Archive for the 'My Reviews' Category

17
Sep
12

Resident Evil: Retribution

I don’t know why I keep going out to see these movies. They’re so bad. I got over the fact that these films are not going to be accurate representations of the storyline or the atmosphere from the video games, but I always hope that there is going to be more to the story of each film than seeing the director’s wife hyper-stylized into being an action star.

The fight scenes are okay, but it just annoys me how the plot of every single movie has been “we have to get from point A to point B” and then the end of every single film has been “now that we’re at point B we are going to end the movie with a cliffhanger that shows that this is not our final destination and the past ninety minutes that you just spent in the theatre were entirely pointless because nothing was accomplished and there is so much more to the story, but you have to wait until the next film to see that.”

And then the next film rolls around, and there is no story, and nothing ever gets accomplished, ugh. I don’t know why I watched five of these movies. I need to stop.

Paul W.S. Anderson is trying to kill my favorite video game series.

Fuck you and your wife (Milla Jovovich).

04
May
12

The Avengers Review


The Avengers
 is arguably one of the most anticipated films of all time. It gives me great joy to announce that, by some insane miracle, IT LIVED UP TO THE HYPE.

Ever since Tony Stark was approached by Nick Fury and announced he was “putting a team together” the internet and nerd world has been squirming in anticipation of the giant blockbuster, and after 4 years and 5 films since Ironman first hit the screens we finally have the film.

The film boasts the largest collection of superheroes in one feature, and naturally this begged the question as to how could one director/writer do the concept justice without it being a fucking mess?

The major issue that could have screwed this film in its batty:

  • As with every character, a superhero is supposed to have an insane background story, so, how could one film possibly address all the background stories of 7 heroes and a villain without going for hours and resulting in mass suicides from audience members?

The solution to the major issue that could have screwed this film in its batty:

  • The production company released 5 films where each of the characters were introduced. Some (myself included) may say that making a 5 film franchise (soon to be 6 with Nick Fury getting his own) makes the production company little better than street whores, but they seem to know what they are doing, with all of the films being a great watch.

At first I was against Mark Ruffalo replacing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk,but I  liked his portrayal especially the antsy part of Banner and his preference to be left alone. Robert Downey Jr. of course does Iron Man as he always has, delivering his arrogant and cheeky lines with a good dose of sarcasm. The villain, Loki, was also an interesting one. Tom Hiddleston’s facial expressions in the movie is not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker but Loki is more calm-crazy than hysterical.

In closing,The Avengers embodies what a summer blockbuster is.By far one of the best superhero movies I have ever seen.The 4 year wait was well worth it.

10/10

13
Apr
12

The Cabin In The Woods Review

The really neat thing about Cabin in the Woods is how wildly fresh it is. I have yet to see a movie since Scream that has bended the boundaries like this movie has. What Scream 4 could not accomplish last year, Cabin did. And surprisingly enough, Cabin was finished before Scream 4 even had a solid script down. I’m really glad Lionsgate got ahold of this film, because they really know how to market a horror film, and I usually have faith with their choices in modern horror.

When I go into a horror movie, I look for a few things.

1) Does it scare me? Most horror movies now and days don’t really terrify me, so this bullet point is usually missed. Did Cabin in the Woods really scare me? Not really, but I did get that rush that I normally don’t feel in modern American horror. That exciting, on the edge of your seat, what’s going to happen next heart pounding excitement that a horror movie should give you. Cabin works it.

2) Does it surprise me? I’m not talking about those cheap thrills where everything is silent and then there is the loudest noise possible that sends you fleeing from your chair and spilling your popcorn all over the person in front of you. I mean true shock, the shock that gets you looking over at your movie buddy, both mouths open, speechless. Not knowing what’s going to happen next, and then when it happens you realize that deep down it’s the only way it could have happened. Yet again, Cabin gets this element of surprise just right. I didn’t see it coming, and yet the answer seems so simple.

