• Film reviews

    #439 – Evil Bong 777 (2018)

    Evil Bong 777 (2018)

    Film review #439

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: After escaping “Sexy Hell”, Rabbit, Ebee and the rest of the gang decide to head to Las Vegas to escape the wrath of Lucy Furr and Beelzebud, but the two are hot on their heels to take their revenge…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISEvil Bong 777 is the seventh and final (to date) instalment of the Evil Bong film series. Continuing from where the previous film left off, we see Rabbit, Ebee, Misty, Batty Boop and the Gingerweed Man escaping from “Sexy Hell” and the clutches of Lucy Furr and Beelzebud. On the run, they decide to flee to Las Vegas. The plot of the film basically revolves around the cats just…doing stuff in Las Vegas: they go and see a show (an excuse to show some nudity), they check into a grubby hotel and…well, that’s about it. The film really has no plot, like most of the other films in the series. Every scene is just a chance for either some crude nudity or extended, inane dialogue that goes nowhere. There’s not even a real plot to the film: Whereas in the previous films had some sort of scheme by the evil bong to take over the world, here she just hangs about in the background interrupting with some dismissive comments every so often. Lucy Furr’s plan to escape Sexy Hell doesn’t have any consequences either, as she never seems to have a plan with what to do when she gets out. The series clearly ran out of ideas several films ago, and spends most of it’s runtime on this inane dialogue I have come to expect from the series, and at a runtime that is less than an hour, the bankruptcy of ideas is very apparent.

    The characters from the previous film return, but the original cast of college roommates are long gone and forgotten. The only characters that have appeared in all the films are Rabbit and the Evil Bong herself. I suppose if I were to find a positive in this film, it is that each of the cast has something to do and their own dedicated scenes. None of these scenes really tie into anything in the grander narrative, because as mentioned there is no grand narrative. The inclusion of other characters from other films made by Full Moon Pictures makes things even more confusing if you haven’t watched them. The gag characters of the rednecks and stoner pairs return for their predictable schtick that adds a little energy to the dialogue. There’s also two new creatures made from the Gingerdead Man’s corpse, but they only re-appear at the end of the film to perhaps set them up as the villains of the next film, which has to date not materialised. Introducing the halfway through the film and having them show up only at the end again feels like another pointless endeavour.

    One common theme throughout these films is the lack of settings. Evil Bong 777 has a few different ones, but they’re either pretty sparse, or they’re obviously greenscreened. You definitely never get the sense that they are actually in Vegas. There’s perhaps some attempt to push the series through more absurd and in-your-face nudity and sex scenes, but they don’t really tie into anything. Whereas the previous films might have gotten one or even two mild chuckles, this one didn’t even get that: Evil Bong 777 is really running on fumes in terms of its story, characters and humour. As such, it is not going to appeal to anyone, but I suppose if you’ve suffered through the rest of the films (as I have), you might as well suffer through just one more…

  • Film reviews

    #350 – 2.0 (2018)

    2.0 (2018)

    Film review #350

    Director: Shankar

    SYNOPSIS: Dr. Vaseegaran, an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence has developed a new robot named Nila, after his older robot Chitti went on a murderous rampage and was disassembled. When everyone’s mobile phones start flying away of their own accord, it turns out to be the work of the spirit of Pakshi Rajan, who is using them to stop their overuse from killing birds. With no way to stop him, Vaseegaran suggests reactivating Chitti, as he is the only one strong enough to defeat this new menace…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS2.0 is a 2018 Indian science fiction film and the sequel to the 2010 film Robot. The film opens with Dr. Vaseegaran introducing his newest robot Nila to a group of students. Shortly thereafter, people’s mobile phones throughout the city begin flying away of their own accord. Without these phones, the city is in a state of chaos, and attempts to bring in new phones are met with suspicious accidents. The phones then combine to take the form of a giant bird, which causes more chaos by uprooting signal towers. Vaseegaran suggests to the government to reactivate Chitti, but his murderous rampage that was the result of an upgrade means they are reluctant to do so. When the military fails to resolve the situation, the government then gives Vaseegaran permission to reactivate Chitti to counteract the mobile menace. The plot of the film is fairly robust, with a good amount of time dedicated to all the characters, with some decent set pieces that give the action scenes the space they need to stand out, as well as a decent amount of character development. 

    One issue that arises with the story is the pacing and it’s organisation: some scenes go on for too long and put the film into a bit of a slump that make it lose focus through its inconsistency. The big example is when Chitti encounters Rajan (or his energy spirit…thing) and asks what his motivation is. This leads to a twenty minute flashback essentially telling his life story. I think the aim is to get the viewer to empathise with his message about how mobile phone signals are killing the birds, and will ultimately endanger our own existence, but this could have been done in a much more interesting and provoking way other than this biographical picture of a villain to make us feel sorry for him. Rajan’s kill count in this film is pretty high, and is portrayed with a very evil look, so ultimately he is being played as a straight, typical villain that doesn’t really need this backstory. His whole life being centred around birds from the moment of his birth onwards also makes him seem like a very one-dimensional character. The rest of the cast are given just the right amount of development, and the performances are all pretty good, with characters from a number of different perspectives on the events that are transpiring. One character that doesn’t serve much use is Dhina Bohra, the son of one of the villains who was killed in the first film. He serves as a good reminder of Chitti’s legacy in the first part of the film, but his part gets muddled and loses it’s way as the film progresses.

    The message of the film concerning the effect of mobile phone signals on birds is not a subtle one, and I have absolutely no idea how much of it is true or not, which makes the message even more confusing. The film does try to explain how and why everything is working, even when it probably doesn’t need to. The explanation of Rajan’s spirit being a 5th form of universal energy that is binding together the mobile phones is needlessly complicated, but probably should be commended for its effort in elaborating on details. Any criticism of the subtlety of the film’s message should also be balanced out by saying this is not a subtle film in any other regard either. Like it’s predecessor, 2.0′s biggest strength is its over-the-top action sequences that defy reality, logic and sense. Again, this contrast with the exasperating exposition of the antagonist give the film a very uneven feel in places. Nevertheless, the action itself is pretty solid, with some implausible stunts and plenty of destruction. The fights are also pretty varied, with the first fight of Chitti after reactivation showing off Chitti’s strengths, then after Rajan possesses Vaseegaran’s body, Chitti cannot defeat Rajan because it would also harm Vaseegaran, and conflict with his programming against harming another human. With this in mind, Nila activates Chitti 2.0, the upgraded version that caused the destruction of the first film, as it is the version that would not be averse to harming a human. This version partakes in the more absurd action, with an army of Chitti robots combining to make a giant ball of machinegun fire and even a giant bird cage to trap the giant mobile phone bird. Some of the sequences feel a bit similar to the first film (the “Chitti ball” for example), but it’s more of what made the first one so memorable and entertainingly insane, so that’s not too much of a problem. The special effects that support the action are also well done, and while not as good as the top Hollywood films, still deliver a credible, colourful and visual treat.

    Overall, 2.0 continues the story of Robot with more of the excessive action that made the first film so good. The direction and set pieces of the action sequences deliver an entertaining bit of cinema, even if it does not evolve too much from its predecessor. Away from the action, the film suffers an uneven pacing with too much focus on the villain’s backstory and his motivations that drain the film of it’s energy for some time before it can regain its momentum. Apart from that, there’s plenty of content and story to fill it’s runtime, so it’s a worthwhile watch.