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Missing (2023)

Missing (2023)

After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online.

You never really get into the action when it's digital. When it's at a distance. When the search is via phone, and security footage, and Gmail (product placement hmm - it's a new age of opportunity out there) and what other real or made up services have you.

I do like the unorthodox approach - apart from somewhat artificial sounding bits of dialog it feels real, and all computer-related interfaces are legit. They don't miss any details with the chats, and notes, and logins, and all the little bits that lead the story onward; uncover new clues, but at the same time... it's just a shame everything's becoming so digital.

I may be a dying breed here, but I don't mind that. I'm not a fan. This is how we interact these days and I feel like it shouldn't be. We should be face to face. We should live for real, and express ourselves in the multitude of nuances that is real life; far away from keys and cameras that seem to convey but a tiny little portion of what it really is to be alive.

In a way they parody that here too. Parody's maybe a wrong word - they show the downsides of it all. The stress of social media. Influencers, opinionators and mainstream news - not that the latter ever was digital. But everybody's their own detective now; everybody has an opinion.

When June sneered at Veema for wondering if her mom had some secrets... Veema was right. She did have secrets. But it seems June also had that intuition in regard to her mom; in regard to what really matters. And as soon as the dad comes barging in she knows who's side he's really on too...

It's not all black and white after all. The scripting's good. I like Javier - and his somewhat less savvy but also appreciative approach to tech. It IS pretty cool you can reach across the world like this, at whim and will, however you'd wish to. If you ever run into this scenario yourself: go hire someone before they delete that camera footage.

But it's still... just not as engaging as I imagine it would've been if they filmed it for real. With the wide angles. With the crane or drone or copter shots. With the broad perspective of life. This is cagey.

But I do appreciate the new. It's an interesting way to make a movie, and the story's not all cliché either.

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

War Of The Worlds: The Attack (2023)

War Of The Worlds: The Attack (2023)

It's a bit like Attack The Block innit? Another alien encounter in the UK. This time it's their take on the War Of The Worlds one, where a superior race came to colonize our home and take us for all we have and haventh. A straight-up redo of the War Of The Worlds classic on UK soil.

It really is a redo. It's exactly the same, from start to finish.

You get a new milieu, and a new crew to purge the world from the oncoming onslaught and alien threat - or at least to escape it. The dark, the red, the everything from the original is there, albeit this time with subpar special effects and a whole lot of repetition.

They had the crazy priest too. Don't recall if he was a priest in the original movie but he definitely was similar, the crazy character...

I'm a bit surprised they were allowed to make this. Thought the name would be trademarked. I thought certain concepts couldn't be repeated so easily without breaching some form of copyright law. Can't imagine this was sanctioned by the same studio that made the original movie.

The special effects were nice occasionally, with the explosions and attacks, and the crew was charming, but other than that... you're better off seeing the original.

The premise may be worth repeating, to remind us what a wonderful world we really live in, and how we really ought take better care of it, but otherwise... there doesn't seem to be much merit to making this exactly the same. Another country, but exactly the same. They could've switched it up plenty if they wanted to.

 rated 2.5/5: almost not bad

Damascus Under Fire (2018)

Damascus Under Fire (2018)

Two Iranian pilots are in a special mission to save the people of a small Syrian city who are surrounded by the terrorists. But they have to face many challenges before [they] manage to accomplish their mission.

It's a sad story. The main character gets gray hair on short notice. ISIS soldiers come from Europe, with red beards and hazel eyes, it's strange... but it's true.

It's about a war that involves the whole world after all. That lures in those who've been misled in the West, that see the weakness in a life of comfort. The lies in luxury. And though they do have a point this is NOT the way to resolve their issues. This is not the way you make a better world.

The special effects are sometimes sub-par, but good enough for the most part. Initially they're unexpectedly brutal. The whole movie is. Beheadings by sword as much as by blast radius of a suicide jeep. You wonder who was in the driver's seat in that first scene...

The story follows a pilot and his father, volunteering on a mission to fly a plane out of a city under siege. Under the fist of ISIS. This is their tale. It's not a happy one, but it's a good movie, the cover misleads...

The movie's gripping - most so in the final moments. It seems to give a glimpse of all that's wrong in the world - and at the same time all that's right. With those who stand up and fight. For what they believe in. When what THEY believe is the fairer fight. The one maybe... that saves more life? The credits are masterful too.

I'm not surprised this movie flew under the radar. Like the Syria war overall. Like Iran still does. Like the dark side of Islam often seems to - except when there's an injustice that doesn't offer perspective. When there's a clear definition of someone being wronged.

