ acting. Man, she stepped up to the plate and hit homeruns in just about every scene. What I sincerely appreciate, as a long-time horror fan, is how serious she took the subject matter and put her all into it, giving one of the most believable performances I’ve seen in a horror picture in a really long time.

My only real complaint about the film was the twist ending. I mostly saw it coming and it felt kind of cheap, ending the way it did. At the same time, you really can’t keep the villain alive, as you don’t know what kind of technological tricks he might have up his sleeve.

This doesn’t end in a way that leaves it open for a sequel and I hope there isn’t one, as it would probably diminish the effect of this single, pretty solid picture. Basically, don’t be like Saw.

Now that doesn’t mean that I’d be against other modern takes on the Universal Monsters properties after seeing how well this one was executed. It certainly blew Tom Cruise’s The Mummy out of the water.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the older adaptations of this story, as well as some of the actually good, modern horror flicks.

Film Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Also known as: Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat: Devastation (working titles)
Release Date: April, 2021
Directed by: Simon McQuoid
Written by: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel
Based on: Mortal Kombat by Ed Boon, John Tobias
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Nathan Jones

NetherRealm Studios, Atomic Monster, New Line Cinema, 110 Minutes

Review:

“Throughout history, different cultures all over the world reference a great tournament of champions. That dragon marking, I think it’s an invitation to fight for something known as Mortal Kombat.” – Sonya Blade

Let’s be honest up front, I didn’t expect much from this movie. I think it’s hard to make a great film based off of a fighting game due to the nature of what it is and how many characters need to be balanced. However, this was better than I anticipated and for the most part, I really enjoyed it for what it was.

My only real gripe about the film was the lead actor, who was playing a character that was just made up for the movie. His character doesn’t exist in the games, unless he was wedged into the newest one to justify his presence in this picture.

Beyond the lead, everyone else was pretty decent and enjoyable. I’d have to say that Kano was the best character in the film, though, as that dude was just a complete dick, funny as hell and true to his nature of being a total bastard.

Unfortunately, the best thing about the movie is the opening scene. The studio also leaked this scene early in an effort to entice people to watch the movie. I guess that was a good marketing ploy but everything after that epic, incredible intro is a letdown.

There are still really solid bits sprinkled in throughout the film and I also thought that most of the fight choreography was pretty good. I enjoyed the fights and pretty much liked all of them.

Additionally, I love that this embraced the R rating and stayed true to the spirit of the Mortal Kombat games and gave us some pretty awesome, gory kills and over the top defeats.

All in all, this is a decent video game movie full of solid action, mindless fun and a whole lot of cool, badass shit.

Plus, it’s a better movie than the two from the ’90s.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the other movies based on fighting games, as well as anything else in the Mortal Kombat franchise.

Documentary Review: Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet (2020)

Release Date: January 14th, 2020 (Melbourne, Australia premiere)
Directed by: Torsten Hoffmann, Michael Watchulonis
Written by: Torsten Hoffmann
Music by: Joshua Keddie
Cast: various

3D Content Hub, 86 Minutes

Review:

Those that follow Talking Pulp are probably aware that I’ve watched and reviewed several documentaries on Bitcoin, crypto and blockchain over the last few months. Well, I’ve been kind of looking for the perfect one. The main reason being that I’ve been in the crypto space for awhile but I’d like to find something that I can point newbies towards.

That being said, this is one of the better ones.

This film is a sequel to Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It, which is also directed by Torsten Hoffmann and Michael Watchulonis. I saw that one a few years back and really liked it and I should probably rewatch and review it, as well.

I jumped on this one, though, because it came out in 2020 and it is the most up-to-date documentary on the subject.

I thought that the things explored and laid out in this were well done and it presented a lot of criticism and multiple sides to every topic covered. I felt like the filmmakers didn’t really try to lean one way or the other too much and the viewer is allowed to take what’s discussed here and form their own opinion.

One of the coolest things about this was that it showed the inside of a giant crypto vault buried in a mountain somewhere in Switzerland. What they could actually show was very limited but it was neat seeing how heavily secured the vault was.

This also just looks at crypto from a lot of different angles, all of which I found interesting and informative.

