Project Almanac

Director Dean Israelite’s first feature length movie works well for him. Opening with High-school kid, David Raskin (Jonny Weston, Insurgent 2015) making a video presentation to MIT for acceptance on one of their college programmes with the help of his two friends Quinn (Sam Lerner, Nobody Walks, 2014) and Adam (Allen Evangelista, Belas, 2013). The film is largely shot in POV (Point of view) format, that is always through a camcorder or such like always used by one of the kids. David’s sister Christina (Virginia Gardner, The Goldbergs. 2013) is the primary recorder. The POV format largely works, even if there are one or two sequences where it is not as successful.

Routing through some old belongings in the attic he comes across a video-camera once owned by his father who was killed in a car accident about 10 years ago. While looking at footage, David notices something, just a frame or two, but he notices it. Reviewing the home-movie in question it is clear David in in the movie as his 17year old self, with his 10yo self also there. Noticing that the David in the film was heading for the basement, they decide to check down there.

Now here is a significant weakness in the film, centred around a young technically gifted student, whose father was an engineer, he (David) only now goes down to the basement and “discovers” his father’s workshop and very quickly its secrets.

Pretty quickly they find the time machine, or at least the workings of it and all of the necessary blue-prints, and as any kids do, they decide to finish building it. With much chaos and experimenting they manage to move something back through time. Of course all of this has the added benefit of entangling one of David’s school mates; Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black D’elia, Born of War 2013), David has a crush on her and as with most young lads of his age, he is totally unable to act on it. A good section of the movie deals with the youngsters building and improving the time machine, often with mixed results.

First the five youngsters experiment with sending inanimate objects back and forth through time, but David is eager to move things on and after much tinkering and adaption, they have a time travel device which they can bring with them, which can transport them to when they want to go (within a limited window of a couple of weeks, but growing as they tinker)

As the movie progresses it starts to take on a slightly darker more sinister hue. After firstly starting off with small things, they decide to “surgically” (my words) interfere with the past, but very quickly learn that one event might have a knock-on effect on another even though the two may not seem linked. After making changes to the time line. On their first trip back they see how the lawas of nature actually kick-in to prevent them from meeting themselves in the past, if they do, bith are removed from nature, no longer existing.

These trips back in time start of light enough, with Quinn using the trips back to ace a pop-quiz in chemistry and then get more intense as they try to undo changes to the timelines brought about by their travel. These changes which seem like nothing much have implications which spread far and wide, the ripple effect being nicely expounded here.

This film is a lot more watchable than I thought it would be and indeed deals with some of the more fundamental aspects of time travel, concentrating on the effects (as thought) rather than on the pure science of the physics. Indeed this is where the film lets itself down slightly, but only slightly.

Without going into the physics of time travel the movie looks to the impacts and how the people involved try to deal with and correct what they have done. One could argue that there is not a whole lot original in the first half of the movie, when even the movie itself draws parallels with some of those time-travelling presentations which came before (even down to video shots of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989).

The second half is where the movie really kicks in and ups the tempo. This is an interesting look at the whole area of time travel and its consequences and might be compared to About Time (Richard Curtis, 2013). Much of the tension surround the undoing of the consequences of even the supposedly smallest actions when they went back in time. One of the issues with Time travel movies is the potential for the heroes to go anywhere, any when in time. Almanac carefully circumvents these issues by building in practical limitations to their device and so keeping the movie on a relatively (sorry for the pun) tight perspective and prevents it from tackling too many physics questions.

Over all it works, with perhaps just a little bit too much time spent on the concert in the baseball stadium, but then again there are implications for the event. It also manages to convey some of the science of time-travel without breaking into applied physics. The movie does have some convenient plot holes but nothing that takes away from the picture overall.

Chappie

Directed and co-written by Neill BlomKamp (District 9, 2009) Chappie is set in The Republic of South Africa in the near future, more specifically in Johannesburg. Faced with ever growing rates of lawlessness and violence the South African police purchase a series of android robots from a local company headed by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver, aliens 1986), these robots are fully mobile AI’s with human interfaces to help control them. Initial trials and usage are going well. Crime rates in the city fall and criminals are genuinely fearful of them.

The opening sequences tell you straight away that you are in a BlomKamp movie with the by-now familiar camera styles. With his opening shots we see how law and order is being restored. In the middle of this we meet drone 22 (who will become known as Chappie), who is severely damaged in deployment and sent to the scrap heap. As this is going on Deon Wilson (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire, 2008) the engineer behind the androids has been working on a full AI program for the androids and has finally cracked it. He is prevented from trying his latest work on any of the robots. As this happens he is facing competition from inside the company in the guise of Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) who has developed a remote controlled ground drone which is basically a walking tank, full to the gunnels with high grade armoury, however his program is cancelled because of the success of the drones.