3) Are there buckets of gore? I get serious about my bloody body parts. I am one that will firmly state that Hostel is not as gory as it appears. The camera shakes, it flashes away when anything happens, and the only thing I can say was “gory” was the eyeball scene. Not to rag on Hostel, but this is how a lot of gore goes down now and days in Hollywood so that can get a cushy R rating. Either way, I’d prefer gallons of phony gore than grotesque mutilations I can’t even see. Cabin is fabulously gory. The amount of blood and guts spilled everywhere is intensely fun.

and finally 4) Is it original? The reason I was a such a fan of Insidious last year, was because unlike many phantom paranormal films now and days, it was genuinely scary in the first two acts, and then in the third it did something surprising — it parodied itself. It was very slight, so that the average audience member maybe didn’t realize it, but I had a good laugh as the movie played with the average horror confinements. Cabin does this as well, but even better. It felt so original in its execution. I not once was bored by the plot. I suppose this means if you want to make an original horror movie in Hollywood lately, you have to spruce up the horror genre a bit. Make it entertaining. Tell the audience what they always pay money to watch, but don’t make it so obvious that we’re all getting a lesson in traditional horror themes (ahem Scream 4). I loved Cabin for its original parody of a  story, very much like why I loved Scream when I first saw it. And even more important, I was never, not once, bored.

I really don’t want to spoil anything about this movie.The twists are grander than any horror film I’ve seen in a while, and it was also super entertaining. The first act is fairly average horror set up, but if you’re not watching or listening close enough you’ll miss a lot of information, that once the second act hits make so much sense. The final third act is a drenching blood bath filled with terrors like you’ve never seen before.

There are a few things about this movie that were a little off, but the overall appeal of it makes up for the tiny let downs. Just go see it, spoiler free (I cannot stress that one enough), and sit back, relax, and enjoy the blood soaked ride that is coming your way. There’s really no other way to enjoy this movie. It’s entertainment at its best, for sure.

05
Apr
12

Wrath Of The Titans Review

   Man, you kids today don’t know nothing ‘bout your Greek mythology.  Let me give you the run-down.  So there was this dude, and his name was Perseus.  Now, Perseus is a Greek-Australian apparently, who, despite what you’ve read, encountered every single creature in Greek mythology.  You though Theseus fought the Minotaur?  Wrong!  You thought Odysseus defeated the Cyclops?  What are you stupid?  Perseus, baby!  He fought so many foes, that he ran out of Greek monsters to defeat.  So he fought the Kraken, became a hero, and eventually traveled to far-off planets to fight alien monsters on Pandora.  Geez, you guys need to learn your history, I tell ya…

So this is the review for Wrath of the Titansjust in case you couldn’t tell from whatever it was that I just did there.  As I’m sure you all know, this is the long-awaited and highly anticipated sequel to that classic piece of Ray Harryhausen cinema, Clash of the Titans.  Wait!  I almost forgot… wasn’t there another one of those, y’know more recently?  Oh yes, now it’s coming back to me.  You’ll have to excuse my memory kiddies, I’ve been trying to block the 2010 Clash of the Titans film from my mind ever since that monumental disappointment entered my retinas.  See, I was the one who was excited for that movie when I saw the trailers.  However beloved the original Clash of the Titansis, the special effects are dated to say the least.  I wanted to see a more modern retelling of it.  Little did I realize just how many times Louis Leterrier could wipe his crack with that story.  When Perseus and his soldiers are entering a cave to go kill Medusa and he turns to the camera and says “let’s kill this bitch”, something has clearly gone wrong.

But I don’t want to cast too negative a light on the sequel, Wrath of the Titans.  Let’s start with the plot, shall we?  Yes we shall… anyone who disputes me will taste my unholy vengeance.  You hear me Leterrier!  That means you too! The world has moved on from your movie and the angry masses will leave your street corner alone!  Where was I?… Oh yeah, plot!  So years after the defeat of the Kraken and the death of his wife, Perseus returns to his fisherman’s roots alongside his son Helius.  He still holds animosity towards the gods, including his father Zeus, and rightfully so, because just when Perseus had a good thing going, Zeus beams down into his house one night looking like a homeless rasta man and says “the end is nigh!”  So Perseus has to fly off to battle and stop the destruction of the earth… once again.

I thought about structuring this review like I normally do, but the more I thought about it, the more it just made sense to list everything the previous movie did wrong and how they improved it in this one.  So… stay tuned for that.

