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Very stylish and entertaining!

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:26 (A review of Blade)

It seems to me that a lot of people don't know that Blade is actually a superhero movie on par with X-Men, Daredevil, Punisher and the likes. What all these heroes (and in the case of X-Men hero group) have in common is that they were all conceived in the magical world of Marvel. Blade was originally a normal person (in a blue outfit) who chased vampires because of a personal grudge and eventually facing of with Dracula himself and he was for lack of a better word boring. So boring in fact that the character was shelved and in fact never used in the Marvel universe. At least until he was reinvented.

David Goyer did a stroke of genius when he took the character of Blade and turned him into a leather clad dark knight. He can't take all the credit though and much of this must go to Stephen Norrington as well who with his distinct visual style brings out the best of the character. The Blade character (Wesley Snipes) is pretty amazing in this film and mixes martial arts with Batman like darkness. Snipes is pretty good as the title character and is successful in bringing out the duality and inner demons of the character. He is, however, a pretty rigid actor both in voice and in posture and is only interesting enough for one film (which is clearly seen from the inferior sequels). Kris Kristofferson is good as well and really brings the tormented character of Whistler to life with energy and sense of timing. N'Bushe Wright, however, is fairly weak as a leading lady making her character relatively flat and lifeless. Donal Logue is pretty funny and manages to do a lot with a minor character. German, Udo Kier, should also be mentioned as he brings a lot of finesse and style to the vampire race, probably born of his experiences from playing Dracula. Stephen Dorf provides the best acting in the film and his chilling performance as Deacon Frost stands as one of the best screen villains I have perhaps ever seen.

The story is good and, I feel, renews the vampire genre (something that hasn't been done since Robert Rodrigues' From Dusk Till Dawn) by adding a lot of contemporary elements and maintaining the comic book feel. By saying that the film has a comic book feel does not mean that the film is unrealistic. Far from it. A lot of effort has been put in trying to make the film seem as real as possible. Including the effects which are pretty good for their time. I found the vampire "dustings" to be a very nice touch. In stead of adding a lot of blood when a vampire dies Norrington chose to let the vampires spontaneously com-bust which looks great. The fact that the overall effects were well done adds to the credibility of the film which would otherwise have fallen flat on its face.

As previously stated Norrington has a very distinct visual style that sets him apart from the directors of the following Blade movies. Del Toro is nearly as skilled but I prefer Norrington's style. His style gives the film a very special look and feel but most importantly it gives the film atmosphere. A very tense dark atmosphere which works great in tune with the main character and story. Along with the visual style the music which also works fine and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the movie.

All in all Blade is a very entertaining movie that should probably have had an 8 from me but a few annoying flaws (which cannot be revealed without spoiling the movie, suffice to say, many of them are located near the ending of the film) does that the film must settle with a high 7.


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An all around entertaining action-thriller.

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:25 (A review of The Mechanic)

I am in no way familiar with the original Charles Bronson film The Mechanic from 1972, but that may have actually been a benefit with a film like this. This remake does seem to be targeted toward my demographic though. The Mechanic caters to those who enjoy hard-hitting action films with a lot of blood that spews more vulgarities than you care to keep track of with a fair chance of nudity along the way. Truth be told, if done right those types of films can be massively entertaining and The Mechanic definitely falls into the "done right" category.

Jason Statham really seems to be hit or miss when it comes to how entertaining his films are and lately his work just hasn't been all that satisfying. The Expendables left a really sour taste in my mouth, so I wasn't sure how The Mechanic would turn out. However, this film was actually able to put Statham back in top form since it was able to deliver a pretty great story to compliment Statham's bone crunching fight sequences he's become notorious for. Despite the fact that the dialogue is filled with F-bombs left and right, it fit the overall tone of the film very well. Ben Foster wasn't disappointing either. Foster is one of those incredible talents in his early thirties that most people seem to overlook as having endless potential. As far as his performance in The Mechanic, it isn't quite as powerful as he was in The Messenger but seems to be more similar to his role in Hostage yet refined a bit to leave his true motives questionable.

Donald Sutherland also makes the most of his short time on screen. He has two scenes with Jason Statham where he makes two fairly long speeches that seem to stick with you long after his character is gone. That's how short-lived characters in films like this should be; memorable.

The one thing the film falls victim to is the shaky camera during fight and chase scenes. It works most of the time and isn't hard to follow, but there were two scenes involving Jason Statham's character where it was hard to distinguish everything that was being shown because of this technique. It's just when two guys are in a scuffle and they're throwing fists or hurling their legs at their opponent, the camera whipping back and forth at the same time doesn't really help matters. Now some guy's dead, another falls to the ground after we hear a snap, and another is clutching his stomach even though we only saw the main character move twice. The technique gets confusing and either needs to be modified somehow or dropped altogether for something new.