If life was not hard enough, some of the local criminals, suffering from the effects of the drones decide to Kidnap Deon to force him to shut down the drones. As luck would have it they kidnap Deon when he has a van load of spare parts in the back of his van, while he is getting out of the Lab so he can build his own full AI unit with his new software installed. Once captured, it becomes clear he cannot help them, but it is discovered that he has the making of an android in his van. He agrees to help them build it so he can fit his own AI software in to the brain.

They agree reluctantly, the leader of the gang, Ninja (also called Ninja today) wants the android for a big hoist. His friend Yolandi ( Yo Landi Visser, Focus 2015) develops a soft spot for Chappie as he grows. After some struggles Chappie (played by Sharlto Copley, District 9, 2009) has his AI brain and begins to learn how to behave in the human world. Ninja feels no emotion for him and treats him like a weapon basically, trying to train him to be an effective killing machine, Yolandi on the other hand develops a maternal bond with the ‘droid.

All this happens against the gang trying to plan their biggest Hoist, Deon not trying to get caught, and Vincent Moore discovering what is really happening and then planning to kidnap/destroy Chappie. As the movie develops is grows into three strands; the relationship with Chappie as he develops essentially following the characteristics of a truculent teenager; the training of Chappie by the gang despite attempts by Yolandi and Deon to “humanise” him and keep him away from violence. The third strand is the rivalry within the company and the attempts by Moore to discredit the androids and have his system used.

This of course culminates is a disaster for the city of epic proportions which ends up with Moore and his robot battling Chappie and his gang. While this is going on Deon’s work on AI have sparked Chappie’s interest and he himself manages to progress it. Ultimately they develop the ability to transfer a human conscience in to an artificial brain, this might be able to help them in their fight to survive.

I am trying hard not to ruin the plot line. I watched this shortly after watching Ex Machina (see below) it is interesting to see the take on artificial intelligence and how we as a society are prepared to live with it. Whereas Ex Machina had science and suspense, Chappie has action and a reflection, despite all that is going on we begin to see Chappie in an almost “human” light.

On the negative side, there are one or two small issues with the film, despite being in South Africa, the majority of the cast is white, Dev Patel (English of Indian extraction), something which considering the film is shot in South Africa was noticeable. One other aspect is what I would consider a hole in the story “Security” aspect. The facility where the robots are made seems to be totally incapable of any type of security (which facilitates the storyline) but this causes a certain weakness in the film. I should also point out the film does nothing to advance Johannesburg’s reputation internationally, rather cementing it as the violent city it is often known for.

That said, the movie manages to capture the discussion on what constitutes “humanity” and the nature of being, having a soul and the next life. Are we humane just because we are human, is the soul the preserve of humans?

6/10 An entertaining movie with some excellent special effects, but still somehow managed to give the feel of a small budget production. Overall quite watchable with some rough edges round the corners, perhaps deliberately.

The Congress

This movie starts off on a fairly standard note, there is little in the first part of the movie to suggest how Ari Folman’s (Waltz with Bashir, 2008) direction would go. The movie is based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem using Folman’s screenplay.

The movie starts in the family home of a gracefully aging movie star being lectured to by her agent, Al, (Harvey Keitel, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014). She has been essentially side-lined by the industry because of how hard she is to work with, however the studio have an offer for her. Against this background we learn she has two children, both mid to late teens and one of them, her son Aaron is suffering from an ailment which will eventually cause him to be both deaf and blind but in the meantime he is fascinated by flying and his kites.

After much persuasion from Al she eventually agrees to meet with the studio boss, Jeff Green (Danny Huston, Masters of sex, 2014) who informs her that there is a fundamental way in which the studios are working and that essentially actors and actresses are no longer needed. He makes her an offer she cannot refuse, but true to form she does and needs to be convinced of it. She eventually agrees but puts in some conditions, not least of all, that the “life” time-span of the contract would be 20 years, if they wanted it again it would need to be renewed. The studio will take a digital image of her and use that for making movies, she just needs to retire and not act – anywhere in the world.