If you want something to watch on the subject to expand your knowledge, this is documentary might be a good start for you.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on cryptocurrency, blockchain or cypherpunk culture.

Film Review: Bloody Hell (2020)

Release Date: September 9th, 2020 (Germany – Fantasy Filmfest)
Directed by: Alister Grierson
Written by: Robert Benjamin
Music by: Brian Cachia
Cast: Ben O’Toole, Caroline Craig, Matthew Sunderland, Travis Jeffery, Jack Finsterer, Meg Fraser

Heart Sleeve Productions, Entertainment Squad, Eclectik Vision, 93 Minutes

Review:

“Hey, you know, what would be funny is if you tore this little asshole’s leg off, and then stuck it to yourself, and then walked upstairs as if nothing was wrong.” – Rex

I kind of just watched this on a whim, not knowing a thing about it, other than it was suggested after I watched Psycho Goreman.

The film is a mixed bag but it’s actually really amusing, fairly unpredictable and the lead actor is charismatic and damn good.

While I’ve seen dozens of psycho family movies and you probably have to, this one is at least fresh and unique. It adds some new ideas to the tired formula that make it a worthwhile experience.

For one, the main character has an imaginary friend that is really just himself. Also, this starts off with his action packed, heroic backstory, which takes up the entire first act but sets the stage for something very different than just being some rando that ended up in some crazy person’s house.

You never really know what all this is leading too, who you can fully trust or what surprises are going to pop up, as there are a few good ones.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot and the details within it because I went into this with no knowledge of the movie and I feel like having too much insight might have diminished the overall experience.

Now this isn’t great and I’m not sure how memorable it will be over time but it’s a solid time waster and better than what modern horror films tend to offer their audience.

This definitely isn’t PG-13 shit. It’s got good, gratuitous violence and with that, some entertaining, balls out sequences.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other psycho family horror movies.

Film Review: Silent Hill (2006)

Also known as: Centralia (fake working title), Terror en Silent Hill (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela)
Release Date: April 20th, 2006 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Christophe Gans
Written by: Roger Avery, Christophe Gans, Nicolas Boukhrief
Based on: Silent Hill by Konami
Music by: Akira Yamaoka, Jeff Danna
Cast: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland

Silent Hill DCP Inc., Davis-Films, TriStar Pictures, 125 Minutes, 132 Minutes (Special Edition Blu-ray, Canada only)

Review:

“When you’re hurt and scared for so long, the fear and pain turn to hate and the hate starts to change the world.” – Dark Alessa

When this came out, it was the film that seemed like it bucked the trend of video game movies being shit, as far as adaptations and overall quality goes.

The Resident Evil films were their own thing and before them we had the Street Fighter movie, Super Mario Bros. and Double Dragon. I would say that the film that actually bucked the trend first, though, was 1995’s Mortal Kombat. However, Silent Hill is a much better film than that one and it works without having knowledge or appreciation of its video game series before seeing it.

In fact, I know several people that saw this film first, which then served as a gateway into the games due to the effect this movie had on them.

I used to watch this quite a bit after I bought it on DVD when it was first released that way. It’s probably been a dozen years since I’ve seen it but my fondness for it was still really strong and I wanted to revisit it. I also want to playthrough some of the earlier games too, which I might in the very near future.

Seeing this now was kind of cool because I was separated enough from it to see it with somewhat fresh eyes. I definitely see the flaws in it more than I did in 2006 but that could also be due to me not being as obsessed with the franchise as I was back then. Subpar sequels in both video games and film took the wind out of this once great property’s sails.

The film adapts elements of the stories from the first two games and sort of merges them while also doing its own thing. So it’s familiar enough for fans to immediately recognize but also takes some interesting turns that allow it to breathe and evolve in a different way.

I like the film’s story quite a lot, even if it does change some key things. Those things don’t break the film as its own body of work, though.

My biggest gripe about the film is the dialogue. It’s not terrible but there are some weird lines and some weird delivery, here and there. I’m not sure if that’s due to a language barrier due to the director, who also co-wrote the film, being French. I don’t know enough about him outside of his finished films that I’ve seen, which aren’t many.