The Mechanic is actually really entertaining and is very much the definition of a guy film. It's packed to the brim with explosions, bloody headshots, broken limbs, and even a hefty and destructive car chase sequence. The film is worth seeing for Ben Foster's performance, but it's nice to see Jason Statham in a film that isn't disappointing for once. Overall, The Mechanic is dark, gritty, bloody, and just a hell of a lot of fun.


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Unstoppable!!!!!

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:23 (A review of Unstoppable)

Unstoppable plays out like a basic action thriller that keeps us engaged the entire time. With the train as the center of the story, in a way we get transported back to the days of great entertainment, where the storyline is simple, characters pure, and the dialogue isn't overdone. Here is an action film that stays on track and keeps you glued to the edge of your seat until the high-intensity climax is over. It operates at gut-level mode, as we get to follow all the twists and turns of the main character, runaway train #777. Unstoppable is a summer movie action blockbuster released in a winter spot that doesn't pause for a breath as it picks up steam, and most likely you won't either. It's one of those mindless thrillers that was made so well you probably will miss a lot of the detail as the movie literally sweeps you away, which is what a great action movie will do.

Unstoppable is based on a true story that comes out of Ohio where we have a low-level employee who fails to set the air brakes on a train while changing tracks and the issues that ensue as a result. The director Tony Scott, no newcomer to the action genre, sets the stage for the high-octane second half by letting us get to know the 2 main characters: Rookie conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) and veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). The two both have their share of family issues, which adds to the difficulty of being able to work together initially. Another dynamic we discover is that the company is forcing employees to be laid off, as evidenced by the fact that Barnes is being replaced by younger engineers such as Colson. The 2 characters provide solid low-key performances and we see the tension that initially exists turn into mutual cooperation to work together for a solution, and then at the end, respect.

Solid performance also given by Rosario Dawson, who is both the eye-candy and sounding board for our heroes, planted where she can see all train activity.

As the movie progresses, we come to find out that this runaway train laden with toxic chemicals is headed towards heavily populated areas, and our stomach starts to sink about the devastating possibilities that may occur should everything go wrong. The plan? to link up to the phantom engine from the back and pull it the other way, coming to a full stop.

It is fascinating to watch the failed attempts to stop the train, which seems to add to the power, giving the audience a realistic idea of how "unstoppable" this train truly is with it's 10M pounds of force going full-steam ahead.

In the end what we are left with is ordinary men putting on extraordinary acts of courage. Where there might be chest-pounding there are a couple of family guys doing what they felt should have been done by anyone in that situation, and a humbleness that brings a more realistic quality to the movie.

I'm glad that the sensationalism was toned down so that the thrills that the movie had to offer truly thrilled me. As others have stated already, Unstoppable is truly a "Speed" on tracks and definitely one of the year's finer action movies.


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The Rock is Cooking

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:22 (A review of Faster)

Driver (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) has just completed a dime in the slammer and is looking for revenge against those who not only put him there, but also killed his brother. With a hit list in hand he driver through the desert of Nevada in search of his targets while also being pursued by a contract killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton).

The Rock isn't as strong an actor as he is built. Physically he's imposing, but much of the film leaves him short on spoken material. I'd call this a good call given that his most dramatic scenes aren't believable. Making up for his silence are the creatively named Cop and Killer who both explore relationships and contemplate the bookends of careers.

From a genre-free perspective Faster has the needed pieces to make for some compelling cinema. Unfortunate for the ticket buyer, a likely action connoisseur, Faster has very little action. Driver's checklist is a breeze; most of his prospective victims put up zero fight whatsoever. When the bad guys aren't even trying it's difficult for me to get excited. I've had tougher times finishing grocery lists.

Then there's the story involving Killer. Whatever stoic, forceful appeal Driver displays is contrasted by the arrogance of Killer. This is fine by most measures but Killer never lives up to the hype painted around him. It seems that the title comes from his exclamation that Driver is a faster draw with a pistol, but it would have been just as descriptive to call him inaccurate. This man of adventure is willing to concede that a getaway driver betters him with a gun; I'd rather not tell that to my concerned girlfriend if I were him. I never got the feeling of the game between the two and a highflying car stunt from the trailer, which was absent from the finished product, could hint at a more involving struggle between the characters.

Faster is directed by George Tillman Jr. with high energy. The general look of the film is a slightly more colorized, bleach bypass film look of many recent grungy movies. The editing is crisp and CGI use is limited to being tastefully unobtrusive. Jokes and gags are few in number but every once in a while one crops up to lighten the mood. Overall, very strong pacing with some well incorporated flashbacks and slow motion.

