Review: Backtrack (2015)

SYNOPSIS: Psychologist Peter Bower’s life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers a strange secret about his patients. Risking his own sanity, Peter delves into his past to uncover a terrifying secret which only he can put right. But is the reward worth risking more than a single life? – via IMDB

I went in for this for Sam Neill. Unfortunately I did not get nearly enough Sam Neill as I had been hoping for, and instead got a rather generic movie that tried to be so much smarter and darker than it really is, which is unfortunate. It does not mean that it is the worst way to spend your time, but it certainly is not the best thing to chuck on.

First and foremost, the movie is not sure what it wants to be. A mystery? Drama? Thriller? Horror? This messes with the pacing as well as how the story is set out. Initially it hard sells as a horror, then spirals into a totally mysterious, dramatic thriller. The issue with this is that it is not as mysterious as it hopes to be, as there were no plot twists that shocked me. I was also not attached enough to the character and his past to really feel for his melodrama, and the movie is not thrilling enough to hook you.

All of that is a serious pity because the story is actually good, and I mean really good. It is just so messily put together, and it pulls the final product apart at the seams. They should have presented it in a more solid style, and then it would have all the power to resonate, and to stick with you. It is an intense story being told, but the harried fashion it is told in makes it pale and rickety, and so I was not sold on it all.

Ultimately Backtrack is a messy film that is not as unpredictable as it hopes to be, and is rather unforgettable when all is said and done, though Brodie and Neill both deliver quite good performances in a story that could have been so much more. So much wasted potential, because the story really was a solid thing.

Rapid Review: Jurassic Park III (2001)

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“With the best intentions? Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.”
– Dr Alan Grant

SYNOPSIS: Adventure runs wild when renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant agrees to accompany a wealthy adventurer and his wife on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, InGen’s former breeding ground for prehistoric creatures. But when they’re terrifyingly stranded, Dr. Grant discovers that his hosts are not what they seem, and the island’s native inhabitants are smarter, faster, fiercer and more brutal than he ever imagined. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5Alrighty, and we are back! I must admit, that when I was a kid I went and saw this, I was not a fan when I left the cinema. Maybe it is because I watched the crap out of Jurassic Park because there was a VHS available, unlike The Lost World. However, rewatching this recently, I much preferred this one to the last one. It just worked better. I was so happy to have Sam Neill’s Alan Grant back – as fun as Ian Malcolm can be (and Golblum played him wonderfully), he certainly needs a character like Alan to level him out. Well, here we were, with the serious, grouchy, awesome Alan Grant, and he is thrust back into the world of dinosaurs and it is so not what he needs. Ellie is in for just a tad, and then she is gone, which is a pity because she was very cool. The spinosaurus was also pretty badass and a refreshing change from what we have seen. The one scene that showed a proper creepy moment for the spinosaurus is when the family is, of course, reunited, and you hear that satellite phone ringing, and when Alan and Eric turn around, the spinosaurus is just watching them, sizing them up. I think the dinosaurs looked pretty good, and I could even deal with the flawed logic (again!!) that presents itself throughout the movie because we are on an adventure. Maybe not the best, but an adventure nonetheless. Some of the humour was exceptionally juvenile, which I was not a fan of. The story is also pretty unimaginative and mostly bland, but still better than the last. I also really liked how this was more like the first movie in the sense of a smaller group of people on an island, out to survive. That isolation was something I missed so much in the last movie. Something that grated on me was Téa Leoni’s Amanda. I just wanted to slap her silly the whole time. She was hysterical and annoying. I really am not a fan of the way that Jurassic Park has a strong female lead, and then all the other female leads thereafter have to be these excessively whiny, silly women. It’s offensive. For serial. While not a perfect movie by a long shot, I feel that Jurassic Park III endures far more hate than is necessary. 