The Characters

In Clash of the Titans, the characters were flat, uninteresting and unmotivated.  The same is still true for Sam Worthington, but c’mon… it’s Sam Worthington, what were you expecting?  But in Wrath of the Titans, he’s surrounded by much more interesting characters; both from the last movie and newbees brought in just for this one.  It was disappointing seeing Liam Neeson in something where he wasn’t given anything interesting to do… and no, I’m not talking about The Phantom Menace.  In Clash of the Titans, I expected more out of Zeus and especially more out of Liam Neeson.  But he’s… stern… and that’s really about it.  Well I ‘m glad to see that they gave him some depth and some emotion in this one.  Ditto for Ralph Fiennes.  In the last movie, Greek asthmatic Voldemort wasn’t enough… Okay, it’s not too different in this one, but at least they give him a really interesting character arc.  As for the new characters that they brought in, Edgar Ramirez plays the traitorous Ares and makes for a really intimidating villain.  Also, keep an eye out for cameos including Danny Houston.  And Bill Nighy shows up for a bit and absolutely steals the show.  That guy just has a lot of presence to begin with.  When you turn him into Santa Claus crossed with Dumbledore, hell… I’m entertained.  Oh!  And when he first shows up, listen closely for a little joke that the filmmakers threw in there.  It made me giggle when I heard it.

The Directing

Louis Leterrier did not direct this one and Jonathan Leibesman, did… need I say any more?

The Effects

It’s no secret that the 3D in Clash of the Titans was some of the worst in history.  Well they fix that right up here.  There are several shots that just weave in and out of these incredibly expansive environments that are already really well designed and the 3D totally lends itself to that.  There’s a whole sequence in the labyrinth that was really well done on all levels.

As for the creature effects, I enjoyed them much more than the ones in the last movie.  In that one, I liked the Kraken design, but that was about it.  And even then, it was there for like half a second and then he was dead.  I looked down at my soda to take a drink and almost missed the entire scene.  Here, I thought the designs were a bit more inspired.  Even from the first action sequence I could tell Wrath of the Titans was gonna be a bit better.  Perseus has to defeat a Chimera that invades his village and, first of all, the cinematography in the scene was really cool.  There’s a lot of long extended shots where the creature would go off-screen in the background and then show up somewhere else while the camera follows Perseus.  It’s welcome relief from the super-fast, no idea what’s going on style of cinematography they used in the last movie.  Y’know, the Transformers method.   But the design of the creature itself was also cool.  I mean c’mon, it’s a two-headed, winged, fire-breathing cat-beast with a snake for a tail.  It’s got a strong presence and silhouette.  I feel that a good creature design should always have a strong silhouette.  This is all true for the other creatures that show up in the movie.

The presence of hair on Perseus’ head

I know this point has been beaten to death, but I need to throw in my two cents.  How in the hell would Perseus find an electric razor to shave his head?  He would not!  I don’t know, maybe the gods sent him the Clippers of Destiny or something.  Well they fixed that in this movie.  Perseus has a full mop of hair.

Despite all of the praise I’m showering upon this movie, keep in mind, I’ve only compared it to the last movie so far, which isn’t saying much.  At the end of the day, this is still a very generic action/adventure movie.  The dialogue’s not great and some of the new characters they brought in like Toby Kebbell annoyed me.  But at least there’s some stuff here that might make it a bit more memorable.  I might even watch this again just for some of the action sequences and to admire the overall design which I have to say again, they put a lot of work into.  If you see this in the theater in 3D and you’re willing to have a good time, there’s no reason you shouldn’t like this at least a bit.

Rating – B

17
Feb
12

Safe House Review

Safe House is an exciting, intense, and brutal action/thriller that largely benefits from the terrific performances by the two leads of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. The film lacks a bit in the script department (which is odd considering how this script was much-hyped about 2 years ago) and as the film progresses it does draw comparisons to other spy thrillers, but the characterization/character arc and relationship between the two leads are admirable and effective, the film takes a unsettling nature as it hits hard on several occasions, and the action pieces are plenty, gritty, and competently-made. Director Daniel Espinosa takes the page out of Tony Scott’s films and the Jason Bourne movies’ with ultra gritty and static visual work to keep the energy kinetic, while also takes a page out of 1960s French New-Wave Cinema to create some unique angles, shots, and story-telling.

