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Preview: The Truth Behind...

The Truth Behind...

Taking a look at life around us and showing what is really going on...

Updated: 2018-01-17T07:00:50.681+13:00


Welcome to the Jumanji!


Okay, this is the third movie really, but I don't know how many people acknowledge/are aware of/have seen the space one.

After a long time, four high school peoples get into detention and find a computer console and decide to play a game. Cut to them as characters doing things that are completely against their normal selves, and they undergo various character development while going through different game levels involving animals and comedic dying.

Jumanji has two things, one - a person being trapped in the game before, and two - the environment around them collapsing. This got one right.

The comedy is decent, and certainly got laughs from the audience I was with (but at least they weren't pulling out cell phones!). I enjoyed it, but felt it took too much time to get to the actual Jumanji part, with plenty of the same old school antics everyone else's does to sit through first. The actors get to send themselves up a bit, and Karen Gillan... does a not quite right American accent. And, hey, Rhys Darby!

So, yeah, decent enough to be enjoyable, while not needing a lot of deep thinking to get.


Universal 1944B


Another colour production, with another opera based story with a crazed opera lover... there's no Phantom, this is The Climax.

Dr. Hohner loves an opera singer so much he kills her. Ten years later, he hears someone with the same voice and falls instantly into psychotic control. The fiance is concerned when the singer can no longer sing, and it's only because of the dead singer's maid that the doctor is vanquished and the singer can sing!

I could recite the plot in a manner that is reminiscent of Phantom, but while there are elements in common, they are basically because it involves opera singing. Aside from that, this is a different take on the crazed madman in control. This time he manages to stop the singer singing instead of making it that only she can sing. And Boris Karloff is the villain, so he's always charming.

Looking at the trivia, they are basically reusing the Phantom sets... but with enough of a different take on the idea that it works.


Universal 1944A


Even more cross over than before! With a minor adventure to start with! It's House of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein's... assistant's... brother is the main villain of this movie, and he even has his own Igor. They get out of a prison, and take over a travelling Caravan of Horrors that has Dracula's skeleton! After unleashing Dracula (who is killed off before a third of the movie is over), they end up at Castle Frankenstein and revive the Wolf Monster and Frankenstein's Monster. And from there it's largely a retread of what has happened before with Wolfy whining for death, and the Monster lying on the table, and... then things end.

The whole Dracula plot (as played by John Carradine!) is just the first part of the movie and can completely be removed without impacting anything, other than having a Dracula cameo. As it is, we get Wolf and Mons back, but nothing new is done with that.

I'm sure there's some deep trivia about how this came to be made, but it feels like "let's just toss this out while we can". It's more watchable than the last one, but not really anything that exciting.


Universal 1943C


This is one of the more misnamed movies. While there is a Dracula, there isn't really a Son of Dracula.

Man and woman in love, so woman marries vampire to get immortality so that she can immortalise the man and they can spend unlife together. Unfortunately the family friend spots that Alucard is Dracula backwards, and the man doesn't quite want the same life together, so it doesn't turn out all sweetness and light.

This movie just... dragged. A lot of scenes were just watching people go from point A to point B with no music underlying the scene, and then other long shots of people contemplating, and so on and so on. It's not until the last twenty minutes that anything really interesting happens. Now, the overall idea could be interesting, using the vampire as a tool to an end, but the movie hangs on Dracula too long.

And speaking of Dracula, there's no mention that this Dracula is supposed to be his son. Indeed, he's just listed as Count Dracula, and there is no sons mentioned (there could have been a son from the marriage, but no).

To be honest, Frank Craven gets the best acting moments, but he couldn't save this.


Doctor Who 10.X


So this is the last hurrah of Moffat and Gatiss? Beware fangasms... and not that great a story really.

We get the first and latest Doctors, because both are regenerating. And from that one coincidence (which isn't really explained, but we can blame the TARDIS) this story spins out. The Captain's time shenanigans are disrupted and while trying to fix it, the Testimony get involved with the Doctor. What evil plans are afoot?

