action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi, video game

March 26th, 2018 Movie – TRON: Legacy

tron legacy

Sometimes, patience pays off when it comes to sequels. Take today’s movie for instance. Ever since TRON came out, fans have been clamoring for a sequel but it really took off at the beginning of the century and in 2005, Disney finally decided to get serious with it. Now when I first heard about the sequel, I was really excited. I mean, TRON was so amazing in it’s special effects that I hoped the improvements in technology would make this movie just as amazing. So let’s see if all the patience paid off with today’s movie, TRON: Legacy.

The plot: In 1989, seven years after taking over Encom, Kevin Flynn is telling his son Sam about the Grid and his adventures in there. He also tells him how he worked with Tron and Clu to build a new Grid when something amazing occurred, a miracle Flynn says, though he doesn’t go into detail. Flynn leaves for work but the next day he disappears, throwing his company into chaos and causing the board to seize control of the company from Flynn’s partner, Alan Bradley. In the present day, Sam makes his way to Encom Tower one night and sneaks into the building during a late night board meeting. Inside the board meeting, Chairman Richard Mackey is touting the success of Encom to the board before mentioning their latest operating software’s upcoming release, praising it’s developer Edward Dillinger (son of Ed Dillinger), then says that Encom will be traded on Japan’s Nikkei index, resulting in Encom stocks trading worldwide 24/7. Meanwhile, Sam breaks into the server room, unintentionally tripping an alarm, and as the security searches for him, he uploads the master file for Encom’s newest operating software onto the internet before making his escape. As the board members discover what happened, Sam makes his way to the roof, revealing to the security guard that he is Sam Flynn, who happens to be the majority share holder in the company, and then does a base jump off the building but as he tries to make it to his motorcycle, he is captured by the police. After bailing himself out of jail, Sam returns to his apartment to find Alan waiting for him. After congratulating him on his annual prank, Alan tells Sam that he received a page from Flynn’s office at the arcade, even though the service had been cut off years ago, and suggests Sam go check it out, tossing him the keys to the arcade. Though he thinks it is a waste of time, Sam decides to head to the arcade and after looking around and finding nothing, he starts to leave but finds himself drawn to the old TRON video game. Deciding to play it for old times sake, Sam notices scratches on the floor and discovers a hidden room behind the console. Searching around, he finds a running computer, that had been idle for 20 years, and starts trying to access it only to accidentally activate the laser behind him, which blasts him. Not sure what just happened, Sam leaves the building only to realize that he has been transported to the Grid, just as a Recognizer approaches him and he is captured. When the Recognizer lands, one of the soldiers scans Sam and the other captured programs and Sam is sentenced to “Games”. He is taken to a chamber, where 4 Sirens remove his clothes and give him a uniform and an identity disk. Sam asks what he is supposed to do now and Gem, the head Siren, tells him to survive. Sam exits the chamber to find himself in an arena and forced to compete in disk wars with other programs, as a ship approaches and a masked figure watches from above. Sam kills 2 programs and then attempts to escape but ends up in a different arena, where he is forced to face off with the Games’ champion, Rinzler. As Sam and Rinzler fight, Rinzler gets the upper hand but before he can finish him off, Rinzler notices Sam bleeding from a cut he received and realizes that he is a User. The leader demands that Sam identify himself and when Sam says his name is Sam Flynn, the leader has Sam brought to him. In the leaders chamber, the leader unmasks to reveal the face of Kevin Flynn and Sam is shocked to see his father alive but after talking with him, realizes that it is Clu, not his father. Clu decides to kill Sam in a light cycle duel, facing him in a 5 on 5 team battle, but as Clu prepares to finish off Sam, a strange car enters the arena and rescues Sam. After escaping the arena, the driver unmasks to reveal a woman, who introduces herself as Quorra, who says that Clu’s forces won’t be able to follow as they are not designed to go off grid. Quorra takes Sam to a home in the mountains, where Sam is reunited with his father, who is shocked to see Sam in the Grid. As they eat, Sam and Flynn catch up briefly before Sam asks why Flynn never came home. Flynn tells him that when he first started working in the Grid, he brought over Tron, which Alan had built, and then created a new version of Clu, hoping that between the 3 of them they could build the perfect system. Then, one day, he discovered ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, which Flynn did not create but somehow appeared on their own. Flynn felt that they could help unlock some of life’s greatest mysteries but Clu saw them as an imperfection that needed to be destroyed and led a coupe against Flynn. Tron was killed trying to help Flynn escape and Flynn ended up trapped in the Grid when the portal closed, as it would only stay open for 8 hours and could