Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Movie Review #587: "Life" (2017)

Movie"Life"
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes
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A group of astronauts and scientists on the International Space Station receive and study specimens from Mars. One such specimen is a microscopic organism that doesn't stay microscopic for long and wreaks havoc on the Space Station and its crew once it grows. 

"Life" is directed by Daniel Espinosa, who is know for films such as "Safe House" and "Child 44." It is written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who wrote the fabulous "Deadpool"...oh, and they also wrote the awful "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya, who make up a multi-national group of scientists and astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Their job is to study the most recent soil samples from the planet Mars. In these samples, they find a dormant single cell organism they then coax out of hibernation. The cell multiplies and quickly grows into a considerably larger squid-like creature that is essentially "all muscle, all brain, and all eye." Once it feels threatened, this creature starts to unleash its wrath on the crew. 

"Life" is an original sci-fi story in that it is not a remake, sequel, or something based on any previously published material, at least not on the surface. Deep down, however, it is very derivative of movies that came before it like "Alien" and even "Gravity." Here, a crew stuck in space tries to survive against a newly discovered, extremely adaptive species. There are a couple of unsettling scenes early on that can genuinely make the audience cringe in a good way. There is a mild amount of tension, but unfortunately, never goes beyond the bare minimum. From there, as the martian known as Calvin continues its rampage, the film starts to fall into typical sci-fi horror tropes, contrived plot points, and convenient situations that are only there as devices to further these contrivances. The acting is completely competent from all of the actors involved, though a few play to type. Of course, Ryan Reynolds has found success being the sarcastic and snarky go-to, so that's the role he plays once again. Other parts include Rebecca Ferguson as the super efficient scientist who wants everything by the book, Jake Gyllenhaal as the jaded former soldier trying to get away from the hatred of earth, Hiroyuki Sanada as the new father/tech expert of the crew, Ariyon Bakare as the super attached scientist who nurtured the creature in its infancy, and Olga Dihovichnaya as the token Russian. This is really where the character development ends and what we are left with is fairly thin. We never truly get to know them or care about them beyond a general outline of these archetypes. Despite their high education, this group also winds up doing plenty of stupid things at the most inopportune times, leaving the audience with a typical horror reaction akin to "DON'T GO UPSTAIRS!!"

By far, the best part of "Life" is its special effects. In fact, they are enough to blow you away at times. Though the set pieces do seem familiar to other movies that take place in space, just because they are derivative doesn't mean they aren't cool as hell. In addition, the creature design is awesome. Calvin looks like a cross between an octopus and a sea angel, dangly and gangly and floating and majestic in its viciousness. Speaking of Calvin, it is the type of creature that is essentially the ultimate killing machine with no weaknesses the crew can find. It can squeeze through small openings, it is far stronger than the humans on the station, it is far smarter than anyone (or so it appears), and though it needs oxygen to live, it can survive for an indeterminate amount of time without it. These trite instances will automatically put off some viewers. Something else that may be off-putting to some is the dialogue, which is not the best and often consists of people explaining their plans to kill Calvin in great detail, or espousing whether or not they think Calvin will survive in this or that type of situation. These are the moments where the movie came to a screeching halt. The writers basically made this creature have invincibility at times. For example, at one point, the crew says out loud in their deliberations that Calvin needs oxygen to survive, but a caveat was written in so that it can continue existing even without air. Things are often explained, then happen in contradiction to what was said, like how Calvin can crawl unprotected on the exterior of the station without oxygen for an extended period of time and doesn't die.

"Life" has a few tense and exciting moments, but overall is too derivative and too convenient. Without compelling characters to elevate the story, it remains far too predictable, especially given its very typical horror film finale (which we both love and hate).


My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~66%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit filmfed.com!*

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Movie Review #586: "Wilson" (2017)

Movie"Wilson"
Director: Craig Johnson
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
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A lonely man with no social filter tries to rekindle his relationship with his estranged wife and discovers he has a teenage daughter, one she put up for adoption 17 years ago.

