A Perfect Day, Aid workers, Animation, Benicio Del Toro, Blue Sky, Curt Siodmak, Denis Leary, Drama, Espionage, EVP, Fedja Stukan, Fernando León de Aranoa, Galen T. Chu, Harrison Gilbertson, Haunt, Haunted house, Horror, Ice Age: Collision Course, Ione Skye, Jacki Weaver, Jean Byron, John Leguizamo, Ken Hughes, King Donovan, Liana Liberato, Little Red Monkey, Mac Carter, Mélanie Thierry, Meteorite, Mike Thurmeier, Morello Curse, Murder, Nuclear scientists, Olga Kurylenko, Queen Latifah, Ray Romano, Review, Richard Carlson, Richard Conte, Rona Anderson, Russell Napier, Sci-fi, Scrat, Simon Pegg, Spaceship, Sylva Langova, The Balkans, The Fifties, The Magnetic Monster, Thriller, Tim Robbins
The Magnetic Monster (1953) / D: Curt Siodmak / 76m
Cast: Richard Carlson, King Donovan, Jean Byron, Harry Ellerbe, Leo Britt, Leonard Mudie, Byron Foulger, Michael Fox
Rating: 6/10 – a sample of selenium, bombarded with alpha waves, becomes a lethal danger to mankind as it develops exponentially – and only the A-Men from the Office of Scientific Investigation can stop it; an exposition heavy sci-fi thriller that takes time out for (stranger) domestic interludes involving Carlson and Bryan, The Magnetic Monster packs a lot in to its relatively short running time and is unexpectedly entertaining for all its techno-speak and overly serious demeanour.
Haunt (2014) / D: Mac Carter / 86m
Cast: Harrison Gilbertson, Liana Liberato, Ione Skye, Jacki Weaver, Brian Wimmer, Danielle Chuchran, Ella Harris, Carl Hadra
Rating: 3/10 – a family move into a house where tragedy struck the previous owners, and the son (Gilbertson), along with abused neighbour Sam (Liberato), discovers that the place is haunted by a vengeful spectre; muddled, confused and scare-free, Haunt aims for unsettling and frightening but misses by a mile thanks to weak plotting, a jumbled storyline, stock characters, absentee direction, and an overbearing score (and that’s without mentioning the performances, particularly Weaver’s – which is dreadful).
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) / D: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu / 94m
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Keke Palmer, Adam Devine, Wanda Sykes, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Jennifer Lopez, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jessie J, Nick Offerman, Chris Wedge
Rating: 5/10 – while Scrat does his best to keep his acorn safe aboard a spaceship, his actions lead to a massive meteorite heading for Earth, which in turn leads to Manny (Romano) and the usual gang having to formulate a plan to avoid the extinction of them all; while the series can still manage to sprinkle a handful of inspired visual gags throughout each entry (and this is no different), the law of diminishing returns is having a savage effect on the storylines, with this outing proving less than inspired, and leaving the characters teetering on the edge of becoming their own caricatures.
Little Red Monkey (1955) / D: Ken Hughes / 71m
aka The Case of the Red Monkey
Cast: Richard Conte, Rona Anderson, Russell Napier, Sylva Langova, Colin Gordon, Donald Bisset, John King-Kelly, Bernard Rebel, Arnold Marlé, John Horsley
Rating: 7/10 – when several nuclear scientists are murdered, and the culprit appears to be a little red monkey, Scotland Yard and a visiting US State Department agent have to make sure that defecting Professor Leon Dushenko (Marlé) doesn’t end up dead as well; an agreeable, fast-paced thriller, Little Red Monkey mixes international espionage, early Cold War paranoia, romance, and intrigue to good effect, and thanks to the script by Hughes and James Eastwood, has a discreet Hitchcockian vibe that benefits it tremendously.
A Perfect Day (2015) / D: Fernando León de Aranoa / 106m
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Mélanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan, Eldar Residovic, Sergi López
Rating: 7/10 – a group of aid workers in the war-torn Balkans try to have a dead body removed from a well that provides drinking water, and are met by every type of obstruction possible – bureaucratic, cultural, and just plain bizarre; A Perfect Day‘s very good cast can’t mitigate against the episodic nature of the story, or de Aranoa’s offhand treatment of some of the minor characters, but otherwise this is a pointed, unsentimental look at the quieter horrors that war can throw up, and when it wants to be, uses black humour as a trenchant counterpoint to all the tragedy.