The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (2020)

Giant snake!

This Chinese fantasy flick has a story involving a giant evil snake demon, four masters sent to the Imperial City to awaken stone statue guardians, a killer Hair Demon, an immortal princess, characters becoming almost super powered, and magic spells that are similar to the magic portals used in DOCTOR STRANGE.

Fight!
Fight!

The film, as you can probably guess from the above summary, has an overly convoluted plot. And yet… the film kept me interested, thanks to the evolving, touching friendship between main characters Qing Ming & Bo Ya, plus it also boasts a decent score.

There was, of course, scenes of a giant (and I mean GIANT) snake on the rampage to keep me interested too!

A bit of background info… the source material is Onmyōji: a Japanese novel (and short story series) by Baku Yumemakura. Since 1986 it has been adapted as a manga and video game, and was made into two films, ONMYOJI (2001) and ONMYOJI 2 (2003), which were both directed by Yōjirō Takita.

THE YIN-YANG MASTER: DREAM OF ETERNITY, on the other hand, is a 2020 Chinese movie that is based on the novel.

Magic!
Magic powers!
Running across the back of the giant snake
Running across the back of the giant snake

Another note: there is now ANOTHER film, THE YINYANG MASTER (2021), which has no connection to this 2020 film, other than it has links to the source novel (and it’s actually quite good too!)

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Fight!!!

In the United States and Canada the film achieved the best opening day figure of the pandemic, so there seems to be a lot of interest in the movie, but how does it compare to the previous MonsterVerse movies from Legendary, which have all been leading up to this moment?

GODZILLA VS KONG is certainly a big punch ’em up production, crammed with a neon-lit deluge of eye candy monster effects. It delivers on the promise of its title, with the titular creatures duking it out with themselves and others. From a plot perspective it certainly doesn’t attempt to inject the serious tone of 2014’s GODZILLA and is much more aligned with GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019), where the focus was on creating set-ups to allow for a series a kaiju battles. That said, the 2019 film still attempted to balance the human drama with the scenes of spectacle more evenly than GODZILLA VS KONG, which definitely puts the emphasis on the grand FX moments.

The fantastical elements, like the trip to the Hollow Earth and Kong utilising a powered-up giant axe, are dealt with pretty briskly in this film, and perhaps this is the best way to handle such things – so viewers aren’t given too much time to ponder the logic of it all!

The Hollow Earth sequences offer cool vistas and the opportunity to introduce some secondary creatures, though I wasn’t quite sure why the reverse gravitational effect seemed to make entering the Hollow Earth a much more dangerous manoeuvre compared to exiting the zone.

The final smackdown battle takes place in Hong Kong, allowing for gorgeous-looking neon vistas that make the night time action easy to follow and see. I have to say I do wonder what the bodycount must have been for this fight as a LOT of skyscrapers get demolished! Maybe aware of this, the film never features any characters commenting on casualties.

Ultimately, if you go into this just for the spectacle there’s lots to like, including an updated version of the Kong airlift featured in Toho’s KING KONG VS GODZILLA, but there are quite a few things you can pick apart with GVK and I, personally, much prefer KONG: SKULL ISLAND, which was a more pleasing mix of pulp action and monster madness.

Beneath (2013)

Six high school seniors, including Kitty (Bonnie Dennison), Johnny (Daniel Zovatto) and Matt (Chris Conroy), head out to a secluded lake, where they are attacked by a large, toothy killer fish.

These obnoxious characters become trapped on their small boat and, as the monstrous fish circles them, their tenuous friendships and loyalties soon dissolve.

Here comes the fish!
Here comes the fish!

Wow… all of the characters in this movie (written by Tony Daniel and Brian D. Smith) are so very, very unlikeable!

Every one of these ‘friends’ is out to save their own skin, so it’s no surprise that I ended up really, really wanting the fish to get all of them!

poster
These characters are definitely only friends on the surface
Watch out!
Watch out!

The best thing about this movie is the use of practical FX, with an actual, decent-sized, toothy model fish used.

It was a joy to watch this scaly critter swimming about.

Cool fish!
Cool fish!

The director, Larry Fessenden, made the far better film THE LAST WINTER (2006), which was based in the Arctic and was an intriguing and pretty effective slow burn film that featured spectral caribou!

A victim is eaten
Nom nom nom

One of the characters in BENEATH has a wrist-mounted GoPro (is that even practical?)… and I was especially pleased when the guy got eaten!

The GoPro guy's severed arm!
The GoPro guy’s severed arm!

The Terror (2018)

The Tuunbaq 
The Tuunbaq!

I really enjoyed the first season of this supernatural, semi-historical, horror anthology series.
A fictionalised account of the doomed Franklin expedition, it is well written, well acted, with a well-sustained mood. The initially slow burn tale gets grimmer as the ships remain trapped in the Artic ice, lead poisoning from defective food tins starts to send people mad, characters resort to cannibalism and a murderous bear-creature continuously picks them off.

The cast is wonderful: Jared Harris is especially good as Captain Francis Crozier, with Tobias Menzies and Paul Ready also standing out in their roles.

The monster, called a Tuunbaq, is a great creation: a huge spirit polar bear-type creature with a weird, semi-human face. There are several really effective monster attack scenes interspersed amongst the excellent, doom-laden drama, including one scene where the beast climbs up into the ship’s rigging in pursuit of its human prey.

Here’s concept designer Neville Page’s visual of the creature’s face…

All in all, THE TERROR is a very satisfying yarn that’s well worth a binge watch.