only be opened from the outside world. Sam says that they should just leave now while the portal is still open but Flynn tells him that Clu wanted someone to open the portal, as he was planning something and needed a new player on the board in order to draw him out of hiding, saying that Clu needed his identity disk in order to try and leave the Grid and go to the real world. Flynn heads to bed and Sam feels frustrated that he doesn’t seem to want to try and leave and Quorra tells Sam to go find Zuse, as he helped her out during the fights and she felt he could be trusted. Sam heads to the city and is met by Gem, who takes him to the End of Line club. Back at the house, Flynn discovers that Sam is gone and decides to take Quorra and go after him. Meanwhile, Clu’s major-domo, Jarvis, tells him they found Flynn’s light cycle and traced it back to it’s origin so Clu, Jarvis, Rinzler, and 2 soldiers head to Flynn’s house only to find it empty. At the End of Line club, Gem introduces Sam to Castor, the club’s owner, who reveals that he is Zuse and seems surprised to learn that Quorra is still alive. Zuse tells Sam that he is someone that likes to play the angles, just as 4 of Clu’s soldiers drop in through the ceiling. Sam decides to join in the fight against the soldiers and Quorra appears to help him but she is injured in the fight. Suddenly, Flynn shuts the room down, allowing the resistance to defeat the soldiers and he tells Sam to grab Quorra and they go to leave but one of the soldiers manages to grab Flynn’s disk before they leave, only to be killed by Zuse, who grabs the disk for himself. Flynn chastises Sam for his actions but decides that the only thing they can do is go with Sam’s idea to make a dash for the portal so they board a solar sailer heading to the wastelands. While they are travelling, Flynn works on trying to help repair Quorra, revealing that she is the last ISO, and afterwards, he talks with Sam for a bit before heading off to meditate. Meanwhile, Clu shows up at the club and speaks with Zuse, who offers a deal to give Clu the disk in exchange for control of the city but Clu simply takes the disk and then blows up the club, killing Zuse and Gem. Back on the sailer, Quorra recovers and as they continue riding, Sam and Quorra end up bonding. Flynn sees them and smiles but his smile fades when he sees a Recognizer close by and sees the sailer pulling into a waystation that shouldn’t be there. Telling Sam and Quorra to hide, they see that Clu is using the station as a launching base for an army and realize they have to get to the portal to stop Clu. Seeing Rinzler close by, Quorra hands her disk to Flynn and then runs out to act as a distraction so Flynn and Sam can escape. When Rinzler captures Quorra, Flynn recognizes his moves and mannerism and realizes that Rinzler is Tron, who wasn’t killed but repurposed by Clu. Clu has Quorra taken to his chamber, along with Flynn’s disk, and he then speaks to his army, and Sam and Flynn realize Clu figured out how to bring programs over to the real world. Sam tells Flynn that they have to get Flynn’s disk and Quorra back and tells Flynn to get them some transport to the portal. Sam makes his way to Clu’s chamber, dealing with the guards along the way, and then grabs Flynn’s disk from where Clu had it kept. Grabbing Jarvis, Sam asks where Quorra is just as Rinzler arrives with her and Sam faces off against Rinzler, allowing Quorra to knock him off the platform. Freeing Quorra, Sam grabs a set of glider wings and jumps out of the tower with her, then races to the light jet that Flynn grabbed. As they leave, Clu enters his chamber and kills Jarvis for allowing them to take the disk, then he, Rinzler, and some of Clu’s soldiers activate their own light jets and give chase. With Quorra piloting and Sam manning the rear guns, they begin battling Clu’s soldiers and manage to kill them. When Rinzler attacks them, Flynn calls out to his old friend, causing Rinzler to fall back as his memories of Flynn reemerge, then crash into Clu in order to save Flynn. As Clu and Rinzler fall, Rinzler goes to grab his spare control stick but Clu grabs it from him and uses it while Rinzler plunges into the waters below, with his uniform reverting back to it’s original coloring. Flynn, Sam, and Quorra arrive at the portal only to find Clu waiting for them and Flynn goes to face him, apologizing for his part in their fallout. Clu attacks Flynn and when Sam goes to defend him, Flynn grabs Quorra and tells her she knows what to do. Quorra moves in front of Sam, pushing him back towards the portal while Flynn tells Clu to ignore them as he is after Flynn’s disk. Clu grabs Flynn’s disk only to discover that Flynn had switched disks with Quorra. As Clu’s ship appears, Flynn yells at Sam to take Quorra out of there and then merges with Clu, causing an explosion that destroys Clu’s ship and the portal area. Back in the real world, Sam downloads the details of the Grid onto a memory chip, which he wears around his neck, then heads out of the secret office. In the arcade, Sam sees Alan looking around and explains that he paged him there to tell him they are taking back Encom, with Sam making Alan the new chairman of the board. Outside, Sam sees Quorra by his motorcycle, who asks what they will do now, and Sam says that they will do what his father asked and change the world, then he has her get on the bike and they ride off, with Sam letting Quorra experience her first sunrise.