And it turns out that the Testimony are a non-evil version of what Missy was doing a few seasons ago. There are so many stories these days that are about resurrecting people done by people at the end of the universe, it should be its own Trope page (although I can't find it).

Which means that there isn't a big bad to fight this episode, instead we are getting character pieces. The only problem with that is that the characters are one note. The Captain is Honourable. The First Doctor is Chauvinistic. The Twelfth Doctor is Denying. And Bill Potts is Generic. We should have better from Moffat on this last outing, but nothing really stands out.

David Bradley is decent as William Hartnell, and there is a line to explain why he looks different (although that doesn't stand up when they recast Ben and Polly as well without explanation). I don't recall the first Doctor being so racist/sexist, but clearly Moffat knows better. Mark Gatiss is in standard Officer role, not a great stretch for him. Pearl Mackie is good to see back, but again doesn't get to do anything that amazing. And for Peter Capaldi's final performance... he gets a better out than David Tennant did, but I spent most of the time thinking he needed a hair cut.

As a finale it feels like this is more for Moffat than it is for the audience.

Next time: Jodie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Talking 'bout last Jedi-ration


Yes, I took the time to catch up with the latest thing everyone is talking about. But I did wait a week to see it, 'cos I don't care that much.

I'm not going to talk plot, because so many people bitch about spoilers that I can't be bothered. And, frankly, most of you are probably decided on either seeing it or not (if you haven't seen it already), I never pretend my opinion will sway someone for or against going.

Basically, I did enjoy it. It did go on far too long and easily could have ended many scenes before the final end, but now that I know what to expect, I could probably relax into a second viewing more easily and be able to take the pacing.

That said, apparently people hate this movie because... I'm not sure? It's not Star Wars-y enough? Because doing their own thing which isn't an entire copy of Empire is a bad thing? I don't get it. Yes, I will say there were some moments I didn't think were SWy, but there were plenty of other times that were.

Acting is fine. Production is fine. Story is... I have no idea where they are going with any of this other than "good will fight bad", but I assume there will be another planet killer in the next movie?

Yeah, decent movie, and the Porgs aren't as irritating as you might expect.


Dis Artist A Ster


Since I have seen the Room, I am ready for this... but I am not ready for this.

Greg Sestero met this wacky guy by the name of Tommy Wiseau and falls under his charisma. Tommy drags them out to LA, but neither of them hit it big, so they decide to make a movie together. This is that story of making that movie.

I haven't read the book this is based on, although I do have it. And now that I've seen this movie, I think I'm more ready to get into it. Because one thing you can't do in the movie is waste a lot of time getting to the Room, and I get the sense there is a lot more that happens before hand.

What this movie basically is is an overview, where one scene stands in for a whole series of moments. Even when they get to 'the movie' itself, there are a lot of moments that are skipped over lightly, and we only get one or two scenes of Tommy being an ass when there was a lot more, and they skip to the reaction quicker that real and...

That's the nature of this movie, to get the basic story down. It's a weird story, and you definitely have no better idea who Tommy is after seeing this, but you do get the sense that Greg had no idea what was going on. The Francos do a good job portraying them, although it is weird seeing Greg and Tommy having facial similarities...


Universal 1943B


We have brand new splashy colour, so let's celebrate with remaking one of the first movies we did! This is Phantom of the Opera.

Christine is a subtle hit at the Opera with both the lead baritone and the lead policeman both vying for her affections. This is played for comedy quite a few times. A leaving violinist tries to sell a concerto, thinks it has been stolen, and goes on a rampage... and lo we get an origin for the Phantom! The Phantom has his hand in a few issues to get Christine to be the lead, but they put someone else in to enrage him. One sabotaged chandelier later, the Phantom takes Christine away, the baritone and policeman follow and get her back. One more comedy scene, and we're out!

