THE BELKO EXPERIMENT James Gunn, the man that brought us Guardians of the Galaxy, brings us this violent, action horror film that’s Hunger Games meets Saw with a dash of Cabin in the Woods. It tells the story of a group of unsuspecting employees who are locked in an office building and forced to play a deadly game that forces them to execute their co-workers and closest friends.
The film’s gruesome nature is its best attribute. With a plot that is as dreary as it is brutal, it no doubt will be entertaining for anyone who is a fan of the genre. The amicable cast of B-listers does a decent job of actually making you care about the characters that are mostly killed off by the films end. Don’t look for any type of mind boggling subtext. Whatever additional point the film was trying to make in between the blood splatter gets lost in translation pretty quickly. FINAL GRADE: B
ALIEN… I Mean… LIFE Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A crew of space explorers comes across an extraterrestrial life form that begins aggressively hunting them down one by one. Even the font of the title card looks like its ripped straight from Ridley Scott’s classic horror franchise. The film sports an all star cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson) as the crew of a NASA space station that makes first contact with a single celled Martian organism that rapidly grows into a man-eating super creature.
The film attempts to differentiate from Alien by applying more science to the science fiction. The specifics of the creature (nicknamed Calvin in the film) are spelled out for the audience, giving a sense of realism that does manage to add to the horror of it all. But none of the characters are memorable and only one of them (Hiroyuki Sinada) has an endearing subplot. So even though the film delivers on suspense, overall it just comes off feeling like a rip-off of something we’ve already seen done better. FINAL GRADE: C
GOING IN STYLE Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin star as a group of elderly friends who lose their retirement pension when the factory they used to work for is sold to an oversees company. Desperate to save their homes and support their families, the loveable trio seeks out the help of a master thief (John Ortiz) to help them plot a bank heist. Matt Dillon also stars as relatively dense FBI agent hot on their trail.
The movie tries its damndest to be Last Vegas meets Ocean’s Eleven, but it never really pulls off the latter part well. From the moment the heist goes down, you’ll need to suspend every ounce of common sense and belief in the FBI to believe that a bunch of elderly men can pull of the theft of millions of dollars in broad daylight. But the cast makes things entertaining simply by them being their charismatic selves. Simple charm makes these men feel like the grandpas you wish you had and that makes the film likable even through its flimsy story. FINAL GRADE: C