TRON: Legacy met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tron: Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.” While Jeff Bridges was always slated to return, none of the other characters from the original movie were written into the movie. However, public outcry from Bruce Boxleitner and fans of the original movie caused the writers to add him in and his performance was so popular, he returned to play Tron in the animated series TRON: Uprising. The movie was a box office success, earning $400 million off of a $170 million budget and a sequel was planned but has since been placed on indefinite hiatus while Disney considers rebooting the series.

After years of wait, I have to say that I enjoyed this movie but felt like it could have been better. The acting was good, with Jeff Bridges doing a great job returning as Kevin Flynn/Clu, though it felt like a little bit of The Dude had made it’s way into his portrayal of Kevin Flynn. Bruce Boxleitner was also good returning as Alan/Tron, while Gerrett Hedlund (Sam) and Olivia Wilde (Quorra) were equally good but my favorite character was Michael Sheen (Zuse), who was the most entertaining character next to Flynn himself. The story was pretty interesting and I liked how they acknowledged the time difference from the original movie to this one, such as the computer in the secret office showing the 20 year idle screen. I will agree with the critics that the movie did kind of lack some character developement, but mainly regarding Sam and Quorra, who came across as kind of bland despite their being two of the main characters. The special effects were incredible and definitely showcased the advancement in technology since the original movie. I also liked that they tried to incorporate a lot of aspects from the original movie into this, from the Recognizers, tanks, and light cycles, to aspects of Encom tower and the laser that zapped Sam. A good follow up to a cult classic and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi, video game

March 25th, 2018 Movie – TRON

tron

When you think of Disney, everyone will always think of their animated features first and foremost, although recently some people might say that the MCU and Star Wars movies might be more prominent. However, even before they bought those franchises, Disney would occasionally make their own foray into the realm of science fiction. Today’s movie is probably Disney’s biggest cult classic film as I don’t think I have met too many people who have seen it that have not enjoyed this movie. I remember watching this on VHS years ago and 5 year old me thought that it was absolutely fantastic. To this day, I still enjoy it and as soon as it was available on DVD, I would buy a copy of it. So now let’s have some 80’s retro enjoyment with today’s movie, TRON.