We then see Robin in her early 60’s arriving at the gates of Miramount Studio’s animated City. We are not told what this is until we get there. At this stage the film turns to animation of a style reminiscent of Waltz with Bashir and more than subtle homage to the Japanese. It seems everybody is now taking a drug which allows them to essentially be who they imagine themselves to be. She arrives at a convention as a guest of the studio, only to discover she is the 6th Robin Wright to book-in. The hotel is a frenzied mix of studio executive types and other strung out and visibly the worse for wear. Nobody is who they seem, the drug takes care of that. The entire hotel and convention scene is one of bacchanalian and hedonistic partying, perhaps reminiscent of the scenes from an imagined world’s ending. It turns out it might be.

The new contract is needed because it turns out that the technology of 20years ago is no old hat and the new contracted is needed, now Robin Wright will be a sensation – a sensual sensation rather than just an image. She agree and goes to the launch where she rails against the studio machine and is promptly removed, but as this happens there is a revolution of sorts at the hotel. In the middle of this revolution the studio police come after her and the execution scene is straight from Paths to Glory, (Stanley Kubrick, 1957). After this we see how she is in fact suffering from a type of drug induced poisoning which dooms her to life in this alternative reality. She is put in to a sleep with the hope of waking her up once a cure is found. She is woken and advised to stay in this world but goes back to the old world where she quickly sees reality. It is not a good place. The world she left behind has changed, freedoms are removed, society has fallen victim to the drug, there are now two types of people – the “management” who are not on the drug and everybody else whose lives are controlled by it.

Part live action part animation this movie looks at a number of issues and how they affect not just Hollywood. Do we recognise when we have it good, how much of what is around us is illusion and what is reality. How do we know the difference and how do we make it happen?

This is a slightly challenging film to watch, mainly because it does actually challenge you to listen, watch and experience the movie.

6.5/10 this a better than average film, not perfect, but given the experimental nature of this work it stands up well and provides a very entertaining piece of work that does leave you asking questions.

Interstellar

I was struggling on how to open, then I realised: this is classic Christopher Nolan (Inception, 2010). Nolan has written and directed this movie and it shows. If you want an adventure movie like Armageddon (A.J. Frost, 1998), then go see what else is available. On the other hand, if you enjoyed Inception or Memento (2000), then you will enjoy this. The movie is set somewhere in the near-future, though when we are left to guess. We are looking at a society which realised it is on the edge of the abyss and needed to act. There are too many people on the Earth and resources are running out. As the movie runs we begin to learn vital snippets of information, like both the India and US space missions went down at the same time. We quickly notice too that the house is not the usual mobile and tablet picture we have become used to. Our hero , Cooper (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, 2013) We learn is a farmer, he is working the family farm. Living on the edge of town , he lives with this Father-in-law, (John Lithgow, Dexter 2009) We learn that “Coop’s” wife died of cancer and he is bringing up Tom (Timothée Chalamet, Clown, 2008) who at 15 is looking to his future, and Murph, his 10 year old daughter who is trying to find her way in the world, a bit like her father.

I say this because, they are both technical, very technical. We learn that Coop is a former NASA pilot, from a time when NASA was preparing for flight into the Solar System. Early on we see he is haunted by dreams of a crash and we wonder if he has left NASA due to an accident. This is quickly put aside as we put together the pieces. Many of his neighbours have had to sell-up, their wheat has died, and we are once again seeing a dust-bowl hinterland. They grow corn and are surviving, they have “plenty of corn”. Murph believes she has a ghost in her room because books are falling off the shelf and Coop’s module of the lunar Lander mysteriously fell from the book –case and broke. At a parent teacher conference we learn that Tom has been designated a “Farmer” he is not smart enough for University and the University is limited in the places it can take. Once again we hear talk of limitations, rationing. What really upsets Coop (his reaction gets his daughter suspended for a month) is the news that his old text books are now banned because they have now been rewritten and the Lunar landings and the Apollo missions are being written as great hoaxes to bankrupt the Soviet Union. It seems the human race has turned its back on technological growth and development, only what is essential is being done. All resources are being diverted to food production. Humanity is about surviving.

Against all of this Murph’s hauntings are continuing, after on episode, Coop thinks he has a clue, coordinates. Together with Murph, he head to there. Arriving at the location at night, they are…well they end up deep in a famous mountain. When this happens, they movie was still taking shape, and I have to say Close Encounters of third Kind (Spielberg, 1977) flashed by me at one stage. We quickly learn after some great lines that they are in what is left of NASA. NASA is now a secret government organisation which many people think has been shut down. Resources are needed else where. We learn also that there is no need for armies, they have been done away with (later we learn that it is likely that one of the last functions of the world’s armies was to kill the starving. It is said in passing how starving populations were wiped out. There are too many humans.

