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In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

In The Shadow Of The Moon

Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Gregory Weidman, Geoffrey Tock
Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine

If you kill me now…
the world as you know it will end
in a very short time.

Yeah. Once again a movie about time traveling. Always interesting to see how they incorporated the paradox of time travel. And there’s always going to be someone who claims something isn’t right. Not that I really care about that because I still don’t know anyone who has actually traveled through time to provide proof whether changes in the past may or may not affect the future. Perhaps that would provide proof of whether the grandfather paradox is plausible or not. So, for me, it’s still pure Sci-Fi. And that results in enjoyable films such as “About Time“, “I’ll follow you down” or “Predestination” And this Netflix Original certainly wasn’t that bad either.

This film differs enormously from one like “Predestination“. And this in terms of simplicity. It’s not all that complicated. Don’t expect such an immense “mindfuck” as in the latter. You don’t need an immense manual or walk-through here. And furthermore, it’s a pleasant mixture of detective-movie and Sci-Fi. The tracing of a serial killer (active in Philadelphia) by the ambitious police officer Locke (Boyd Holbrook) is the common thread throughout the film.

The apparently randomly selected innocent victims, die a terrible death in which decomposing brains are the cause of the sudden death. Locke discovers that all the victims have scars in the neck area. Soon it’s said that an isotope is the cause of them ending up dead in a rapidly spreading blood pool. And when a fourth victim manages to give an accurate description of the person, a massive search is being conducted. Locke ends up face to face with a young, coloured teenager (with a thorough knowledge of combat techniques) in a blue jogging suit (Cleopatra Coleman). The biggest shock for Locke is that she knows a lot of facts about Locke. Facts she couldn’t have known. And before you know it, it’s 9 years later.

The film is divided into time periods of 9 years. Starting in the year 1988. The year that the first murders happen. It’s actually the most action-rich part. And also the most realistic. The way in which a cook, concert pianist and female bus driver meet their end, has been portrayed enormously realistic. Don’t expect an ordinary cause of death. It’s pretty bloody. And in the case of the bus driver, quite spectacular. But when the phenomenon of the returning teenager reveals itself and you finally begin to understand what’s going on, realism slowly but surely fades away and gives way to pure fiction. And gradually you realise that this isn’t a typical detective film, with inspectors (like in “Se7en“) chasing a crazy serial killer. No way. It gradually transforms into a thoughtful sci-fi and then ends in a corny drama about family issues.

To be honest, I thought the acting performance of Boyd Holbrook as the wayward Locke wasn’t bad at all. Perseverance and drivenness were exceptionally well portrayed. Because of his obsession to solve the mystery, he loses control of reality. It destroys his family relationships and interferes with his work. Gradually Locke turns into an unkempt tramp, without work and living in his car. Therefore, let me praise the make-up department of this production. And although Holbrook’s acting was outstanding, you can’t say he out-sings the rest of the cast. They weren’t bad, but you can’t speak of spectacular interpretations either. Only the action-rich fight scenes with Cleopatra Coleman as an unleashed fury pleased me as well.

No, “In the shadow of the Moon” certainly wasn’t a disastrous film. Although the story was essentially not too original. And you get that feeling that you’ve seen it all before. Probably because of that, the denouement wasn’t really surprising. Perhaps the opening scene was too revealing as well. The question of whether you can avoid disaster by drastically changing something in the past is and remains fascinating. I bet that the event they tried to undo, will be the subject of discussion once again. Just look at the politically charged opinions on other websites. Even the word “propaganda” is used all too often. The patronising tone and the explanatory nature of the film was no obstacle for me to enjoy this film. Don’t expect a groundbreaking movie. But it surely was entertaining enough. So, it’s definitely well worth a watch, this Netflix Original.

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Overlord (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

Overlord Review, A small group of American soldiers find horror behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day.

Director: Julius Avery
Writers: Billy Ray (screenplay by), Mark L. Smith (screenplay by) 
Starring Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Pilou Asbaek, Gianny Taufer, Iain De Caestecker, Dominic Applewhite, Bokeem Woodbine.

You know what’s awesome about Denny’s? Their menus. Whether you’re still half asleep in the morning or trying to sober-up after the bars close, you can slide into a booth, grab an oversized laminated menu and find exactly what’ll hit the spot without reading a single word. Just point to the glossy colored photo of their Grand Slam Breakfast and grunt to the waitress, “I’ll want that.”

And no matter which Denny’s you stumble into, that Grand Slam Breakfast will look and taste exactly like the picture promises. Nothing on their menu will ever be mistaken for fine cuisine, but unless the kitchen overcooked your eggs over easy, chances are you’ve never walked out of a Denny’s disappointed.

Overlord is sort-of the action-horror equivalent of a Denny’s visit, brought to your table just as advertised and prepared by cooks who may not be Bobby Flay, but at-least their way around a griddle. The cooks in this case are director Julius Avery, producer J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Billy Ray & Mark L. Smith, who’ve put together a heaping, greasy plate o’ bloody horror, violent action and just enough character development so we care who lives or dies.

Taking place during World War II, the film has a squad of paratroopers charged with infiltrating a German-occupied village in France just prior to D-Day. However, in a riveting opening scene, their plane is attacked and only a few of them, led by Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), manage to survive the jump. Their objective remains the same, though: Destroy a radio tower – located in the village church – before their allies hit the beach at Normandy. But after inadvertently infiltrating the church on his own, newbie Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) discovers a lab where Nazis, under the command of lecherous SS officer Captain Wafner (Pilou Asbaek), have been experimenting on villagers to develop a serum that not-only resurrects the dead, it gives them unbelievable strength. Worse yet, they’re almost invulnerable.

We’ve seen Nazi-zombie mash-ups before, mostly low-budget horror fare. But the undead depicted here aren’t zombies in the purest sense and Overlord is just-as-much a war movie as it is a horror film. The plot is strictly meat & potatoes – or bacon & eggs, in this case – with an abundance of familiar tropes from both genres. Amusingly, most of the protagonists act like they’ve been hijacked from a 1940s war epic (right down to the wisecracking kid from Brooklyn), yet they’re engaging nonetheless. And though the film is mostly bereft of surprises or suspense, the mission itself is a fun, gleefully violent adventure that comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Sometimes that’s all you need from a meal. Like everything on the Denny’s menu, Overlord delivers as expected without frills or fuss. Well written, solidly directed and briskly-paced, it isn’t likely to become a classic (though cult classic isn’t out of the question). However, it’s equally unlikely that action-horror fans will walk away still hungry.