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Film Reviews: Parasyte Part 1 (2014), Maggie (2015), and Max Max: Fury Road (2015)
Movies
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Parasyte Part 1 (2014). Based on the manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki and directed by Takashi Yamazaki. The film starts with a spore of unknown origin in the ocean. The spore floats towards a dock where it produces tiny creatures that enter into shipping containers. As the containers are moved inland the creatures leave and start infecting people, entering into their bodies via the ear. The infected people struggle briefly, then seem at peace. One of the creatures enters the house of teenager Shinichi Izumi and tries tries to enter his nose, but Shinichi stops it in time and throws it to the floor. It attacks again and enters his hand, but Shinichi stops it from moving further by applying a tourniquet at his elbow. The next morning at school he notices that his right arm now has strange powers. The story of Parasyte Part 1 is interesting and hard to predict at least. For me it was somewhat reminiscent of the 2009 game Prototype, albeit the original manga predates this (1988-1995). It relies on a lot of CG, which is a smidge ropey, but not bad enough to get in the way of the storytelling. The pacing was a little slow, and after a while the story feels a bit repetitive. The story also ends somewhat abruptly because as the title suggests a second part will be released this year. Ultimately I think for fans of niche science fiction who like the body snatcher type stories. 3/5 (Average)

Maggie (2015). Written by John Scott 3 and directed by Henry Hobson. The film is set on an Earth in the grip of the Necroambulist virus, which is essentially turning people into zombies. Wade Vogel (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is searching for his teenage daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) who has contracted the virus from a bite. Maggie has gone into the city to be quarantined, and to spare her family from her inevitable death, but Wade manages to find her and get her released from the hospital by calling in a favour. He takes her home to her stepmother where they all try to come to terms with the situation. Maggie is certainly a brave attempt at a different take on the zombie film, at a much more personal level. In fact for me it doesn't feel like much of a zombie film at all, and there are only brief moments of the usual trope. It's great to see Schwarzenegger in a different type of role, and he does a reasonable job of it. Breslin is also OK as the daughter. Ultimately though the story felt like it got lost fairly early on and just didn't know what to do with the idea. Overall a somewhat poor story balanced against reasonable performances that for me managed to carry it through, just. For those who don't mind slow character driven films. 3/5 (Average)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Co-written and directed by George Miller. Set in a post-apocalyptic future the story starts with Max (Tom Hardy) contemplating his past. Max senses someone is approaching, gathers up his gear, and jumps in his car. He is pursued by a gang of War Boys who capture him and take him to the Citadel, where the cult of King Immortan Joe resides. He is used as a "blood bag" for a sick member of the cult, and Max is seemingly doomed. For the most part Mad Max: Fury Road is a thing of beauty, horrible horrible beauty. The film comprises a handful of long action sequences which are more or less unrelenting; the first sequence lasts 20 to 30 minutes, and I felt like I was holding my breath until it finished. The sequences are extremely well filmed, whether capturing detail or the wider action. My mind boggled at the vast number of both vehicle and physical stunts required, that for the most part feel genuine rather than CG, or at least are very well blended. There's also a real epic sense to both the sets and action, which at times are on a massive scale. The performances from Hardy, Charlize Theron and the rest of the cast are superb. I had some niggles though. One side effect of the almost unrelenting action is that it feels odd when it stops, almost as if the film's "engine" has run out of petrol briefly and is sputtering. Some of the writing is a little strange, as characters do and say things that either seem odd or just silly. There are also moments where a suspension of belief is required, which some might be able to put down to artistic license. Despite Charlize Theron's heroic central female character the story is incredibly misogynistic, sickeningly so. You can of course argue that this is the whole point of the story, but there were several times where I found it markedly unpleasant. I was able to get past all this, but some might not find it so easy. Overall though I thought it was an incredible film that is a must watch for those who love dystopian action. 5/5 (Excellent)
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