"Wilson" is directed by Craig Johnson, who directed the 2014 film "The Skeleton Twins," which we found enjoyable despite its depressing, dark premise. It is written by Daniel Clowes, who also wrote the graphic novel on which the film is based. It stars Woody Harrelson as the titular character Wilson, a lonely man with absolutely no social filter or any manners in general. He always has something to say, and whatever that may be is positively, absolutely more important than whatever anybody else is doing. After his best and only friends move to St. Louis and his father passes away, Wilson, feeling lost, decides to seek out his estranged wife Pippi, played by Laura Dern, through her estranged sister Polly, played by Cheryl Hines. Since they have been apart, Pippi has had battles with narcotics among other things. Once reconnected, Wilson learns he and Pippi have a daughter, one she lied about aborting and actually put up for adoption 17 years ago without telling him. After meeting with a private investigator, who is really just some dude with Google, Wilson and Pippi track down their long lost daughter named Claire, played by Isabelle Amara, and want to be in her life regardless of what she wants.

We were somewhat looking forward to this movie after seeing its trailer a few times. It seemed like it might be right up our alley, a smart, satirical comedy about an oddball, disconnected character with no social filter wandering through a connected age, grumbling at things like Yelp and Ancestry.com in between his bitch-fests about how life did him wrong. Though it attempts to be those things, it sadly doesn't succeed. Wilson as a character most certainly does say whatever comes to his mind whenever he wants, that much we got correct. He is also a condescending prick and almost wholly unlikable on top of it. Usually, Woody Harrelson does a good job in making somewhat abrasive, jerk-off characters seem charming because of his incredible talent as an actor. He did this with great success in "The Edge of Seventeen." Though he gives a good, extremely convincing performance as this neurotic, perpetual man-child, the tone comes off as more mean-spirited than wise.

There is something about the way the humor is delivered that just doesn't work for us. For example, there's a scene where, after espousing the belief that we as a society are more broken and detached now than we have ever been, Wilson strolls along the street and walks past a coffee shop with his faithful pooch Pepper. Sitting down at the only table where someone is already clearly working on their computer, Wilson has obviously stumbled upon an unwilling participant in their pleasantries. As Wilson attempts multiple times to start a full-on conversation with this man, he says he is busy and proceeds to work. Instead of saying "have a nice day" and leaving, Wilson then berates him and calls him an asshole, among other things. This is the entire crux of "Wilson" as the whole movie consists of him bitching about life and whining about not having friends. He is desperately lonely, but his motivations for finding a friend even feel somewhat selfish because it would seem he just wants someone to take care of him when he's old and to cement what little legacy he will leave behind once he's dead. Apart from Harrelson, Laura Dern also gives a good performance as Pippi, who has fallen on troubled times and is barely holding herself together as it is. When Wilson, a tornado of sour and dower comes traipsing back into her life, she understandably gets both angry and concerned, but simultaneously comforted by her past. Finally, most of the technical aspects of the film are fine and it is shot well, so no complaints there. It's the narrative and pacing that pose the biggest problems for us.

We went into this movie hoping to laugh and left feeling depressed more than anything. We even felt a little angry at the direction the story went and how it all panned out in the end. "Wilson" isn't a long film, but there were still times where we were irritated and wanted to check our watches to see if it was almost over. It wants to have its cake and eat it too by trying to say something about the disconnection of our world, but does so with a disingenuous main character and little to no redemption. It doesn't do anything, it doesn't say anything, and it really isn't much of anything at all. The film overall is not an enjoyable experience to watch and that's disappointing because of the caliber of talent it has and because we were looking forward to it. Maybe the graphic novel is better.


My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~39%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit filmfed.com!*

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Movie Review #585: "Power Rangers" (2017)

Director: Dean Isrealite
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
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A group of teenagers discover five magical power coins in a quarry outside their town of Angel Grove. These coins were left by an alien race to give those who found them special powers and the duty to protect the power crystal, which has the capability of destroying the planet, from falling into the wrong hands.

"Power Rangers" is directed by Dean Israelite and is a re-imagining of the 1990's kid's show "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers." It stars a cast of young, relatively unknown actors who make up the titular Power Rangers: the Red Ranger Jason, played by Dacre Montgomery; the Pink Ranger Kimberly, played by Naomi Scott; the Blue Ranger Billy, played by RJ Cyler; the Black Ranger Zack, played by Ludi Lin; and the Yellow Ranger Trini, played by Becky G. Also in the cast are veteran actors Bryan Cranston, who plays Zordon, Bill Hader, who voices robot Alpha 5, and Elizabeth Banks, who plays the villainous Rita Repulsa. The five aforementioned teens are made up of outsiders, part juvenile delinquents, part misfits, who discover five strange coins in a quarry outside of their small town of Angel Grove. These coins give the teens super powers, as well as a duty to protect a powerful source of energy known as the Zeo power crystal. Along with the crystals, the long-dormant baddie Rita Repulsa is retrieved from her watery slumber. She wants the power crystal for herself so she can destroy the planet because she is just plain evil. Now, with training help from Zordon, the Rangers must learn to work together in order to stop her.

