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"The Amazing Spider-Man" has no reason to exist. Spider-man is a hero everyone knows. He's been around for so long everyone is familiar with his origin, comic fan or not. Its basic pop culture. Then you have the Sam Raimi's movies. Everyone saw them. They made loads of money and they're always on TV. They are entertaining movies. "Spider-Man" gave us a good origin story in 2002. This movie simply wasn't needed. Now I gave it the benefit of the doubt. There's Burton's Batman and Nolan's. Maybe this was a different Spider-Man. A more "dark" vision perhaps! Maybe the movie spent a few minutes on the origin and then wisely moved on with its story. Maybe... well maybe it wasn't just another rehash. A shameless attempt to remake, or how they say it these days, reboot the same idea with minimal changes except the cast. I was naive. The whole movie is about Spider-Man's origin. They traded Mary Jane for another love interest and held off on "The Green Goblin" because that would be too much "rubbing it in the face" for the fans, I guess. We get Gwen Stacy and "The Lizard". The rest is same old, same old. The same uncle Ben plot, the same scenes about making the suit, learning how to control powers, the search for the criminal Spider-man lets get away with horrific results. Same thing. Except everything is done without a spark of energy or creativity. Raimi's movies were energetic, flowing with excitement. They were "new". Seeing Spider-Man on the big screen, webbing all over the city, fighting "The Green Goblin", it was amazing. We didn't have "The Avengers" back there, or "Iron Man". This was like a dream come true for comic fans. "The Amazing Spider-Man" smells of old cheese. I tried to take the movie for what it was but it was impossible. My mind would not let me. I knew what was going to happen next. I knew all the plots! I'd seen it all before! But even ignoring that deja-vu the movie just does not work. Its slow, turgid with an unlikable Peter Parker and a CGI lizard for a villain. Parker is a whiny, self centered idiot. His relationship with aunt May and uncle Ben is never fully explored and what little there is consists of Parker being a rude jerk for no reason at all. The movie has one thing going for it. The cast. Sally Field and Martin Sheen are great with what little material they have. Emma Stone is sexy and sweet which is "her thing" and again she pulls it off brilliantly. Rhys Ifans is decent as Curt Connors and surprisingly I loved Andrew Garfield as Spidey. Yes, seriously! He looks perfect for the part and he did his best with the horrible script. He's charismatic and brought his own touch to the role instead of copying Toby Maguire. If the movie is even slightly original its because of him. Some of the action in the last third of the movie is also spectacular. Spider-man's movements when fighting are really well done as is the web-slinging. The action is well directed and exciting and the movie sets up a sequel rather nicely. But its asking a lot to go over the material everyone knows for two hours for a few minutes of cool action. The movie plays it so safe it hurts. Its competent but never brilliant. Tedious and far too long with little spots of action but few and far between. I hope in the sequel this "Spider-Man" can find its own style and its own place. Given space to grow and evolve, on the strength of the character and Garfield's acting this could be the weak start to a new amazing super-hero trilogy. Then again, maybe i'm just naive.
A poor, almost amateur attempt at a slasher. There is only one worthy thing in this whole waste of time. The ending has a decent twist but its not worth going through this torture to reach it. All the creepiness the movie could deliver is wasted on acting so atrocious its not even campy, only sad. There are no scares, the gore is minimal, the deaths are so badly done they're laughable and the movie is excruciatingly slow. There are only four deaths. They're quick and most of the violence is off screen. There is nudity from a couple of girls, taking a shower but its over quick and is surprisingly boring. How you can make teenage girls taking a shower boring, I don't know, but Unhinged did it. Also no sex scenes either, just so you know. The story is as thin as they come. Three girls crash their car and are taken in by a woman and her sick mother in a strange house out in the middle of nowhere. They're isolated and the only way out is to go through the woods in rough terrain to reach the next town. One of the girls goes to find help while the others stay behind and soon discover that there is something deeply wrong in that house and family. If you want to watch a bunch of awful actresses talking and looking around the house for a strange noise, by all means watch this. This is a movie where literally nothing happens. The killings seem to come out of nowhere and then the movie just goes back to its tedious, long scenes consisting of... well nothing happening. There is nothing entertaining or scary here. The only shocking things are the acting, the direction, the music and the script. Shockingly bad. Avoid at all costs.
