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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Fun to count the amount of headshots
My quick rating - 7,5/10. Pretty sure that is also what I gave the first one. Well, the retired hit-man is back. The commercial tells us so. I do appreciate this movie for a slightly different reason than the first one. Where the first did rely a bit more on the story and development of the character, which is a good thing, this one doesn't dabble too much into that and just goes straight at you with action. Another good thing. The sequences are strung together so well, it is just nice to sit there and take each moment in. I could do without taking a vulnerable Reeves and turning him into a bulletproof superhero, such as this movie did. Yes, before you say anything, I know fully well this movie is paying homage to the great action movies out of Hong Kong, but even John Woo may have questioned Keanus invincibility at points of this flick. But checking reality at the door to watch this is not a problem and a good time to be had. Director Chad Stahelski showed that his massive amount of time shooting stunts for more films than I can name (and he was tied with the much missed Brandon Lee as stunt double in "The Crow") pays off behind the camera lens. This may or may not be a spoiler, but I expect John Wick 3 to continue to go over the top. And a rumor of a Highlander redo? Sign me up.
The Belko Experiment (2016)
Good corporate experiment to watch, not be partaking in
My quick rating - 6,5/10. In a somewhat unique take on the kill or be killed scenario via "Battle Royale", this movie more so focuses on the psychology of how those in a corporate environment will react. The individual characters do help somewhat in keeping the tension going, although I think they could have done a lot more in defining each more. For the most part, it was acted out well, including Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), OK shameless "Scrubs" plug on that one. To see how they respond to the situation is of course where all the tension lies, and don't worry, it does get pretty brutal. I could not help but think of the experiment being much like "The Experiment" which was a criminally unheard of movie that was done just as well, only with prisoners and guards. And not to the death, and voluntary. OK, I guess it really was nothing like this movie now that I typed that out, but the whole social experiment part and how it was acted had that feel. I think with a bit more polish and some better character development, this could've really stood out, but as it is, still a good watch.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Good tie in and well made sci fi flick
My quick rating 6,6/10. After being drawn into the Alien world basically created in Prometheus (which did branch from the more horror "Alien" and action of "Aliens") I was glad to hear they were going to give us a sequel, which is part of bridging the gaps created in all of the alien movies thus far. I could attempt to explain the whole thing, but I don't actually know all the tidbits and don't feel like doing research. I do know this is basically bridging the gap towards Alien, the first film. After "Prometheus", the synthetic David was left behind, and a crew 10 years later stumbles across an abandoned planet where he so happens to still be. They are on a mission for recolonization so in cargo are 2000 humans. Can you see where this is going? Having Ridley Scott behind the camera lens is a treat and it shows in the great scenes being put together throughout. The worlds created by HR Giger are again used some, not to a great extent, just enough to still look stunning. This one does add a bit more action into the film, which I was glad to see and is edited very nicely. Fassenbender does a good job in his double duty role, and they did a decent job of explaining as well. A nice beginning with a conversation between Walter (the newer version of David) and his creator. A deep question asked to start the movie off. Being a big fan of the whole series, I was thoroughly entertained but I can see why die hard fans are a bit annoyed. The actual aliens aren't used quite enough and for much of the movie, they aren't the big aliens that nightmares are made of but little aliens that give women nightmares (if you have seen the first "Alien" you know what that means). Just like I was quite perturbed I didn't see "Prometheus" in the theater, I would've liked to see this in the theater as well, but honestly, not sure it would've been worth 20 bucks...maybe 12 ;) And now that the bridge has been laid for the two time frames to meet, I wonder where this will go next......
