ORBzine - 2007.05 Television Movies Reviews

ORBzine - Zombies & Superheroes Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (2004) Milwalkee nurse Ana [ Sarah Polley ] and husband Justin Louis [ Missing ] wake up to discover their cosy suburb under attack from bloodthirsty monsters - their own neighbours.

Ana teams up with cop Ving Rhames [ Mission Impossible ], Jake Weber [ American Gothic, Medium ] and Meki Pfeifer [ ], and they lock themselves in the local shopping mall. Other survivors turn up, including Matt Frewer [ Max Headroom, Psi Factor ] and Lindy Booth .

Newcomer Drew Snyder directed this remake of George A Romero 's masterpiece. It has been updated, and not just in terms of the budget. The diseased [they are never referred to as Zombies] are fast-moving, like in 28 Days Later . Ken Foree, star of the original film, plays a TV evangelist who says the immortal line When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. Tom Savini [ From Dusk Til Dawn ] is the sheriff, who tells the TV audience shoot'em in the head!

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  • 28 Days Later

    28 Days Later A British comedy actor is wandering around in a white coat. Obviously something hilarious is about to happen. Some stereotypical Animal Libbers free the infected apes, and mayhem ensues. The mediocre 1980s straight-to-video effort Watchers [and its dire sequel] did this so much better!

    Cilian Murphy [ Batman Begins ] wakes up alone in a deserted hospital. He wanders around London at 4AM, after the pubs shut and before the morning rush hour. However, a newspaper tells him that this is not the only reason there's nobody about!

    Director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland [ Sunshine ] didn't want to use slow, shuffling zombies. Instead The Infected are fast sprinters, like athletes.

    Murphy teams up with other survivors, including Naomie Harris and Brendan Gleeson [ A.I. ].

    Finally they reach sanctuary with a military unit commanded by Christopher Eccleston [ Dr Who (2005) ].

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  • 28 Weeks Later

    28 Weeks Later Danny Boyle and Cillian Murphy were busy working on Sunshine when this was made, but Boyle still managed to supply the teaser sequence. Robert Carlisle [ The World Is Not Enough ] and Catherine McCormack [skanky and dim-witted] are hiding with a handful of other survivors. However, the Infected are on the prowl ...

    Six months after the country was overcome with the infection, all the zombies are dead. The US military [led by Idris Elba - The Reaping ] moves in, securing the Isle of Dogs in central London. They allow the surviving British citizens, those who were on holiday abroad, to return. By strange coincidence, the protagonists [2 teenagers] discover their dad [Robert Carlisle] is the caretaker.

    The US military plan is not enforced properly - in fact, the whole military aspect is very poor. As the inevitable happens, a handful of survivors try to find refuge. They include Medical officer Rose Byrne [an Aussie, playing an American] and chopper pilot Harold Perrineau [ Lost ]. Byrne's personal mission is to save the teenage boy. By an incredibly stranger coincidence he is immune to the virus, and his blood thus contains the counteragent ...

    Carlisle is great, the best thing about the film. He goes from fear to grief to insanity, and his presence dominates the film even when he isn't on-screen.

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  • Shaun of the Dead

    Shaun of the Dead Shaun [Simon Pegg - Dr Who (2005) ] and his best mate [Nick Frost - Hyperspace ] are a couple of English lads. Unfortunately, their neighbourhood is taken over by the living dead and they have to defend themselves from an army of zombies. Shaun must lead a small band of survivors, including Bill Nighy [ POTC 2 and 3 ] and Dermot Morgan [ Black Books ] to safety in the local pub.

    This has got to be one of the best horror-comedies ever. The horror elements are gruesome, but it's so OTT that you just can't help laughing. And the subtlety of many jokes makes the film work on more than one level. Director Edgar Wallace worked with Pegg and Frost on their TV show Spaced.

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  • Black Sheep

    Black Sheep A genetics lab is conducting illegal experiments. A sample ends up contaminating local residents, and a bloodbath ensues. The difference between this and other films? It's set in New Zealand, where sheep outnumber humans, and the infected [fast zombies] are the sheep!

    Despite the subject matter, this isn't a straight-out comedy. It's quite gruesome, more in the vein of the early works of Peter Jackson - gorey lo-budget horror-comedy flicks.

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  • Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse

    Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse Alexander Witt drops us into a somewhat predictable sequel which takes up where the previous film left off. Alice [ Milla Jovovich ] wakes up from her coma to discover that the Umbrella Corporation has opened the Vault. Racoon city is now overrun with zombies! The city is sealed off, about to be nuked. A motley band of survivors try to escape.

    Alice teams up with local SWAT types Oded Fehr [ The Mummy ], Jill Valentine [ Sienna Guillory ], and annoying reporter Sandrine Holt . They must find a scientist's daughter - an amazing coincidence that the most useful person is nearby. Luckily Milla is superpowered, like she was in Fifth Element !