The plot: At Flynns, a popular video arcade, people line up to play a series of popular games. Inside one of the games, a program called Sark is racing a light cycle against the player and ends up winning the race by crashing his opponent into the light wall. LAter, Sark returns to his control ship and speaks with Master Control, the main system program for Encom’s computers, tells him that he absorbed some military software and wants Sark to battle their programs and defeat them in order to fully integrate them into himself. Elsewhere, a banking program is placed into a cell, where he meets Ram, another program, and Ram explains that they are there for believing in the Users, the people that programmed them. Back in the real world, Kevin Flynn, a former programmer for Encom, sends his hacking program Clu into Encom’s systems looking for some files he needs. In the system, Clu, accompanied by his data sprite Bit, is riding in a tank into the high clearance memory when he is confronted by a squad of Recognizers. Clu attempts to fight his way through them but ends up crashing his tank, then yells at Bit to get out of there before he is captured. Clu is taken to see Master Control, who tortures Clu to find out who programmed him but when Clu refuses to talk, Master Control has him erased and then contacts Ed Dillinger, the Senior Executive Vice President of Encom. Dillinger returns to the home office and access his computer to talk with Master Control, who tells him that Flynn has been snooping around the system looking for the files and Dillinger suggest suspending the higher level access to try and keep Flynn out. In his cubicle, Alan Bradley finds his access has been suspended and goes to see Dillinger, who tells him the issue and says it will only be for a few days. He then asks what Alan is working on and Alan tells him his program is called Tron; a watchdog/security program that will ensure that systems are not accessing files they are not supposed to. After Alan leaves, Master Control contacts Dillinger and tells him that he doesn’t like the idea of an independent program running around in his system, as he has appropriated countless outside programs. Alan heads down to the research lab to see his girlfriend Lora, who is working on a project with her mentor Dr. Walter Gibbs that consists of  a laser and program that will digitize solid matter and reconstruct it into the computer. Alan tells Lora about level 7 access being suspended because someone was hacking the system and she says that Flynn had mentioned trying to get into the system and had the proper access. The two head to Flynn’s arcade and talk to him and he admits that he had been trying to hack into the system. He explains that he had invented the video game Space Paranoid and several others while he was working at Encom but one day he found his files missing and 3 months later, Dillinger presents the games to the board and advances up the ranks. Flynn has been trying to find the files in the Master Control Program’s memory to show as proof but with level 7 access suspended, he won’t be able to do so. When Alan mentions his Tron program, Flynn says he could forge a level 6 access if he had physical access to the system and Lora says they should go right now. Heading back to Encom, Flynn hacks the security door so they can get into the building unannounced then separate, with Alan heading to his terminal to get ready to activate Tron while Lora taking Flynn to her station so he can hack into the system. Meanwhile, Dillinger is meeting with Gibbs, who is arguing about cutting the programmers access and complains about how the company has changed since he first helped found it. Afterwards, Dillinger is talking to Master Control, who says he plans on hacking the Pentagon and Kremlin, threatening to release the file about Dillinger’s theft of Flynn’s intellectual property to the Times if Dillinger tries to stop him. Lora shows Flynn her terminal then heads up to meet with Alan, leaving Flynn to try to get into the system. As Flynn starts working at the terminal, Master Control speaks out to him and warns him to stop but when Flynn continues on his task, Master Control activates the laser and blasts Flynn, transporting him into the computer system, where he is captured by Sark’s men. Master Control contacts Sark and tells him he wants Flynn placed in the games so he can be killed and when Sark balks upon hearing that Flynn is a user, Master Control threatens to shut him down unless he does as instructed. Flynn is taken out of his cell along with the other newly captured programs, and Sark addresses them and says they will all be competing in the games for the chance to join his men in service to the MCP. As they are walking back to their cells, Flynn sees a program fighting against 4 of Sark’s men and asks Ram who he is and Ram tells him that it is Tron. Later, Flynn is forced to compete in a game against another free program, playing a form of paddle ball on a series of rings, which disappear when the ball hits them. Flynn manages to get the upper hand on his opponent but when Sark orders him to finish the game and kill his opponent, Flynn refuses. Sark then kills Flynn’s opponent and considers killing Flynn but recalls Master Control’s orders and has him escorted to the next game. Flynn meets up with Ram and Tron, who Flynn is surprised to see looks like Alan. When Flynn calls him Alan, Tron remarks that that is his user and Flynn lies, telling him that his