Lets get something straight right out of the gate. Jean Claude Van Damme is pretty much absent from about 75% of the movie. Dolph Lundgren has about 10 minutes of screen time at the most. Now if you can live with that, USR is a competent action movie, with loads of cool scenes, brutal fights, blood, death and enough testosterone to blow up a city block. Terrorists take control of Chernobyl and threaten to provoke a nuclear disaster if their demands are not met. When it becomes known that they have a Universal Soldier guarding the place the only solution is to send Luc Deveraux to get the job done. The story is inconsequential, lets be honest. What we want is some kick-ass scenes but truth be told , the script tries its best to maintain some credibility and focus and things move along nicely with an adequate plot. It would have been nice for the movie not to take itself so serious and have a few one-liners but clearly the writer and director went for a more raw, realistic approach and even with the somewhat silly premise succeeded in their goal. What hurts the movie is the lack of scenes for Van Damme. He seems old and tired and I guess it fits with his character but its painful to see him in such a way. Make no mistake, when it comes to action scenes, he still has the ability to put on a show but still... Dolph Lundgren has little time to shine but he still puts on a brave face and a competent performance. Other than Ivan Drago, Andrew Scott is, I believe, the best role of his career and its nice to see him back in the UniSol universe. Andrei Arlovski is surprisingly effective as a bad-ass with no feelings or objective but pain and suffering. There are a lot of action scenes, with gunfights, car chases and of course, Jean Claude Van Damme taking on Dolph Lundgren in an amazingly tense and brutal fight and then Andrei Arlovski in a very cool showdown. The direction is surprisingly good. The action is well shot and the fight choreographies are imaginative and well thought out. The fights look painful and the fighters come off like the power-houses their characters are supposed to be. It works. The movie lacks a certain charm, a touch of class and never escapes that cheap feeling and look but there's enough here to entertain and for a fan of the genre more than enough. Makes me feel old, though. I grew up on these guys, Van Damme, Dolph and of course Seagal, Arnie and Stallone. Seeing them today just reminds me that those times are far behind. And good times they were. Oh well...
Sucker Punch is probably one of the biggest visual experiences you will ever have. Its style is amazing, everything from the colors, to the fight choreographies and costumes, work together to give you a magnificent show. Its cool, beautiful and magnificent. A visual orgy leading to an orgasm of style. Zach Snyder is a god behind the camera with amazing shots, action scenes that will blow you away, together with a fantastic soundtrack that is so perfect its almost a character itself. The cast is filled with sexy, beautiful women in sensual costumes acting as complete bad-asses, fighting with swords, destroying entire armies in a Mech or fighting Nazis in trenches with machine guns and knifes. Its just a world of cool. Emily Browning is a goddess and Carla Gugino is still one of the hottest women alive. When you add to that Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and the very cute Jena Malone, you have one of the hottest female casts of this day and age. Everything came together to make Sucker Punch a masterpiece. Everything but the script. You see, the script is a bit on the pretentious and the characters and plot are so thin it hurts the movie in a serious way. You cant analyze it or try to make much sense of what is going on most of the time. You just have to sit back and enjoy the dream-like sequences and plot and take it for what it is. If not you just cant take anything from Sucker Punch because the story and plot are so weak, they completely destroy everything else. Its about a girl who lost her mother and that's left with a stepfather that's abusive to her and her sister. To make her keep her silence after a terrible tragedy he commits her to a mental hospital where she learns she will have a lobotomy in five days. There she decides to escape and enlists the help of four other girls, also patients but we see her plan unfold in an alternate fantasy world in her mind, where she is transported to different scenarios where she must fight orcs, dragons, Nazis and samurai-like creatures in a fantasy that represents her struggles in real life to overcome her obstacles and escape her dreadful situation with her friends. If it sounds weird its because it is. Weird and a bit silly to be honest. Even inside her fantasy there are other fantasies and metaphors and well, its just... well silly and bordering on pedantic. Still the plot gives Snyder the excuse to go crazy on action sequences, with no need to be even slightly realistic and depicting battles that are epic and heroines that are larger than life. Its all still a big mess, story wise but its a fun mess, that's for sure. Still its a huge flaw that for some i'm sure will ruin what is otherwise a technical masterpiece. However if you just sit back, enjoy the show and don't think too much about it, you'll have a blast with a movie that is truly spectacular. By the end of Sucker Punch I was in love with Baby Doll and her world and I am sure i'll visit it again and again to marvel at its wonders in years to come.
WAZ is an intense, competently made thriller with good acting and a well written script. It has a few flaws where you have to to give it a break, such as some unrealistic actions by the police or the killer being way too competent considering its victim's background and how successfully and easily they are taken but if you can sometimes suspend disbelieve you'll enjoy this very solid thriller. Gang members are being kidnapped and tortured, forced to chose between their pain and life and their loved one's death. Its a test to see how much they can suffer before finally killing the person they love the most to make the pain stop. The victims have an equation carved into their flesh, an equation about the "selfish gene". Detective Argos is handling the case and he soon sees the connection between the victims and a previous case he also handled but where everything went horribly wrong. Now he has to stop the killing while the truth about what happened is just waiting to come out. This is a dark movie. Everything about it is seedy, dirty and ugly. Its grim and sometimes hard to sit through. Its also violent and graphic although it never really crosses the line into torture porn. Expect an unpleasant but still very interesting journey with a script that is tight, with good pace, believable dialog and a plot with a few very well thought out surprises. Stellan Skarsgård is superb in the lead, believable and charismatic. He carries the movie with no trouble at all. Also keep an eye out for Tom Hardy from Inception fame and soon The Dark Knight Rises, in a small but very well acted role. Melissa George is forgettable as the lead's partner, feels out of place and is eclipsed by Skarsgård but Selma Blair truly shines in her short screen time. WAZ is not an easy movie but is well worth a view. Its intense, well directed and acted and has a good story. Better than most that come out of Hollywood these days. Watch it.