The lack of a classical showdown really hurts Faster, which otherwise measures up as one of the best action/revenge films of recent years. It's getting late in his career for Dwayne to be learning the ropes of what should be his bread and butter, but it's good to see him try.


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Good but not great.

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:21 (A review of Blitz)

Funky title sequence, OK. Opening scene with Statham asleep on a couch – OK, so its one of those Jason Statham films, fine I can go with that; Hollywood action film with a perfectly watchable lead, nothing too challenging, just what I need to unwind after a hard day at the office.

It was at this point that the old memory cells started working and I remembered that I had read something about the film. Oh no, isn't this a British film, set in London? Yes it is. Oh dear. I don't want gritty, low budget, realism, I don't want east end gangsters, mockney accents and all too earnest attempts to be cool.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my fears unfounded. This is really quite a good film.

Someone is killing London police officers, Statham, a cop who doesn't play by the rules (is their any other kind?) is out to get him.

Statham does his Statham thing, and does it very well. The man is no Brando, but this is a very creditable performance. He is believable as his character, he does quietly menacing, he does humorous, There is also a fair bit of charm in his interactions with his boss. There are a few scenes where he enlists the help of a WPC (very well played small part – sorry can't remember the actor) to check computer records. I thought that the interaction between the two was very good and caused me to wish that we would see Statham in a more relationship based drama, rather than his standard action fare.

Aiden Gillen is very good as the deranged killer. He is obviously "not in his right mind" but Gillen's subtle performance and the breadth of emotions and he hints at keep him well clear of a pantomime "Psycho".

Paddy Considine is fine as Stratam's superior. Interesting to see the inclusion of this homosexual character where his sexuality has nothing in particular to do with the plot; he isn't a victim, there is no mincing, no angst he is just a straight (as it were) gay man. Very, very few incidentally gay people on the big screen.

Zawa Ashton was perfectly OK as a cop who became an addict while under cover for the drug squad. David Morrisey doesn't have much to do as the newspaper reporter whom the killer contacts to publicise his activities.

What surprised me about the film was how good it looked. The cinematography is excellent; nothing flashy, but at times quite beautiful. I have never seen London look so good on film. The fact that we were kept away from the usual tourist spots helped; no establishing shot here, sweeping up the Thames, taking in the London Eye, the Houses of parliament etc. No red London Buses (do they still have them?). Also, there was also no attempt to make the place look like America with aerial shots of skyscrapers etc. At the same time the film makers didn't go to the other extreme and have Albert Square, litter and kebab shops.

The action in the film is pretty low key in terms of spectacle, nothing blows up, nobody takes their shirt off. The violence is real rather than comic book stuff. For me, it comes across as real, rather than affected "gritty reality". (Now there's an oxymoron for you)

Now, I am not saying that this is a great film. It is an entertaining enough thriller, decently acting, with some very nice cinematography. I don't imagine that it will will a lot of awards. But, it does the heart good to see a half decent British film, that isn't trying to be American or (defensively) trying too hard to be British. We could do with a lot more.


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Worth a watch, but nothing more

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:20 (A review of S.W.A.T.: Firefight)

The first side is the acting - on the contrary from most of the other reviewers, I found the acting very good. The characters are believable and the actors seem suited for their respective roles. I must admit that I watched this movie mainly because of the actors. I'm a big fan of Robert Patrick, hold respect for Gabriel Macht and it was nice to see Kristana Loken even in a minor role, which she played in style. The strong side of this movie are the actors and the characters - I like movies, that make me sympathize with characters, one way or another, in a positive or negative note. If you evaluate the actors' performance based on the first SWAT movie with Collin Farrel and Samuel Jackson, you might be a little disappointed, but if you watch it as a stand-alone, you might like it.

Now for the things I didn't like. The flip-side of this coin maybe some of you won't describe as something bad, but I personally am getting a little tired of a trend in recent action movies - sloppy endings. Some may say "this is an action movie, just watch the action and don't think too much for the ending!" But I like endings that make me smile and think to myself "yes, that was good!". In this particular movie, the ending is not only sloppy, but it just one more word - short. I fully agree with some other reviews that point out that maybe due to time restrictions the movie was cut short, but unfortunately the part that suffers the most is the ending. There are a few scenes throughout the movie that are just seen so many times and maybe if they were cut in order to add up a few minutes to the ending, the movie would have been better.