Definitely less of the actual Phantom in this one. While we do get an origin, and the Phantom does kill people, far more time is spent on actual Opera with tons of colour everywhere and full on operatic singing. (I have no idea if these common operas of the time, I know I had little idea what was happening in those bits.) And we get the triangle with Christine being played for laughs, and the Phantom's threat is much reduced.

It's pretty, but a rather unusual take on the supposedly psychotic murderer threatening a building of people.


Universal 1943A


It begins! The Dark Universe! At long last the cross over everyone wanted! Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!

Wouldn't you know it? The Wolf Man isn't dead after all, he was just having a bit of a nap. But searching for a proper way to die he finds not Dr Frankenstein, but Baroness Frankenstein and the Monster. There is a mad doctor though, and instead of helping them to die, decides that powering them up is a better way to go. But when the monster goes after the hottie Baroness, the Wolf Man steps in and we'll never have another crossover again.

Lon Chaney returns as the Wolf Man, meaning someone else gets made up as the monster (Bela this time, but doesn't look quite right). Ilona Massey is back, this time as the Baroness, but she has an even less strong character than last time.

Amusingly, Dennis Hoey is playing Inspector Owen. Such a pity the character wasn't Lestrade (Dennis basically plays him that way), then we would really have a full on cross-over worthy of the name!

Did we need a cross-over? Not really, but I suppose it is a way to mix up the standard monster movie formulae.


Universal 1942B


Speaking of dragging out the series, we get another entry in which no-one stays dead. The Ghost of Frankenstein.

We start with another ransacking of the castle, but that just leads to the monster being uncovered by Ygor. Ygor takes the monster to another Frankenstein, and after some soul searching the doctor decides to destroy the monster, then immediately decides that a better idea is to put a new brain in the monsters head. Unfortunately, they still can't brain properly, Ygor is now in there, and everyone gets thrown around. And now he is dead... sure.

Bela Lugosi is back, but now there won't be any more monster. We no longer have Boris, but Lon Chaney as the monster. And other people I don't recognise as the main cast members.

This feels like they are just dragging it out (insert your own reanimation metaphor here). Clearly they can't get sadder from here.


Universal 1942A


Let us continue to binge on the invisible formula series. This is Invisible Agent.

Frank Raymond, grandchild of the original Invisible Man, refuses to give up the formula no matter what. Cut to... World War II, and Frank agrees to go behind enemy lines and dig up secrets. So we then get a mixture of spy thriller and spy comedy as one character bumbles his way through invisible interactions and another ruthlessly goes after Frank. Various Nazis die until Frank and the token woman can escape.

Hey, Peter Lorre... playing Japanese? Huh? Interestingly Ilona Massey (the token woman) gets billing over Jon Hall (Frank), and although she is rather dragged around, she is the reason they get away in the end.

I'm not sure if they were trying for anti-war, or what, but this doesn't add anything to the Invisible mythos, and the movie can't decide if it wants to be serious or comedy.


Universal 1941B


[Okay, change of schedule, I'm gonna put these out when I watch them.]

In many ways this is a call back to the basics of "gypsy people causing trouble in small towns", but they are the good guys here. This is The Wolf Man.

In random manor in small town, a chap gets a telescope.. and immediately pervs on a beautiful woman in the nearby town. He makes moves on her, won't take no for an answer, but she isn't really putting up a huge fight even though she's engaged. Later on a stroll, they get attacked by a wolf, and he gets bitten. Surprise, surprise, he's a wolf man now. Everyone knows about the legend of the wolf, and the recently arrived gypsy man got killed, but the gypsy woman is understanding, it's the wolf's fault. The town is upset, people die, and eventually the man's father beats him to death. At least he is at rest now.

This isn't exactly reaching new heights of story telling. It's a basic take on the nature of the beast in man. The gypsy's do get done well, and Bela Lugosi starts as the gypsy man (thus explaining the accent) called Bela (in the most amazing casting effort ever). Lon Chaney is the wolf, and as the wolf looks like the standard "attach lots of hair" wolf make up.