However, the child actress delivers some lines with weird inflections on certain syllables that sound unnatural and a bit off. I don’t necessarily blame her, I blame the direction and the takes that were chosen to be used in the final film.

Overall, she did well essentially playing two different characters that were polar opposites of each other: one being good and innocent and the other being the absolute embodiment of evil. The requirements of her role aren’t easy for most adult actors and she did rather well considering her age and experience.

Moving on, some of the CGI effects look a little dated but for the most part, the film still looks great. There are just a few shots that look kind of weird.

The film as a whole looks incredible, however. Gans has a stupendous eye and from a visual standpoint, he captured the tone and aesthetic of the video game series phenomenally well. I am still really impressed by the scenes where the purgatory world dissolves into the Hell world.

Beyond that, I’m not a big fan of the ending but it fits well within the framework of what Silent Hill is. I guess there is a part of me that wanted something more optimistic but the ambiguous and strange ending leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Also, that’s not a bad thing, some of my favorite movies do that but after the literal hell that the characters went through, it felt like more of a reward was needed.

I liked the cult aspect of the story and I definitely loved their end. As violent and incredibly fucked up as the climax was, it was also satisfying as hell after learning who these people really were. This movie doesn’t simply provide you with sympathy for the Devil, it makes you root for him… or in this case, her.

The last thing I want to mention is the music. The film recycles the score and iconic songs from the video game series. That might not work in the case of most film adaptations but it really amplified the effect of the film and its brooding, disturbing atmosphere. I think that I appreciated it even more now, as I kind of forgot how good the games’ music was.

Silent Hill is, hands down, one of the best horror movies in its decade, which was unfortunately a terrible decade for horror. But I think it would’ve been just as great in earlier decades, regardless of the higher quality of the genre.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: it’s absolutely shitty sequel, I guess. But more importantly, the video game series. Specifically, the first three games.

Film Review: The Punisher (1989)

Release Date: October 5th, 1989 (Germany)
Directed by: Mark Goldblatt
Written by: Boaz Yakin
Based on: The Punisher by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, John Romita Sr.
Music by: Dennis Dreith
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeroen Krabbe, Kim Miyori

Marvel Entertainment, New World Pictures, 89 Minutes, 76 Minutes (heavily cut), 98 Minutes (workprint version)

Review:

“If you’re guilty, you’re dead.” – Frank Castle

While I know that this isn’t as good as the 2004 Punisher movie, this is still my favorite film of the lot and Dolph Lundgren really embodied the version of Frank Castle that I envisioned as a kid in the late ’80s, just discovering Punisher comics.

I loved the fuck out of this movie when I saw it in 1990, once it hit video store shelves in my area. I would’ve loved to have seen it in the theater but I lived in a small town with small theaters that played it safe, didn’t take risks and have now mostly been replaced with better theaters offering more variety… and alcohol.

Dolph Lundgren is just fucking perfect in this and nothing else about the film really matters. Sure, I like Louis Gossett Jr. but he’s kind of a non-event in the picture, as is everyone else, except the mob boss turned vigilante that helps the Punisher fight ninjas in an effort to rescue his kidnapped son.

This wasn’t made by Cannon, it was in fact made by New World, but it has that Cannon vibe to it albeit with an even cheaper budget. Still, its a solid mix of gritty, ’80s action, a badass hero and more ammo wasted than an Argentinian coup.

One sequence that really stands out is where we get to see the Punisher battle a hoard of machine gun ninjas in a decrepit carnival funhouse. Granted, I also loved the big finale that saw our hero and the mobster douche machine gun the crap out of ninjas.

All in all, this is just a badass flick with uber amounts of testosterone, one of the best, most physically intimidating action stars of all-time and it feels true to the source material. It’s certainly better than everything that came after that Thomas Jane Punisher movie. 

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Marvel live-action films pre-MCU.