Don't Fuck in the Woods (2016)
Read the title, best part of the movie
My quick rating - 2.8/10. As much as I wanted to like this movie, mainly for the goofy title, it just was not good. I thoroughly enjoy finding low budget movies made by unknowns to find your Raimis or Jacksons (both of which I found on their shoestring budget flicks long before Hollywood) this movie isn't going to be catapulting anyone into stardom. Especially not the creature creator, whom I assume shops at the local Halloween store. The effects were terrible. I am fairly sure the dialogue was adlibbed. The "woods" may have been someone's backyard next to a local forest, at best. I really tried to like this, but with so much not to like, such as being within feet of this big bad monster, and acting like nothing is there, I just couldn't possibly enjoy this. I expected boobs and gore in that order, and neither really delivered. Too bad to waste the clever, yet obvious title on such a snoozefest. But I will say, in the end, the blooper reel did seem like the kids had fun in filming this, so at least that is good. And some bonus points added for bow and arrow use, then subtracted for lack of reason or method of making an exploding arrow out of literally nothing combustible (I doubt the nudge to Predator is appreciated). At a mere 75 minutes, you won't be all that upset if you watch it, you most likely just won't enjoy it.
Really awful acting messed this one up
My quick rating - 3,6/10. Since I have to round up, it is tough even having to put 4 on this. The acting was just that painful to watch. It was almost like the actors and actresses were trying to make all the dialogue sound unrealistic. Cue card reading would've been more convincing than this was. After a supposed accident at a winery (yep, Australia is just known for their vineyards, and now, really bad acting) a daughter heads home to get to the bottom of what looks to be a homicide. In doing so, she uncovers some dark secrets in the murder mystery. Basically all the elements of a murder mystery are missing. I may have cared more if the acting wasn't so distracting. I could get a better conversation having Alexa and Siri going back and forth with Cortana as a mediator. Suffice it to say, you suffer through a lot of wasted time to get to a somewhat surprise ending, but not due to the murder. I should spoil it but I don't do that. Your life will still be complete if you miss this one, don't worry.
Free Fire (2016)
British gang style comedy with a Tarantino flair
My quick rating - 6,5/10. This was a very Tarantino-esque attempt depicting two gangs (mob style, not thug style) set in the 70s being holed up in a warehouse, and end up in a gun fight for survival. The entire movie takes place in the confined space, which lends to the atmosphere. At times, it seemed so cramped and I felt wondering how in the world they weren't actually getting shot (if you watch it, you'll see what I mean). The characters themselves also help in making the movie work since without giving a crap about them, this movie wouldn't have much going for it. The quality dialogue carry the movie moreso than the gunfights, since that is the focus. I am not surprised the USA audience didn't get much into this only because of the type of movie it is, and didn't say "Quentin" anywhere in it. Shame since it was pretty entertaining, and didn't drag itself out as well. Amusing and tongue in cheek humor compliment a strong effort that just misses the mark.
Could've been a decent slasher. Just mediocre
My quick rating - 5,1/10. This is a nice throwback to good old slasher flicks. It has the usual gore and stupid teen age characters. The characters themselves were played over the top and done that way on purpose just to further the nostalgia value. I do have to say that the plot being revenge for a rape thing is fine and has been done before but in this movie, the rape scene is extremely long and quite graphic. It was almost unsettling how long it lasted for and the subject matter didn't help any. This event, which was led up to by your usual two groups of kids not getting along, well, at a bowling alley leads to a killer on the loose. The movie itself does add a bit of twist and tries to keep you guessing who the killer is in usual fashion of presenting the characters in ways of why it could be them. I was entertained by the movie minus the aforementioned rape scene. The kills were not abundant but did not shy away from the splatter of blood. All this carnage leads to a pretty nice ending that I didn't quite see coming which was just a treat as well. If it weren't for the one scene, I would rate this higher so if you don't mind that and enjoy a decent slasher flick, you'll be just fine watching this.