This incarnation of the "Power Rangers" is quite a large step away from the campy 90's television show, which was spliced together from an existing Japanese TV series and combined with American re-shoots. This version takes a slightly darker tone and is as different from the original show as any "Batman" film (that's not directed by Joel Schumacher) is from the 60's TV series with Adam West. The characters, mainly the Rangers themselves, are not deeply layered ones. Though they do each get a little bit of characterization with their own personal stories, they are primarily archetypes in this tale. Jason is the former star athlete with leadership qualities who keeps getting in trouble. Billy is the nerdy tech guy who has gone through a personal tragedy and is "on the spectrum." Kimberly was once a "mean girl" cheerleader turned rebellious outcast. Trini is the perpetual new kid with a chip on her shoulder, and Zack is the loner type who regularly skips school, but for a good reason. These up and coming actors fit their roles well and do a decent job as "teenagers with attitude," which was always said in the original show, but not really always present or apparent. We understand if others are rubbed the wrong way by their coincidental meetings and demeanors, and we can also see people being annoyed by how quickly the kids come together to form a special bond for the greater good. Unlike the TV show, which had episode after episode for years to build these characters, here, we only get a short 2 hours to tell their story. Sure, this movie doesn't have the cleanest narrative, but we digress. For what it is, we didn't see a problem with most of it. The veteran cast members do an awesome job in their resepctive roles. Elizabeth Banks' take on the evil Rita Repulsa is very effective and is a much more frightening embodiment of the character. We also like the fact that Bill Hader has lent his voice to the character of Alpha 5. If you don't know, Hader is incredible when it comes to voice over and sound effects work, so we are glad the filmmakers have taken the Alpha character away from being an overly anxious, obnoxious android and turned him into a more witty and even tougher, sassy character thanks to Hader's brilliant work. The CGI on this character is a little nightmare inducing, but it's not the worst thing we've ever seen digitized.

This is an origin story, so it takes its time building the universe and all of its participants. Unlike 1995's "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie," those behind the camera don't assume the audience already knows everything about this world, these people, their abilities, or their jargon, though they do give a lot of fan service for viewers who grew up with the TV series like myself. Much of the movie involves the construction of this world, our heroes, how they must learn their powers and prepare for their newly discovered duties. It isn't until the third act where we actually get to full-on Ranger action and get to check out their Zords in full operation. This is the one major, major complaint we do have about the film. We would have loved to see the Rangers in their suits a bit more, but we have a feeling we haven't seen the last of them. It certainly put a smile on our faces as these Zords and suits were unleashed.

In the end, this new incarnation of the "Power Rangers" manages to take something that was originally extremely cheesy and create something a bit more serious, but still maintains a fun, fan-serviced affair. Though it is pretty messy and overuses CGI in several instances, we surprisingly enjoyed this movie and are glad it wasn't the dumpster fire we assumed it would be based on the trailers.


My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~46%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit filmfed.com!*

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Review: "They Came Together" (2014)

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Movie"They Came Together"
Director: David Wain
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes


While out to dinner with their friends Karen (Ellie Kemper) and Kyle (Bill Hader), Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) recant their bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary relationship, starting with how they met and initially hated each other. Kyle works for a major candy corporation and Molly owns a small mom and pop candy shop, which was her dream, and the one Kyle's company wants to destroy.

The first thing you need to know about "They Came Together" is that it is a parody/spoof. We did not know this going in, but it is very apparent about 7 minutes into its run time that its entire purpose is to make fun of the romantic comedies and dramas which came before it. When we say parody, we mean it as it's almost entirely overacted, cliche, and contrived, but in a good way, not a bad one. This movie somehow manages to be wholly hilarious in its own unique way. Amy Poehler plays Molly, who owns a small mom-and-pop candy store in New York City and has one son. Paul Rudd plays Joel, who works for a major candy corporation that wants to destroy Molly's business. Joel is hung up on his ex-girlfriend Tiffany, played by Cobie Smulders, who cheated on him with his boss. Eventually, Molly and Joel form an unlikely relationship initially built on hatred. They wind up at the same events and with the same circle of friends, despising one another outwardly to the world, but their hatred eventually leads to love as they begin a relationship with one another. Not as solid as they think they are, they break up about halfway through the movie in an unexpected twist, but not really. Molly then moves on to another man in her accountant, played by Ed Helms, and promptly gets engaged to him even though she is still secretly in love with Joel. Ohhhhhh boy.

