Cinemas & Home Entertainment this week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with a major movie featuring a smaller than normal superhero opening in cinemas while one of the ‘darkest’ superheroes of all-time hits home entertainment!
Thursday July 5th
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Early word about the latest Marvel outting have been overwhelmingly positive – which should be no surprise to those who experienced Paul Rudd’s charming screwball performance in the original. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP doubles-down on the superhero action by super-powering co-star Evangeline Lilly – here’s hoping it retains the ‘small-stakes’ goofiness that made the original such a hit in the process. In the aftermath of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Scott Lang (Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne (Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.
THE SECOND (Limited Release)
Local streaming service STAN release their first original feature to cinemas weeks ahead of its streaming release – a psychological thriller with a heavy dose of sexual intrigue. Led by Australian heavyweights Vince Colosimo & Susie Porter, and boasting a promising genre hook, THE SECOND has a real chance at adding to Australia’s stellar reputation for producing thrillers! A writer (Rachel Blake) struggles to complete her second novel after the whirlwind success of her debut. Her publisher (Colosimo), whisks her off to an isolated house in the countryside in the hopes of helping her focus on her writing. When an old childhood friend (Porter) shows up unexpectedly to visit, relationships quickly become strained but this dramatic disruption just may be the perfect muse for a blocked up writer.
Wednesday July 4th
PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
Despite the departure of visionary director Guillermo Del Toro, this sequel to 2013’s slice of kaiju-robot carnage managed to retain and even build upon the strengths of the original. Powered by a great dynamic between John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI) and newcomer Cailee Spaeny, PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING has all the style and the city destroying action you could want from a PAC RIM film. Boyega stars as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy by his estranged sister, Mako Mori – who is leading a brave new generation of pilots that have grown up in the shadow of war. As they seek justice for the fallen, their only hope is to unite together in a global uprising against the forces of extinction. Jake is joined by gifted rival pilot Lambert and 15-year-old Jaeger hacker Amara, as the heroes of the PPDC become the only family he has left. Unfortunately we can’t comment as to how the local release stacks up against its US counterpart at this stage but we hope they port all of that delicious extra content on to their release.
This celebration of 80s pop culture could’ve easily devolved into a sappy nostalgia-fest, but the perfect director for the job, Steven Spielberg, managed to better the source material in offering an astonishing and immersive CGI world, with scene after scene presenting an amazing pop-culture tableau (THE SHINING scene being a particular highlight). So if you didn’t catch the spectacle in theatres, its sure to be as eye-popping an experience in your living room! In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone-the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-aka the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS. 4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray & Blu-ray 3D versions feature six production featurettes and the 4K Ultra-HD boasts both Dolby Vision and an absolute awe-inspiring Dolby Atmos audio track!
DARKMAN, DARKMAN 2 & DARKMAN 3
Cinema Cult continues to spoil genre film fans by not only releasing Sam Raimi’s demented 1990 vision of a superhero film (long before the more sanitised SPIDERMAN films swung onto screens) to Blu-ray but for the first-time releasing the DTV sequels to Blu-ray locally!?!? DARKMAN: Dr. Peyton Westlake is on the verge of realizing a major breakthrough in synthetic skin when a gang, led by the sadistic Robert G. Durant, obliterates his laboratory. Burned beyond recognition and altered by an experimental medical procedure, Westlake attempts to rebuild his laboratory and re-establish ties with his former girlfriend Julie. But his most challenging task lies within himself. DARKMAN 2 – THE RETURN OF DURANT: The crime-fighting master of disguises returns in this action-packed sequel to the hit motion picture. Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) stars as Darkman, and Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles) reprises his role as the sadistic villain Robert G. Durant. DARKMAN 3 – DIE DARKMAN DIE: In this action-packed adventure, Westlake matches wits with underworld drug-dealing villain Peter Rooker (Jeff Fahey), who will do anything to unmask the secret of Westlake’s superhuman strength. Agreeing to an experimental operation on his ravaged body, Westlake is flung into a vicious game of survival for himself, his priceless research and the lives of two innocent people. One false move and he will be locked into darkness forever. Cinema Cult have also unleashed all three films on DVD.
Umbrella Entertainment offer up the next instalment in their Worlds On Film: Beyond Genre label, this time with the 2001 Lovecraft gem, DAGON. Directed by beloved cult filmmaker Stuart Gordon (the dangerous mind behind RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND), the movie earns its cult status by building an atmosphere of true dread punctuated by grisly acts of violence. A boating accident off the coast of Spain sends Paul and his girlfriend to the dilapidated village of Imboca looking for help. As night falls people start disappearing and things not quite human begin to appear. Paul finds himself pursued by the entire town. Whilst running for his life as the entire town pursues him, Paul uncovers Imobca’s dark secret… the freakish half-human creatures that populate the town. they pray to Dagon, monstrous God of the sea. All outsiders are sacrificed, the men flayed alive and the women offered as unwilling brides to bear Dagon’s unholy offspring. In addition to teasers and trailers, this first-time to Blu-ray release is loaded with on-set and post-production interviews and is one to own for any fans of DAGON or Lovecraft in-general.
Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead have made a name for themselves as creators of thoughtful and genre-bending horror films (if they can even be called that), THE ENDLESS continues this tradition by bringing cosmic horror to the scale of the indie drama, being just as interested in the dynamic between the central brothers (played by the directors!) as the horror appearing on the periphery. Despite a baggy second half, the film mostly succeeds in balancing this sedate thoughtfulness with its scares. Living in poverty in a shared studio apartment in Los Angeles, two brothers (Justin and Aaron) receive a mysterious videotape in a box that seems to have been shipped through a hundred countries before arriving on their doorstep. On it, a Heaven’s Gate-esque cult member talks about an impending “Ascension”. We learn that the brothers were raised in this cult, and fled from it a decade ago because Justin pulled Aaron out when he became aware of an impending mass suicide. But this tape seems to say otherwise their old family is alive and well, which opens a crack in the brothers’ relationship: why did Justin pull Aaron away from the only family he’s ever known, lie about their mass suicide, and have him live this destitute life? On Aaron’s insistence, they go back to their homestead deep in the high desert forest of the southwest in order to get some closure. But when they arrive, they discover that the “cult” might not really be a cult at all, and they’re not certain just how welcome back they are. And there seems to be a dark truth to the commune’s otherworldly beliefs that suggest the laws of the natural world may be very different than we assume, which propels THE ENDLESS into a Lovecraftian tale about brotherhood, giving up your personal autonomy, and history’s weird, malevolent tendency to repeat itself.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.