Movies of the Week #34 #35 (2020)

Frankenstein (1931): Movies of the 30s are an acquired taste, with their post-silent-era narrative and acting eccentricities. Yet, Frankenstein feels almost modern in this context, perhaps because a non-speaking monster was a good fit for the medium – and Boris Karloff a nuanced performer. The age old story of the crazed doctor and his criminal monster is as relevant as it has ever been in its questioning of right and wrong, good and evil. Whether you take a liking for it or not, James Whale’s movie is beautifully shot, a black and white classic, which might not inspire the fear of old, but it still asks important questions. 8/10

Event Horizon (1997): For all its campiness, Event Horizon is Paul WS Anderson’s…masterpiece. A solid horror movie that, in spite of its efforts to sabotage itself, hits the right notes at the right time, thanks to some good effects and a strong cast. In classic WS style, this remix of horror elements is strikingly familiar, yet manages to stand out on its own as Hellraiser in space. The fact that the likes of Sunshine or Dead Space have been influenced by it is no secret, so EH proves to to be a resilient bastard, even with that harsh metacritic score. And a good looking bastard one at that, even more than 20 years later. 7/10

Sputnik (2020): A different yet familiar kind of creature feature, Sputnik goes the way of “anything you bring back from space will kill you”. And then it gives it a fresh twist, which leaves room for interpretation. Not much, though, so don’t get terribly excited, especially because it’s a slow trod that, ultimately, fails to fulfill its potential. I also found it disturbing how often it tries to be Hollywoodian, which seems to be a trend for the higher budget foreign movies nowadays (Train to Busan 2 is also very guilty of that). 6/10

Escape from Pretoria (2020): Very much an old-school movie, Escape from Pretoria distinguishes itself in the detailed machinations of its protagonists. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, the Francis Annan movie tells the story of several anti-Apartheid militants arrested during the late 70s. who then, you’ve guessed it, try to escape from prison. EfP doesn’t go far beyond its title, which is ultimately unfortunate, but it manages to give a sense of what a man with near-infinite time on his hands can achieve and makes you wonder what would be possible if not for Youtube and 9gag. 6/10

Train to Busan 2: Peninsula (2020): Bad sequels are common, but a sequel as bad as this stands out, especially among non-American movies. This zombie Mad Max rip-off ups the action, over-CGI-es and CGI-es like crap, gooes for cardboard, idiotic characters and follows a plot that’s as dull and predictable as you can imagine. The odd good action sequence and visual flair keeps the thing alive, but this is definitely a movie without a soul, if not for a lack of trying. Shame. 4/10

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