Now, this is where the movie is a step above the rest, the one-liners and MCconaughey’s ability to deliver them – as well as others. The script is very sharp. NASA is being led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine, The Dark Night, 2008) who working with his daughter, Dr. Brand, (Anne Hathaway, The Devil Wears Prada, 2006) and a small team of others; is working to seed possible new worlds made available through the appearance of a wormhole near Saturn. It is believed “They” put it there but nobody knows who “They” are. There are about a dozen worlds in systems past the wormhole that may support life. About 10 years ago a group of missions went through the wormhole , each carrying one person , each tasked to send back data and report if life is possible. Most of the signals were negative or have been lost, there are three alternatives; t. Professor Brand, shows Cope around the labs, the Corn is starting to die now also , just like the potato blight in Ireland and then the wheat.

I should point that at this stage my blood-pressure rose slightly, was Nolan/Brand referring to the Famines of 1847 or has there been a new Irish Potato Famine caused by blight, actually there might have been – but okay, all our spuds could die in the morning, we would survive here as A) biodiversity, B) imports. But here’s the rub, this is a Nolan movie, we are expected to think. Already the UN and others is nervous of our overdependence on rice in parts of the world (it is also an environmental nasty) and are trying to replace it with potatoes, which are healthier, and more environmentally friendly. The danger is removing one risk and replacing it with another, we still have not solved blight. I mention this because it seems the blight has been extensive enough globally to have an environmental impact on CO2 levels.

We learn now that the Earth only has a generation or two left before “we all suffocate”. Those that don’t starve will suffocate.

The Coop agrees to go on the missions, along with Dr. Brand and two other. Also along is TARS a cubide robot with various intelligence and human interaction settings. We quickly realise that because of Relativity; Special and General the team may not come back and if they do, because of the wormhole, it will be many years into the future. Murph is heart-broken and does not say good-bye to her dad. Quickly the mission is set and we have take-off. No time is wasted showing us any training. The team are launched and begin their journey to the wormhole, where we learn again resources are scarce, and one of the planets is nearer the wormhole and so time-dilation.

What now follows is an desperate search for a usable planet, back home decades have past, Murph (Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty, 2012) is as old as her father was now when he left, she is working on the NASA team trying to crack the effects of time on a gravitational formula that could enable the launch of a ship big enough to host a population sufficient to sustain life on another planet until Earth is back in balance. The breakthrough may not be possible, Murph makes a discovery. Murph’s discovery is all the more important, because of the declining situation on Earth. Through her return home and the dust filled desolation we see that the situation is growing dire. The family is holding on but barely. The adult, married Tom (Casey Afflek, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, 2013) is struggling. The family is feeling the impact on their health of all the dust. The Slow decline to anarchy is reminiscent of Children of Men (2006)

Looking for the lost missions, they search to see if any of them have survived, one has. It is the original leader of the effort, Dr. Mann (Matt Damon, The Zero Theorem, 2013). Is it possible to launch “Plan A” and provide a home, or “Plan B” – use the frozen embryos to populate a new colony?. At just about no stage do things go as planned. Time is running out, as are all other resources, all options are risks. Eventually they have one last plan. McConaughey, when all was lost, finds TARS again, together they solve a puzzle, the one of Murph’s ghost, there may be a chance after all.

This is a smart movie, a little knowledge of Relativity might be possible – check my earlier blog on the subject from last month – go to Part III if you are in a hurry, and the conclusion is really rushed . This is also a long movie and to be honest it felt it once or twice. Is this an excellent, Top Ten movie, maybe not, is it a very good movie, yes. It reward you along the way. The direction is sharp, the viewer is drawn into the movie, by being drip fed the backstory while at the same time being shown the challenge ahead. This is one of those rare science-fiction movies where the fiction is secondary to the science and to the human impact of what is on-going. The ensemble nature of the cast, ensure they are the focus. Okay, yes, there are parallels to be drawn to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick, 1968) even down to how TARS (Bill Irwin) reminds us of HAL from 2001. That said, I’d rather travel with TARS.

Great cast, great performances, from all. I’ve tried not to give too many of the plot developments. Enjoy.

4 Stars, possibly slightly more.

Looper

First off, this is a smarter than average piece of Sci-fi.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are some movies I will see purely for their pedigree, even before I know the plot, Looper was one those movies.  Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, 2005) it also stars Joseph Godon-Levitt who also took the lead  in the same neo-noir classic.  Throw in Bruce Willis for some fun and we’ve a good mix.

