Top Ten Unappreciated Horror Themes

Posted: October 9, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Originally, I wanted to make a list of the top ten greatest horror themes of all-time, but very quickly realized that my list was going to be the exact same as everybody elses. Psycho, Halloween, Jaws, The Exorcist, etc. We all know what the best horror themes are and there really isn’t much point in me repeating them. Instead, I’m going to be looking at the lesser-celebrated horror themes that I really dig. The movies themselves are not exactly deep cuts, but the music, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough love.

10. The Orphanage, “Reunión y final”

I had some reservations about placing this song in the list. It’s not a very scary piece of music, in fact if you heard it out of context you might not even know it’s from a horror film. Ultimately though, I like the piece too much to exclude it. It’s a beautiful piece of music from a horror gem more people should see. Read the rest of this entry »

Sicario Review

Posted: October 7, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

sicario_posterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

It’s been pretty exciting to watch Denis Villeneuve’s gradual rise in the film community. His breakthrough is most certainly the Oscar nominated Incendies, a great film. Since then, Villeneuve has directed two English language films; Prisoners and Enemy, both of which showed that his technical abilities behind the camera were legitimate. The thing is, while both of those films had elements I liked, I found both to be considerately lower in quality than Incendies. So, much as I’ve been enjoying watching Villeneuve’s career grow, I don’t think his English language films have hit the heights they could be. However I was hopeful Sicario would be the film to break the mold, particularly given the ecstatic reviews.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent running a kidnap response team in Arizona. One particularly nasty raid ties into the Mexican drug cartel. Macer is eager to make an actual difference rather than just cleaning up the mess. This draws the attention of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a Department for Defense adviser who’s putting a team together to combat the cartel in Mexico. Macer sees this as an opportunity to finally make a serious difference, but soon finds herself surrounded in corruption and moral ambiguity. Read the rest of this entry »

The Martian Review

Posted: October 6, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

martianWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Ridley Scott is an amazing filmmaker who has maintained a position as one of the most important directors in the business since 1979’s Alien. However there is a growing narrative that Scott’s work has been in decline recently. In the last five years, he’s given us two underwhelming epics (Robin Hood and Exodus: Gods and Kings), a highly ambitious and equally divisive science-fiction film (Prometheus), and a very misguided crime thriller (The Counselor). Personally though, I’ve never really bought into this way of thinking. While all of the aforementioned films are highly flawed, all of them have at least a few interesting things and I wouldn’t call any of them terrible. I’m also a pretty big fan of Prometheus, which isn’t perfect, but gets a lot more hate than it deserves. Moreover, if you like at Scott’s filmography, you’ll find it’s fill of middling patches. As such, I had faith Scott had a few more greats in him, and now The Martian has proved me right.

The film takes place in a near future and opens with a group of scientists doing studies on the planet Mars. Their field work is cut short when a freak storm hits and the group needs to evacuate. During the storm, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is lost and presumed dead. Team commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) reluctantly decides to leave the plant for the safety of the rest of her crew. Theorizing it would take years for NASA to send a rescue, Mark must find ways to survive on a station designed for only a month’s use, as well as find some way to contact NASA. Though alone, Mark’s plight will soon catch the attention of Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Horror Taglines

Posted: October 2, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I like to watch a lot of horror movies in October to get into the Halloween spirit, but for whatever reason that’s never really translated to this site. This year, I’ve decided to change that. Every Friday in the Month of October, I’ll be posting a new horror themed top ten list, starting with my favourite horror taglines.

I’m not sure why, but horror movies seem to have some of the most awesome taglines of all-time. This list is all about honouring the most chilling, most memorable, and most enticing taglines the genre has to offer.

10. “Oh yes, there will be blood”, from Saw II


A running theme in this list is simplicity. I love when a tagline can really elegantly communicate a lot about the film with minimal effort. This understated promise for Saw II does just that while also signifying the direction the gore filled sequels would eventually go. Read the rest of this entry »

Pawn Sacrifice Review

Posted: September 29, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

pawnsacrificelargeWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Is madness the price of genius? Many would say yes, and while it seems to me there have been plenty of artistic geniuses who seem perfectly stable, there are also a wealth of artists throughout history whose greatness was rivaled by their personal problems. One such example is Bobby Fischer, the famous chess player who rose to prominence at an early age and became a household name due to his series against Russian champion Boris Spassky during the Cold War. Fischer was also notable for his extreme paranoia, anti-Semitism, and obsessive personality. Since his death in 2008, a few films (documentary and narrative) have come to speak to various aspects of Fischer’s life. Now, Hollywood has made its own version of the story with Edward Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice, a film particularly centered on the aforementioned rivalry between Fischer and Spassky.