user sent him here to help him take out the MCP. Flynn, Tron, and Ram are sent into the light cycle grid and compete in a team battle against 3 of Sark’s men in a 3 on 3 match. During the course of the match, one of Sark’s men crashes into the wall and causes an opening, which Flynn escapes through, following by Tron and Ram. The three manage to avoid the Recognizers and tanks that Sark sends after them and then look around the area. Seeing an input/output tower in the distance, Tron says he has to head there and make contact with Alan or else they won’t be able to get close the the MCP. As the three head out, they are attacked by a group of tanks and Flynn and Ram’s light cycles are destroyed while Tron, thinking they are dead, continues to escape, pursued by Sark and his men. Flynn and Ram survived, though Ram is seriously injured, and Flynn carries him into the wreckage of a Recognizer and lays him down before passing out himself. After resting for a bit, Flynn notices that some of the Recognizer’s systems have come online and he discovers he is able to rebuild it, using his knowledge as a User, to do so. Flying off to meet with Tron, Flynn tells Ram that he will get him some help but Ram motions for him to come closer. Stopping the Recognizer, Flynn approaches Ram, who recognizes him as a User and begs him to help Tron and as Flynn promises, Ram smiles before he derezzes. Meanwhile, Tron has reached the tower and contacts Yori, a program that looks like Lora in the real world, and when she recognizes him, she embraces Tron then leads him to Dumont, who can help him contact Alan. Back in the Recognizer, Flynn finds himself struggling to control it due to damage it had previously sustained, while a Bit begins floating around his head and commenting on his driving. Flynn eventually crashes into the outskirts of the tower and goes looking for Tron but is forced to hide when Sark and some of his men walk by. Noticing a straggler, Flynn knocks him out but as he goes to move the body, Flynn realizes that his circuitry has instinctively changed colors to mimic one of Sark’s men. Meanwhile, Tron and Yori manage to sneak into Dumont’s chamber and convince Dumont to help Tron contact Alan. With Dumont locking Sark’s forces out of the tower, Tron is able to contact Alan, who places the information needed to shut down the MCP onto Tron’s identity disk. Tron and Yori leave the chamber just as Sark and his men manage to break through and capture Dumont for helping Tron. Tron and Yori board a solar-sailer simulation to make their way to the MCP’s core and Tron fights off Sark’s men who try to stop him, unintentionally knocking Flynn off the ship, though he manages to cling to the simulation’s side. As they sail along the information beam, Sark’s control ship attempts to catch up to them but Lori is able to speed up the simulation and escape. As he heads back to Yori, Tron notices Flynn, who calls out to stop Tron from attacking him, and Tron helps him aboard and smiles to see his friend still alive but is saddened to learn of Ram’s death. Tron introduces Flynn to Yori and Flynn tells them that he is a User, which surprises Tron and Yori. When they find their progress stopped by a power surge from the MCP, Flynn uses his body as a gateway to link the simulation to another data stream, allowing the power surge to destroy the two Recognizers that were following them. Tron and Yori are surprised to find that Flynn isn’t derezzing and believe that he is a user but as they continue towards the MCP, Sark’s ship broadsides them and destroys the simulation, seemingly killing Tron while Flynn and Yori are captured. The two are placed in a cell with Dumont and when Sark enters, he is shocked to see Flynn is still alive. Sark orders Dumont taken to his landing shuttle, and tells Flynn that after he leaves, the ship will derezz, along with everyone left on board but unknown to Sark, Tron is still alive and clings to the outside of the shuttle. Sark leaves and the ship begins to derezz but Flynn is able to keep it from completely being destroyed, and saves Yori so she can help him. At the MCP, Sark has the religious zealots taken into the MCP, where Master Control begins to absorb them into himself. Tron shows up and begins fighting with Sark, eventually dealing him a fatal blow but when he goes to attack Master Control, the MCP brings up a shield, then uses his power to resurrect Sark into a giant. When Flynn and Yori arrive, Flynn has Yori steer the ship close to the information beam, then jumps into it, distracting the MCP long enough to expose an opening in the shield. Tron throws his disk through the opening and into the MCP, where it is eventually destroyed. As Tron, Yori, Dumont, and the others watch, the I/O Towers change colors, showing that they are no longer under the control of the MCP. Meanwhile, Flynn is blasted back into the real world and as he gets his bearings, a printer begins printing out the information Flynn had been looking for and he cheers at the success. The next day, Dillinger walks into his office and accesses his computer only to see the information about his stealing Flynn’s games has been displayed to every computer in the building and he sits down, realizing his career is ruined. Some time later, Alan and Lora are on the roof of Encom tower waiting for their new boss to arrive and as the helicopter lands, Flynn gets out and hugs his two friends, saying “Greetings programs”, referencing his time in The Grid.