    Although the city is overrun with zombies, the real villains are the Umbrella Corporation. Naturally, this means that our so-called heroes end up killing far more healthy humans than actual zombies! No wonder the world portrayed in the third film in the series is so damn bleak!

  • Resident Evil
  • Resident Evil 3: Extinction
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  • Resident Evil 3: Extinction

    Resident Evil 3: Extinction Five years after the end of the previous film, and the civilised world has fallen apart. The infection has covered most of the world, with isolated pockets of survivors searching for supplies. Australian director Russell Mulcahy gives us post-Apocalyptic tale reminiscent of Mad Max 2: Road Warrior . Alice [ Milla Jovovich ] is biking alone across the deserts of Utah (actually, this was filmed in Mexico, but it's the same difference). Nearby, Ali Larter and Oded Fehr command a convoy of survivors in humvees, a school-bus and a fuel tanker (with mounted flame-thrower) ...

    The Umbrella Corporation still exists, in secret bases around the world. Mad scientist Iain Glenn [ Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ] has an underground lab, and claims he can build a counteragent against the virus. Not unlike the classic zombie film Day of the Dead . However, he needs Alice's DNA. Instead of politely requesting a blood sample, he sends his minions - including something he made himself ... Fast Zombies!

  • Resident Evil
  • Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse
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  • Planet Terror

    Planet Terror Robert Rodriguez delivers the first half of the Deathproof experience. This is a wonderful parody of action movies, jam-packed with celebrity cameos.

    Rose McGowan is an erotic dancer whose leg is ripped off by zomboid soldiers who have been contaminated with a nerve gas. Luckily, she gets taken to hospital.

    Doctor Marley Shelton gets caught by her husband, who discovers she had an affair with Fergie [the Black-Eyed Peas one, not the former Duchess!].

    The townsfolk are besieged by contaminated zombie people. The survivors flee, and end up facing the zomboid soldiers led by Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Willis [ Fifth Element ].

  • Deathproof
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  • I am Legend (2007)

    I am Legend (2007) Dr Robert Neville [Will Smith - Men in Black ] spends his days driving through the deserted streets of Manhatten. His only companions are a dog and an assault rifle. In his dreams, we see how human civilisation crumbled and fell.

    3 years previously, Dr Crippen [ Emma Thompson ] developed a virus that could cure cancer. Unfortunately, just like the Mimic cockroaches it all turned out badly. The virus turns people into albino cannibals ...

    Like the Charlton Heston film The Omega Man , this is based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Unfortunately, this version of the vampires is far inferior to the others'. The dark-seekers, as someone names them, are like biological versions of the androids in I, Robot . They are inhuman - their CGI faces have limited expressions, and their superhuman leaps and bounds make the film seem unrealistic.

    Neville conducts scientific experiments to find a cure. He is under ever-increasing threat from the dark-seekers. Although he thinks they're mindless animals, they actually show primative intelligence. They set traps, tame infected animals and show evidence of social bonding and a leadership hierarchy. How much better this film would have been if they had been the frighteningly intelligent villains of the original!

  • The Omega Man
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  • Superheroes

    Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker

    Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker It's the future in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has retired, and his protege has taken over Batman duties. The Joker [Mark Hamill - Star Wars ] is back in business again, backed up by acrobatic twins Delia and Deirdre [ Melissa Joan Hart ]. Barbara Gordon [ Angie Harmon ] has taken her dad's job as Police Commissioner. Lauren Tom and Rachael Leigh Cook also pop up.

    The Joker is long dead. However, there's now a first-class copycat on the loose. Can Batman catch this Joker?

    This was written by Paul Dini, who was also responsible for many of the Ewoks and Droids cartoons .

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  • Ghost Rider

    Ghost Rider A daredevil motorcycle rider is dying. His son makes a deal with Mephistopheles [Peter Fonda - The Tempest ] - his soul for the old man's life. Of course, things are never as easy as they seem ...

    A couple of years later and the young boy has grown up to be Nicholas Cage [ Face Off ], the greatest motorcycle daredevil ever. His ex-girlfriend has become sexy journalist Eva Mendes , who arrives to interview him.

    Mephistopheles has a son, who wants to take over Hell. Four powerful demons start strolling around California, swishing their trenchcoats and generally looking tough. Mephistopheles transforms Cage into a flaming skull-faced superhero, and sends him after the demons. Lots of CGI SPFX ensues.

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  • Spiderman 2

    Spiderman 2 Sam Raimi delivers an excellent sequel.

    Dr Otto Octavius [Alfred Molina - Species ] is the world's greatest scientist. Financed by the Orborne Corporation and promoted by Peter Parker, he's going to make a great scientific breakthrough. However, things go badly wrong ...

    Mary Jane [ Kirsten Dunst ] is going to marry Jonah Jameson's son. She's also the obvious target for any supervillains who want to lure Spiderman into a deadly trap.

  • Spider Man
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  • Spiderman 3

    Spiderman 3 Sam Raimi delivers a rushed job of a sequel. There are a couple of plot threads which are loosely held together. The story is riddled with unbelievable coincidences. Somehow, Gwen Stacey [ Bryce Dallas Howard ] manages to pop up in virtually every plot thread!