In statistics two does not usually make a trend, but in cinema it might just.  This is the second major movie this year where the lead characters are the same person but from different times. We saw this first in Men In Black III (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012, see below) In tha movie our heroes went back in time to affect the future. The comic nature of the movie allowed Josh Brolin to do an excellent impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones’ character “K”. With Looper we do not have an established character such as “K”, so we could not as readily pick up on the mannerisms and peculiarities of the character, the physical characteristics had to be the key.

Now any of you old enough to remember Moonlighting (1985) will remember know that J G-L is not a dead ringer for the younger Bruce Willis. However some neat special effects and make up gave us two actors playing the same character, check the eyebrow movements and even the shape of the nose.  I have to say the altered JG-L took a little getting used to , especially since Premium Rush (See Below) is so fresh.

All that aside the story revolves around a young man who has become a “Looper”, essentially a mafia hit man with a difference.  In the future time travel is perfected and quickly outlawed.  However other advances in biometrics also mean that the killing and dumping of victims has become almost impossible. As a result the mafia in the future employs the illegal time travel, all one way in to the past and sends one of its top men, Abe, (Jeff Daniels, The Lookout, 2007 – also staring Joseph Gordon Levitt) back to the “present” of the story and has him set up his own crime organisation.  Daniels and Gordon Levitt are two very versatile actors not afraid to stretch their range and always know just how far to stretch. There is a cold danger to the Character of Abe which comes across nicely.  As part of this he hires a team of young men to act as Loopers. They go to a certain place at a certain time and the victim appears, they quickly shoot them, take the payment silver bars attached to the body and then dispose of the body. All very neat and tidy.  Earning all concerned an nice living (with the exception of the now dead victim). Life is good until Loopers start getting paid off by their future bosses. The nature of the pay-off is the issue of concern, They unknowingly kill their future selves; the problem is that when their victims appear they are hooded and in straight-jackets facing away from their executioner.  But things go wrong, one survives and people find out what is happening – they get paid off in gold and know they have about 30 years of life left.

With our main characters this goes spectacularly wrong, future Joe, survives, manages to convince present Joe of the issue and while both are being hunted by the mafia, Noah Sagan (you guessed it…Brick) is a hapless mob lieutenant not in good favour with Abe who takes the hunt for Joe extremely seriously and eventually captures him and takes him to Abe, with deadly results for most concerned. Meanwhile older Joe is hunting down the person,  who in the future will be the crime king-pin who has the loopers killed.  Joe Junior goes to one of the addresses, which turns out to be the one. A lone mother, (Emily Blunt, The Adjustment Bureau, 2011), who as it turns out is protecting a very gifted child in an isolated farm.  Ultimately the battle culminates in this isolated farm…

This movie is based on very philosophical science, and I thought I noticed the soundtrack (at least twice) sounding very Whovian at the point where the  time travel occurred . They successfully managed to convey the plot while carefully avoiding all of the science but keeping within the rules of time travel as understood (I’m sad enough to principles of the science involved). This is good solid entertainment.  It slows a little in the middle but picks up again building to the climax.

Entertainment from a cast largely used to working together and it shows.

Rating = 7/10

The Watch

I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to write anything about this movie. It just does not work. I’ve never been a great fan of American situational comedy which all too often depends of the farcical and stupid to get a laugh.

This is a movie which just does not work for me. It is in some ways similar to Grabbers (see below) in that it involves a group of locals trying to defend their home from an alien invasion. That is where the comparison ends. The Watch is at the polar opposite  end of the scale to Grabbers. Don’t bother with it.  When I started this blog I ranted about W.E., the horror that Ms. Madonna inflicted on us. I said then it was technically one of the worst movies I had ever seen. Well, The Watch is not far behind, it just did not work.

Akiva Schaffer (Saturday Night Live, 2005-2011)  directed this movie and his lack of experience shows. The story evolves around small town store manager Evan, (Ben Stiller, Zoolander, 2001) forming a neighbourhood watch. The only takers are a rag-bag bunch of; Bob, the family guy (Vince Vaughan, Couples Retreat, 2009); Franklin, the want-to-be GI Joe (Jonah Hill, Moneyball, 2011) and Jamarcus the English IT guy…in every sense, ( The IT Crowd, 2006-).