A rogue CIA agent who has been hiding for years, Tobin Frost (played by Denzel Washington) one day turns himself in, and he’s brought to a safe house in Johannesburg, South Africa—managed by low-level agent Matt Weston (played by Ryan Reynolds) who’s been desperate for something [anything] to happen there—for debriefing. When the safe house is attacked by a group of mercenaries, Matt finds himself on the run with Tobin, while trying to get to the bottom of who wants him killed.

SAFE HOUSE plays out like the terrific ads and trailers say: “No one is Safe.” With deception playing a factor throughout, ‘trust’ is definitely put to the test with betrayals and corruption being thrown around. There are plenty of surprises that Director Daniel Espinosa to keep the audience on edge throughout, as well as having those twists having the fullest effect possible. The film is full of jumpy moments, so prepare to flinch throughout. Many moments in the film occurs with such intricacy, so you’ll really have to watch closely to notice everything that’s going on (aka. don’t casual watch with such relaxation…you really cant anyway).

The movie breaks down to a series of fights and chase scenes, with a few character beats and a little mystery about who inside the CIA leaked the safe house location thrown in between. The action, especially the hand-to-hand combat, is raw and visceral. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds both have a large share of action moments throughout the film, and they look as sharp as Jason Bourne. As the movie goes on, and characters become tired and wounded, the fights take on a clumsy, chaotic quality that ups the brutality.

The visuals are handled like a Tony Scott film—to the point where till the week of the release of the film I actually thought this was a Tony Scott film (I mean Scott’s main-man, Denzel is in this movie!). Well, its not…its actually Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, who’s actually handling his first English-language film. He does it well overall. There are some comparisons to other spy thrillers (with the most obvious one being the Jason Bourne movies), and in terms of Bureaucrat cynicism the script could’ve hit harder (again, which is weird considering how buzzed about this script was. But nevertheless the film is intense and the body count is high. The cinematography is very well-done, with the help of the Bourne movies’ cinematographer, Oliver Wood. The static camera-work plays well with the gritty, barbaric, and unsettling nature to the film. It especially compliments the action-sequences. The camera plays a key in the story as various shots of avoiding to display the characters’ faces (whether its showing their legs, arms—and mainly the back of their head) plays a lot on the film’s themes of ‘no one should be trusted’ and ‘no one is safe’. We are not fully knowledgeable and aware of these people’s identities, and the characters’ (as well as the audience) trust is broken throughout, therefore constantly showing the backs of the characters are parallel to the deception and the enigma.

The film plays out like a modern Western. It involves the older gunslinger (in this case, Tobin Frost) who knows what the profession does to your morals, and the younger guy (in this case, Matt Weston) who believes somehow that he can unify his ethics and his perspective on life with his profession—which is a lie. Seeing the character arc and relationship with Frost and Weston is largely admirable.

Frost is this dangerous rogue agent who’s morals have been shaken by the corruption he’s learned in the agency as his life is a journey of pain, while Weston is this young, up-and-coming agent who is largely inexperienced and just wants an opportunity to come up on agency work. Frost would normally kill someone like Weston without a doubt, but he keeps him alive because he sees something of himself in him—and as the film comes along we see Frost playing Mr. Myagi and Weston gradually becoming Frost to the point at the end we have a total evolution. It works incredibly well and the arc is something that’s done with such subtlety.

