Thursday, June 11, 2009 DVD Shuffle: Random Play 3

Toby Wilkins - 2008

An urban couple on a camping vacation wind up as the hostages of an escaped murderer and his junkie girlfriend. While stopping for gas, the group find itself stranded at a remote service station, trapped by a blood-crazed parasite that can stitch together and reanimate dead tissue.

Splinter distinguishes itself from the recent spate of horror films in several ways. For starters, it's an honest-to-Bela monster movie and not another slasher flick. Furthermore, it actually comes up with a new critter instead of simply trotting out the zombies again. And the SFX are mostly practical. I didn't really notice any CGI at all - which is exactly how CGI should be used. Sure, by the end of the picture the monster was essentially a lump of meat flaying about, but there's no real way good CGI could have improved things and lots of ways bad CGI could have made things worse.

Most surprisingly, the characters come off as real people and not caricatures. No one, not even the nameless victims, does anything stupid simply to advance the plot. In fact, the leads exercise their wits more than their leg muscles, and each comes up with at least one clever idea. It makes for a great change from CW Stars Get Chased by Rednecks 3: Rednecks in Europe.

Highly recommended.

Howard McCain - 2008

Jesus crashes on Earth and gets captured by Vikings led by a glam rocker and the Elephant Man. Jesus escapes so he can track down the monster that escaped from His ship and is now killing said Vikings. Hellboy shows up to help. Eventually, Jesus, the glam rocker, and some redfurs kill the monster and rescue the hottest Viking ever. Jesus decides to live with the Vikings and teach them about indoor plumbing. The end.

I saw Outlander under what should have been optimal viewing conditions for a film of this ilk, while sharing a few beers with a group of friends. It was fun enough, but it never really clicked with me. It wasn't bad enough to enjoy as a trashy movie and it wasn't good enough to make it on its own terms.

It came pretty close, though. The costumes, props, and set design were all great (loved the carvings on the village gate) and that cast was certainly game (though John Hurt is an unconvincing Viking). I think only a couple of minor tweaks would have made everything fall into place. A bit bigger budget to improve the CGI effects, or going the man-in-a-suit route in the first place, would have done wonders. And it definitely needed more Ron Perlman cracking skulls with twin hammers, but then what movie doesn't?

Rent it, preferably with lots of mead.

Benny Chan - 2007

A group of ruthless robbers knock over an armored car, killing lots of civilians and cops in the process. Two detectives swear vengeance on the gang and - oh, just look it up on Wikipedia.

Invisible Target is way too convoluted, with the filmmakers constantly adding and losing track of subplots. And yet of the three leads, only Jacyee Chan (who looks just like his father if he had spent a little time in Willy Wonka's taffy pulling machine) is given anything to do besides pout and posture. He comes off likable enough in his nice guy role, but he's not really up to the dramatic beats required of him.

The fights are nothing to get excited over, apart from a few nasty moments during a brawl in an cramped office. The stunts are hindered by some obvious wirework and some even more obvious CGI. And at over two hours, the movie is just too bloody long.

Dragon Dynasty is turning out so many great discs of new and classic HK films that I can forgive them for the occasional clunker. That said, Invisible Target is still the worst of the DD titles I've yet seen, beating out Dragon Force due to its extra length and distinct lack of Sammo. As always, Dragon Dynasty has done an excellent job with the presentation and extras, but the movie itself is barely worth a rental.

BTW, every time I see the movie's title I keep thinking it's going to star lolcats.