IMDB, Resident Evil- The Final Chapter“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” on IMDB

Sci-fi/Horror/Action – 2017 – 107 Minutes

We reviewed the first movie back in 2013 for the fourth BEBE, but never followed up on the other five. With this billed as the last entry in the series, we felt we had to at least complete the bookends.

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, aimless and without hope in the ruins of Washington after the events of the last movie. She learns that Umbrella Corporation is planning to eradicate the few remaining human settlements to pave the way for their utopia. Alice must return to Raccoon City, foil their plans and steal the T-Virus cure they’ve developed to eliminate the undead threat and save humanity.

The bulk of the movie is high concept action. Giant monsters, enormous hordes of zombies and complex set pieces are the name of the game. The more intimate, tense environments of the first movie make lack-luster, significantly less effective appearances later.

The action scenes are overwhelmingly insulting. Jovovich is a marvel, but the unfocused, frenetic editing rarely lets her shine. Despite some interesting settings, the audience is rarely provided enough context for  anything but confusion. Every move is delivered with a dizzying barrage of camera movement, angles, and framing further muddied by strobe, jitter and slow motion effects.

The overall story fares somewhat better. While it’s far from the promised definitive ending, it does wrap the main threads up well enough. It suffers from false urgency and a confused climax, but features quite a bit of fan service.

It’s not a very good movie. At best you can say that this is a serviceable bookend to the story, but that’s being extremely generous. It’s biggest sin, by far, is burying it’s star under layers of ham-fisted editing. Alice deserves better.

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackAlas, BEBE 2019, our tenth year, is over! We started BEBE to give the kids something fun and secular to do on Easter in our highly Catholic neighborhood. The kids were Ten and Seven when we started. Now 20 and 16, they’re less enthusiastic than they were, but we still have fun.

We did run into some… life over the past year or so and haven’t been updating. We’ve got a backlog of BEBE-related movie reviews to catch up on and hope to get through them soon.

In any case, let’s see how we did according to the rules of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters:

Watch Some Zombie Movies

Check!  A decent selection overall.  We’ll be doing full reviews of all of these in the coming weeks:

  • Cargo: Excellent! Based on a popular short of the same name, Martin Freeman goes to extremes to ensure the safety of his infant daughter.
  • Ravenous: While subtitles scare away the children, this one is worth reading. A motley collection of strangers come together in rural Quebec to avoid roaming packs of violent infected.
  • Raccoon Valley: For the budget – reportedly under $200 – this is a surprisingly effective story of a deaf woman trapped in a quarantine zone. Unfortunately, as good as it is, it does almost nothing with the premise and, at only an hour long, seem much longer.
  • Anna and the Apocalypse: Was really looking forward to this Christmas zombie-musical. The rest of the family enjoyed it, but I thought it lacked the promised whimsy and gleefulness.
  • Shaun of the Dead: Our traditional closer is still as fresh and as perfect as ever!

An above average year, all told!

Eat Lots of Good Food

Check! Mostly. We’re getting older so “buckets of chocolate” are off the menu, but we did do a small batch of cupcakes and assorted goodies. Dinner, as usual was ham, smooshed potatoes, fried corn and dinner rolls. Nothing crazy, but there were no complaints!

Play Some Games

Check! Well, sorta. Mostly video games. Played a bit of “Fallout ’76” on the PS4, which is terribly broken but still scratches some very specific itches. I’m also working through “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” on the Switch for the first time (our son inhaled it when it was released).

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check! We’re glad to have time with the kids. In two years, our son will be graduating college and our daughter will be starting. Being secular humanists, Easter isn’t on the priority list of holidays, so we’re not sure how many more we’ll have together and cherish what we do.

We hope that you had a great day with those you love and were able to fit in a little fun and games.  We also hope to see you back here in 2020!

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackAlas, BEBE 2018, our ninth year, is over! Nine glorious years of chicken ova and grey matter!