The 2 A-Lister superstars are at prime form here. Even at 57-years old, fan-favorite Denzel Washington is still at the top of his game as an action hero, commanding the screen every time he’s on-screen displaying his deceptive dark side (something that’s also charmed us in AMERICAN GANGSTER and TRAINING DAY). With a lot of memorable villains and villain names in the past like Kaiser Soze, Hannibal Lecter, and Darth Vader—add Tobin Frost to the pile. Although Denzel doesn’t have to really break as much of a sweat here like he’s done in the past, he is still extrodinary here—showing that charisma and trademark ‘Denzel Swagger’ to attract you to him even if he’s playing the villainous role. With a great career that’s spanned multiple decades, it’s ‘Safe’ to say that Denzel is a guaranteed to deliver a prime performance everytime. Ryan Reynolds holds his own, throwing his signature cocky & snarky humor aside, and displaying genuine emotion and dramatic acting chops here. You can see him as this agent-youngster who’s morals are gradually disintegrating and his emotions are breaking along with him, but he cant crack (although on many occasions you see him on the verge of fully doing so)—he’s in highly dangerous situation with worldly consequences and if he fails his life could end too. Reynolds plays his situation well, gradually evolving as his situation unfolds. It shouldn’t be surprising to see this serious side play off successfully from Reynolds, as he previously did this in prime form in 2010’s sleeper Buried, as well as displaying it in the indie The Nines, in superhero form in Green Lantern, and even in the horror film The Amityville Horror . People like to associate him with his comedic side—which he excels in at every turn—but his dramatic work is just as good. The two have decent chemistry with each other, and both acquit themselves well in some intensely-choreographed fight sequences.

Safe House is a statically executed and effective action/thriller who is elevated by its great leads and supporting cast. There are indeed flaws and there was potential for more to appear, but the camerawork and directing is effective, there’s enough surprises and brutality to keep you on-edge throughout, the intensity is pretty high, not to mention the kills and action coming plenty. The film is a jolt of deception that should entertain

Pros: Denzel Washington is such a badass. If you can be the first black head coach at some racist high school and win a state championship, escaping from the CIA is nothing.

Cons: Dear Ryan Reynolds, stop letting your hot movie gfs sleep with their shirts on. Thanks.

Rating: 8/10

29
Jul
11

Cowboys And Aliens Review

At first glance, seeing “Cowboys” and “Aliens” together in the same sentence is a little odd. Make the title of a film “Cowboys & Aliens” and it seems to be a downright awkward joke, especially when describing the western/sci-fi mashup that is due to hit theaters this week. If you’ve watched my interviews from the Cowboys & Aliens red carpet/world premiere event, in particularly the screenwriters (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) interview, you’ve heard the cast and crew describe it as such, at least initially. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Cowboys & Aliens is a western that just happens to have an encounter of the fourth kind smack dab in the middle of it.

The premise is straightforward. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) finds himself in the middle of the desert without any memory of how he got there, who he is, who shot him, or what the odd device strapped to his wrist is. During his quest to discover his past he runs into a cast of characters, including Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), who help to piece things together… That is until an alien invasion crashes the party and begins snatching up the townspeople, at times quite violently. Comic fan zealots be warned – Although inspired by the “Cowboys & Aliens” graphic novel, creator Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (you can see my interview with him here) was more than happy to hand over the reins to Favreau and let him run with the story.

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are magnificent, especially when they appear onscreen together. This is one duo that I’m hoping to see more of in future films. Craig nails the “stranger with no name” from classic western films, and brings the grit that he’s famous for in his previous James Bond films. His fights are brutal, bloody, and to be honest, I loved every minute of them… Some of them actually brought back memories of The Patriot with Mel Gibson…

Harrison Ford may not get as much screen time as Craig, but his character “Woodrow Dolarhyde” is definitely just as memorable as Craig’s “Lonergan”, if not more so. Two particular scenes, one in which Ford shares with Noah Ringer, who plays “Emmett Taggart” in the film, may be one of Ford’s most memorable scenes ever. His scene towards the end of the film with Adam Beach’s character “Nat Colorado” is touching as well. Whether these two scenes in particular caught my attention because of great acting, or because I have four boys of my own, is an entirely different topic. Rest assured that Ford really delivers whenever he’s on screen and the shared scenes between Craig and Ford are not to be missed.

The supporting cast does well in their various roles. Olivia Wilde’s character Ella Swenson is the tough as nails, gun-toting chick with a cowboy hat that you can’t help but want to learn more about (not to mention watch on the big screen). Doc (Sam Rockwell) adds some very well timed humor to the film, which helps to keep it from becoming too serious. Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), is great as the snotty-nosed brat of Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Some of the best moments in the earlier parts of the film are when Dano shares the screen with Craig. You can just imagine what happens when the tough-as-nails Lonergan runs into the drunken and spoiled Percy Dolarhyde. Emmett Taggart (Noah Ringer) has a fairly small part, but does very well, especially later in the film. Black Knife (Raoul Trujillo) does well as the leader of the Apaches, but isn’t developed as much as I would have liked.

