horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

December 19th, 2017 Movie – Swamp Shark

swamp shark

Even before the Sharknado craze hit TV, shark movies were still a hit on the Syfy channel. Today’s movie was one of a couple of shark movies that came out in 2011 and starred some relatively famous actors & actresses. Now of course, as soon as these movies came out I would immediately buy them on DVD (if they were available) and I was seriously intrigued with today’s movie as it stars Kristy Swanson and Robert Davi (better known as the original Buffy Summers and Jake Fratelli) Well, I already reviewed Avalanche Sharks and Super Shark so lets go ahead and dive right into today’s movie, Swamp Shark.

The plot: In Crowley, Louisiana, a group of college kids are partying by the swamp in preparation for the upcoming Gator Fest when they are chased away by Sheriff Watson. After the kids all leave, Watson uses the radio to contact a tanker truck, which pulls up along the road. As Watson starts to pay the man, who helps him smuggle exotic animals, the animal in the tank starts slamming into the tank, causing it to roll off the truck and into the swamp, crushing the poacher in the process, and Watson quickly tells the driver, Jackson, to get rid of the truck. Elsewhere, Rachel Boussard is working at her family’s restaurant, the Gator Shed, along with her brother Jason, sister Krystal, boyfriend Tyler, and bus boy Martin. As Rachel is talking with Tommy Breysler, a recent regular, and tries to figure out why he is there, they are interrupted when a drunken Jackson makes a scene, forcing Jason to throw him out. As Jason tosses Jackson outside, Jackson punches him, causing Jason to punch him back but the police had been called and arrest him for battery. When Watson shows up, he offers to let Jason go if Rachel will go out to dinner with him and she says she will think about it, as she is tired of Tyler’s constant flirting with the younger girls. Meanwhile, Krystal is hit on by two guys, Scott and Noah, who invite her out to the boat they are renting for the weekend and she turns them down but keeps the card with their phone numbers. That night, a drunken Jackson returns to the Gator Shed and proceeds to try and poison them as an act of revenge but as he stops to take a drink, he sees a shark fin swimming towards him just before it hits the pier and knocks him into the water, where it kills him. Rachel hears the commotion and, grabbing a rifle, heads outside and sees the shark and tries shooting it but the bullets have no effect and it swims away. The next day they discover that all of their gators have been eaten and Rachel tells them what she saw but Tyler and the others are skeptical. When Watson and some of his deputies show up, looking into the disappearance of Jackson, they find his severed arm and Watson orders the restaurant shut down and wants to take Jason in for questioning but they get called away on another alert. Rachel has look up the gator’s locator tags, which she had placed on them for insurance purposes, and they see all five tags out in the swamp. Realizing the best way to save the restaurant and prove they had nothing to do with Jackson’s death was to catch the shark, Rachel, Jason, and Tyler head to the docks. When Krystal and Martin try to join them, Jason tells them that they can’t come but they are surprised to see Tommy show up. Tommy says he wants to go with them to hunt the shark and after showing his skill with a spear gun, Jason agrees to bring him along but Tyler is jealous of him. They head out to where the locators are, only to find them all floating in the water. As they try to grab them, the shark suddenly rears out of the water and attempts to bite Jason. As Rachel and Jason grab their guns and try to shoot the shark, Tyler panics and starts the boat, moving the boat forward just as the shark goes to ram the boat but it causes Jason to fall towards the back of the boat, aggravating an old knee injury in the process. When they get back to the Gator Shed, Krystal and Martin help Jason off the boat while Rachel chastises Tyler, then checks the engine with Tommy, who says he will see if he can fix it. Elsewhere, Scott and his friends are having fun when two of them, Marcus and Amber, grab a nearby canoe and paddle out to be alone. As they are out in the water, Marcus takes a picture of Amber and they see the shark fin in the back ground and Amber wants to go back, only for the shark to chase after them and kill them both. Back at the restaurant, Rachel and Tyler continue to argue, particularly over Tommy’s wanting to help them and Rachel only makes the situation worse when she kisses Tommy, causing Tyler to try and fight with Tommy. Later, Tommy is being tended to by Krystal and Rachel