The film opens with Bobby as a young child who came to be fascinated with chess and he quickly rose as one of the best players of his day. As an adult, Bobby (Tobey Maguire) attracts the attention of Paul Marshall (Michael Stuhlbarg), who sees Bobby’s talents as a potential weapon against the Soviet Union. Paul believes for Bobby to defeat Russian champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) would be a huge victory for American patriotism and a swift blow to the Soviets. Paul enlists the help of William Lombardy (Peter Sarsgaard) to coach Bobby, but the pair finds Bobby’s insane demands and growing paranoia a huge burden. Read the rest of this entry »

Black Mass Review

Posted: September 25, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

black massWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In 2009, Michael Mann’s crime film Public Enemies was met with complete indifference from critics and audiences. Personally, I quite like the film, which is stylish, well-made, and features a great turn from Johnny Depp. The film received some solid reviews, but was mostly forgotten and Depp’s performance as John Dillinger taken for granted. Six years later and Depp’s performance as real life gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass is being touted as a major work form the veteran actor. What’s the difference? In a word; timing. While Michael Mann’s film was released at a time when Depp was still taking varied roles from films like Sweeney Todd to Finding Neverland, Black Mass comes after a string of disasters like The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mortdecai, where Depp got by on simply being eccentric and strange. To switch from those types of roles to one where he plays a violent and vicious criminal is now a big deal in a way it wasn’t in 2009.

The film’s plot kicks off in 1975 following small-time Boston hood James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), who leads his own gang. Whitey is contacted by John Connelly (Joel Edgerton), a former friend turned FBI agent who wishes to form an alliance with Whitey, who will feed the feds information in return for protection. Whitey agrees, and with that basis begins to build his own criminal empire. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

It was a big week for James Bond and Spectre news. A new poster for Bond’s 24th adventure was released, and more importantly, Sam Smith has been announced as the singer behind the theme song for the film. Suspicions were raised Monday when Smith tweeted a photo of the ring used by the villainous in the trailers of the film, with Smith confirming this morning. The song is called “Writing’s on the Wall” and was recorded the song back in January. “Writing’s on the Wall” will be released as a single September 25th, though personally I’ll be waiting for the film itself before listening.


Not a great poster, but I love the “Goldfinger” tux.

Fresh off the very warm festival reception of Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle has announced he wants his next film to be a sequel to Trainspotting. No dates have been announced, but the sequel would reunite the original cast, with the only potential obstacle being working around the actors’ schedules. The original film is what launched Boyle’s career and he’s gone on to be one of the most interesting filmmakers around. In similar but far less enticing news, Universal studios is apparently keen on rebooting Jaws and Back to the Future. This is based on a claim from The Hollywood Reporter. Robert Zemeckis has spoken before about his staunch refusal to allow Back to the Future to be remade, but the same can not be said for Jaws. The prospect of these remakes is not exactly surprising, but it is depressing. Not only are both films highly beloved, but they’re also among the most iconic ever made. It is important to note however that Spielberg himself has made no official comment so it’s possible this story has a lot less validity than it seems.

This week also brought a plethora of trailers for the upcoming award’s season. Most high profile is probably The Danish Girl, Tom Hooper’s portrayal of transgender woman Lili Ebe (played by Eddie Redmayne). The story is certainly important and Redmayne’s performance will likely be in the discussion by year’s end, but the tone seems very similar to other “inspirational” biopics like last year’s The Imitation GameThe Theory of Everything, and Hooper’s own The King’s Speech. The film is scheduled for a limited release November 27th. Another Oscar hopeful is Will Smith, who is making his first foray with a serious dramatic role in seven years with Concussion. Also based on a true story, the film Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered a serious brain injury in two NFL players which led to their suicide, and in turn challenges the organization. I’m generally a fan of these super serious dramas where individuals challenge major corporations and this looks pretty good. The film will be released Christmas Day, competing with other Oscar contenders The Hateful EightThe Revenant, Joy, and Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden biopic simply titled Snowden. Finally, there is the trailer for Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, which looks to be the most high profile Shakespeare adaptation in some time. The trailer spots some great acting from stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, as well as some really stunning and stylish cinematography. Simply put, I think this trailer looks awesome and I can’t wait for the North American release date of December 4th.

In other news, Vincent Cassel has landed the villain role in the fifth film of the Bourne franchise. Cassel will be playing an assassin trailing Bourne, which seems like a great choice for the actor. He joins Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, Julia Stiles’ former CIA agent Nicky Parsons, and newcomers to the series Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) and Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones. Paul Greengrass is returning to direct, with Damon making reference to Edward Snowden and civil liberties in interviews for the film, which is due out next July. It was also a slow week at the Box-Office. Faith based drama War Room climbed to number one with $9.3 million, while Straight Outta Compton took number two with $8.7 million, earning a total of $147.6 million. Finally, The Transpoter Refueled opened, somewhat disappointingly, at number four with $7.2 million, however given the film’s low-budget it will likely make his money back. Opening this week is 90 Minutes in HeavenThe Perfect GuySleeping with Other People, and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit.

Straight Outta Compton Review

Posted: August 28, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

straight outta comptonWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I had some serious reservations going into Straight Outta Compton. Biopics are commonly formulaic and bland, and this seems doubly true of musical biopics. Adding to my doubt was the fact that Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E’s wife all served as producers on the film. These people all struck me as being too close to the events who’d either me unable to see events honestly, or admit to the less savoury aspects of their lives. Finally, F. Gary Gray didn’t exactly strike me as a tremendous filmmaker who could bring the important story to the screen. He’s not a bad director, but he always just seemed workman-like. In spite of these concerns, I did have a great interest in Straight Outta Compton. The trailers were quite strong and as we came closer to the film’s release it became clear this was gonna be one of the bigger films of the summer.