Not a high pick for me, just middle of the road.


Just-meh League


So, this is the big event we were supposed to be hyped up for... and yet, when it was over, and I asked myself how I felt about it? I didn't feel that delivered to.

A big bad comes to Earth, and various Defen... Aven... heroes have to gather... and gather... and gather some more... then pause to gather even more... and then... FIGHTEND.

One thing about the Avengers is that we had already established who these people were, so we could get on with getting them together. In this, we had to basically introduce three different people, give enough backstory/context so we knew their deal, and then get to fighting. And... they just weren't that interesting. This is supposed to be the Justice League, the premier group of heroes of the DC, getting together. It felt more like "we have these characters lying around, so let's stick them together". These didn't come across as the best hope for humanity, they were just the people around who got together for a movie.

And the big villain? Steppenwolf. You might be forgiven for never having heard of him, because I'm a DC reader, and I like big cosmic stuff, but I had no idea who he was. When it comes to Darkseid (who is named checked) and Apocalypse (which is only obliquely referred to, but not named), there's Darkseid, Desaad, Granny Goodness... and Barda and Mr Miracle are from there too... Presumably they are saving Darkseid for after they see what Thanos does?

As for production... the CGI was NOT GOOD. Cyborg looked like a floating human head pasted onto a badly placed mechanical body, and various capes and such and various superheroes looked badly animated often.

Not to say this is a terrible movie. Some humour is snuck in (in the same way it was for Suicide Squad), and it makes sense enough for what is happening. It just isn't the great DC needed it to be.




Another Netflix, another series. This one being a part of the Marvel Netflix series (which I think is completely separate from the TV shows and may actually get mentioned in the movies at some point?)

White guy with guns kills all the people, and then what happens to him? It turns out there was something in his past that came up and now he must take even more revenge.

Actually, this is quite decent so far. Yes, we are talking about someone who decides that killing is the answer, unlike every other 'hero', but we aren't presented with a lot of shades of grey with the people he kills so far. This is good characterisation so far, and we have other people brought in and they aren't the worst either!

But the big problem is... this is generic. It's well done generic, and I was eagerly moving onto the next episodes, but... it's hard to say what happened beyond 'hunt down the next person to kill'. Aside from setting up one character for next time that if I was a Punisher watcher, I'm sure I would have picked up on before looking him up on Wiki.

However, yeah. I don't really have enough to say to break it into many posts, so there is just this one saying 'decent but hard to point out anything new'.


Muurduur on L'Express D'Orient


Okay, so I've read the book. I was disappointed by the David Suchet version. Let's see what Kenneth Branagh brings to this.

I don't really think I need to recite anything about the plot here. Poirot ends up on the Orient Express because of nepotism, and after a random person gets on board the train and stabs up a bad man, they spend a lot of time interrogating all those innocent train guests. But the mustache must have its day.

And it is a rather splendid mustache, with a sleeping hammock of its own. Whenever it is on screen, the eye is drawn to it, and everyone else pales in insignificance. I'm only slightly exaggerating here, but I was often distracted by it.

One big selling point around this film is the cast, as demonstrated by the names plastered all over the poster. Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Olivia Coleman... okay, probably only I spotted the last there, but I remember the British Comedienne. And there are others too.

Performances are good, but the big scene stealer is the scene itself. The train is well made, and the scenery is gorgeous.

But the best point in the film's favour... even through I knew the story, they still unfolded it well, and I was caught up in it!


Universal 1941A


After the recent crime and monster movies... how about a comedy, why not? This is The Invisible Woman.

A scientist is working on making people invisible, backed by an increasingly skeptical rich ladies man. A woman volunteers, becomes invisible, and immediately takes out revenge on her modeling agency dick boss. However, a gangster wants to be invisible to return home, so steals the machine and later the professor, but the invisible woman is more than capable of looking after herself even though she puts it on for the rich guy.