asks if he still wants to help her and he says yes and will see her in the morning. The next day, Martin is trying to figure out what kind of shark Rachel and the others saw and stumbled across a story about a shark attack in a deep water trench and they wonder how the shark got there. Meanwhile, Watson meets up with Jackson’s brother, who is his buyer for exotic animal smuggling, and they work out a deal to bring in some more animals before the man tells Watson to try and get rid of the shark, unaware that Tommy is on a hill taking pictures of them. Later, as the Gator Fest is starting to set up, the Watson’s deputies arrive at the site and are told to keep an eye out for anything strange but one of the deputies, distracted by a couple making out, is killed by the shark. Back at the Gator Shed, Krystal answers a call from Scott, who tells her to come out to the boat they are on. Krystal heads out there and tries to warn Scott, Noah, and Sarah about the shark but Scott, refusing to stop his party, starts up the boat and heads out onto the river, then throws Krystal’s phone into the water when she tries to call Rachel for help. Meanwhile, Tommy calls Rachel and has her meet him at the hospital, where she learns that he is an agent for the Fish & Wildlife Services. He shows her the body of the kids he found, telling her it is proof they were killed by a shark and they go back to the Gator Shed to figure out their next move only to learn that Krystal is missing. When Martin tells them about the two college kids, Rachel hands Tommy the phone and tells him to call for help. Tommy calls Watson, and he heads to the police station with Rachel, Jason, and Tyler but Watson refuses to believe them, even when Tommy offers to talk to the prosecutor to go easy on him if he helps them. Watson decides to arrest them but Jason punches one of the deputies and tells the others to run as he is hit by a taser. Rachel, Tommy, and Tyler grab Watson’s police boat and head out onto the river when they hear Krystal calling for help on the radio. Rachel talks with Krystal, who tries to tell them where she is but Scott breaks the radio, not wanting to get in trouble for underage drinking. As Scott, Noah, and Sarah continue to party, Scott doesn’t pay attention and ends up getting the prop tangled in some plants. As he goes to try and cut them free, the shark attacks and knocks him into the water. Noah throws him a life preserver but the shark kills Scott, while Sarah is injured when the rope the life preserver is attached to goes taut and wraps around her neck before Krystal manages to cut the rope and then uses a flare gun to try and signal for help. Rachel and the others see the flare and as they head towards it, Rachel calls Martin and tells him to head to the police station to help break Jason out of jail. Rachel then calls the station and asks to speak with Jason and the deputy hands him the phone, which Jason uses to choke the deputy until he unlocks the cell. Martin shows up and goes with Jason to a local bait shop to get some bait and a propane tank, then steal the owners air boat and head towards the Gator Fest. Meanwhile, Noah tries to cut the underbrush away from the prop but the shark grabs him and drags him underwater. As Krystal screams for help, Rachel hears her and they finally locate the boat, then use some rope and grapple/anchor to pull themselves next to it. Tommy helps Sarah onto the boat but as Tyler goes to help Krystal, the shark knocks him into the water and kills him and they head off to the Gator Fest, with the shark chasing after them. Jason and Martin arrive at the Gator Fest and quickly grab a net and place the propane tank and bait inside. Rachel, Tommy, Krystal, and Sarah arrive soon after and as Rachel and Krystal get Sarah to an ambulance, Tommy goes to talk to Watson and tells him to evacuate the area. When Watson’s deputy, Stanley, sees the shark and cries out a warning, Watson orders the kids out of the water and heads out to shoot the shark only to be killed. Jason heads out onto the pier and throws the net into the water, then tells Rachel to shoot the tank when the shark attempts to eat it but the tank doesn’t explode, instead goes flying off and knocks out Watson’s smuggling partner. Tommy tells Jason to start the air boat, then heads out into the water and shoots the shark in the head with his spear gun when it attempts to attack him. Tommy then takes the launcher and rope and throws it into the air boat’s fan, which begins to wrap around the fan. The shark is dragged into the fan, which chops him up, and Rachel, Jason, Krystal, and Martin hug each other in celebration. Tommy heads over and has Stanley arrest the smuggler then heads over to Rachel and the two embrace as they head back to the Gator Shed.