As with all indie movies, the quirkiness factor doesn't stop there as every single cliche from every movie ever is explored here as a tactic to drive the plot. It does this on purpose in an attempt to be different, and this is where the film will lose some of its viewers. Us being the weirdos that we are, we liked it! The film is basically a romantic version of the cult classic "Wet Hot American Summer," minus the summer camp, plus candy, so how much you like "They Came Together" will be directly contingent upon how little or how much you like movies of that nature. All the same people who are in "Wet Hot American Summer" even pop up in this movie in some capacity or another as well. It feels like, as a whole, it's trying to be really smart by taking everything we know about modern day rom-coms and flipping it on its head in a satirized way, though we don't know if most of the movie-going public will see it this way. In a way, the rom-com parodies are getting parodied themselves. We're really trying to stress how much of a spoof this is and we think more screenplay writers should watch this flick  to see what they should not do next time they find themselves wanting to make the next "When Harry Met Sally."

In the end, we think the premise of "They Came Together" is a borderline brilliant by using well-respected and very much beloved actors and actresses against the corporate machine of sappy, dribbling romantic comedies to create a surprisingly new, subtly embracing sarcastic, hilarious take on the genre that has made so many mistakes in the past few decades. Greatly acted, smartly written, sharp, quirky, and yet still somewhat endearing in its own right.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 69%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Movie Review #584: "CHIPS" (2017)

Movie"CHIPS"
Director: Dax Shepard
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Image Source
An FBI agent is placed undercover and is partnered with a rookie CHP officer in order to expose and arrest some dirty cops working on the force. 

"CHIPS" is a feature film comedy adaptation of the 1970's & 80's television crime drama "CHiPs." It is written and directed by Dax Shepard, who also stars in the film as Jon Baker, a former X-Games dirt-bike rider-turned-CHP rookie. Joining him is Michael Peña, an FBI agent who has been assigned to work undercover under the pseudonym Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, in order to investigate an armored car robbery and to discover the identities of several dirty, corrupt cops inside the CHP. Also in the film are Vincent D'Onofrio, Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen, Adam Brody, Jessica McNamee, Isiah Whitlock Jr, and Rosa Salazar.

Did anyone really want to see a theatrical adaptation of the television show "CHiPs?" Was Dax Shepard just sitting at home one evening, clearly stoned while watching TV Land, thinking to himself, "it would be a great idea to adapt this 30+ year old cop drama into a feature length comedy in the year 2017!" Maybe he was trying to capture the success others have recently found with the likes of the "21 Jump Street" movies, which found a new audience several decades later in two hilarious feature length films filled with outrageous comedy and fantastic chemistry between characters. Unfortunately, Shepard's version of "CHIPS" doesn't have either of those things to go along with the already established name, and this movie doesn't even reach the level of the "Starsky & Hutch" adaptation.

One thing we get from this movie is an understanding of what type of humor Dax Shepard finds funny, and apparently, we don't completely share the same sense of humor. Most of the jokes here consist of Michael Peña's Ponch being uncomfortable with anything appearing even slightly gay, gags about his very active sex life including his implied chronic masturbation, and a running joke about the new age joys of eating out buttholes in the Tinder era. Shepard's Baker spends most his time doing prat falls due to his character's excessive surgery history and lingering injuries as an X-Games competitor, his being completely oblivious to his wife's infidelity and her all around asshole attitude, and his constant need to play amateur psychologist about everything and anything since he's had a year's worth of therapy. To top it all off, Shepard and Peña only have mediocre chemistry and the rest of the characters are either extremely basic, like McNamee's officer Lindsey Taylor, or are over-the-top cartoon-like characters, like D'Onofrio's Vic Brown.

The narrative isn't natural at all as everything is completely contrived, not that we always watch comedies for well thought out plots, but this one barely holds it together on a surface level. Plot points are started and never come to fruition, and others end without so much as a semblance of closure. But look! An explosion! Oh look! A poop joke! That makes it fine! This film also has moments where the tonal shifts are completely jarring as it seems to want to be a comedy, but plays it a little too serious at times as well. The pseudo-psychology mumbo-jumbo Baker spews ad nauseum attempts to take the film in directions it has no business going since this is essentially one, giant, elongated phallic joke.

