Archive for the ‘Action’ Tag
Bourne Legacy – Review
My high hopes for this movie were met with a gross mishandling of a trilogy that should have been left alone. Seriously, a new brand of ridiculous was invented just for this movie.
Lets start with a couple details just to bring you all up to speed. First off, Matt Damon does not star in any part of the movie. Now that wasn’t an immediate deal breaker because rising A-Lister Jeremy Renner replaced Damon, but it certainly demanded an inspired attempt by director Tony Gilroy. Unfortunately that is where this film fell flat.
One of the first rules of movie reviewing is not to ruin the movie, and that usually is usually a good rule to live by, however in this case you are going to thank me.
Early on in the film Renner is on the lam from an ambiguous government agency that obviously wants him dead. Although a very common premise for a film I was expecting this. What I wasn’t expecting was for the Bourne Trilogy to take on the flavor of a WWE wrestling match. (No disrespect to WWE, love that stuff)
Rather than having Renner simply hide in a cluster of trees or jump into an intimidating looking river like a normal secret agent, someone in Hollywood thought it would be a good idea to take things “to the max”. That was a terrible decision.
While running from an unmanned predator drone Renner found the time to cut out a homing beacon from deep in his leg, and set up a trap for a pack of wolves who also happened to be chasing him at the time. After doing this he single-handedly kills every wolf save one, the predator drone closing in all the while. Renner then proceeds to put the remaining wolf in a head lock and forces it to swallow his homing beacon at which point the wolf takes off into the woods only to be destroyed by a missile.
At this point director Troy Gilroy decided to follow the same line of thought that was made famous by professional baseball in the 90’s…. if you have a good thing, make it do steroids and then it could only get better right?
One of the driving conflicts of the film is that Renner’s character Alex Cross has ran out of “blues and greens”, pills that have made this next generation of Bourne-like agents better than the last one. Without them he will surely die… big surprise. I wasn’t kidding you when I said Troy Gilroy made the entire Bourne franchise do steroids, it was a pathetic layer to add to this saga and I’m glad Matt Damon had the sense to avoid this one entirely.
Either the screenplay was written by a fourteen year old boy who had three red bulls in half an hour or someone made a boo boo.
There is at best a few meager nuggets of enjoyment to be reaped from this movie. Please don’t go see it.
The Element of Surprise
I haven’t been this shocked by a movie literally ever. I mean in Inception my mind was slightly warped when I walked out and Memento raised my eyebrows, but I was thoroughly shocked after this one.
I partially attribute this to the fact I didn’t read any reviews before I saw it, (in an attempt to remain at least a tiny bit unbiased) but even so The Cabin In The Woods is a unique hybridization of film canon that deserves your attention.
I would describe it categorically as a cross between horror, suspense, satirical comedy and action. It has each of these elements in balance throughout the film and the end product is unique to say the least.
The title, the previews, and even the film posters all seem to point to one thing: cheesy commercial horror flick, the kind of movie that features blood and boobs in equal proportion without any substance to justify it. However this first-glance impression of the film could not be more incomplete.
I wouldn’t say the plot has twist but rather is just wonderfully perverse right from the beginning. You spend as much time trying to figure out what the hell is going on as you do rooting for the main characters.
Without divulging anything too juicy I’ll try and lay it out for you.
A group of college-aged kids decides to spend a weekend away from the world at a isolated log cabin somewhere in Appalachia. As soon as they arrive you understand that they are not meant to survive.
The film is experienced through two main perspectives, the victims, and the coordinated and exceptionally cast team of professionals that are tasked with killing the victims. Why they are doing and the story that lies behind this cabin are what really make the film tick.
The character actors cast in this film are spot on. Without any big names (except for an extremely brief cameo from the burnt out Sigourney Weaver) Director Drew Goddard crafted a suspenseful and unique masterpiece that can satisfy an incredibly diverse audience.