Of the three low budget shark movies that came out in 2011, this was not the best but it was still a pretty decent movie. The acting was ok, with Kristy Swanson (Rachel), D.B. Sweeney (Tommy) and Robert Davi (Watson) doing a good job in their roles. I really liked the interaction between Jeff Chase (Jason) and Jason Rogel (Martin), while Wade Boggs had a really funny cameo as one of Watson’s deputies. The story was ok but I felt like they could have done a bit more with the smuggling aspect but they seemed to focus more on the stupid romance triangle instead. The special effects weren’t the best, as you would expect, and I was honestly disappointed with the shark design itself, as it looked a lot cheaper than some other shark movies. There are a couple of good moments but it is honestly on the so-so side of the entertainment scale.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, horror, movie, movie review

October 23rd, 2017 Movie – Spawn

spawn

Today marks the beginning of almost a solid week of superhero movies. Unfortunately, we start off with one that was a real disappointment. See, back in the early 90’s, there was a breakaway from Marvel of several of their top illustrators, who had wanted to maintain the copyrights for characters they created, thus giving birth to Image comics. One of the most popular comics in that new company was “Spawn”, created by Todd McFarlane. Now Spawn was a definitely a darker, and bloodier, comic than what most fans expected (similar to the Punisher) and it made sense that someone might try to make a movie off based of the comics. Unfortunately, the end result was a little less than desired and I, having a tendency to torture myself with my movie choices at times, decided to buy it just to work on my superhero movie collection. So let’s get this headache over with as I watch today’s movie, Spawn.