And yeah... this is a rather fun comedy, with slapstick humour (what else when you have invisible people around to do wacky things) and people being knocked out with a comedy large mallet and so. After all, you couldn't have a delicate woman being violent and killing people, like the other invisible movies.

But everyone seems to be having fun, and it's a nice light romp that had me smiling the whole time.


Red Dwaf XII.VI


This is it, the final episode, so the best the series will be...

This episode exemplifies a lot of the problem with this series. It's an episode of two halves. In the first half, we get some time/space shenanigans, in the vein of White Hole, but then in the second half, that's thrown away so we can have Rimmer Dimension Jump so they can bring back cameos. Great to see those cameos, but there's no real point to them.

Not to say that all the episodes ever have a fundamental shift of the characters or anything, but even in the previous episodes, we get some idea that the characters have done things and possibly changed in some way. Here... not so much. The need to press the reset switch is so overwhelming at the end that it's like it's pressed several times throughout the episode just to be sure we end at the right place.

'Disappointing' would be a good word. Again the first half had promise, but it's just a lead in to do something else. Which isn't as good.

Which is what Red Dwarf has become.




This has been a while since a one of these, so yeah, let's check it out.

Some detectives are on the trail of some bodies turning up. And five people are caught in a trap by one Jigsaw. Can the trapped people get out or will they be killed off one by one? Will the detectives find out what's going on, or will they be caught up in the games?

Wait a minute... I remember this movie. This was the second one. A group of people needing to work together. Cops running around. We find out there are timeline shenanigans going on. Yeah, I've seen this.

And this, in comparison, feels like a tame version of that. The deadly traps aren't that interesting (or are too stupid to give any credit too). Big revelations just ruin the mythology (as such) further. And the acting isn't really that exciting either. There are no stand out performances, and...

Really, it wasn't worth bringing this back. But no doubt there will be more money sequels.


Universal 1940B


Even though he died in a fire, that doesn't mean that we can't have The Invisible Man Returns.

Actually this is someone else who is given the Invisible formula, but after that the movie basically retreads a lot of the original. Effort is done to make an antidote, but in the mean time he runs around being a dick and escaping from the police.

And as there isn't really anything new, this feels like it's just the same movie, but with even less to say. The villain isn't as charismatic, the police are just as dumb, and the girlfriend is still unreasonably willing to accept whatever happens.

Can we have a better take on this please? (He asks, knowing what the next movie he will watch is...)


Red Dwaf XII.V


This episode starts so well.

The ship has been missing some updates, so when they occur the ship now becomes the property of M-Corp. And Dave can't see anyone who isn't M-Corp property. I'll give you three guesses as to who then Dave can't see. And then something about how corporations charge you for everything, because that hasn't been done before.

The first half of the episode is great. Interesting set up with the M-Corp and what happens to Dave, but then the second half just is either stuff we've already covered in better comedies, or boring plot stuff that manages to be extremely boring. The wrap up is again nice and easy, although right at the end there is one call back that...if it's funny, it's only because it's OG writing.

So far this season is running one and a half good episodes, with one to go. Not great odds.


Thor Thagnathok


Marvel time, and this time Taika is involved, so I'm already more favourable towards it.

Thor finds out the threat of Ragnarok is around, and in attempting to stop it finds out that it might be too late, and also Hela, the Goddess of Death, has been released. While trying to stop her, he ends up on a random planet, and slowly puts together a team. If you've seen the trailer, you know who is involved, and really there's not much more to say.

This is indeed a lot of fun. Thor is really lightened up for this, partly because Chris Hemsworth was complaining about how unfun it was, and partly because Taika is the director. (And yes, Taika has a role, as such.) Chris seems to enjoy himself, as do the other cast members. Although I'm not 100% convinced that Jeff Goldblum didn't just wander on to set, they painted him up, and he managed to say some stuff that could be used in the movie.

And from this we got to get into Infinity Wars... okay, I'm still in.


