This idea was floated on the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society group on Facebook and the idea is to watch 365 films you haven’t seen before in a year, so between May 18th 2020 and the same date in 2021 I’m going to try and do that, and I thought I’d write about the movies I see in little batches.
Movie #1: Doom: Annihilation
I quite like the old Doom movie, which was made just as The Rock was starting to become a movie star but is one of his lesser works. In that a group of space marines go to Mars to rescue scientists and find themselves up against a bunch of space monsters. The sequel/reboot is pretty much the same, only worse.
Scientists have found a weird relic that they deduce is a teleportation device, so they decide to send someone from Earth to Phobos, the Martian moon by the gate. Dude makes it but is all monstrous and screaming, which is less than ideal. A bunch of space grunts are on their way to guard the base and arrive to find it’s all kicked off up there.
I remembered the Doom monsters being kinda demonic, or mutated nasties, but in the early stages here we basically get space zombies. And they don’t even need headshots to kill. Lame.
Later on more satanic looking critters show up which take a bit longer to be put down and shoot fire. This requires our heroine, Lady Marine, to break out the BFG (big f**kin gun). The rest of the movie is generic stuff- group picked off, obvious double cross, final showdown.
It’s distinctly B-movie territory and hampered by one of the most forgettable groups of cannon fodder ever. Seriously, the only characteristics they’re given are Speaks French Marine, Gobby Marine and Has a Family Back Home Marine.
They are also frustratingly stupid, I get they’re just there for some action/kills but they don’t even act like soldiers. On two separate occasions a marine’s response to something messed up is to lower their weapon in surprise?! You’re soldiers, your primary skill is shooting things! Also, some of them have gone in with only one clip of ammo?
And when Lady Marine runs out of bullets she has to use a chainsaw, but after killing two zombies with she then just ditches?! What?
Also, the dialogue is cringeworthy, Chicken Marine actually says “I’m too young to die!” before he abandons a comrade, and Big Black Marine delivers the line “I’m your ultranightmare, motherf**kers!”, which is like something a particularly uncool thirteen year old would consider badass.
The whole movie has the distinct vibe of being made by someone who loved Aliens but it falls far short of that. It’s not even up there with Ghosts of Mars, which at least had some glimmers of fun in. Oh, and the ship being called Daisy telegraphs the eventual HAL rip off moment.
Passes the time, but it’s depressingly mediocre. 3/10.
Movie #2: Wine Country
A group of old friends gather to celebrate one of them turning 50 in the Californian wine producing region of Napa. They all have different issues and don’t get to see each other as often as they would like to.
This movie has a great cast with Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph in the group of friends, and Tina Fey and Jason Schwartzman in the supporting cast. Unfortunately the script film just didn’t work for me, the humour was hit and miss, the pace uneven and the issues the characters were facing didn’t feel fresh.
I got about an hour into it and called it quits. A disappointing waste of a very talented cast. 2/10.
Movie #3: Anna and the Apocalypse
Zombie musical? Don’t mind if I do.
Anna and her friends are dealing with teenage dramas as Christmas approaches. She wants to take a gap year to travel but her dad isn’t keen, her best friend is in love with her, nerdy friend wants to be a filmmaker but can’t find anything personal to say and new transfer student Steph feels isolated and hampered by the deputy head who won’t let her report on real stories in the school paper.
What follows is a movie that tries to be a Frankenstein’s monster of coming-of-age tale, comedy, musical and zombie film which has a few minor moments that sparkle, but winds up extremely hit and miss.
The songs are a bit bland and forgettable, the film doesn’t know quite how to pitch it’s gore level and the characters are a bit thin. There are some nice moments and a few times where it went in directions I wasn’t expecting, but it was nowhere near as fun as I’d hoped.
I was kinda rooting for some of the characters, but others I couldn’t give a stuff about. Anna’s likeable enough but I thought the supporting character Steph was more charismatic and more interesting. There are a couple of surprisingly moving moments, and the rather downbeat ending was a nice touch.
Disappointing, but still far and away the best of this first bunch. 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.