After the usual male bonding and compensatory attempts at humour the team go out on patrol and quickly realise something is wrong. People are dying and going missing and Evan’s super-store seems to the centre of all that is happening. After more stupidity they eventually start to fight the aliens and ultimately of course win – sorry if I spoiled the ending. It seems that rather than try to find humour in the fight with the aliens the writers put in a load of male insecurity  and team building jokes which, all too regularly, seem like they are there just to fill time.

The supporting cast ranges from the usual fodder to the down-right stupid.  his movie is not funny, the attempts at humour are forced and often badly delivered. There is big difference between scripting a 3 or 5 minute comedy sketch and directing a 90+ minute feature.  This movie feels like the writers, who for the sake of their careers, I won’t name, came up one night with the outline of a movie and then as they had ideas filled in the missing bits over the next few days or weeks as they had a beer or two.

Rating 4/10 and I’m not even sure why I am being so generous. This movie is simply not good, W.E. was a vicious assault on the brain. Some people like the Stiller brand on anarchistic, lowest common denominator humour, not me.  Watch this at your own risk and remember it is time you will never get back. Or maybe this was a sketch which grew legs, that was the  nasty monster here.

Grabbers

Okay, as soon as I saw reference to this movie at the Galway Film Fleadh, I was hooked. This movie has been described as a B-movie comedy. “B-movie” does not mean bad, just that it does not have studio millions behind it. This is a comedy and as you probably know by now, I like my comedy to be properly constructed, following ancient rules, this movie does that, indeed following rules and convention is something director Jon Wright (Tormented, 2009) and newcomer to feature length work, writer Kevin Lehane do throughout the movie.

I’m going to get the obvious connections out of the way; Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990); this is very much in the same style but probably more funny.  It is probably more in line with Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) with the community feel to the ongoing story. I mentioned rules earlier and Wright seems to follow very closely some Irish rules of thumb when it comes to comedy. 1) an outside in the village, usually a slightly eccentric Englishman or German such as the character of the General (Sam Harris) in John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) or Major Yates himself (Peter Bowles) in The Irish RM (1983). The Irish RM brings us to the second necessary character – the town drunk who also happens to be quite smart and more than capable of coming out well from any situation, we see this with the Character of Slipper, played by Niall Tobin is the series. Such a  character might be described (using the Hiberno-English vernacular) as a “cute whore” which is a cunning but good natured person.  Another movie which comes to mind is The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) given the sense of isolation.

Being so formulaic can often destroy a movie as the team concentrate on the formulae and not the heart and soul of the movie, here however they capture the comic essence needed, indeed the casting was perfect as soon as you saw the actors in a number of cases you knew what you were in for.

Headed by Richard Coyle (Going Postal 2010) playing Garda Ciarán O’Shea with Ruth Bradley (Love/Hate, 2011) playing the Garda sent in to support O’Shea while the sergeant is on vacation. The pair seem totally mismatched and polar opposites. As strange things begin to happen such as whales washing up on shore, they meet up with the English marine biologist working on the island, Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey, Being Human, 2008) who brilliantly plays the reserved and very proper scientist trying to do things the right way. SO here is the village outside needed by the “rules”. The team deserve credit for knowing just how far to take a character such as Smith, stopping short of cliché.  Pretty soon people start to go missing and alien  creatures start to appear.

One is captured by the town drunk/small time fisherman and general smart-arse (again using the H-E vernacular) played brilliantly by Lalor Roddy (Game of Thrones, 2011). An experienced stage and screen actor he know exactly what was needed. I could continue with the rest of the support cast , but sufficient to say they were all first class. I should also give a mention to the excellent CGI, evidence of the work that can be done on a budget.

The plot, in short is; alien creatures crash in to the sea just off the island and quickly make their way ashore. Strange things start to happen and people begin disappearing. Eventually one of the octopus like alien creatures is captured and killed (possibly). This bring more trouble in the shape of the alien’s (far, far larger female partner). Ultimately our heroes and the rest of the village have to make a stand in the village pub (probably another rule there) for reasons most enjoyably left to the movie to explain. Here they battle to save the community, the island and of course all mankind. The battle tactics make the movie.

I’ve avoid reference to The Guard (John-Michael McDonagh, 2011) so far, so it is about time I did the inevitable. I enjoyed The Guard, I really enjoyed Grabbers. Wright has placed the McDonagh brothers on notice. In short this movie is Father Ted (Channel 4, 1995-98) meets Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and as good as either of them.

A lesser effort would have been wholly predicable, this was not. This is The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) as a full comedy.

Rating 9/10, I look forward to more work from this team.