Film Review: The Phantom (1996)

Release Date: June 7th, 1996
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based on: The Phantom by Lee Falk
Music by: David Newman
Cast: Billy Zane, Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Patrick McGoohan, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Casey Siemaszko, John Capodice

Boam Productions, The Ladd Company, Paramount Pictures, 100 Minutes

Review:

“When darkness rules the earth, America’s in financial ruin. Europe and Asia are on a brink of self-annihilation. Chaos reigns. Like I’ve always said, there is opportunity in chaos. And so, my brothers, I give you… [raises out the first skull] The skull of Touganda. This skull is one of three. When all three skulls are united, they will produce a force more than any army on Earth.” – Xander Drax

A lot of people, myself included, slept on this movie when it came out because even for 1996, it looked hokey and cheap. Granted, it was actually made by a larger studio and it was a more expensive picture than one might think.

I feel like the tone was off for what was becoming the popular trends at the time and that this would’ve fared much better, half a decade earlier. But even really solid comic book movies like The Rocketeer and The Shadow struggled to find an audience before this flick was even greenlit.

While I’ve seen this a few times over the years, I think there are things within it that one can appreciate that would’ve most likely been overlooked in 1996.

To start, this is just a fun adventure movie, a popcorn picture at its core that features good actors, cool characters and period piece sets that show you where most of the budget went.

There is a very pulpy vibe to this and it almost calls back to the tone of old school swashbuckling epics without having any real swashbuckling in it.

It mostly taps into the film serial genre that helped make The Phantom character more of a household name in the ’30s through ’50s. For modern audiences, it will play like a superhero picture with elements of an Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean vibe to it.

While it’s not particularly well-acted, the core cast still give good performances that really show that they’re committed to this film’s pulpy goodness. Treat Williams’ over-the-top antics as the villain are superb and I liked him immensely in this. I also thought that Billy Zane made a really solid Phantom and Kristy Swanson was a good choice for her role. I can’t say that this is Catherine Zeta-Jones’ best work but she did look like she was having a blast hamming it up in this goofy but stylish movie.

The Phantom is far from being a classic in the superhero genre but its much better than a lot of the other offerings in the pre-Dark Knight and MCU era. Frankly, I wish it would’ve done well enough to have had a few sequels but since this felt somewhat dated for 1996, I can’t imagine any sequels connecting with the audience of that era.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other comic book adaptations of the era like The Shadow, Dick Tracy, The Rocketeer and the early, cheap Marvel attempts at live-action.

Film Review: Ghost Rider (2007)

Also known as: El vengador fantasma (several Spanish speaking countries)
Release Date: January 15th, 2007 (Ukraine)
Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Written by: Mark Steven Johnson
Based on: Johnny Blaze by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, Mike Ploog
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Peter Fonda, Brett Cullen, Rebel Wilson

Relativity Media, Crystal Sky Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 110 Minutes, 123 Minutes (Extended Cut)

Review:

“Any man that’s got the guts to sell his soul for love has got the power to change the world. You didn’t do it for greed, you did it for the right reason. Maybe that puts God on your side. To them that makes you dangerous, makes you unpredictable. That’s the best thing you can be right now.” – Caretaker

Even though 2003’s Daredevil received pretty bad reviews, under-performed and left most moviegoers feeling disappointed, it’s director was still given the character of Ghost Rider to adapt into another live-action Marvel movie.

While I liked the Director’s Cut of Daredevil for the most part, Ghost Rider is an atrocious motion picture from top-to-bottom. Honestly, this came out when Nicolas Cage seemed to run out of gas and saw his career trending downward fast. Honestly, this and its sequel could’ve been the nail in the coffin.

This is terribly acted, except for the scenes with Sam Elliott and the minimal appearances by Peter Fonda. They can’t save the rest of the movie, however, as Cage, Eva Mendes and Wes Bentley don’t really seem to give a shit about anything. Even Donal Logue severely under-performed and he’s a guy that I tend to expect a lot from, as he’s proven, time and time again, that he’s a more than capable actor with good range and convincing performances.

The special effects can’t save the film either, as they’re generally pretty generic mid-’00s CGI shit. Hell, the villains don’t look the way they’re supposed to look and it just adds to this movie’s cheapness.

It’s a vapid, shit film, a complete waste of time and could only be upstaged in its awfulness by its even worse sequel.

I guess I’ll have to review that flaming turd soon.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel and other terrible comic book adaptations of the era.