Let’s see how we did according to the rules of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters:

Watch Some Zombie Movies

Check!  The selections were mostly retrospective this year.  We’ll be doing full reviews of all of these in the coming weeks:

  • It Stains the Sands Red: A showgirl from Las Vegas alone in the dessert being trailed by a relentless zombie. A well-done and surprisingly gripping take on the genre!
  • Dawn of the Dead [1978]: It took George Romero a decade to produce this follow-up to the seminal Night of the Living Dead. While much of it hasn’t aged particularly well, the underlying metaphor of runaway consumerism as a mirror a zombie plague is still as powerful as ever.
  • Dawn of the Dead [2004]: As both a remake of a movie that didn’t need to be remade and Zack Synder’s feature debut, this movie has no right to be so damn good!
  • Shaun of the Dead: Still perfect! Still so damn perfect!

An above average year, all told!

Eat Lots of Good Food

Check! Too much Platter’s Chocolate and, as we’ve done since 2015, Crafty Zombie Cupcakes. We also did zombie sugar cookies and, for the first time, tried Hot Dog zombie fingers. These… didn’t turn out remarkably impressive, but tasted pretty good!  Dinner was the welcome usual of ham, smooshed taters and fried corn.

Play Some Games

Check, but barely! A few rounds of Zombie Dice was all we were able to get in!

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check! As the kids are older now, these are becoming nice and smooth with more actual conversation and less argument and drama. The weather worked out, so the doors were open and a nice spring breeze permeated the day.

We hope that you had a great day with those you love and were able to fit in a little fun and games.  We also hope to see you back here in 2019 for the the tenth anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!

One of the best zombie flicks of the decade, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead [Our Review], loud, crazy and plain old fun. It’s one of our all-time favorites. Happily, the movie’s story will continue in a new Australian television series, Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead. They’ve released the first six insane minutes for us to drool over!

We’re so happy to see that original stars Bianca Bradey and Jay Gallagher will both return for the series! We can’t wait to see more!

Here Alone

“Here Alone” on IMDB

Horror/Drama – 2016 – 98 Minutes

An infection has ravaged the world. Victims are turned into mindless eating machines that will tirelessly hunt and kill anything – or anybody – that they come into contact with. Only the strong and clever can survive and even they live on borrowed time. It’s the plot that’s launched a thousand stories (and a thousand arguments about what constitutes a “real” zombie story, but we’ll let that dead horse lie).

A cliché is most often a crutch; an excuse for lazy filmmakers to stand on the shoulders of others and produce poor, paint-by-numbers facsimiles of their better work. More rarely, they can be liberating; allowing creators to build interesting stories within a familiar framework. They leverage the cliche rather than rely on it to direct them. Happily, this is an example of the latter.

Ann (Lucy Waters [IMDB]) is alone in the Northern woods. She’s developed techniques for dealing with the infected. She still walks the ragged edge of survival, but has come to accept her lot. When Chris (Adam David Thompson [IMDB]) and his step-daughter Olivia (Gina Piersanti [IMDB]) stumble into her life, she needs to reevaluate whether bare survival is enough.

While many of the themes will be familiar, the handling of the characters is deft and mature. Solid, perfectly subdued performances capture the quiet, persistent desperation of the situation. Exposition is provided organically through restrained, well-heeled flashbacks. The script deftly provides enough information to avoid frustration while leaving enough out to maintain interest.

The story doesn’t concern itself with the problems of the world at large. It’s small and deeply human. These three people aren’t working on a cure and they’re not going to kick-start civilization; they’re simply going to survive – or not – quietly, in the woods. The ending is telegraphed and likely to turn off some viewers, yet seems natural for the characters. It also earns points for lacking an inane twist.

The production is a an excellent example of performance-driven, minimalist film making. While those looking for action will be disappointed, others will find a solid, engaging drama.

IMDB, Train to Busan“Train to Busan” on IMDB

Horror/Action – 2016 – 118 Minutes

South Korea has been quietly, persistently producing amazing filmmakers for many years. Heavily influenced by American cinema, these creators have injected a much-needed dose of creativity and originality into many tired genres with action and horror benefiting especially. While the country’s horror is most inspired by regional legends and myths, it should come as no surprise that zombies would eventually be tapped.