Although not being a household name Goddard has made quite a career for himself, and it is because of his very unique and expressive style of film making. Goddard was the director of TV suspense phenomenon Lost as well as the head-ache inducing Cloverfield. I mean say what you want about Cloverfield but it still exhibited some fresh perspective, and it showed Goddard had enough sack to bend the rules.
If you liked Shaun of The Dead, Saw and its various film cousins, Underworld, or a film that mimics the suspense of a film like Inception (minus the A-list actors) this is a film you would enjoy.
I give this one a solid A. It earned an 8.0 on IMDB and a shocking 92% (which is still rising) on RottenTomatoes. If you don’t want to listen to me listen to them.
Hollywood has gotten stuck in an incredibly repetitive and commercialized vein of film making it makes me sick. The Cabin in the Woods breaks the mold and delivers a bit of everything, leaving the audience with only this thought “I don’t know what in the name of sweet cheeba just happened to me, but I liked it… a lot”
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
My Grade: C+
21 Jump Street – Film Review
Commercial Comedy Lives up to Expectation
Watching 21 Jumps Street’s previews was literally exactly like watching the movie. When I saw the preview I laughed, thought to myself man that’s probably solid and did not give it a moments’ thought after that.
Any movie with Jonah Hill is worth at least a few laughs (Knocked Up, Get Him To The Greek, Superbad, etc.) and this one is no different. Channing Tatum even avoids being the stereotype he usually and that’s also worth some recognition.
The film is based off the TV show 21 Jump Street that spanned from the late 80’s to early 90’s, but the only difference between the two is that the original had an actor with some serious chops in Johnny Depp. (Depp makes a pretty awesome cameo, just btw.)
Both the show and the film center around 2 reject cops that got kicked off active duty. However, because they looked so young they were selected to work under cover as high school students in the attempt to bust up a drug ring.
Having acted in Dear John, both G.I. Joe films and Step Up within in the past 6 years Channing Tatum Is generally all over the place. No one can deny the guy is good looking but his acting this film (and in general) makes it obvious that he is only a pretty face.
Playing the same jock-ass (jock-ass = jock + badass) in all of his films Tatum is really just a six-pack with a limited emotional spectrum. Although when a director (wisely) doesn’t ask Tatum to be anything more than a chiseled jock-ass he can be passable, like in the context of 21 Jump Street.
Tatum’s counterpart Jonah Hill supplies the same handful of laughs we always expect. His most recent film before this dynamic duo attempt with Tatum was The Sitter, which delivered just about the same amount of chuckles.
I honestly struggled to decide how to write this review. Never has a film been so incredibly close to what I thought it would be like after seeing the preview. It was predictable and started a little slowly which is atypical of a good comedy, but it still delivered some laughs so it wasn’t altogether a waste.
However If debating whether or not to go see it, maybe wait till you go home for the summer and watch on mom and dads cable subscription.
The only true comedy came from well-known character actors Rob Riggle and Chris Parnell. These guys have been the glue in blockbuster comedies such as Anchor Man, Step Brothers, and Hot Rod.
Although it hurts me to talk a little shnizz on Jonah Hill, at this point he is just trying too hard. He is a very funny man, don’t get me wrong, but if he keeps making B- comedies like 21 Jump Street his loyal fans will be relegated to re –runs of Knocked Up and Super Bad.
My review to this point has been a bit disparaging, and I think my disappointment stems from the hype. The previews were funny, I had heard it was funny from my friends (who are idiots, a fact I often forget) and I was pretty pumped for it. Unfortunately the hype and previews turned out to be the best part of the film.
Jonah Hill was funny, Channing Tatum avoided being cheesy, women were hot… but that is about it.
If you want to see a formulaic comedy on a day when you’re stuck sick at home this would be the one. I’m not saying its bad, its just not good enough for me to give a shit.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Opening with a solid $250 million in the box office, “The Hunger Games” marks the next step forward in Hollywood’s book-to-movie sagas.