Especially if it's close to home, then it gets coverage... but who wants to see a movie like this on our happy side of the planet?

It's cold. It's all too scary. All to real. The fight of ideologies that rages on.

I suppose we don't want to feel like we could be involved in it too. Yet our own citizens fly off to ISIS training camps, to partake in this bloodshed...

Don't get it twisted. Nothing's black and white. It's just red. When all friends are dead.

Thoroughly impressed with this movie. It doesn't censor itself. With religious war, with absolute commitment and ideology, there are no
happy endings.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Unsurfed Afghanistan (2020)

Unsurfed Afghanistan (2020)

A documentary film that follows a mans journey back to his home country of Afghanistan. With the help of some river surfers to find surfable waves and bring a drop of joy to the people there.

When you hear 'surf' you traditionally think 'ocean', no?

Apparently there's a thing called river surfing too! It's different... but cool. As are the barren but surprisingly watery landscapes of Afghanistan...

This was... interesting. If you want to watch some surfing you'll get a little. If you want to see some sights you'll get more!

It's fascinating to see how people live in different parts of the world, even in as barren lands as these. The culture really is different. The lands really are desolate.

I'm reminded of a recent news story on Afghans who learned to ski down slopes on just boards of wood, and were now competing internationally. Wonder if that was even on snow. Maybe just sand. It's cool how even if birthed in the harshest parts of the world, you can learn to excel in a sport that usually requires a much higher level of luxury.

But they having real surfing boards too now... who knows. Maybe we'll get some awesome Afghan surfers too.

This was cool to see. Cool idea, albeit not the most exciting documentary.

 rated 2.5/5: almost not bad

Simulant (2023)

Simulant (2023)

Heeey the Fast & Furious lady! Jordana Brewster. Interesting how once you tie people to a certain franchise it's like that's what they are forever...

This is a dystopian tale on simulants and humans - but not all dystopian - it has a message on love too. It's like I, Robot and Blade Runner combined, only the replicants are called simulants, and the world hasn't come to the point where they're free to do exactly as they please yet. They're still bound by human law and regulations, yet that may be about to change...

It's a good movie, with an eerily relevant premise, on AI and souls and all that futuristic shizzle, even if it takes place in a world that looks more like our world than the potential future.

They've got some futuristic-looking tech and holographic signs to at least attempt to make it seem different, but it doesn't go all the way. The cars are the same, the people too, the shops seem to pedal older tech than that which we buy today... it's a little strange.

Reminds me of The 6th Day too, though the sceneries aren't even on par with that level of futuristic.

Also dark twist towards the end. My god. I saw it coming at that point, but still... you wonder if we maybe really do have a soul after all. Or was he always that kind of a husband - was that why she kept her distance more so than because he wasn't real. Or was he just disillusioned by the reproach he felt, or by what he saw on his little stint into the bigger world...

It really makes you question. The future. The benefits or pitfalls of AI. The good, the bad, the potentially inescapable world that may come to be...

It turned out better than I thought it would this time. Maybe it all comes back to that ambiguity too, and not fully knowing where we're going, or why, or what really matters after all...

Plus it's a sad story, and yet there is hope, yet it ends bad for some, yet good for others, and there seems to be no redeemable reason as to who draws the short straw and who doesn't... nuances after all.

Same with the enforcer's son. You don't get full story but... nuances there too.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

The Devastator (1986)

The Devastator (1986)

This one really reminded me of Mercenary Fighters, 1988.

It has a similar feel to it, and a similar intro, with a very similar-looking apartment, but it doesn't take place in exotic Africa this one, but rather home turf USA, where a group of convincing villains (of which I'm sure I've seen at least the main one in other movies before - don't know the name) have taken over a small town, where they grow marijuana, and kill anyone who gets in their way.

In comes Vietnam veteran Deacon Porter (played by Rick Hill - you might've seen him in Dune Warriors), who initially spends time in a bar that reminds me of the one in Deer Hunter, eventually gets shot, runs away, and comes back with a bunch of other Veteran buddies...

The fights are a little too notably sped-up, not the most authentic, but good, in the typical all-out explosive style of the eighties, and the cast's one you take a liking to. They're tough guys - and girls, albeit with their own flaws, and not everyone makes it out of their endeavor alive, but it's just something they gotta do cause they gotta do it.

At least that's how Deacon feels...

It ends a little abruptly, without total closure, but at least the war is over.

I liked it. Not perfect but: there's a lot of fighting. And good sights. And glimpses of the enviable old days, when the cars in particular looked so much better than they do now...

 rated 3.5/5: not bad at all

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