Red Dawn tells the story of a communist invasion of the United States in the 80's and how a bunch of teenagers join forces to fight them using guerrilla tactics to avenge the loss of their families. The whole premise is a bit silly to be honest. Starting with the invasion which is never truly explained and seems far too easy to the fact that unexperienced high school students could be so competent guerrilla fighters with no training or combat background. In the first few combat scenes its hard not to think they would be dead in a few seconds even with the surprise attacks the movie shows to try to mitigate its own lack of credibility in this plot point. But hey, its a movie so I guess we can get pass that and enjoy. Only problem is that even if you do suspend disbelieve, Red Dawn is still a lukewarm affair. For a movie with so many action scenes and all well shot I must say, its still all a bit dull and slow moving until it reaches a weak ending without much closure. The movie takes itself very, very seriously, spews a bit of propaganda and ends up being more depressing and boring than intense and fun. The only interest comes from seeing a well known cast before they were truly stars. They all act well despite their youth and do their best with Patrick Swayze being superb in the lead. Also interesting is seeing Swayze acting with Jennifer Grey before Dirty Dancing and C. Thomas Howell full of promise before falling in B-Movie hell. Red Dawn is a decent movie. It has enough action to satisfy any action fan and the script is solid enough. Its just too dark, too preachy and too serious. It asks too much of the viewer and doesn't have enough of a payoff to merit it. Its a work of its time period and a relic that has not aged well in this day and age. Its more interesting as a portrait of old political times and views than as a piece of entertainment.
The only thing missing from X-Men: First Class is a bit of spark, some daring, that one scene you always remember years later from those movies that stay in your mind. It lacks its Dark Knight's Joker, that something to separate it from the bunch, to make it unique. This is a good comics movie, make no mistake about it. It has its fair share of excitement, some very cool sequences and a nice cast but its missing that special something. If you can get passed that, then you can expect a movie that is honest to the spirit of the comics and very entertaining for the whole family. The action is well directed, the movie moves at a good pace and there's enough goodies for every fan of X-Men. Its a well constructed origins movie and a good prequel to Bryan Singer's X-Men movies. The actors all do a good job, especially Fassbender and McAvoy as the leads. They ooze charisma and fill the screen with their presence. Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful and January Jones is cold and sexy as Emma Frost and is a shame that for some reason she disappears half way through the film and is completely absent from the climax. Rose Byrne brings even more sexy to the screen so the movie really excels in the female casting department. Kevin Bacon is threatening enough as the villain but I couldn't help thinking he was wrong for the part. He lacked a touch of class, perhaps. He was a little too cocky and smiley and came off more campy at times than ruthless and bad-ass. If you compare it to Fassbender's Magneto, in the final scenes the difference in credibility is abysmal. Fassbender is dangerous and powerful. Bacon is... the usual bad guy. But still he does a good enough job and never hurts the movie in any way. X-Men: First Class works in pretty much every way. It has epic scenes, with amazing FX's, a good cast, a competent direction and a solid script. Its a very worthy addition to the X movies and a safe bet for some well spent time. It never reaches true greatness but it comes close. Well done.
