The Suicide Squad (2021) Review: Or “James Gunn is one sick puppy, and I love him”

Is it a reboot? Is it a sequel? Is it an investigation into the mind of the anti-hero, asking the question “can bad people still do good things?”? Who cares: I saw a man get ripped in half by a giant man-shark, in full-frame with slow-mo, and laughed like a hyena while it happened.


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R.O.T.O.R. (1987)


I remember this film from back when I was a nerdy kid, desperate to rent any sci-fi and horror movie I had never heard of and that the local store only had one copy of in. The cover of the box was amazing, simply staggeringly bold and enticing. It promised adventure, horror and shock, beyond belief. It was intimidatingly cool, so I never got around to renting it and stuck with safer options like Brain Dead and Fortress. Turns out that my adolescent brain may have made the right decisions though, as this is an absolute rust bucket of a film.
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Returner (2002)

Ever since James Cameron asked the eternal question, “can I get away with ripping off an episode of The Outer Limits?”, time travel movies have followed a fairly set rote; man comes back from apocalypse, finds Partner/Scientist/Chosen One/Tits McGuffin, fights things through a combination of True Guts and Slow-Motion, and saves the day/saves the future/sets up a time-paradox you can drive a lorry through. So, after picking up and reading the back of the 2002 Takashi Yamazaki directed Returner, I was expecting more of the same but with a bit of gun-fu.
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Daybreakers (2009)


Here’s a question: what do you get if you cross vampires with sci-fi? Well, normally you get a disastrous bit of trash, like the awful Ultraviolet, or the “mostly remembered for the nudie scenes” Lifeforce. It’s probably because vampires are all about being spooky, mysterious, and asking “would you like a shag?” in assorted gothic ways, whilst sci-fi is more about ideas, explaining things, and answering questions that don’t need all your clothes taken off to answer. Still, if anyone was going to have a crack at making a good one, then Michael and Peter Spierig probably had the best chance with 2009’s Daybreakers. They had previously managed to mix zombies and aliens up to the delight of the lumbering dead fandom with 2003’s Undead, and that was in the middle of the zombie revival. Plus they were working in Australia, so they were cheap. Throw in Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neil, and you’ve got a film that could have been a contender!
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Starship Troopers 2: Heroes Of The Federation (2004)


In the latest shopping trip to the cheaper end of DVD sales, I noticed that there were several copies of the 2004 film, ‘Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation’ in every shop I went into. This normally means that either a new box set has just been released or that it’s not a very good film. Given the pedigree of its predecessor, Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 exemplary satire “Starship Troopers”, I took a punt on it being the former. This proved to be wrong. Very, very wrong.
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Thanks to Stranger Things, Day Of The Dead has gained a bit of an increase in its otherwise tepid reputation. Known mostly for being the final of George A Romeo’s original Living Dead Trilogy, it never gained the prestige of Night nor the hipness of Dawn. It was just “the third one”, and didn’t really get talked about. That’s probably due to it being so utterly downbeat and bleak, even by the standards set by the master of zombie cinema.

The main reason for this is that it doesn’t follow the three-act drama set by the previous two films. Both of them, for all their diversity and difference to each other, have three key beats: zombies turn up, the humans find sanctuary and then quarrel, the zombies get in and nibble everyone. Day doesn’t have this tempo, as it’s set in a post-zombie apocalypse world. It’s three acts are: the zombies have won, the humans have false sanctuary and are already quarrelling, and then… well, no spoilers. Let’s just say it’s all far less optimistic, far less positive, and somehow far more realistic than the others. It’s also far more satisfying, if you are willing to entertain something close to a nihilistic zombie Waiting For Godot.
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Nemesis (1992)


Let’s cut to the chase: does the line “86.5% [cyborg] is still human” send the kind of shivers down your spine that you haven’t felt since you were a teenager, imagining how wicked-ninja-cool it would be to live in a world of corps, cyborgs and corruption? If not, then this bit of contrived more-cyberpunk-than-cyberpunk nonsense from 1992 will bore the pants off you. If, however, it gets you revved up like the first assault rifle you fell in love with whilst thumbing through a hand-me-down copy of Guns and Ammo, then it’s quite possibly the film for you, depending on how much derivative, corny content you can put up with.

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Love, Death & Robots Season 1


Anthologies are, by their very nature, a mixed bag, but Love, Death & Robots often feels like it’s an utterly random hodgepodge of stories and tones thrown together with no cohesive themes. To give you an idea, the first half opens with a solid 18-rated, by-the-numbers gore, and pseudo-sexy cyberpunk then skips to a charming little comedy about three robots taking a tour through the post-apocalypse, follows up with the way too long and far too exploitative Naked Woman Running In Terror sequence. It’s then on to a charming story of space farmers defending a homestead with mechs, tries to be serious with an 80s inspired Vampires vs Cats, hits another high note with a highly evocative social comedy about hyper-intelligent Yogurt and tails off with the double act of The Opening Of Aliens: Let’s Have Sex In Space, and Steampunk: Mystic Asia With Rich Europeans Being Terrible.
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