Seok-woo (Yoo Gong [IMDB]) is a workaholic who’s neglected his daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim [IMDB]), once too often. In a poor attempt to make things up to her, he begrudgingly agrees to escort her, via train, from Seoul to Busan so that she can spend her birthday with her mother. Other passengers tick off various tropes on the roster: a selfish businessman, a pregnant woman and her hen-pecked husband, a high-school baseball team, a pair of elderly sisters and others.

When the stage is properly set, all hell breaks loose. Mechanically, the movie is similar to “28 Days Later” [IMDB]: an unknown sickness turns people into ravenous, rage-filled monsters shortly after they’re bit. The zombies are fast, relentless and beautifully choreographed. Their movement, especially when in groups, is brutally effective and terrifying. The audience is kept further disoriented by a refreshing “verticality”: stairs, upper-story windows and various other methods are used to draw attention in multiple, dizzying directions at once.

Nothing is said about the source of the infection. “Less is more” is the rule and nothing distracts from the breathless, non-stop race for survival. While this means that the characters aren’t particularly deep, they are pleasantly consistent and true-to-life. Focus is given to the relationships that evolve as events force new responsibilities and dependencies on them. Father and daughter. Husband and wife. Sibling. Friend. It’s surprising how quickly and strongly the audience empathizes with them.

This takes traditional “fast zombie” zombie tropes and, in a word, perfects them. It’s impossible to heap enough praise upon it. It succeeds in all the ways “World War Z” [Our Review] failed and sets a new high watermark for outbreak films.

george-romero-610x914George Romero, father of the modern zombie film, has died at the age of 77. BBC, Variety, LA Times, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter.

“My stories are about humans and how they react, or fail to react, or react stupidly. I’m pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies. I try to respect and sympathize with the zombies as much as possible.”

He reportedly died in his sleep with his family close after a short, but fierce, struggle with lung cancer. He, of course, created the modern zombie film with 1966’s Night of the Living Dead. Made for just over $100,000, the film went on to earn $30 million at the box office despite heated criticism of its graphic nature.

“I always thought of the zombies as being about revolution, one generation consuming the next.”

The word “Zombie” never appeared in the film. He would go on to direct a total of six “Dead” films and inspire countless others.

“My zombies will never take over the world because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they’re where the trouble really lies.”

Thank you, George. You will be missed.

IMDB, The Girl with all the Gifts“The Girl with All the Gifts” on IMDB

Drama/Horror – 2016 – 111 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2017.

It’s often difficult to defend our selected genre on the merits of its craft. The majority of films are dime-store efforts by well-meaning, but technically inept, fans or money-grubbers looking to cash in with as little effort as possible. The few that rise above tend to be hamstrung in one or more ways. They may lack any combination of money, talent or time. This is one of the few examples that have something interesting to say, are given the budget to say it, and can attract the talent to say it well.

The film is based on M.R. Carey’s novel of the same name. Comic fans may know Carey as a writer for DC Vertigo favorites “Hellblazer”, “Lucifer” and “The Unwritten” as well as significant runs of “X-men” and “Fantastic Four” for Marvel. Carey wrote the screenplay for the film in tandem with the novel. Although there are substantial differences between the two, the film remains protectively true to the spirit and message of its source material.

20 years ago, humanity was infected with a brain-altering fungus. It caused the infected to revert to a bestial, violent state and mercilessly attack any source of meat, including uninfected humans. These “hungries” soon forced the shredded remains of society into fortified military bases and quarantine zones.

The story is told almost exclusively from the point of view of Melanie, an intelligent, obedient, trusting child who hides a dark secret. There are only minor detours to other characters, usually to set specific context for the audience. It all hinges on the performance of 13-year old Sennia Nanua as Melanie and she rises to the challenge beautifully.

The rest of the small cast, including Glenn Close in a wonderful, subdued role as scientist researching the plague, is strong and confident. This is, more than anything, a character study

Many scenes demonstrate brilliant, deft transitions from quiet tension to fevered, raucous action. These punctuate the story beats precisely, yet never feel forced or artificial. The staging and cinematography are beautiful and deeply sell the post-apocalyptic setting.