Luckily, "CHIPS"' isn't entirely devoid of humor. We did laugh a few times, mostly at the over-the-top violence where characters get decapitated or have other body parts blown off and the subsequent shenanigans that follow. Overall though, the laughs are few and far between, which we hate to say because generally, we like this cast, and it sucks to see them get stuck with such a sub-par comedic offering. However, the lady sitting in front of us started laughing uncontrollably about midway through the movie every time Dax Shepard fell down, and this continued for the rest of its run time. It probably helped that she was downing an entire bottle of wine and an extra glass of beer to go along with it, which is what we assume it'll take for the average viewer to enjoy this movie even slightly.


My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~24%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit filmfed.com!*

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top 20 BEST Movies of 2016!

Welcome to our list of the BEST MOVIES of 2016!!!

It might be three months late, but we have finally decided our list of the top 20 best movies of 2016! These are the cream of the crop from the year, and it took us a long time to finalize this list! As always, these are our picks, and we welcome discussion, debate and disagreement! Each film is linked with our original review. Please enjoy! :)
20) "Moonlight" (8.75/10): The winner of the Best Picture Academy Award at the Oscars this year, "Moonlight" is an extremely well put together piece of cinema that is very interesting and compelling. Emotionally moving and tremendously acted, this is a story that doesn't get told often, if ever, and it subtly combines several topics to make one masterful piece of filmmaking. Barry Jenkins, please make more movies!

19) "Eye in the Sky" (9/10): A powerful, intense film that stuck with us all year, "Eye in the Sky" boasts an incredible performance by leading lady Helen Mirren, and a fantastic send-off for the late Alan Rickman. "It looks at the morality of war dead in the eye, something that can get lost in gunshots, battlefields and bad versus good." Each scene gets more suffocating as the seconds click by with lives at stake, and it remains engaging 'til the end.

18) "Moana" (9/10): You're welcome! Disney had a banner year in 2016, and their final animated entry for the year was one of the best. "Moana" gives many of the other Disney princesses a run for their money in a film filled with genuine heart, a fantastic message for kids and adults alike, a ton of glorious humor, a pivotal story, tremendous music, brilliant voice-over work, and an exciting, fun, emotional adventure. A must see!

17) "The Jungle Book" (9/10): We've come a long way in the world of computer generated effects! Aided by Jon Favreau's tremendous direction, "The Jungle Book" remake worried us going into it since we didn't know how it'd translate into live action. By movie's end, we left the theater feeling happy to say that not only does this version have excellent voice-over work, but it "retains the same spirit and joviality as the animated version while doing justice to the written words of Rudyard Kipling." It is frightening in some instances, but it also balances humor and adventure with these scary moments. And the animation? It is dazzling, photo-realistic, and sumptuous.

16) "Train to Busan" (9/10): One of the very few entries on our best of the best list that we saw on video on demand (as opposed to ones we saw in the theater), "Train to Busan" is worthy of such an honor. We are suckers for Korean cinema, but this fast-paced, amazingly exciting zombie outbreak film is more than meets the eye. It's deceptively deep, crazy intense, and never stops for a moment's rest. It's simple and effective.

15) "Green Room" (9/10): Another simple, low budget film that is increasingly more effective as time slowly rolls by. It's tense and intense. It is executed so well with many unexpected moments that we wound up getting completely enthralled and unnerved by everything going on on screen. This is "a freaky, twisted, brutal, macabre, claustrophobic movie," and though we do highly recommend it, it's not for those faint of heart or those who are weak in the stomach. It is also expertly cast, and little did we know when seeing it that it'd be one of Anton Yelchin's last performances.

14) "The Handmaiden" (9/10): A sexy, graphic, seductive, alluring, dark, visually striking South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook, take a chance on "The Handmaiden" and you won't be disappointed. It's twisty, turny, and oh so engaging. We had no idea what this movie was about going into it an wound up absolutely loving it.

13) "Kubo and the Two Strings" (9/10): Laika Entertainment has done it again with the fabulous "Kubo and the Two Strings," a brilliant, creative, and vibrant animated film with a lot of heart and soul. We were gripped by this story of acceptance, family, sadness, loneliness, and bravery in the face of adversity throughout its run time, and the animation is a tremendous visual delight. 