The plot: In Hong Kong, Special Forces operative Al Simmons takes over an airport control tower, where he then fires a missile to take out his target before detonating the launcher to remove all traces of his being there, unaware that he is being observed by a man named Cogliostro. Back in the US, Jason Wynn, the head of the agency that Al works for, is meeting with a demon known as Violator, who has promised to give Wynn world domination in exchange of certain favors and asks for one last favor, kill Al Simmons. Some time later, Al and his friend/partner Terry Fitzgerald are heading to work and after showing Al the paper discussing the civilian deaths in the latest operation, Terry comments about how several of Wynn’s ops seem to have more civilian casualties and that he is going to keep an eye on Wynn. Al goes to Wynn’s office and tells him he wants out, causing him to be taunted by Wynn’s bodyguard/assassin Jessica Priest, and Wynn tells him he will have him transferred after completing one last mission. Al is sent to North Korea to destroy a bioweapon facility but when he gets there, he finds the place is already prepared to blow and Wynn waiting for him. Al tries to stop Wynn from releasing the gas, as there is a village nearby, but he is shot by Priest, who then pours an accelerant onto him and Wynn sets him on fire. Al calls out his wife Wanda’s name before collapsing to the ground just as the plant explodes. 5 years later, a horribly burned Al is shown to be alive and in the top of an old church, where Violator is watching him. Al climbs down from the church and finds himself in an alley where the homeless live, and Cogliostro attempts to talk to him but Al shoves him aside so Cogliostro gives him a coat to help hide his burned face and skin. Al heads to his home to find Wanda is now married to Terry and they have a daughter, Cyan. When Cyan chases after her dog Spaz, who had recognized Al, and offers Al some candy but Wanda sees them and grabs her away from him. Wanda yells for Terry, who tells Al to leave and Violator, who was dressed up to perform for the party, grabs Al and leaves with him. Returning to the alley, Violator explains that Al promised to lead the Demon Malebolgia’s army in exchange for getting to be with Wanda again, taking Al to his grave to show him that he died. The pain causes Al’s necroplasm armor to emerge and Violator dubs him Spawn. Back in the alley, Spawn realizes the usefulness of his armor in getting his revenge on Wynn and he heads for Wynn’s new company only to be confronted by Cogliostro, who tries to stop him but when Spawn continues on his path, Cogliostro summons a blade and debates on if he needs to use it. Al breaks into Wynn’s new company, A-6, and steals some of their weapons, then follows Wynn and Terry to a reception at a nearby embassy. Spawn breaks in and confronts Wynn, who is shocked to see what Al has become. Spawn then confronts Terry and asks him how he could betray him and Terry, shocked at see Al there, tells him that Wanda was devastated when Al died and he was taking care of her when they fell in love. Priest and a security team arrive and attack Spawn and though he is shot, his wounds heal and he manages to kill Priest before being blasted out of a window, where he uses his armor to escape from the police. As Wynn watches Priest’s body being taken away, he sees Violator nearby and goes to talk with him, angry at what had happened. Violator calms him down and tells him that he should get a device attached to his heart which will release the Heat-16, the new bioweapon Wynn has developed, worldwide if his heart stops beating, which will serve as a deterrent from anyone killing him. Spawn heads to where Wanda is giving a lecture about the effects of Heat 16, realizing how Wynn has been using him all this time. When Cyan runs off after Spaz and falls, Spawn helps her up and carries her to where Wanda can find her, just as Terry shows up and takes them home but Spaz ends up staying with Spawn and returns to the alley with him. In the alley, Spawn starts to befriend a homeless boy name Zack when Violator shows up and Spawn attacks him. Violator then transforms into his demonic form and easily beats Spawn, eventually throwing him into the bent spires of an iron fence. Violator changes back into the clown and taunts Spawn about going to see Wanda before he leaves. Cogliostro appears and pulls off of the fence, then threatens to kill Spawn but when Spawn seems to have calmed down, he retracts his blade. Cogliostro then starts training Spawn in how to use his armor and abilities. Spawn then goes to save Wanda and Cyan from Violator, who stalls Spawn as he makes his way there. Meanwhile, Terry had made copies of Wynn’s files and was sending them to a local news channel in order to take down Wynn when Wynn shows up and takes them hostage. When Spawn shows up, he finds Wanda held captive, with Wynn threatening to kill her unless Spawn agrees to lead Hell’s armies. When Spawn refuses, Wynn stabs Wanda and Spawn proceeds to attack Wynn, threatening to kill him. Wynn says if he dies then everyone dies, including Cyan, and Spawn uses his powers to remove the device from Wynn’s heart, preventing the Heat 16 from being dispersed. As Spawn approaches Wanda’s body, she suddenly comes to life and attacks him, slashing his throat and revealing that she was actually a disguised Violator. Cogliostro appears and saves Spawn, chasing Violator back to Hell, and after Spawn heals himself, Violator grabs them both and drags them back to Hell. Cogliostro attacks Violator but he is easily beaten and thrown aside before Spawn starts attacking him and manages to stab him in the neck, causing Violator to retreat. Spawn is then confronted by Malebolgia and his army of hellspawn, who tells Spawn to lead his army or die. Spawn refuses, then uses his powers to attack the hellspawn but when he finds himself about to be overrun, he grabs Cogliostro and returns to Earth. As the two rest form their adventures, Cogliostro explains that he had been fighting the war for centuries and was waiting for a new Hellspawn to take his place and believed Al was that one. When Violator reappears and attacks Spawn, Spawn uses his chains to cut of Violators head, who taunts them one last time before disappearing back to Hell. Outside, Terry gives an interview to the press concerning Wynn’s activities while back in the alley, Spawn has taken up residence there as the homeless’s protector.

Spawn was panned by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre.” The movie originally had a budget of $20 million but due to all of the special effects needed in the movie, New Line cinemas decided to double the budget to $40 million. Despite the low ratings from the critics, the movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $87.8 million worldwide and a sequel was planned but it fell into “developmental hell” and ended up being cancelled but a reboot has been announced and is scheduled to start filming in 2018.

This was an absolute disappointment of a movie, made even more so by the fact that there was a successful animated series on HBO that was way better. The acting was ok, with Michael Jai White (Spawn) and John Leguizamo doing decent jobs in their roles. The plot was essentially an origin story and I know there were some changes compared to the comics but it has been so long since I read them that I don’t know what they all were. I do think the changes that they made to the movie to drop it from an R-rating to a PG-13 did hurt it a lot, as the HBO series did a much better job with the subject material. The special effects that they spent so much money on honestly looked terrible, which is surprising as the effects in some other movies that came out that year were much better with a smaller budget. I’m hoping that the reboot might be better but in the meantime, I will watch the animated series if I want to get my fix.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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