TRON met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though perhaps not as strong dramatically as it is technologically, TRON is an original and visually stunning piece of science fiction that represents a landmark work in the history of computer animation.” The movie was considered a failure, despite earning $33 million off of a $17 million budget, but the video games developed based on the movie would prove to be a major hit and would actually out-gross the movie. Tron was actually disqualified from receiving an Oscar nomination for special effects because at the time, the Academy felt that using computers was “cheating”. TRON would develop a cult following and aside from various video games, it would get a film sequel almost 30 years later, as well as an animated TV series that would bridge somewhat bridge the gap and lead into the sequel.

Yes, this movie is somewhat dated but I still love this movie. The acting was great, with Jeff Bridges (Flynn/Clu), David Warner (Dillinger/Sark. Master Control), and Bruce Boxleitner (Alan/Tron) doing great jobs in their roles. I also thought that Condy Morgan (Lora/Yori) and Barnard Hughes (Gibbs/Dumont) were equally good, though they unfortunately seemed to come across more as supporting characters. The story was a pretty good action/sci-fi movie as a whole, while also doing a good job of showcasing the fears that some people felt in the 80’s, and still do today, about computers starting to gain more control and self autonomy, to the point where they could eventually replace people. The special effects for the time were incredible and considered groundbreaking, especially the blend of computer animation with human actors. I loved the color scheme used in The Grid, with the bright colors mixed with the bland backgrounds making for some vivid imagery during some scenes. Yes, there might be some nostalgia involved but this is still a movie that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 12th, 2018 Movie – Transmorphers: Fall Of Man