The Signal 2007 did this MUCH better
My quick rating - 4,4/10. OK, I never read the book, so I won't butcher this due to not following it. I will say this movie was not very good. First, it screams rip off of "The Signal" (2007) and I am unsure if that movie had any relation to the Stephen King book either. Either way, the movie is about a signal through cell phones that drives everyone basically insane. Although in this movie, that insanity is very tame. The very good cast just doesn't seem invested into making this movie anything else but mediocre. And I am a huge fan of both Jackson and Cusack. In attempting to find the cause to get rid of the signal, so to speak, we are just subjected to an array of scenes, not really a story per se. It is too bad and I think the film makers knew it since they treat us to a really bad ending after all that which doesn't do anything to resolve, sum up, or entertain for that matter. I am pretty disappointed to say the least. Find the previous movie I already mentioned. Much more well rounded version of the exact same story.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Visually stunning, story lacking, still a good film
My quick rating - 7,1/10. There will be two types of reviewers for this movie. Those die hard fans of the original anime, and those that have not seen the anime and watch this film stand alone. As someone who has seen the anime, and loved it, I am going to try and teeter between the two views as best as I can. I will just get something out of the way: When great Animes came out 20 or so years ago, such as this, and Akira to name the two that come to mind quickly, there was a general consensus that there was no way that a movie could be intricate enough to capture the vivid and detailed world that was created in these masterpieces. Special effects were not there....yet. Jump to now, where the strides in tech have made capturing these vivid worlds a possibility and this movie did so perfectly. The dark and decaying world shows bright and vivid, with all the contrast as it should. Even with the somewhat bizarre building size holographic billboards that seem out of place at times (as big as Godzilla strolling through central park for no reason) that are selling something? Maybe? Anyway, this movie is a marvel to look at, and is no doubt going to win Oscars for visuals. Unbelievable to look at. So if you hear, see it in a theater (i chose IMAX, and glad I did) there is truth to this. The REALLY big screen is needed to take it all in.
So now the story. Quick sum up, the future has no issues with replacing body parts with enhanced robotic parts. Well, the story is the main character, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first to take the human brain and be put into a fully robotic body, enhanced to be a super soldier. Now if this sounds like Universal Soldier, I suppose there are some parallels to it, but they are nothing alike. This is actually a story about identity, which is an important word to remember when viewing this. All the things that make us human, and keeps us different from AI is a part of the struggle here. This is the part that I will step over to being a fan of the anime. Many of these themes that were alluded to and gave the viewer things to ponder are just kinda swept away from this Hollywood product. This movie had to be "dummy'd down" if you will to make it a bit more mainstream. I didn't see this as a problem per se, but I am sure some fans are slightly perturbed by some of the omissions that occur. No details since that would be spoiler territory.
It would be difficult not to be in awe of the action sequences as well. They are so wonderfully shot and edited so they never lose your attention by moving to fast, and allow the audience to just take the sequences in. Just a really good job sine lately the massive cut-cut editing in action scenes leave you wondering what is going on. Not in this film.
So, with some incredible things to look at, and a script that leaves some to be desired, the other element is the acting. Well, all that gets from me is adequate. Can't say much more. The emotions in Majors eyes are really what you are supposed to get the feelings from and this is done just fine really. Not distracting nor great. The other characters are fine, and Batou was probably the best when it comes to acting in the movie. And they did do a good job with the iconic eyes of Batou as well, for all the fans out there. All that said, is the movie perfect, and everything us fans wanted? Nope. Never was going to be no matter who made it. But Hollywood didn't destroy the classic either thankfully, and gave us all something to sit and allow our jaws to drop at, and listen to (yes, some of the original score from the anime is even in place for your listening pleasure). Definitely a good film worth watching that most likely will be taken out of context by both audiences I described since it is right in the middle of what it is and what it could have been. I left satisfied and that is good enough for me.
Solid action flick dragged down by editing issues
My quick rating - 6,1/10. Another all out action fest as the T-Virus is at critical mass, and the world population is about to be wiped out. This time Alice (Milla Jovovich) reunites with many former game members to venture back into the hive,where the whole thing started, in an attempt to stop the umbrella corporation once and for all. Great visuals in this one but one flaw is some seriously confusing camera work for the fight scenes. Really quick editing is used that often makes it tough to tell what is going on. Other than that, this is an enjoyable ride that has a seriously misleading name (at least by the ending they give). You'll see that once you check out the film. A pretty solid flick for what it is meant to be. I am not sure why it bombed so bad at the box office but I suppose people are getting tired of the same old formula like this and the previously viewed "Underworld" are following.