Rapid Review: Jurassic Park (1993)

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“Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
– Dr Ian Malcolm

SYNOPSIS: Huge advancements in scientific technology have enabled a mogul to create an island full of living dinosaurs. John Hammond has invited four individuals, along with his two grandchildren, to join him at Jurassic Park. But will everything go according to plan? A park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, critical security systems are shut down and it now becomes a race for survival with dinosaurs roaming freely over the island. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5Ah, the joy, the love, this movie! I know you are all fans. Why? Because Jurassic Park. Do I need to elaborate? This was the things that dreams were made of as a kid. A dinosaur park? Count me in! Even if the T-Rex was on a munch mission, I still wanted to see it then, and I would still like to see it now, though I honestly don’t think I will be getting out of any vehicle, anywhere, and I won’t be travelling in something that is anything short of a tank. Why? That T-Rex. And anything that big. Any meatosaurus. I am not sticking around for that for longer than needs be. The raptors were also scary as hell, definitely dinosaurs to be afraid of to the nth degree. They are just too damn smart. Anyway, Jurassic Park is a right adventure, even with the kids all over the show. I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Neill here, his Alan Grant was just way cool. Then, of course, there was the rockstar Ian Malcolm, portrayed b y Jeff Goldblum. My biggest question? Why in the world did his chest need to be on full display for so long?! Other than that, he provided plenty laughs. There was Samuel L Jackson and his totally strange “hold on to your butts” line, and Richard Attenborough was a crazy old coot with huge, elaborate ideas that he certainly did not think through properly. Laura Dern was a very good Ellie – she was smart and worked hard, though goodness she could hanker after having kids! Besides that painfully obvious “she must be a woman” moments, she was sassy and she knew what she was doing, super capable and I liked that. Also, the way the entire concept was laid out in the beginning was great – concise, fast, let’s you know what’s happening without inundating you with an overkill of information, and then you are good to go. The deliberate setup worked wonders, too, because you really get involved with discovering this amazing new world with the crew. Jurassic Park is just magical. There is so much work that went into it, and it is extremely obvious, and it comes together well. The movie also holds up wonderfully 22 years later. Steven Spielberg just understands how to realise adventure movies, and this was no exception. It was fun and it was intense, because the movie is set up in such a way that you never really know if anyone is safe. There is so much tension and doubt about everything, which keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the dinosaurs themselves look fantastic so you very easily get sucked in and see how quickly they can go from fascinating to terrifying. John Williams scored this wonderfully, too, and his music just rounded this out, as his scores always do. They always contribute to the films they are in – always so super memorable. Obviously I really loved this, everything about it was fantastic – the concept, the implementation, the dinosaurs, the terrifying situations, all of it gives us an immensely fun and enjoyable adventure film.

Review: In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)

in the mouth of madness poster

“A reality is just what we tell each other it is.”
– Linda Styles

SYNOPSIS: An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer’s books have on his fans is more than inspirational. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8I absolutely love this movie, I am a big fan of it. The first time I saw it a few years ago, it just ticked all the boxes of things I love in a movie. It was just awesome, and it doesn’t get old after repeat viewings. This is one of those tremendous and beloved old horrors that I just can’t get enough of. I adored the concept of this film – that a writer and his work could drive the world cuckoo crazy and insane. It was all about the writing, the lack of faith, the investigation into a missing author, the gruesome discoveries that Trent makes along the way, and the way Styles is convinced that Cane’s work is real… there is just way too much to love here! The monsters were nasty and Cane was delusional, Sam Neill delivered a fantastic performance, and there was an abundance of creepy and weird going on at any given moment in the film. You never really get a handle on what is going on, and there is a dash of cheese to this,  but in t hat totally acceptable kind of way. I was hooked from the get-go, and my other half had a grand time with this, too, so I am not totally biased 😉 Carpenter was the horror king, and gave us many grand films to watch over the years, and I will always enjoy that. I thoroughly enjoyed the effects and the camera work, and the score worked wonderfully with it all, too. I know I am gushing, but there was so much to like in this one. This Apocalypse Trilogy, though, was just one of those super special ones, and I can see myself watching these quite a few more times, though the final entry remains my favourite of the lot. Solid acting, some goofy events, some creepy moments, insane monsters, pretty amusing dialogue, and a journey that is just different, In The Mouth of Madness offers it all to its viewers. I feel that this is a seriously under-appreciated film, and wish that more people had seen it.