One other thing is the pace. The story unfolds pretty quickly, but the actual pace of the on-screen events is a little slow. Not that I find the latter as a flaw, but it kind of builds your thrill, I personally was expecting a grand finale that would blow me away. I like it very much when the good and the bad guy talk to each other, before the final showdown. Like De Niro and Pacino in "Heat". Maybe I'm too much of a yin-yang person, but I just would like to see something more of a clash of the titans endings in movies (literally, not like the movie by the same name). It doesn't matter if it is a happy ending or not, the thing that matters is HOW it is presented to us viewers. It may sound a little harsh, but I really felt robbed by this ending.

And something else - I really feel Robert Patrick's character (he is the bad guy) was presented too shallow. He has too little screen time to convince the audience he really is the bad guy, which is a big flaw of the script in my opinion. Patrick is a very, very, very underrated actor, especially when he plays bad guys and this movie does't utilize his talent whatsoever.

Don't get me wrong, this movie is worth a watch, if you like that genre (police, SWAT team action movies, hostages, tactics), you will enjoy it. But it just isn't something you will remember. If you're looking for something unusual, something that spans out of the box, of the cliché, you may be a little disappointed like I was. This is just an ordinary movie. It could have been great movie, but in my humble opinion it isn't.

6/10 because good acting is never enough to save a poor story or a poor movie as a whole.


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EXCELLENT SEQUEL!

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 09:18 (A review of Men in Black II)

Better than the first, Men in Black II is what all blockbuster movies should be: full of talent, full of substance, full of fun and full of effects.

Talent. Look at that list of actors. The talent is there. Johnny Knoxville CAN act, people! He's not just that guy from Jackass! And Danny Elfman for the score? Music plays a very important role in any movie. Elfman plays his part beautifully and his timing is always spot on.

Substance. This is a love story, on several levels. Some would all this a buddy comedy, but it's really a love story. A buddy love story to use the term coined by Blake Snyder in his book Saving the Cat. It's about J and K and and their trials and tribulations of their relationship as partners.

Fun. There is fun even in dramas, the sarcastic kind of fun, but still fun, and in this comedy, there is never a moment that isn't fun in some way. That's just how Barry Sonnenfeld rolls. If it's not the delivery of a line, it's what you see and Sonnenfeld is really good and keeping a lot of humor in the background. (I think it's so you have to watch his movies more than once ;)...)

Effects. It's Men in Black 2! Everything MiB had and more, the sequel's effects are kicked up more than a few notches. There are more aliens, bigger guns, crazier creatures and all the marbles in the universe are still being thrown together to bring the audience a bigger better show.

This movie gets a ten from me. It deserves a ten. It was masterfully written and performed. Read that book by Blake Snyder, then watch this movie a few times and you'll see that this is one of the greats.

Ok so when i saw the movie i only waited for the fun parts like when will goes after K at the post office. But the whole movie was a great creation. I liket the little guys in the closet and all the funny stuff.

this movie is a great movie! none other movies 2nd part was cool. This in cooler than the first one.

guys see this movie! it worth it!


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Funny/Imaginative Sci-Fi Flick

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 09:15 (A review of Men in Black)

Right from the beginning of this film, the story grabs the viewer's attention because the audience will have no idea to what is going on. It is not until minutes later when everything is revealed. Even then, the audience will have questions galore. No problem folks, all your personal questions will be answered when Will Smith enters the equation. Once that happens, things speed up real fast.

Starring as the attractive lead in this film is Will Smith. Smith is New York cop who does his best to be the cop that he is. He's much better than his fellow officers, that's for sure. I love the way Smith talks. It seems very natural for him to talk the way he did. This is funny to watch because Smith's character has a wisecrack for almost any comment or explanation. Tommy Lee Jones plays the mentor of Smith. What makes Jones a good teacher is how he describes things, how he reacts to things, and how he handles things. It's all very serious but in a way, Jones is always goofing around. I really don't think he intends to, but that's how he comes off; as a joker. For example when he hands out the hand guns to Smith, he says "Series 4 De-atomizer". Smith's response, "Now that's what I'm talking about", but instead Smith is handed the "Noisy Cricket" which is not even big enough for a hand, more like your ring finger. Is Jones being serious, absolutely, but Smith doesn't know that! I was amazed that in the script they didn't have Smith go crazy trying to understand the logic behind every reason that was given.

Playing the villain, Edgar, is Vincent D'Onofrio. Really though he's not a villain, he's just one ugly bug-like alien. He's my favorite character in this film. The reason behind this is how his character is in general. The personality of Edgar is just plain rude. A rudeness where he just wants to get what he needs in a very cumbersome fashion. One of the best characteristics I like about Edgar is the way he walks. It's a very choppy walk, almost like he has ants in his pants (pardon the pun). Edgar too, has some really funny lines. And that's is just three characters! There is so much to see here, it is unbelievable. So many aliens, so many weapons, so much fun.

