Author Archives: Steven Fritchie

StevenF Review of F.R.E.D.I.

This family-friendly movie was released on DVD in the United States on October 9, 2018. James Nash (Lucius Hoyos) discovers a robot in the forest behind his house. Dr. Andi Palmer (Kelly Hu) is its creator and she has decided to hide it from her unscrupulous boss (Angus Macfadyen). James seeks help from his friend Danny (Reid Miller) and, eventually James’ girlfriend Natalie (Casimere Jollette). The aim is to return F.R.E.D.I. to Dr. Palmer and prevent the bad guys to use F.R.E.D.I. for an instrument of war.

The story line is not really original and the acting of the adult actors, especially the bad guys, reminded me more of a Three Stooges skit. Hoyos, Miller, and Jollette were believable and it actually looked like the actors were the appropriate ages. There was no foul language used, but the dialogue was kind of bland. Some minor characters were not even worth having in the movie, such as the water gun squirting bullies. The directing was good as well as the scenery. The fact that they called the laboratories where F.R.E.D.I. was created ArachnaCorp (SpiderCorp.) was cute when I suppose it was meant to be sinister.

I can’t really say that I hated this movie, because there were some well done scenes. I wouldn’t buy this for my collection, but for families with young children, this would be a nice movie to keep them entertained. As for a rating…I suppose I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Await Further Instructions

The British science fiction film Await Further Instructions was released on October 5, 2018. I am hard-pressed on whether to classify this as an apocalyptic sci fi movie or as a dark Christmas movie. As for the message of the movie, which this one seems to have, I would say that it is “we are controlled by the media”.

A dysfunctional family gets together for Christmas, but the next morning they find a message on their TV which says: Stay inside your houses. Await Further Instructions. It is at this point that Nick (Sam Gittins) and his girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik) must deal with his family’s inner fears and prejudices. As far as the acting went, it was tolerable. The story line wasn’t totally original, but there were some good emotional scenes. The CGI was also good.

There was no foul language and the violence was there but it wasn’t particularly bloody. If you are a fan of dark science fiction, there you will enjoy this movie. The main star of the movie wasn’t any of the actors, it was the television screen. I give this 3 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Viking Destiny

The British film Viking Destiny was released on October 5, 2018. It is classified as a action-fantasy movie about a Viking princess’ attempts to recover her throne after her uncle kills her father and takes it for himself. Princess Helle (Anna Demetriou) is guided by the Norse god Odin (Terence Stamp) to flee the kingdom of Volsung and regroup. Her uncle Bard (Timo Nieminen) is tempted by the god Loki (Murray McArthur) to seek her out.

The story line was good and fairly well done. The acting was good in that the characters were believable. I liked the Northern Irish countryside for the location. There were some things that could have been improved. The fighting scenes were average and not all together bloody. I am not sure about the CGI used to convey the characters of Odin and Loki. Odin should have been shown as having one eye which would be consistent with the mythology.

While I was watching this film, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. All in all, I suppose there were more positive things about the film than negative. I give this 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars.

StevenF Review of The House with a Clock in its Walls

The film The House with a Clock in its Walls was released on September 21, 2018 and is rated PG for some sorcery, action, rude language. Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) is sent to live with his uncle Johnathon (Jack Black) after his parents’ deaths. He meets his uncle’s friend Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), who has a love/hate relationship with Johnathon. Lewis learns that his uncle is a warlock.

The former owner of his uncle’s house was another warlock (Kyle McLachlan) who hid a clock in the house that would end the world. Lewis is trained to learn magic in order to help his uncle. This fantastical tale is not as heavy laden with mythic creatures as in the Harry Potter series. It does, however, have two cute creatures, a chair that acts like a dog and a lion-shaped hedge. The acting was good and there were a couple of scenes which had good creep elements which might cause some jump scares. Some scenes were shot in darkness and it was hard to see anything, which would contribute to the scare factor.

I was recently gifted with this movie and I found it enjoyable if a bit dark. The only complaint I might have with the story line is when Lewis goes to school. I felt like these scenes were put in as filler. For the most part, Black, Blanchett, and, to an extent Vaccaro, were the main foci of the film. There are extras with this movie of which the Gag Reel and the Alternate Opening and Ending were of main interest. I give this 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Mara

Mara was released on September 7, 2018. It is a thriller which revolves around the theory that 40% of people are afflicted by sleep paralysis. In this film, the theory is taken one step further and contends that a sleep demon kills people in their sleep. Psychologist Kate Fuller (Olga Kurylenko) is called when a woman is accused of murdering her husband and their 8 year old daughter (Mackenzie Imsand) is the only witness.

There were a couple scenes at the beginning of the film that made me jump. This was enhanced by the music score. After a while, the tension of the film lost some of its impact. The acting wasn’t too bad, but by the time the demon was seen in the film, I was starting to lose interest. It’s not a great idea to make sleep as the main theme of a movie because I was, as some points, falling asleep myself. Other than the acting, the photography was good.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys these kind of movies, then you will enjoy this film. It had its good moments and its bad moments. I, however, am only willing to give it 3 stars out of 5. The subject matter was weak and the demon was not frightening enough.

