“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”
Directed by Zhang Yimou Starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
In the 11th century, a band of mercenaries including the English (Irish? I’m not sure what he’s going for) William (Damon) and the Spanish (they keep referring to Spain, despite being some centuries before the formation of said Kingdom) Tovar (Pascal), is whittled down by bandits and finally all but the last two are killed by a beast which William kills, cutting off its clawed and scaled arm. Fleeing bandit reinforcements, the pair are suddenly faced with the Great Wall and its defenders, the Nameless Order, who ponder the possibility of killing them until they learn that he slew a ‘Tao Tei’ single handed.
Directed by Paul Schrader Starring Dennis Hopper, Penelope Anne Miller, Julian Sands, Eric Bogosian and Sheryl Lee Ralph
Private detective HP Lovecraft is hired by starlet Kim Hudson (Miller) to tail her unfaithful husband. When the husband is murdered by magic, anti-magic politician Senator Crockett (Bogosian) uses it as a linchpin for the investigations of his Unnatural Activities Commission. Lovecraft’s friend and neighbour Hypolita Kropotkin is framed for the crime and sentenced to burn.
Directed by Michael Bay Starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Li Bingbing and the voices of Peter Cullen, John Goodman, John DiMaggio and Frank Welker
After the ‘Battle of Chicago’ the US Government has broken off ties with the Autobots and formed a CIA taskforce called Cemetery Wind to track down Transformers. When the leader of the taskforce, Attinger (Grammer) joins forces with Transformer bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) to go after Autobots as well as Decepticons, Optimus Prime is forced into hiding, where he is found by mechanic and inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg). Just as you think you’re getting a handle on the plot, up pop Joshua Joyce (Tucci), a billionaire inventor who is mining ‘Transformium’ to create his own Transformers.
“From the depth of space they came to vanish beneath the sea.”
Directed by Kevin Connor Starring Doug McClure, Peter Gilmore, Shane Rimmer and Lea Brodie
Professor Aitken and his son Charles (Gilmore) launch an expedition into the depths with the aid of American engineer Greg Collinson (McClure). When they undercover a golden statue from Atlantis, the crew of their ship threaten mutiny against Captain Daniels (Rimmer) to seize the gold. Before it can all go down, however, they all get abducted by a giant octopus!
Directed by Arthur Sinclair Starring Corin ‘Dragon Wasps’ Nemec and Dee ‘ET’ Wallace
A military drone crashes in a zoo, where its payload of experimental nano bots infects a Saltwater Crocodile, transforming it into a cyborg engine of destruction. Zoo keeper and croc hunter Duffy (Nemec) must track and destroy the beast before it gobbles up the guests at the zoo’s spring break waterslide park (I don’t know, maybe US zoos have them), but the project scientist Dr Riley (Wallace, apparently slumming it) is more worried about her experiment.
What’s wrong with it?
Another of SyFy’s creature features of doubtful quality, Robocroc – or possibly Robo Croc – follows a pretty standard pattern: Beast is woken/provoked, beast escapes, beast gets somewhere super bad for it to be, beast is ‘destroyed’, whoops! it wasn’t, now it is.
The titular Robocroc is a pretty piss-poor attempt at CGI, and the human characters are barely more convincing. The roles are all pretty bare-bones – “cerebral adventurer”, “plucky sidekick/love interest”, “manly military man”, “science bitch” and so on – and while the cast are game, there’s not much to work with.
Duffy is briefly joined by his croc hunting partner Irish guy. He’s Irish, and then he dies. It’s moving, because he was Irish and they had awkward male bonding banter.
And then there’s the whole bit with the water park and Duffy’s son, which is sort of knocked off from Jaws… the one with the water park. 3D? Yeah… that whole plotline is kind of pointless, except to teach us that girls shouldn’t judge a guy based on the fact that he’s not a classic jock and enables his creepy friend’s creeper photographing of you in your bikini (um… yay?)
What’s right with it?
No-one mugs at the camera or sleepwalks their lines; the cast may know they’re in for a shipwreck, but they’re committed to the process.
How bad is it really?
Terrible, but at least it never winks at the camera.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The army sends a helicopter to look for the crocodile, which suddenly leaps from the water in a high, graceful arc to punch clean through the chopper.
What’s up with…?
The entire water park scene? I swear, kid Duffy and his mate were so creepy, I was sure they were the sacrificial arseholes for that bit of the movie.
Production values – Oh, dear lord… 18 Dialogue and performances – Crappy roles, played straight, so I give them that. 12 Plot and execution – Basic, but competent, apart from the entire half of the movie that fits awkwardly. 11 Randomness – Half of this film is a random digression, with creepy ‘heroes’ and… badness. 14 Waste of potential – Would have done better to stick to the robot crocodile and ditch the teen drama. 13