Heart Breaker (Split Second, 1992)

In the Distant Future of…uh…2008… global climate change is causing environmental upheaval. In London, it has rained continuously for weeks, causing the streets to be flooded.

Rutger Hauer plays tough cop Harley Stone. When he has to deal with a new killer who mutilates their victims, he is forced to work with a rookie cop Dick Durkin.

As they try and track the killer down to end their reign of terror, the two discover that the killer may not be human at all. Things get worse as the killer seems to target Stone and his girlfriend Michelle.

This is a bit of a Predator knock off. The creature has the ability to mask itself and is a hunter. The writer does add some motives tied to astrology. The London setting is really effective though, with the characters constantly dealing with running through darkness and flooded streets.

Rutger Haur is playing a fairly stock character here, as he is the “Cop Who Operates By His Own Rules”. I also appreciate that the filmmakers allow Cattrall’s Michelle to be a part of the fight at the end, rather than just be the damsel in distress that needs to be saved.

Split Second is not particularly original, but I do find it a fun watch.

You Happy Puppet (Possum, 2018)

Possum_PosterPossum is the tale of a disillusioned puppeteer who lives with his stepfather. He decides he must rid himself of the puppet that he keeps in a bag. But the puppet keeps returning to him.

This film has a constant state of sadness.  It is less scary and more creepy.  The puppet is super disturbed looking. Like a spider with a human head.

Honestly, I am not sure if I liked this film or not.  It feels like someone captured depression in a bottle and then trapped it within film.

It moves at a quiet pace, relying on the dreadful creepiness that questions if the puppet is truly a living evil or if Philip is just broken from reality. Is someone messing with him? It may be so. This is a dark and bleak film, that is unrelenting in its gloom.

Gonna’ Get Me A Dragon (Eragon, 2006)

Eragon_Posterin 2001 we got the two biggest film franchises of the new century.  Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter proved the appetite was there for fantasy films.  And so everyone was trying to get the next major franchise, snapping up young adult fantasy novels.  One of those was Christopher Paolini’s Eragon.

Eragon is a young farm boy in a land that used to be protected by the Dragon Riders.  The dragons were wiped out, but there is a prophesy of an egg yet to hatch. Eragon discovers the egg and upon hatching the baby dragon hatches.  He and his dragon Saphira find themselves hunted by the evil King Galbatorix, who desires Saphira for himself. Or he wants to destroy her.  Whatever is necessary to keep his power. With the evil Wizard Durza, he has kept the princess Arya prisoner.

Eragon is trained by the secretive Brom as they prepare to take on Galbatorix and his minions.

While the books were modestly popular, this did not translate into success for the film.  And frankly, it is not much different from Dragonheart ten years earlier.  The film fails at offering all it’s twists.  Brom’s secret is pretty obvious, so it is not a surprise when it is revealed.

The film also takes poor shortcuts.  The Dragon seems to grow to adulthood in a matter of days. The effects are decent enough, but the film makes the choice of allowing us to hear the psychic connection between Eragon and Saphira…and it just does not work as effectively as simply having the dragon speak as they did with Dragonheart.

Eragon just never feels like anything beyond a want to be fantasy epic.  And it really feels like a direct to video knockoff, in spite of a cast that includes Rachel Weisz, John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons.

Let’s Get the Band Back Together (The Mummy Returns, 2001)

The_Mummy_Returns_posterStephen Sommers returns to helm the next installment of the franchise.  Set about ten years after the first film, Rick and Evie are married and maverick adventuring archaeologists.  Think if Indiana Jones was rich, rather than a college professor.  With their young son, Alex, they explore an ancient site and discover artifacts related to the fabled Scorpion King.

The film actually begins by establishing the myth.  In his film debut, Dwayne Johnson (billed in the film as The Rock) is the Scorpion King.  A fierce Warrior who wandered the desert and on the verge of death made a pledge to the god Anubis.  In the present day, a Cult has resurrected Imhotep with the help of Meela, the reincarnation of his beloved Anck-Su-Namun.

Alex tries on a bracelet that reveals a map to the oasis of the Scorpion King…and the bracelet won’t come off.  This sets into motion both the O’Connells and Imhotep racing to the oasis.

The Mummy Returns is guilty of the sequel tendency to be “bigger”.  Every action scene is a major event.  Every character a greater purpose.  Evie suddenly has super fighting skills, and it is discovered she is the reincarnation of Nefertiti, daughter of the Pharoah and opponent of Imhotep and Anck-Su-Namun.  And Rick? Well, he is revealed to actually be Magi (with magical knowledge of their code phrases) the watchers over Imhotep from the first film (Oded Fehr returns as Ardeth Bay).  They must fight an army of pygmy mummies.  I mean, the movie is full of mummies beyond Imhotep.

This is not to say the film is not fun.  It actually carries a lot of the spirit of the first one.  The action is fun, there are daring saves, exciting sword fights and so on.  The film relies on the same humor of the first.

The digital effects are mostly on par with the previous film. There were not real leaps in technology for these films, and it all looks…okay.  But there is one glaring issue here.  Even by the standards of digital effects in 2001 (and remember, this is post “Phantom Menace”)?  The digital Scorpion King monster looks absolutely terrible.  It looks like a sub par video game creature.

In spite of the ridiculous flourishes (reincarnation for Evie, Rick being Magi, etc) the Raiders of the Lost Ark feel still works in the film, and it comes out as a fairly decent sequel.

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