To wrap things up, this movie does have action, but it heavily relies on science related material. So the viewer will see a lot of explosions but that's because the Men in Black always have little trinkets up their sleeves that's not done the old fashion way. It's almost like they make reference to Inspector Gadget (1999) with all the tools they have at their disposal. The difference is that none of those things come flying out of their hats or something like that. The other great thing is the music, provided by the talented Danny Elfman. The main title itself is very catchy. The music has a very science fiction tone to it, which is good, because that magnified the feeling of it.

Men In Black has witty humor and great characters that can make all the scenes a blast (sometimes literally). As for the special effects, they have their own uniqueness that makes it irresistible to only see one at a time.


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Not a shade on the first two Transporter movies...

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 09:12 (A review of Transporter 3)

Read through all the reviews of this movie. Big fan of the first two myself and just got back from watching this. Pretty surprised that nobody has articulated the real reasons why this movie doesn't work.

Firstly, if you didn't enjoy the first or second movie all of this probably won't be very relevant. I would have thought that most people watching the third would have likely seen and enjoyed the other films in the series.

So, why is this the weakest film in the series? Anybody's review who criticises it based on a unrealistic plot or implausible action is missing the point. This might be obvious but there are numerous reviews citing these as the reasons for the film being average/bad. It's also an important part of the formula that worked well in the first and second films.

The reason this third effort doesn't work as well and is not as enjoyable is due to a variety of factors - TONE and PACING probably being the key reasons and also areas where it departs from the previous instalments.

By tone i mean a few things. Is there ridiculous over the top action in this film? Yes, most definitely, but the problem is in how it is being presented. The other movies made you laugh in their almost comic book presentation and stunts. This film is genuinely trying to sell itself as a serious action movie. They completely took the humour out of all the potentially very humorous moments through the more 'arty' editing, over the top score dramatic score (soundtrack definitely plays a big part of the different tone in the 3rd movie) and generally lousy script.

This leads on to the pacing, which is far too slow at times. Way too much dialogue between Statham and the girl. Yes we know the character fairly well but the movies were always about the action and less the dialogue. Jason Statham is capable but the script can't really be saved here.


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Disappointing sequel

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 09:09 (A review of Transporter 2)

The Transporter franchise suffers from some serious engine failure in this slickly produced sequel and only just makes it over the finishing line. The original had a thin premise and an anorexic plot but delivered brilliantly choreographed fight scenes and down-played gun violence.

For number 2 the action is relocated from the French Riviera to Miami, a city often featured in bad sequel movies (2 Fast 2 Furious, Bad Boys II, Police Academy 5). Frank Martin (a skin-headed, forever grimacing Jason Statham) no longer takes dodgy package from A to B, instead he's temping as a chauffeur for a wealthy family. But when the kid is snatched by stereotyped Columbian villain he springs back into action, kicking ass in his own special way.

It turns out that the kid has been injected with a deadly virus. And everyone he breathes on will catch it. And so on and so on. An interesting plot device that soon crumbles into a massive pile of plot holes.

The action doesn't have the same edge as it did before. I can appreciate far-fetched action films as long as they stay within relative distance of reality. Transporter 2 goes way beyond reality in well into stupidity, turning Frank Martin from delivery man into indestructible super-hero. After a while you'll realize this man can do anything and will always walk out of the worst scenario alive. It totally kills the excitement.

And as if the plot wasn't flimsy enough, the narrative just completely shatters and will leave you disorientated and lost among the brawling and battling. Characters come and go with no explanation, sub-plots are abandoned and the film is totally void of a denouement or climax. There's no satisfaction in the silly story being wrapped up.

All Transporter 2 really does is showcase a bunch of totally far-fetched fight scenes, while failing at everything else that could have made the film a contender. Even the relentlessly silly Danny the Dog did better than this.

Even though it's made by a European director and producer and funded with European money, something that gave the first such a unique feel, this feels an awful lot like a Hollywood trash flick. It's a shame the series had to stumble so soon. Since the end hints a third, one can only hope that Leterrier and Besson get their act together. What began as a series made in the style of Taxi, Ronin and Kiss of the Dragon has ended up tumbling into world where movies like Stealth and SWAT live. And that ain't good.

Oh, and I'm tired of hearing about the movie's so-called homo-eroticism. Like I just said, this film is made by Europeans who are not as homophobic as the rest of the world and see nothing wrong with a man visiting another man for a holiday. Frank Martin is not gay.... :)


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