transmorphers-fall of man

So here is an interesting premise. A sequel to a major blockbuster translates to a prequel to the corresponding mockbuster. What, you don’t think that makes sense? Well that is exactly what happened regarding today’s movie. With Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen coming out in theaters, The Asylum decided to make another mockbuster of the series. However, they decided to make it a prequel to show the initial invasion, as the first movie pretty much had an ending that didn’t leave room for a sequel. So let’s see what kind of a movie I have on my hands with today’s movie, Transmorphers: Fall Of Man.

The plot: A diplomat’s daughter is driving her car erratically and arguing on the phone with her now ex-boyfriend when she is pulled over in a small town by Officer Hadley Ryan, who gives her a warning about driving while on the phone. As the woman drives away, she finishes arguing with her ex and puts the phone down on the passenger seat but the phone suddenly changes into a robot and attacks and kills her. At Edwards Air Force Base, two NSA agents are discussing a report and when told it is verified, one of them asks the other to get Dr. Jo Summers; who at that time is getting coffee but when she sees the newspaper story of a the diplomat’s daughter’s death, quickly leaves the shop. Back in the small town, Mayor Ethan Holt arrives at the autopsy and speaks with Hadley about the girl, who tells him that she wasn’t shot but neither he nor the medical examiner can explain the wound in her head. The next morning, Madison Ryan returns home from work and finds her TV is on the fritz so she calls the satellite company to send someone to fix their dish and is surprised to find it is her ex-boyfriend Jake Van Ryberg, a military vet that had recently returned from active duty. Jake goes to check the satellite dish when he hears a strange sound and sees it moving on it’s own before it changes into a robot. Jake quickly grabs a gun and when Madison asks what is going on, he runs back to the house, inadvertently knocking her down, and tells her to get get “Nanna” out of there and call the police, then goes back outside to look for the robot. Meanwhile, Jo approaches Hadley, saying she is from Homeland Security, and asks him some questions about the girl’s death when they are approached by the two NSA agents, who tell Jo that she has to come with them while Hadley gets a call about his niece, Madison. In their car, the two NSA agents start questioning Jo, who tells them she noticed a strange signal and something from Earth communicating back with it. Meanwhile, Hadley pulls up to where Madison and Jake are and, after asking Jake to hand him his gun, asks them what is going on. When Jake tells him about the satellite dish changing into a robot and Madison confirms that the dish is missing, Hadley tells them to get in the car and drives off but is forced to take a detour to investigate a murder. Arriving at the scene, he sees the victim has the same wound as the girl and a witness tells him that the car pushed the body out of the car and then drove away on it’s own. Hadley heads back to the coroner’s office to get the cell phone from the girl’s accident and the medical examiner tells him that the Feds were there looking for it but it is missing. Deciding to search the office, Hadley finds the phone and goes to leave when they are attacked by the SUV. Hadley gives chase and tries to arrest the driver, not realizing there isn’t one, but when the satellite dish robot shows up, he quickly gets back in the car and leaves, with the SUV giving chase again. They attempt to lose the SUV but when they find themselves boxed in, the SUV changes into a robot and attacks them but they are saved when a military helicopter attacks the robot while the female NSA agent pulls up and tells them to get in the car. The agent takes them to Edwards Air Force Base, where the senior agent introduces them to Jo, then explains what they know and that Jake was brought there because of his experience with UAV’s. The agents learn that more robots are appearing all over the world, primarily in cities with military bases, when suddenly, the SUV robot arrives and begins attacking the base, killing everyone in sight. Jake theorizes that the robots are probing their defenses and comes up with a plan to shut down the robot by jamming the signal controlling it. With Madison providing a distraction, Jake and Jo head towards the control tower and grab the equipment to jam the signal while Hadley gets into a helicopter so he can destroy the robot. Madison manages to distract the robot, almost getting killed by an explosion in the process, but she bought enough time for Jo and Jake to jam the signal but Hadley’s helicopter was damaged while fighting the robot so he radios Jake to take care of Madison, then sacrifices himself by crashing into the robot, destroying both it and himself. With the threat seemingly over, everyone moves on with their lives and Jake and Madison end up getting together, unaware that thousands of cubes are floating through space heading right towards Earth. The next day, Jake and Madison are woken by the sounds of explosions and head outside to see dozens of objects falling from the sky. Jake heads back inside his home to grab a gun, then heads back outside to Madison and they leave, just as a robot lands nearby. Jo pulls up and they get in her SUV and drive off, with a flying robot chasing after them. Jake is able to destroy the robot, getting wounded in the process, but they end up getting into a wreck and Jo’s leg is injured. They are picked up by Mayor Holt, who takes them to a refugee camp he established out in the desert after the robots took over the city. When they get word of the robots doing something to the water, Jake decides to lead a team to the aqueducts to stop them. Jake, Madison, Jo, Holt, and two others grab all the dynamite available and head out but two of their group are killed along the way. The meet up with a surviving member of a special forces team, who explains that he was on the way with his team to destroy the terraforming machine nearby, explaining that the robots are changing the entire planet to suit their needs. Deciding to change their mission, Jake and the others follow the soldier to the terraforming plant, with the soldier dying to provide a distraction to get them inside, while Holt is killed as well. Jack sets the explosives and tells Madison and Jo to run, then follows them outside only to come across several robots approaching him. When the explosion occurs, Madison cries thinking Jake died but he appears through the smoke and the two embrace and kiss. Afterwards, Jake, the new leader of the human resistance in the area, sends out a message to any other survivors telling them they lost the battle but the war isn’t over and they should join him.