“The Hunger Games” provides some serious action and suspenseful film-making that has critics talking. For a PG-13 rated film, it certainly packs a punch.
Excitement surrounding the film’s premiere has been stirred by the wild success of the novel written by Suzanne Collins.
Following in the footsteps of LOTR (“Lord of the Rings,” for all you noobs out there), “Twilight,” and of course, the godfather of all book-to-movie franchises, “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games” cements this trend in current filmmaking.
All of these blockbuster-caliber films drew from hype, fueled largely by the books they were adapted from, to turn their debuts into big box office bucks.
In terms of revenue generated, “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows II” is in the lead among these films with a gross of $380 million; next is “LOTR: The Return of the King” with $377 million; “Twilight: Eclipse” brings up the rear (rightfully so) with $300 million.
Each of these films was the highest rated of their respective series at rottentomatoes.com.
But worry not, “Hunger Games” fans: “The Hunger Games” is still generating revenue.
And we don’t even know if the first film in the series will be the most successful of the saga as far as the big screen is concerned.
In addition to the moola, all of these movies (with the exception of “Twilight”) have received mostly exceptional film reviews.
It is safe to say at this point that the book-to-movie phenomenon happening in Hollywood is putting butts in seats, but are these books’ die-hard fans satisfied with Hollywood’s sometimes half-assed recreations of these narratives?
In the instance of “The Hunger Games,” novelist Suzanne Collins was involved in both the writing and the production of the movie, which probably led to an at least somewhat satisfactory adaptation in her mind.
If you look at the movie in comparison to “Twilight,” the only other series with a strong female lead, “The Hunger Games” blows it out of the water.
On screen, “Twilight” comes across as mainly as a whiny teen love story, accentuated by random intervals of shirtless vamps.
“The Hunger Games” actually has substance, and isn’t just intended for 14-year-old girls.
The positive reactions in the blogosphere have labeled “The Hunger Games” as satisfactory for the average movie-goer and the fans of the novels alike.
Rumors are already buzzing of a video game are already underway, but it’s unclear whether a gory Xbox interpretation of kids killing other kids will gather enough support to actually hit the shelves.
Overall I give the film a B+.
I went into the theater knowing almost every major plot point thanks to my talkative friends, and I still really enjoyed it.
Even fans of the book I have spoken to on campus said they enjoyed it.
It is not directed toward one sex in particular. Any guy who says this movie is just for girls doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
It was one of the fullest theaters I have ever seen at The Movies at Meadville, and it was a Tuesday.
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Ryan Reynolds has finally left his Van Wilder roots behind as he and Denzel struck espionage silver in Safe House.
I say silver because although Reynolds created a believable CIA agent aura, he’s still no Jason Bourne.
Denzel on the other hand was predictably phenomenal as the enigmatic and extremely dangerous Tobin Frost the ex-CIA double agent that drives the film.
Although the CIA double-crossing conspiracy film genre has been milked harder than any of us feel comfortable with Safe House packs enough star power, shoot-outs and spy mystique to earn a solid B/B+.
If you sat down and really thought about the plot of this film you would realize that it’s predictable as all hell, but when actually watching the star power and loud noises help you to forget about all that.
Reynolds is a rookie CIA agent (if there is such a thing) stationed in Cape Town, South Africa when disavowed wanted man and ebony box office magician Denzel Washington lands in his lap.
What ensues is like a hybrid of Training Day and The Bourne Ultimatum.
That’s really the best way to describe it. Denzel does his thing just like always, Reynolds shows that he’s got some chops as he sheds a few tears and kicks a little ass.
The most rewarding aspect of the film is the sort of begrudging mentor-like relationship that develops between Reynolds and Washington in the film.
For the most part the film remains somewhat on the superficial side of entertainment (car chases, spy intrigue etc.) but the director chose to delve a bit deeper when it came to the relationship between the two stars.
Although director Daniel Espinosa made his A-list debut with this film he did a very solid job handling both his actors and the spy-film context, which can become convoluted or just plain boring if your not careful.
