The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stranded (2013)

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This is one that our friends across the pond had the jump on us on by about two months before we got it here, and for me, having seen some of Christian Slater's other DTV work and enjoyed it, I was excited to see what it was all about.  The problem was, after it was released, it was stuck in Long Wait limbo in my DVD queue.  Finally we got it, so let's see if it was worth the wait.  Also, our buddy Fred, The Ex-Ninja looked at this one, so you can go there to see what he thought.

Stranded is about a moon base that does some kind of mechanized mining operation supervised by a crew of four people.  When the base is bombarded by a meteor shower, vital life support systems are damaged, and the crew is forced to wait while a rescue shuttle may or may not arrive.  At the same time, a spore has been discovered on one of the rocks.  I can't imagine that spore would be trouble at all though...

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This isn't horrible by any stretch.  It's well shot, well acted, the sets looked nice, etc.  The thing I'm left with though is "and what?"  We've seen this movie done so many times, and this one doesn't really add anything unique.  Is that the worst thing ever?  I guess kind of?  I don't know.  I think on some levels it wanted to be that combination of Solaris (the Tarkovsky version, of course) and Alien or The Thing, but it never quite got there for me.  It's the kind of movie that if it ends up on Instant, or cable, or what have you, it's a fun way to kill 90 minutes, but I don't know if beyond Christian Slater it's anything you need to go out of your way for.

Slater is solid here again.  It's an odd part though, because he's the lead, but he's not always the focal point of the film until the end.  Other characters are affected by the spore, and we get their experience more, while Slater pops in and out to check up on things.  It's an odd construct when you think about: a film in a small environment with only four characters, and somehow we lose one for periods of it, and that one is the film's main star.  But Slater delivers that same smooth, consistent, almost effortless performance we've come to expect, and even with a film like this that would otherwise have been a skip for me, he elevates it to something else and makes it watchable and review-worthy.  Can't wait to see what he does next.

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This movie was directed by Roger Christian.  If you don't know, he won an Oscar for his set decoration along with three other people for Star Wars, and was also nominated for the Oscar in the same category with three other people for Alien.  On the other hand, he won a Razzie as director of Battlefield Earth.  Ouch, though I don't really remember Battlefield Earth being poorly directed per se; but like in football where the quarterback gets all the glory in the win and the blame in a loss, the director has to wear it if his film is Battlefield Earth, fairly or unfairly.  This is much better of course, and while that isn't saying much, I imagine, especially when working with a small budget, that it's hard to pull off the film you want, and I think he put together a solid effort here, one that proves that Razzie was a blip in his career, not indicative of his overall work.

After Slater, I really liked Brendan Fehr as the base's doctor.  Really cool, and definitely made up for the times when Slater wasn't on-screen.  According to imdb he seems to do a lot of TV work, but hopefully we'll see him in more DTV flicks, maybe opposite Slater, because they were good together.  Then we had Amy Matysio as the crew member who first brings the spore on board.  We've seen her a couple times on here before, recently in the Kim Coates flick Ferocious, and in another Slater film, Dolan's Cadillac.  This was by far the biggest part we've seen her in though, and she wasn't bad.  Finally, we had Michael Therriault as the base engineer.  This is the first thing I've seen him in, and he was pretty good too, but I can't get too much into either his or Matysio's parts because I'll give away too much of the movie.

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I had one major problem with this movie right from the start though, and while I suspended belief to some degree to get into it, it still affected how believable it was for me.  If we're making bases on the moon, why are we not making them more durable?  We know the moon has essentially no atmosphere, so rocks from space are going to impact what's there, unlike here where only the big ones hit and the rest are burnt up in our atmosphere before they hit.  So you'd think they'd plan better for something like the catastrophe that befell them at the beginning.  I understand that that would mean we'd have no movie, but if the movie hinges on something so unreasonable, isn't better to go back to the drawing board.

You can get this on the usual DVD suspects, Netflix, RedBox, etc.  As I said above, while this isn't horrible, I'm not sure it's remarkable enough either to go too far out of your way for it.  Again, you've seen this before, and it's really not bringing anything new to the table.  A solid cable or Instant time waster, so if it ends up on either of those outlets and you come across it, it might not be too bad.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2268573/

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