Weak story aside, this is a much better movie than the first one. The acting was ok, with Bruce Boxleitner (Hadley), Shane Van Dyke (Jake) and Alana DiMaria (Madison) all doing good jobs in their roles. The story was admittedly a little weak but they did a good job if incorporating some of the story from the first movie into this one. I did like the set up that Jake’s last name was Van Ryberg, the same last name as Eliza Swenson’s character from the original movie, indicating that she is a descendant of Jake. The special effects were still not the best but definitely better than the original movie, though there were a few times that they reused the same scenes that could have been done better. It’s not the greatest cinematic movie of all time but it did show the improvements that The Asylum has made over the years and indicates how they will only get better.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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September 5th, 2017 Movie – Snakehead Terror

snakehead terror

Sometimes, you have to love how real life can inspire fiction. In 2002, snakehead were discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland and after the main pond and two nearby ponds were poisoned and they discovered 6 adult and over 1000 juvenile snakefish in the lakes. Two movies were made that aired on Syfy in 2004, today’s movie and Frankenfish, and of course I would wind up owning both of them. Now, Frankenfish was pretty lousy so let’s see if today’s movie, Snakehead Terror, is any better.

The plot: When several snakeheads are found in Cultus Lake, authorities use poison in the lake to get rid of the invasive fish. Two years later, a hunter is out in the woods with his dog when they find the carcass of a bear and when his dog chases after something it sees, it ends up being killed in the lake and the hunter is killed when he follows after it. Sheriff Patrick James arrives at his office and comments to his deputy about the lack of people signing up for fishing licenses when his daughter Amber shows up. Amber tries to tell him that she wants to go to Paris with her boyfriend over the summer when Patrick is called away to the scene of a dead body on the lake. When Patrick arrives at the lake, he sees the mutilated body of the dog on the shore and after shooing away the onlookers, finds a hunter’s vest and arm in the lake. At another part of the lake, Amber apologizes to her boyfriend James and says that she will talk to her dad that night about the trip. The then head to a party on the lake shore and meet up with their friends and James is challenged to swimming race in the lake by their friend Luke. The two boys are taken out to an anchored jetty and race from their back to the pier but as they are swimming, James is attacked by some snakeheads and killed. After taking Amber home and making sure she is ok, Patrick heads to the coroner’s office to see if he has any information on what might have killed Dave and the others and Doc Jenkins shows him a tooth he pulled from the dog and says the only thing he can think of that could do this is an alligator. Patrick heads over to the mayor’s house and wakes him up then talks to him about closing the lake but the mayor balks on the idea, as the town is barely starting to recover after the lake’s poisoning and another bad year will kill it. After checking on Amber, and getting into an argument with her about her planned trip to Europe, Patrick is met by Lori Dale, a biologist that had come down to help identify the tooth that was recovered. After seeing the bodies and examining the tooth, Lori says that it is a snakehead, though one that is abnormally large. That night, a man is fishing on a dock when he sees a baby snakehead getting into his bait bucket. When he stabs it, the baby cries out and an adult snakehead leaps out of the water and rips off the man’s leg while a second one knocks him into the water. The next day, Lori is on the phone at the sheriff’s office to try and get some help when Sammy, a local reporter, over hears her talking about snakeheads and decides to send his photographer to the lake to get pictures while he writes up a story. While Patrick and Lori are at the lake getting water samples, the photographer is at another part of the lake and finds a snakehead but ends up getting killed. That night, Sammy is driving back to the newspaper office when he sees a large group of snakeheads shuffling across the road. He runs over several of them and ends up crashing and as he regains consciousness, he is killed by some of the surviving fish. The next day, Sammy’s story brings dozens of fishermen to the area and Patrick tells his deputies to tell them to stay out of the lake. Meanwhile, Lori is testing the water she collected and finds it contains a steroid, which she thinks is what is making the snakeheads grow so large. Meanwhile, Amber, Luke, Craig, and Jagger decide to go out and hunt down the snakehead to get revenge on James. On the docks, the mayor is arguing with Patrick over his putting up “No Swimming” signs when they see a commotion on the dock. When they go to check it out, they see some fishermen have caught a large snakehead and after they cut it open, a human hand is discovered. Patrick heads out into the lake to see if there are more snakehead and Lori goes with and explains what she found. They find an overturned boat and more signs of people being killed when the boat is attacked by snakehead but Patrick manages to scare them off after killing one of them. As they are heading back, they see Colin, Doc Jenkins’ brother and owner of the bait shop, pouring some chemicals in the water and he runs when he sees them approaching but they find the chemicals are human growth hormone. Back on the lake, Amber and the others try finding a snakehead and almost wreck into another boat when they do find one. As the two fishermen yell at the kids, Craig sees more fish approaching and they start attacking the boats. One of the fishermen is knocked into the water and as Craig tries to help him into their boat, he is dragged into the water and both of them are killed. The other fisherman is killed when Jagger accidenatlly shoots their boat’s engine and it explodes, while Luke is injured and falls into the water and Craig’s boat springs a leak. As a snakehead works its way through the hole in the boat, Amber makes her way to the nearby island and crashes there, then uses the boats propeller to kill the snakehead that bit her arm. They find that Luke had survived but his leg is injured and make their way inland, where they find a cabin in the woods. When they reach it, they find that the people inside have been killed by snakeheads and Amber and Luke kill one that was still in the cabin. Meanwhile, Patrick and Deputy Reese find evidence that Doc Jenkins had ordered the human growth hormone and so Patrick and Lori go after him and capture him. Jenkins reveals he did it to help save his brother’s shop as well as the town, but had he known the snakeheads had survived, he wouldn’t have done so. Back on the island, Amber, Jagger, and Luke head to the beach and light a fire to try and signal for help but they see some snakeheads coming out of the water towards them and are forced to head back to the cabin. Meanwhile, Colin heads to the island to bury the remaining containers of HGH when he finds himself surrounded by snakeheads and is killed. Patrick finds out about Amber being on the lake and he heads out with Lori to find her but as they see Craig’s boat on the beach, they are attacked by snakeheads and end up crashing into the dock. As they leave the boat, they see a whale sized snakehead breach out of the water and try to figure out what they are going to do about that one. Back at the cabin, Amber and Jagger try to find some weapons to use when the cabin is attacked by snakeheads and they try to fend them off but Luke is killed in the process. Patrick and Lori arrive at the cabin and Patrick has Lori rescue the girls while he heads back to the dock, having decided to use the cable for the town’s electrical grid to kill off the snakeheads. Lori rescues the girls, though Jagger receives a mild shock which disorients her, and they head to the dock to find that Patrick has shot the cable loose from the pole and tells Lori and Amber to throw the cable into the lake. As the giant snakehead attacks the dock to try and get to Patrick, they manage to throw the cable into the lake and electrocute all of the snakehead in the lake, including the giant one.

For such an interesting story, you would think they could have done a better job turning it into a movie, especially a cheesy sci-fi one. This movie was honestly not that good. The acting was ok, with Bruce Boxleitner (Patrick), William B. Davis (Jenkins), and Carol Alt (Lori) doing decent jobs in their roles. The story was a little weak with it’s explanations and just kind of half-assed things with the set-up. The special effects were on the weak side, especially when they tried to do closeups of the snakeheads killing people. Alas, it is one of the rare disappointments from a Syfy original movie. It happens from time to time so you will probably want to skip this one and find something else to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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