Hanna is a movie than not only wants us to accept a skinny, small, puny 17 year old girl as some kind of ultimate killing machine but also Cate Blanchett as a bad-ass menacing villain. The movie follows up on these requests by taking itself terribly serious and presenting a script with barely any plot or motivation for the characters and taking us on the exciting trip of a girl's discovery of the outside world after growing up in seclusion, being trained to be a perfect killer. When the movie starts, Hanna thinks she is ready for the outside world and the person who she has been trained to kill since birth. Why any of this happens is only briefly explained in the last five minutes of the movie. After an early confrontation, believing she has fulfilled her duty she goes on a trip around Europe to meet her father in Germany. Considering both her and her father were amazing warriors, almost unbeatable in every way, one wonders why they didn't simply use the element of surprise to kill the villain, together and go on with their lives, but for some reason they decide to give away their position for Hanna to be captured in order to get close to her prey, while her father... well goes to Germany to wait for her. The movie has two or three good scenes, with a few good fights but all shot in the most pedantic way, where you can hardly see what's going on and with little or no blood. The villain simply has no personality. She is right out of a bad 80's action movie, she's just bad because... well she's bad and the movie needed a bad guy or... woman. After a decent first third where Hanna is established as a resourceful, dangerous assassin the script soon forgets all about any action sequences or chases one would expect from the trailer or even the synopsis. There's no confrontation between Hanna and the villain, no big showdown, nothing. The rest of the movie consists of three thugs in a cheap car following Hanna around while she hitches a ride from a family on vacation. And that's it. We get to marvel at Hanna's discovery of music, television and her first friendship with another girl until finally the family decide to stop on the road to check the map, Hanna notices she's being followed and runs off warning them not to follow her. Exciting stuff. Of course there's a twist at the end which to be honest was more or less telegraphed and then the movie ends on one of the most underwhelming climaxes ever. The actors all do their job well and I must give a special mention to Saoirse Ronan. She's beautiful, charismatic and obviously talented and i'm sure with the right part she will soon be a major star. I look forward to see her again, hopefully in a better movie and I thank her for making Hanna at least bearable. She is truly the only reason to watch this because all the rest is average at best and mediocre at worst. This is a dull coming of age story badly disguised as an action thriller. There are no thrills and very little action and for the drama, you can find much better elsewhere too.
Very cool and a lot of fun, Red Heat is a very solid entry in late 80's action movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast as Danko a Russian cop who goes to the USA to capture the man who killed his partner. He is assisted by Ridzik a tough American cop, who doesn't care about rules, played superbly by James Belushi. Belushi and Arnold have great chemistry and the script takes full advantage of the culture clash you would expect with Danko being serious and tough and Belushi more of a loud mouth American cowboy. They play off each other and it works wonderfully. A word of praise to Ed O'Ross who really nails the villain and makes Viktor Rosta an admirable foe for Danko. Also keep an eye out for a very young Laurence Fishburne in a supporting role and Gina Gershon from Showgirls infamy. The script is tight, with loads of cool one-liners and a steady stream of action, all very well directed by Walter Hill. This is just a perfect choice for fans of cheesy 80's action. It has it all, from Arnold in great shape, to a menacing cool villain, gun fights, naked fist fights in the snow (got to love the 80's) and everything else you could expect from the genre. It could have benefited from a bigger body count and a bit more action in the middle, and its not great in the skin department, even if there is some nudity from some female extras, so its not a masterpiece and you can find better in Arnold's career but its a safe choice for an afternoon of cheesy awesomeness. Just plain old fun.
Drive Angry is about a guy who breaks out of hell to avenge the death of his daughter and save his granddaughter from being sacrificed by satanists, trying to trigger the Armageddon. That guy is Nicolas Cage and even though he was in hell, he's actually a pretty nice, friendly guy, always ready to help a damsel in distress and put things right. The damsel ends up being a hot and tough chick who helps him in his quest while they're also being chased by "an accountant" sent from hell to bring our hero back. In these kinds of movies its always best not to think too much about the story so I guess this premise is good enough to provide some backdrop to the action. This is not a bad movie, especially for today's standards where everything seems to be sickeningly politically correct, all very clean and so so boring. The days of Commando are long gone in this PG13 world so its refreshing to see a movie like DA. There's lots of violence, loads of deaths and gore, nudity and an abundant use of the F bomb. The movie moves at a quick pace and things are never boring with what seems to be a firefight every five minutes and for each fight at least a slow motion of Cage blowing some poor schmuck away in a cool way. We're supposed to say: "man, this guy is a bad-ass, awesome!" but for some reason I never did. The movie almost seems too desperate to be cool and hip and... well bad-ass but it never quite reaches its ambition. Maybe Nicolas Cage was the wrong choice. He has been so overexposed in what seems hundreds of movies, in bellow par roles, he's just not credible in anything anymore. Nic is spent, seems tired and even bored most of the time. He's old with his glory days far behind. Amber Heard playing his side-kick is also to blame for the lack of a spark the movie badly needed. She's annoying instead of spunky. Perhaps its her character's fault who seems to border on the "just plain unlikable" but she also seems to lack that toughness needed for the part. She's just not believable as a tough chick. Which leaves us with two saving graces. William Fichtner and Billy Burke are both amazingly awesome. WF as "the accountant" seems to be really enjoying himself, playing cool, having fun and it works so well. Billy Burke is great as the villain, a real crazy, really fun bastard. He has great lines, makes the most of them and steals the show along with Fichtner. The action is well directed and some scenes are very imaginative and entertaining and the climax works well. Drive Angry never rises to greatness but never lowers itself to garbage. Its an entertaining, harmless movie which wont leave a mark but wont disappoint either. It will keep you busy but it wont blow you away. Not bad for what we're used to these days.
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