Guy Pearce is something of an actor’s actor, convincing in any role; pairing him with the highly-recognized if inexperienced Robert Pattinson (Twilight) strikes sparks in David Michods’s post apocalyptic drama. After an economic and society collapse, Eric (Pearce) and Rey (Pattinson) form an uneasy alliance as Eric slowly unfolds a vengeful intent. What he’s avenging is concealed until the final scene of actor Joel Edgerton’s story, but there’s rewards along the way in two immersive lead performances, a desolate atmosphere and some gasp-inducing bursts of action. The Rover could use a few more fantasy elements to keep things interesting, but the studied intensity and bursts of grueling lyricism keeps you watching.
Always a good mover, Keanu Reeves’s combination of Zen-blankness and physical mobility made him a perfect action lead in Speed, The Matrix; Chad Stahelski and David Leitch‘s thriller gives him plenty of opportunity to show his skills. Taking a lead from the writings of Alistair MacLean, we’re talking about tough ex-agents rather than genetically modified soldiers. John Wick is a man on a mission, to revenge the death of his dog, which was given to him by his dying wife. Wick rips through hotels, nightclubs, and a kill-a-minute as he rages through a rigorous, glorious HR cull of various crime organisations, with nice work in support from Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Ian McShane and Michael Nyquist.
Adapted from a sci-fi novel by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and his Dog is an unusually imaginative sci-fi movie from 1975. Actor briefly turned director LQ Jones also wrote the screenplay with Alvy Moore; the story takes place in an apocalyptic wasterland and concerns Vic (Don Johnson) who traverses the remains of planet earth with his telepathic dog Blood (Tiger, voiced by Tim McIntyre). Vic is lured into an underground bunker where there are plans to harness his virility for pre-creational purposes, and A Boy And His Dog sticks to its independent guns by having the survival of the human race low on Vic’s priorities. With dialogue taken often verbatim from Ellison’s novel, A Boy and His Dog is a smart antidote to big-budget sci-fi; it makes its points with satirical verve.
Adapted from Lord Dunsany’s book, Dean Spanley is a wordy fable that feels like a story told by a fireplace on a winter’s night. Neither outright comedy,fantasy or horror, it’s a quaint little drama about whether it would be possible for dogs and people to be reincarnated as each other. Sam Neill is Dean Spanley, who way well have been a dog, and Jeremy Northam and Peter O’Toole are the estranged Fisk family, who visit Spanley and try to understand his bizarre story. Toa Fraser directs from a script by Alan Sharp (Don’t Look Now), and there’s a light brio about the way Fraser guides his mature cast through an ingenious set of narrative pirouettes. Dean Spanley is a minor delight, a friendly ghost story from Edwardian England that offers a wealth of minor pleasures.
Also known as Dracula’s Dog, this low-budget shlockfest carries off a ridiculous idea with some brio. When Count Dracula (Michael Pataki) is thwarted in his vampiric business by a dog, he takes revenge by turning into a bat and biting it. The poor hound becomes his slave, as does owner Veidt Smith (Reggie Nalder), and when an earthquake unearths them in 1978, they set out to track down Dracula’s last descendants. There turn out to me Michael Drake (Pakati again) and his family, whose holiday is interrupted by the call of the undead. Jose Ferrer plays a Van Helsing style vampire hunter, and the presence of a puppy sets up the idea of a sequel on Albert Band’s wonderfully daft dog story.