The runtime of 115 minutes gives the film adequate time to develop but doesn’t leave you running for the door when the credits roll like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the like.
The main success of the film is in moderation. It had all the raw materials to make a solid flick and Espinosa did a great job stepping aside and letting the story tell itself.
When it comes down to it the film delivers what it says it will. Excellent actors in a high budget environment with some high caliber action and the added bonus of some character development make the film a solid Saturday night watch.
If you are fan of either actor it’s a must see, if you’re a fan of action your gonna see it anyway, and if your bored then you should certainly consider seeing Safe House.
IMDB Score: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
By Ben Dauber
Chronicle took the box office by storm this past week and with good reason, high caliber action and solid performances by a bunch of no-name actors make for a solid watch.
Heading into the film I was skeptical. With a title like Chronicle, a focus on teen angst, and a PG-13 rating I was prepared for the worst.
The first 15 minutes I admittedly wanted to head for the door, but once you get into the meat of the film Chronicle grabs your interest and never lets go.
Director Josh Trank took a group of b-list TV starlets and an incredibly commercialized platform and regardless churned out a surprisingly praiseworthy film.
Chronicle defies two of my often failsafe film rules: 1) Teens discovering some sort of superpower is a no-no 2) Handheld style of filming (e.g. The Blair Witch Project) more often leads to headaches than good times.
One thing Trank did well was comprehensively explore the “power” the characters discover. Scenes of the characters fooling around with their abilities are some of the most entertaining in the film.
The other thing the filmmakers did incredibly well was to avoid the Cloverfield syndrome.
Cloverfield (2008) was film that I would have left incredibly angry, if I hadn’t already been incredibly nauseous. The reason for my post-film condition was due to the abuse of the hand held camera technique that has recently become popular.
A shaky camera constantly flashing left or right and remaining obnoxiously out of focus intentionally does not make up for a lack of substance in a film.
The makers of Chronicle realized this and rather than attempting to fool the audience into some false suspense with shoddy camera work they turned the usually crappy into the surprisingly creative.
Scoring a more than solid 85% on rotten tomatoes Chronicle has not only captured 22.0M in the box office but has also impressed the critics.
A solid watch for the action depraved no doubt, but if you want to watch a real man’s movie I still suggest seeing The Grey.
IMDB Score – 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes – 77%
At first glance The Grey may look like another chance for Liam Neeson to kick the crap out of everybody but surprising emotional depth and intelligent filmmaking make it a thinking man’s action flick.
The film centers around a team of exhausted oilrig roughnecks on the plane flight home from the deep Alaskan wilderness. This crew spearheaded by the reliably stoic Neeson battle the wilderness, desperation, and most notably some fierce-ass wolves.
The opening sequence of the film was filmed with such a personal lens that I literally felt uncomfortable watching it. The plane crash and the early moments of the film rival the emotional burden of a well-written novel.
The stunning shots of the wind blown moonscape literally made the theater feel cold. I was truly taken aback by the sincerity of the film; it was truly one of Neeson’s better performances.
To sum the film up in a word, I would have to say realism. Although there is still certainly an atmosphere of nostalgic Neeson kickassery, the director and writer of the film Joe Carnahan (most known for the sci-fi flop that was The Fourth Kind 2009)
let a truly compelling story tell itself.
He succeeded most notably in not ruining the film. Although that seems like somewhat of a slight I mean it a true compliment.
Carnahan let the raw truth of natures wrath and the torturous nature of fate truly come through rather than mask the power of the story with cheesy pump-up music and montages of high-fiving camaraderie.
The only minor bone I have to pick with the film is that in some places conversation did loiter where cinematography or a nice bear fighting sequence could have resided, but hey nobody’s perfect.
With enough action to satisfy the simple-minded (such as myself) and a truly shocking emotional richness The Grey is a strong text.
Go see it, but dress warmly, and don’t necessarily expect to leave the theater feeling optimistic about the human condition.