12) "Loving" (9/10): Richard and Mildred Loving only wanted to be together and be married in Virginia in the 1950's, which had anti-miscegenation laws in place. "Loving," expertly directed by Jeff Nichols, is their story as Nichols "stays glued to this couple who never wanted to be in the spotlight, but were thrust into it in order to protect their rights to love one another and to raise their family they way they wanted where they wanted." Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton give career-best performances in this nuanced, deeply moving, very poignant, very timely, and important film.

11) "Manchester by the Sea" (9/10): This drama deals with loss in such a profoundly nuanced and intricate way. It says so little and yet says so much in the small glances, "the tiny things here and there that add to the immense minutiae of death and loss and tragedy that should only be understood through personal experience, but somehow, even if you've never felt the painful sting of grief, you will know what it feels like if you watch this movie," that's how visceral the pain is. "Manchester by the Sea" will be hard to watch for anyone who has ever experienced a loss like this, and with such astounding directing, writing, and acting, it's not hard to see why this film made our list of the top 20 best movies of the year.

Click the link below to continue our list and to see our TOP 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2016!!!

Movie Review #583: "The Belko Experiment" (2017)

Director: Greg McLean
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Image Source
A group of office workers at the Belko corporation in Bogotá, Colombia are locked in their building and are forced to murder each other or face their own execution by a faceless voice controlling the situation. 

"The Belko Experiment" is directed by Greg McLean, who is known for directing "Wolf Creek" and it sequel, as well as the horrendous horror flick from last year called "The Darkness." It is written by James Gunn, who is no stranger to movies like this as he has written such horror genre flicks as "Dawn of the Dead" (2004) and "Slither." It has an ensemble cast that makes up the employees at Belko, played by the likes of John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Sean Gunn, Josh Brener, Dave Del Rio, Owain Yeoman, James Earl, and Michael Rooker, just to name a few. All of the company's workers show up for a normal day on the job at Belko to find what seems like a heightened security alert. Most of the employees don't think much of it, until an announcement comes over the PA system stating what is essentially a "kill or be killed" message as metal shutters slam over every window throughout the building, leaving no chance for escape.

This is a film where average people are taken and put in an extreme situation. These workers are forced to see if they can revert to their more violent and animalistic instincts. We have seen similar concepts like in other movies, most notably "Battle Royale," and to a lesser and far less bloody extent, "The Hunger Games." You can even compare the situation these office workers are put in to that of a drafted soldier who is placed on the front lines of battle, except in war, the enemy is far more clear. In this situation, many scenarios are set up to test people to see how they will react. The voice on the PA system demands that two people be killed, or there will be consequences. When the workers attempt to call the voice's bluff and don't comply, four people are killed. Next comes the order to kill 30 people or 60 will die. It's at this point we how far certain individuals are willing to go for self-preservation and how strong the moral convictions of others are in a scenario like this. It is in the early part of the film where tension and paranoia build as we wonder who will be the first to crack under the pressure, the horror, and the insanity, and will be the first to murder a coworker and friend.

This is not a complex story with deeply developed characters. Throughout the film, we do get a general sense of who some of the people working for Belko are, as well as their attitudes towards survival and their potential murder habits. There's not a whole lot beyond this, but there doesn't really need to be, especially when considering the movie's short run time. As the film rolls quickly on, all hell starts to break loose into a symphony of mayhem and carnage. The weapons come out in full force and blood starts to fly as humanity goes right out the window in a frenzy of gratuitous violence. Because of this, it's not going to be a film for everyone due to the fact that at times, one may hear the literal mushing of skulls and brains as Belko employees are murdered in various ways. In fact, the very idea of a film like this is enough to disgust many people, especially considering the climate we live in today related to incidents like this. The one big critique we have is that much of the killing is done with guns, and given the office type of setting, though there were some crafty kills, we would have preferred to see more creative uses of office supplies when it came to some of these killings.

For fans of splatter-house style horror films or the aforementioned "Battle Royale," "The Belko Experiment" may be right up your alley. For us, we found this to be overall effective and sometimes unnerving flick, which is what a horror film is meant to do. Like we said, this movie is not for everyone as the body count is not only kept at a high and ever-rising number, but it's kept at a bloody disgusting one at that. Gore fans will delight in the sea of butchery left in this movie's wake.


My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 46%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

**To review this movie for yourself on one of the best websites on the internet, visit filmfed.com!*