Not to be confused with the ’80s slasher Terror Train — but, oh, how I wish it were! — 1952's Terror on a Train finds Glenn Ford (Superman: The Movie's
Pa Kent) as Peter Lyncort, a bomb diffuser whose home life with his
spouse (French actress Anne Vernon) is currently as explosive as his
For several years, I’ve intended to read Matthew G. Lewis' 1796 novel, The Monk. I even bought a snazzy trade-paperback edition with an introduction from Stephen King. Never got around to cracking it open.
Unlike many moviegoers, 17-year-old farm girl Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell,The Day) has no memory of the events of The Last Exorcism, a found-footage smash of three years prior. The Last Exorcism Part II
finds her taking steps to build life anew, beginning in a boarding
house for troubled girls, where the deeply devout Nell is exposed to
such heretofore corrupting influences as lipstick and rock music and
YouTube and cotton candy.
Suspense novelist Jeffery Deaver once praised the short-story format,
writing that the minimal time investment on the part of the reader
allows the writer to get away with endings he or she cannot in the long
form. In other words, the writer can be meaner, more devious. He's
absolutely right, and the theory applies wholesale to The ABCs of Death, more or less a horror anthology depicting "26 ways to die."
Don't ask why Ninja III: The Domination
begins with a ninja assault on a municipal golf course. Just be
grateful it does. You also may wonder why its sex scene employs a can of
V8: Don't question it. Just lie back and enjoy it.
One needs more than two hands to count the numerous other films from which “Battle: Los Angeles” has been cobbled: “Independence Day,” “Cloverfield,” “Starship Troopers,” “Transformers,” “Aliens,” “Predator,” “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” and
any movie in which bullet casings fall to the ground in slow motion, to
name just a few.
If the alien-invasion flick often looks like a video game, that’s because it’s written like one (as in barely), as a loose string of missions for its gung-ho Marines: Rescue civilians from a police station; take them to safety; destroy the mother ship. That’s the simple-structured path for our cardboard, interchangeable heroes, led by a stoic, ever-grimacing Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) as Staff Sgt. Nantz, after aliens lay waste to several locales around the world, La-La Land included.
As Billy Joel once sang early in his career, say goodbye to Hollywood.
Employing a shaky-cam style reminiscent of first-person-shooter games, director Jonathan Liebesman (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) puts his cast through nearly two solid hours of rat-a-tat-tat and budda-budda-budda, all in a messy manner making it difficult to tell who’s who. When this sci-fi actioner says “Battle,” it means it, but at the expense of any kind of story. One doesn’t expect much from effects-driven efforts like this, but even I was astonished at how little it aims to tell. All it cares about it aiming to shoot. That quickly wears audiences out.
Bonus points if you believe it ends in a setup for endless sequels, from “Battle: New York City” to “Battle: Sheboygan.” Retreat! —Rod Lott