The team leveraged high-quality micro-drones for overhead shots and kept the effects to an effective minimum. That the entire film was made for roughly five million dollars (compared to, say, the nearly 200 million budget of the anemic “World War Z”) is nothing short of amazing.

This is the rare offering that will appeal to film fans in general and not “just genre fans”.  A tight, original story told beautifully by a talented crew and cast. Not one to miss.

IMDB, Zombeavers“Zombeavers” on IMDB

Comedy/Horror – 2014 – 77 Minutes

This film was a selection for BEBE 2017.

Did you know that the second syllable of “zombie”  is like the letter “B”? So, you could, like, put “zom” in front of things that start with “B” and create whole new zom things! Zombadgers! Zombeagles! Zombeetles! (Or, if you’re musically inclined, Zombeatles.)

Pick something, staple it onto “zom” then grab a wikipedia article for some interesting facts and you’ve got yourself a premise! Toss in a remote cabin, a trio of bikini-clad college students and their dumbass boyfriends and you’ve got yourself a script! Cap it off with some barely passable puppets, gallons of dyed corn-syrup and a helping of gratuitous nudity and you, you my friend, have got yourself a movie.

Risking cliché, two incompetent delivery men lose a barrel of toxic waste which contaminates the local beaver dam. Three sorority sisters are visiting a cabin on the same lake to commiserate about the infidelity of one of their boyfriends. They do this in bikinis, with the designated “bad girl” going topless. In the evening, the boyfriends show up and things go soap opera.

The next day, the horror side of the story begins in earnest. The now undead beavers attack the group and the few other incidental characters introduced earlier. The effects are… terrible. The beavers – sorry, zombeavers – are sloppy, floppy puppets slathered in goo and thrown at the squirming actors. They’re often in bright sunlight which does nothing to hide the many flaws.

Later, when night falls, both the horror and the effects improve markedly. The human makeup effects, while goofy, are significantly better than the creature work. The script, free of exposition and relationship development, is leaner and, with most of the chaff killed off, the better actors are able to step up their game.

Kidding aside, this is as good as you’d expect from the title; maybe even a bit better than it deserves to be. An uneven script and effects are offset by a solid third act and mostly likable actors. Zombie aficionados may turn their noses, but as teenage zombie romps go, this is definitely one of the better ones.

 

BEBE Logo_TransToBlackAlas, BEBE 2017, our eighth year, is over!  Movies, games and way too much food! Success!

Let’s see how we did according to the rules of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters:

Watch Some Zombie Movies

Check!  Only three this year, but everybody watched all three, even the teenagers! We’ll be doing full reviews of all of these in the coming weeks:

Of course this weekend was kind of a perfect storm of nerd for us with the new seasons of both Doctor Who and Mystery Science Theater 3000 being released. We admit to cutting BEBE short to enjoy the first episode of MST3k (which we backed on KickStarter), “Reptilicus“. We were worried about the new cast, but the franchise is in very good hands!

Eat Lots of Good Food

Check! Too much Platter’s Chocolate and, as we’ve done since 2015, Crafty Zombie Cupcakes (although these didn’t come out very well since we tried to use last year’s decorative chocolate). Dinner was an obscene amount of ham, smooshed taters and fried corn.

Play Some Games

Check! It just so happens that Sony put the excellent Deadlight: Director’s Cut on sale for PS4 this weekend, so we gave it a go. It’s an excellent cinematic side-scrolling survival horror game set in, you guessed it, a zombie apocalypse. We ended up completing almost half the game. It’s an excellent game for $15, but at $5 it’s an absolute steal.

Spend Some Time with Those You Love

Check! This was a another nice, easy year for us. The kids actually spent with us, everything we did was worth spending time on and the weather was gorgeous; despite a few short rain showers. There’s something incredibly comforting about watching a great movie with your family while enjoying a cool breeze.

We hope that you had a great day with those you love and were able to fit in a little fun and games.  We also hope to see you back here in 2018 for the the ninth anniversary of Boiled Eggs and Brain Eaters!