Although the film has a large ensemble cast, which is handled VERY well by Favreau, Orci, and Kurtzman, I have to mention the beautiful Abigail Spencer who plays “Alice”, Craig’s love interest in the film. If you’ve watched my Cowboys & Aliens red carpet interview with Abigail Spencer, you’ll notice she’s fairly reluctant to speak about her character much. You’ll find out why about halfway through the film, and I have to say I would have loved to see more screen time devoted to her character.

The film’s visual effects are topnotch. As odd as it may seem, they appear perfectly believable in the setting of the Wild West. They don’t overwhelm or dominate the film, as you might expect. Although you don’t see a lot of the aliens until the end of the film, they are superbly done and add the right amount of terror and suspense to the film. Initially they seem to be somewhat flat emotionally, until Jake Lonergan runs into one towards the end that “seems” to know him…

The cinematography by Matthew Libatique captures the grand and gorgeous landscapes you would expect to find in a western, as does the score by Harry Gregson-Williams. Both of which could be, arguably, the best that we’ve seen this summer

The plot is somewhat predictable, but I think that this is because the film is, as many of the cast and crew have stated, a western first. There are just certain things that go along with a western, and most moviegoers are familiar with them (tough and gritty gunslinger, a damsel in distress, etc.). Are there holes in the plot? Yes, one in particular involves the heroes discovering something in the middle of the desert that shouldn’t be there (you’ll know it when you see it). How this “thing” got there, and why, is an absolute mystery… Does any of this mean that the movie isn’t entertaining? Absolutely not! The interaction between the characters, the superbly choreographed fight sequences, and the special effects make this film more than what I could have hoped for as I entered the theater.

Cowboys & Aliens was a VERY unexpected surprise. It has a little of everything for everyone. Favreau manages to mash Wild West and Sci-Fi together like peanut butter and chocolate, and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to get enough. The cast and crew not only made the Wild West/Sci-Fi mashup believable, but enjoyable to watch as it unfolded.

All in all, I left the theater more tired than I was before and disappointed in one of the few movies I had hopes for all summer. The slow, sludge-like story, with the absence of great action, and a lack of real character development made for a movie that would be best suited for home viewing so that you wouldn’t feel bad about falling asleep.

Rating B+

22
Jul
11

Captain America:FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!

 You are now listening to the song from “Team America:World Police” in your head.

 Captain America: The First Avenger proves to be a pleasant surprise, a “Raiders of The Lost Ark”-style adventure for the Marvel superhero genre.  Its superb performances (namely Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hugo Weaving), witty and well-rounded script, and solid direction from Joe Johnston guide it to the throne of best hero-pic since Iron Man.

Pulling deeply and appropriately from the worn pages of comic books past, the film is charmingly retro, warmly old-fashioned, and endlessly fun.  Its World War II-era portrayal of American propaganda, state nationalism, optimistic futurism, and 1940s social culture is supremely engaging, creatively utilizing numerous methods, including musical theater, to set the delightful, crowd-pleasing tone.  The visual effects are pure magic and utterly believable (especially in the case of the Red Skull’s chilling appearance), along with a fantastic score from Alan Silvestri and visionary art direction from a handful of Hollywood’s most-talented.

This is a huge step up from Thor folks, a Spielberg-coated wonder that will leave you constantly on the edge of your seat, constantly hoping for more even as the credits roll.

It takes quite a show for me to admit I love a Marvel superhero film, but The First Avenger is simply too good to ignore (and uniquely, so is the 3D!).  It’s as good as comic book adaptations get, especially in how faithful it remains to its root material.

There’s never been anything quite like this one to grace the silver screen in live-action format; I think this just might be the popcorn-chomping superhero film with the vision and power we’ve all been waiting for.

Captain America:The First Avenger defines what summer at the movies is all about.

Rating: A




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