StevenF Review of Occupation

Occupation is an Australian movie which was released on July 20, 2018. When an alien force invades a small town in Australia, a group of survivors hide out while deciding how to fight back. The group consists of an ex-con, his daughter, rival rugby captains, their girlfriends, and others.

The filming was decent enough. The story, at times, was a bit slow considering that some of the characters weren’t developed enough for me to either sympathize or despise them. There were enough battle scenes to keep one’s interest. There were some slight technicalities that I noticed which weren’t logical and didn’t make sense. The alien makeup was fairly decent as was their body armor. I am not familiar with any of the actors but they did a good job.

There was some foul language, but there was more illogical points in the story line. The battle scenes, as I said, were good, but guns against beam rifles and almost indestructible body armor was a bit unbelievable. This was also 2 hours long where, with better editing, the story could have been a bit shorter. I give it 4 stars out of 5 but I would not buy it.

StevenF Review of Illang: The Wolf Brigade

Illang: The Wolf Brigade is a South Korean film based on a Japanese animation show. It was released on July 25, 2018. It is a science fiction action film which takes place in 2029 when North and South Korea plan to unite but, due to economic factors, are dissuaded by a group called The Sect. A special police force is set up to dismember the group and as a backup to the National Police Force.

Dong-won Gang (Im Joong-kyung) is a member of the Wolf Brigade, as the special unit is called, but when he is involved in a massacre of some school girls, he develops PTSD. After freezing on an assignment, a rival department uses him as a scapegoat. He falls in love with the sister of a Sect member (Lee Yoon-hee) who, unknown to him, is also a member of The Sect and an informer to the rival department. There is plenty of action and blood, but the film is 2 hours and 19 minutes long. Gang and Hyo-Joon’s relationship is the one thing that slows the film down. This could have been better developed which might have cut some time from the movie.

The fight scenes were good, but the armor for the members of The Wolf Brigade gave the movie its anime feel. I admit the acting was decent, but the story line needed work. There were slow parts that dragged the film down. I will give this 3 stars for the action scenes alone.

StevenF Review of Alex Strangelove

The film Alex Strangelove was released on June 8, 2018. Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) is class president, has a 4.0 GPA, a girlfriend, and goofy friends. Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and Alex start out as friends but when Claire’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, they become more than just friends. When they go to a party, Alex meets Eliot (Antonio Marziale) and his female friend. Even though Eliot is gay, Alex feels that his masculinity is not threatened. While attempting to have sex with Claire, Alex starts to overthink his life.

There are some funny scenes with his best friend who hallucinates after licking a toad with hallucinogenic properties at the party. Over all, the acting was very good. The only problem is that the actors are not teenagers. There is also some foul language. The only sex scene is between Alex and Claire. The story line was very good and the characters weren’t caricatures.

After the film, there is a montage of real teenagers telling their coming out stories. I enjoyed this movie a lot. It has a good message without being overly preachy. I give it 4 stars out of 5. I took off for the foul language and the adult actors playing teenagers.

StevenF Review of Anon

This science fiction film was released on May 4, 2018. The story revolves around a detective who, in a society minus conformity and crime, must find out who is killing people through their bio-links. Detective Sal Frieland (Clive Owen), on his way to work, notices a woman (Amanda Seyfried) who does not register. This is suspicious to Frieland and he tries to trace her identity.

The acting was good as well as the photography. The directing was a little confusing and the story was a bit slow paced. There were some murder scenes done in the POV of the murderer, but they weren’t gory or overly bloody. I really wish they had made the story a bit more fast-paced, because I found myself losing interest in the movie. Some of the scenes, either due to the technical language or the directing, were a bit confusing.

Overall, this was a decent movie but it was not interesting enough for me to want to add it to my collection. As someone who likes crime stories, this had an interesting premise. The main problem was a matter of pacing. The POV concept may be “original” for a film, but it makes the film seem like a video game, and not a very good one. I rate this 3 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of At First Light

At First Light was released on March 10, 2018. A small town girl (Kate Burton) is abducted by lights in the sky and returns with strange powers. She is protected and helped by her ex-boyfriend Sean (Theodore Pellerin). When government officials come after Kate, they both try to escape, but fail.

The film goes at a decent pace and the story line is consistent. The acting wasn’t horrible and there were some good moments. Unfortunately, as with most science fiction stories, the science is weak and inaccurate. The CGI for the alien lights was good. The director did a fairly decent job and the sound track was appropriate but a bit boring.

Now, as for my criteria: 1)No, I would not buy it, 2) I really wouldn’t willingly watch it again, and 3) I would recommend it, but with a caveat. If you are a hard core science fiction fan, you might enjoy this film. I give it props for the lack of foul language. I give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.