    Peter Parker has a rival, Topher Grace [That 70s Show]. The Green Goblin is back as well - yes, we get closure for the last couple of films.

    A perp escapes from jail and visits his wife, Theresa Russell . By strange coincidence, the jailbreaker is suspected of being the man who killed Peter Parker's uncle. By yet another coincidence, the perp accidentally becomes a supervillain ... Sandman!

    Peter is infected with an alien symbiote. He thus gets a new costume - the nifty black one from the late 1980s! Unfortunately it has an unpleasant side-effect. Like Anakin Skywalker, Peter slides towards the Dark Side of his nature ...

    As in both previous movies, the climax involves Kirsten Dunst being the damsel in distress. But the fact there are multiple supervillains in a huge tag-team match almost makes it worthwhile!

  • Spider Man
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  • Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

    Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer The Fantastic Four are still suffering the stress of the celebrity lifestyle. Although The Thing actually has a [blind] girlfriend. Despite being superheroes, the Four have to use public transport. Reed Richards decides to build a flying car.

    A mysterious alien, the Silver Surfer [Laurence Fishburne - Event Horizon ], starts flying around the planet. He zaps Human Torch [Chris Evans - Sunshine ] with cosmic energy that allows him to swop powers with the others. This allows for the necessary humourous scene with Jessica Alba .

    Dr Doom is back in his home country. Unfortunately he's still mostly made of metal. He offers to help defeat the Silver Surfer, to save the world. But can he be trusted? And can the indestructible alien be stopped?

    Director Tim Story has sworn he will never have a giant robot in any of his films. Therefore Galactus, the Silver Surfer's world-devouring master, is shown here as an enormous cloud ...

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  • The Punisher (2004)

    The Punisher (2004) Technically the Punisher is a costumed hero (like Batman and James Bond ), rather than a superhero. However, he lives in the Marvel Universe so he should be included with the Fantastic Four!

    This is a fresh start that ignores the Dolph Lungren film, The Punisher (1989) . If anything, it resembles the Schwartzenegger flick Raw Deal.

    Frank Castle [Thomas Jane - Deep Blue Sea ] is a DEA Agent whose Sting goes wrong. One of the dead suspects is the son of Miami's top gangster, Howard Saint [John Travolta - Face/Off ]. Saint and his wife [ Laura Harring ] send their surviving son [RL husband of Amy Acker ] to kill Castle and his entire family!

    Castle survives and seeks refuge in a cheap apartment, where he befriends waitress Rebecca Romjin-Stamos . This bit was taken from the most recent comic version of the Punisher, written by Garth Ennis . His arch-villain The Russian makes an eye-catching appearance in a very memorable scene.

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  • Punisher: War Zone (2009)

    Punisher: War Zone (2009) Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson - Rome ) is the Punisher, a psychopathic ex-Special Forces veteran on a kill-crazy rampage. He targets the local Mafia godfather, but creates a couple of new problems. Firstly, one of the crooks survives - albeit hideously disfigured. The crook renames himself Jigsaw, and goes after the Punisher for vengeance. Along for the ride is his brother, Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison - last seen as a loony Bin inmate in The Green Mile ).

    The second problem is that one of the crooks who Castle murders is an undercover Fed. Castle feels he owes the man's widow ( Julie Benz , who is in EVERYTHING these days). He also has to dodge the Fed's partner (Colin Salmon - Resident Evil ).

    This isn't a straight sequel to the previous film. That was just a straightforward revenge thriller, while this owes a far greater debt to the original comics. The violence is completely OTT, and characters like Jigsaw and Detective Martin Soap are lifted directly from the source material.

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  • Catwoman

    Catwoman Patience [ Halle Berry ] is a graphic designer working for cosmetics magnates Sharon Stone and Lambert Wilson [ Don Quixote, Catwoman ]. Unfortunately she discovers that scientist Peter Wingard [ Highlander: The Series ] is covering up a problem with the new face-cream product. Then she falls foul of security goon Michael Massee [ The Crow ] ...

    Patience is brought back to life by a magic cat, which endows her with superhuman powers of cat-like-ness. This might seem slightly similar to Catwoman's origins in Batman Returns , but that's about all it owes to the original character. And since this owes nothing to the original character, there are no other comic-based superheroes or villains. This makes for a very uneven film - the villains are white-collar crooks, backed by a couple of grey-suited security goons.

    Just to make things more exciting, Catwoman is being investigated by Police Detective Benjamin Bratt [ Demolition Man ]. By strange coincidence, he is also Patience's Boyfriend! And while on a date, they have to duplicate the fair-ground ride rescue from Beverly Hills Cop 3. Seriously!

    The best thing about this feeble effort is the Catwoman costume, designed to make the most of Halle's assets (it's feminine and empowering). Other than that, the film is just a wasted opportunity.

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