The film opens in 1986, focusing on Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell). We see their backgrounds and environments which include lower income, crime, and police brutality. Cube and Dre convince Eazy-E to invest in their fledging music careers. E is convinced and takes a very active role in the group which will come to be N.W.A. The group finds early success with their single “Boyz-n-the-Hood”, which attracts music producer Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti). Jerry will help propel the band to new heights with albums like Straight Outta Compton, but will also sow the seeds for the group’s end. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

This week’s biggest film news is actually just a rumour, though a very major one; that Mad Max: Fury Road helmer George Miller has been tapped to direct the next solo Superman film. The claim comes from Jon Schnepp, director of The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?. So far, no one else has confirmed or denied the statement, but it seems reasonable. The Fury Road director has a comfortable relationship with Warner Bros. and at one point was slated to direct a Justice League film back in 2008.  I’m curious what his Superman would look like, but I also like the world and tone Zack Snyder established with Man of Steel. If Miller is to contribute to the DC cinematic universe, I’d rather he start fresh with DC characters who haven’t had their own movies already. The space bounty hunter Lobo, in particular, seems like a perfect fit for George Miller’s sensibilities.

Seriously, this dude looks like he strolled right outta Mad Max.

Seriously, this dude looks like he strolled right outta Mad Max.

So far neither Warner Bros. nor Miller have commented on the rumours, and it is also unknown when the next Superman film is expected to hit theaters. If the rumour is true, it’s also unknown how it will effect WB and Miller’s plans for more Mad Max movies. Much is unknown at this point, but it will be interesting to see how things play out as we get closer to Batman v Superman.

This week also saw the trailer for Victor Frankenstein, the newest take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel. The film is told from Igor’s (Daniel Radcliffe) perspective as he comes to know the infamous doctor (James McAvoy). I wasn’t very impressed by the trailer, which is a lot more over the top and silly than I would prefer. You can view the trailer here; the film is scheduled for release on November 25th. Speaking of hip reboots of literary characters, a new Zorro reboot is in the works, when set in the Post-Apocalypse. So far no director or actors are attached. My gut reaction to this film is negative, but until more comes to light I’ll reserve judgement. Period horror film The Witch also got it’s first trailer. The film won Best Director for first-timer Robert Eggers at the Sundance film festival and is eagerly anticipated for an unspecified date in 2016.

Michael Mann’s biopic of Enzo Ferrari, a long-time passion project of the director, has begun to take form as Christian Bale has been cast in the lead role, with the film set to begin shooting next year. Making matters more interesting is that another Ferrari biopic is in the works, with Robert De Niro in the lead role and Clint Eastwood interested in directing. Back in April, De Niro claimed they were pushing for a 2016 release, though it is unknown whether or not this is still the case. I don’t know much about Enzo Ferrari, but I’m very interested in all of the talent attached to these two films. In other news, Hugh Jackman has been approached to play Odysseus in an adaptation of The Odyssey. The casting is certainly intriguing, but I’m less enthused by the creative team behind the film which consts of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay director Francis Lawrence and screenwriter Peter Craig.

Following the immense critical and financial success of Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube and son O’Shea Jackson are looking at an action-thriller set around the L.A. riots, to be directed by Donovan Marsh, though Ice Cube has said the film is by no means a sure thing. Straight Outta Compton dominated the box-office for the second week in a row, taking in another $26.8 million for a total gross of $111 million while spy-sequel Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation held onto the number two spot in it’s fourth week, bringing in $11.4 million for a total gross of $157.5 million. New releases Sinister 2American Ultra, and Hitman 47 all opened to underwhelming returns. Opening this week is No Escape, War Room, We are Your Friends, and Z for Zachariah.

The Water Diviner Review

Posted: August 20, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the water divinerWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Clint Eastwood. Mel Gibson. George Clooney. Ben Affleck. Angelina Jolie. These are just a few quick examples of actors who made quite a name for themselves with their transition to director. You’ll also notice that not only are each of these individuals actors, but also major movie stars who had a lot of power long before formally stepping behind the camera. In that respect, it’s pretty easy to see why so many famous movie stars make a successful transition into directing. These are people used to getting what they want, and have spent enough time in the business to know what will work. The latest star to attempt to break into directing is Russell Crowe with his old-fashioned war drama The Water Diviner.

Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) is a farmer/water diviner living with his wife, Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) in Australia just after World War One. However their marriage is strained by the loss of their three sons at the Battle of Gallipolia. Compounding onto the pain is the ambiguity surrounding the boys’ disappearance. It is unknown how they were killed, in fact the bodies have yet to be discovered. Eventually, the pain become more for the couple to bear, so Joshua embarks to Gallipoli to uncover what happened. Along the way, he will cross paths with Australian and Turkish soldiers, along with a Turkish woman (Olga Kurylenko) who has also suffered tremendous loss through war. Read the rest of this entry »