Twoman vs Bat-Face


Oh yeah, I forgot this was out. So.. surprise?

Two-Face is created in the opening segment, but he's also defeated during the credits, so that's all right. Instead we spend time with the great villain King Tut... and then Bookworm... but surprise (again), it was really Two-Face all along!

This doesn't really feel like 66 Batman, but again an Adam West Batman in a more modern adventure. Things are kicked off by Hugo Strange, but a modern take on Strange, not Warden Crichton, who was in charge of the penitentiary where the criminals were housed. He had a mockingly naive take on trusting/reforming criminals, whereas Hugo Strange is basically playing Emile Keller and has a device to extract the evil out of people. That doesn't feel very 66y to me.

Neither does what happens to Two-Face. It's a very cartoon thing, certainly, but again not a 66 thing. Even being hammed by William Shatner doesn't help.

But speaking of actors, Adam West takes it as seriously as possible. And while Burt Ward is back, his Robin feels very incidental. More effort is given to Julie Newmar's Catwoman... and hey, Lee Meriwether is here too, and gets a Catwoman moment as well!

While the previous movie felt "what if Batman mocked modern style?" this feels more like "what if Batman straight up was more modern style", and doesn't work as well.


Universal 1940A


Hey, again with the lack of monster, but with the crime thriller, with a bit of a sci-fi twist. This is Black Friday.

A professor gets into a car accident with a bunch of hoodlums leaving him in hospital and the lead criminal dead. However, the lead criminal knows where the money is, and the friend of the professor is a morally flexible doctor who decides the best way to save the professor is to put the criminal's brain into the professor's body, with the benefit of maybe accessing where the money is. When stressed about the criminal's past, the professor becomes the criminal and goes on a killing spree of his old companions, until many many people are dead.

This does have the hook of the brain transplant (which doesn't explain how the new brain has both sets of memories...), leading to the crime thriller. Karloff is the doctor, and Lugosi is one of the crooks, so while Karloff does have something interesting to do, Lugosi just feels like "bad crook #7" and doesn't add anything with his presence. This looks to be due to actor casting shuffling around that leaves Stanley Ridges with the meaty role.

Anyway, I like their crime thrillers, so I'm on board with this.


Red Dwaf XII.IV


Okay, I'm gonna skip to the end here... this is the most pointless episode in this series (okay, only so far).

There's a problem and they have to abandon ship, but not take the various vending etc machines. Which have only ever turned up in random moments, but they have a whole episode about them now. The point being there will be someone who represents their interest, so cue electioneering jokes. Like, for the rest of the episode. And since we'll never heard of these machines again, you can just guess how important this will turn out to be. (At least, I'm guessing, but I doubt I'll turn out to be wrong.)

There is a surprise guest, which makes me feel a lot of this episode was set up to bring the guest back, but then the exact same jokes are rolled out, so really? Did we need that?

And then we have the problem all these episodes have had of an overly long unfunny skit that is irrelevant to the episode, and a quick tie up of events that dashes an ending off in under a minute. All the episodes have done this, and this one is particularly bad given how useless the entire episode feels.

So... I'm not a fan of this episode.


Geo Sturm


Hey, somehow this Syfy movie ended up on the big screen. Someone made a mistake?

Someone made a network of satellites to control earth's weather... and basically you can tell the rest of the plot from there. Something goes wrong, people need to put themselves in danger in order to find out the next elements of the plot (such as it is). Various cities get destroyed, but none of them matter until it is somewhere in the USA. And the hero makes a sacrifice at the end.

Ultimately... this movie is just dull. It does nothing different to the bajillion other disaster movies before it, expect that it has a larger budget to be boring on a bigger scale. Gerard Butler gets out his lines (although apparently he kept forgetting them), and Jim Sturgess pretends to be an action star. Abbie Cornish gets the better part, so she isn't featured much.

Really, I can't even recommend this as a big dumb movie to enjoy. It's just a bunch of nothing that can't sustain the interest.