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Grey Knight (1993)
An interesting war/horror hybrid which ultimately fails to hit the mark
Set during the American civil war, The Killing Box tells the tale of a Union expedition sent to discover the fate of a group of Union soldiers slaughtered in bizarre circumstances. As the film progresses, it becomes evident that this slaughter isn't just an isolated incident, but rather a series of mass murders of both Union and Confederate soldiers. To complicate the expedition, the Union soldiers have to rely on the aid of a captured Union defector to help investigate the incident. Who or what can be responsible for these grizzly deaths?
The Killing Box takes a fairly well-worn horror/supernatural concept, but turns the concept around by putting the film in the unique setting of the American civil war. The film and its concept had me hooked for the first fifteen minutes, although my attention began to slip away a bit from that point on once the "enemy" was revealed. Quite frankly, the "enemy" were very hokey, and didn't instill any real fear or suspense into the story. I've seen actors at a horror-themed dinner theatre inspire more terror than what the Union soldiers faced in The Killing Box.
Overall The Killing Box tried to be an interesting war/horror hybrid, but fell short of the mark.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
It was inevitable. everything that has a beginning, has an end.
The Matrix (1999) was an amazing movie, the sheer `what the hell?' factor of the first ten minutes of the movie alone will stick in my mind as one of my most enjoyable experiences at the movies. With the lackluster Reloaded (2003) following four years later, it was inevitable that this series of movies which has impacted on Western culture so greatly was going to come to an end. enter The Matrix Revolutions (2003).
After reading all the negative reviews and comments about Revolutions before having seen it, I walked out at the end of the movie thinking that these people should really stop hitting the crack-pipe before going to the cinema. To say Revolutions is a masterpiece that would rival Citizen Kane is obviously taking the piss, but I am amazed at how many people have mercilessly bashed this movie as if it were Gigli. I never pay much credence to professional movie reviewers, but rather the fans and average cinemagoers. I've heard of cases where professionals have reviewed this film without having even seen the original or sequel (they wouldn't have a clue what is going on)!
STORY: Revolutions picks up at the end of Reloaded and focuses on the sentinel attack on Zion, with very little of the action taking place inside The Matrix, approximately 25 minutes at the most. Some of the anger towards this movie seems to stem from this lack of focus on The Matrix, but rather the defense of Zion. Personally I don't care much for Zion, but I believe it was necessary in Revolutions to put much of the focus on Zion and the human faces of the conflict. I tend to agree with the analysis that Revolutions is much more of an `emotional' movie, as we explore and experience the myriad of emotions the Zion forces experience during the attack on Zion. Even the usually deadpan demeanors of Neo and Agent Smith are replaced with very human feelings and reactions - like rage, anger, love and loss. Since this is the final in the trilogy, you can expect a big finish with regards to Neo and Agent Smith, although Neo's fate my leave many with a bitter feeling.
ACTING/DIALOG: Once again, Hugo Weaving (Smith) shines like a diamond in the rough compared to some of the other actors and characters around him. Even Reeves (Neo) manages to appear to be remotely `human' in some of his more dramatic scenes. Overall the acting was rather average, although some of the more important characters are on screen for so little in this film that often it is hard remember what they were like. The little Indian girl Sati I found rather annoying, given the fact she so often mispronounced names - calling Neo, Nero?. and other little things like that. I'm not sure if this was intention on her character's behalf, or what. Having said that, I must give a shout-out to Monica Bellucci's (Persephone) breasts, while only on screen for less than a minute, they certainly gave a great performance!
As far as dialog goes, well the less said the better. While the cheesy one-liners and clichés didn't bother me as it did for some, much of the interesting/profound `psychobabble' which last littered through the first two movies wasn't anywhere to be found in Revolutions - I'll get back to this later on. Having said that, there was little time to see how deep the rabbit's hole went with the sentinel attack on their doorstep.
WHAT WORKED: The action scenes were amazing; something The Matrix series has always succeeded in achieving. The hundreds of thousands of sentinels pouring into the docks was amazing to watch, but ultimately it got very repetitive - it did peeve me that they could fire a million rounds from one APU before needing ammo. The fight in club Hell, while short was also a great scene in a movie where there was little Matrix action. Who can forget the `Super Brawl'? It was certainly over-hyped by the Joel Silver as far as I was concerned, with some flying scenes looking more like a battle from some rubbish like Dragon Ball Z. I did however find the scene where Smith and Neo run at each other in the rain with the music pumping to be a great scene as far as atmosphere and visual style goes. The Wachowski Brothers, or Wacker Bro's for short, have always had an amazing scene of visual style. it's a shame the story wasn't as polished - as you will find out in `what didn't work'. Also thumbs-up to Don Davis and co for a great score.
A big complaint with fans was the ending, I won't give it away, but I personally think it was the only true way to end the series. That said, the ending did seem to come rather quickly, and there could have been a bit more time spent on the Neo's fate. I'll applaud them for not taking the easy way out and going with your typical Hollywood ending - although could a series like The Matrix ever truly have a sappy Hollywood ending?
WHAT DIDN'T WORK: Much of the anger towards the movie more than likely comes from the fact that nothing was really explained. If you went into this movie expecting to have most of those niggling answers about `what is The Matrix' explained, then you will be bitterly disappointed. Practically nothing whatsoever about what the Matrix is, will be answered in this movie, if anything you will leave with more questions than answers. If you wanted to know more about Neo's powers in the outside world that had many internet chatrooms and Matrix forums alight after Reloaded, all you will get is a one-sentence cop-out muttered by the Oracle - disappointing. I didn't expect all of the questions about The Matrix to be answered - a good movie should answer some of the questions, but ultimately leave you thinking about some of the unanswered questions long after you see it. Revolutions answered nothing.
While I'm discussing characters, so many of the great characters that Reloaded introduced us to, namely The Architect, Seraph, Persephone and The Merovingian barely see the light of day in Revolutions (pardon the pun). While Seraph gets into some entertaining gunplay towards the start of the movie, The Merovingian is barely in the film for five minutes -such a potentially layered and interesting character has been tossed aside. The Wachowski Brothers have baited so many hooks in the first two movies, that by the time the final movie ends, they don't have time to reel most of them in.
FINAL COMMENT: The Matrix was such a great movie; unfortunately the two sequels could never truly live up to the original. So many questions went unanswered, so many ideas and storylines went uncompleted - so sad. Revolutions is still an enjoyable movie, I certainly haven't taken to the streets and burnt effigies of The Wacker Bro's like some fans make out they have.
Matrix Revolutions - 8/10
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Two of the 80's biggest horror icons duke it out. is this the rebirth of the classic monster movies, or a dire view of what's to come?
Did you ever have those conversations with your friends as a kid where you would match up your favorite heroes or villains, and then try and work out who would win in a fight?
I have to admit straight off that I am not a diehard fan of either series, I have seen at least half of both franchises, but I can't quote them like they were scripture. Having said that, I must apologize in advance if I say something completely stupid.
If you didn't have a clue about Friday The 13th or Nightmare On Elm Street and you went to see this movie, chances are you would have probably walked out in the first 15 minutes, and if you actually sat through to the end you would more than likely be found babbling uncontrollably in the foyer afterwards. For fans of either franchise, this movie is the equal of a horror fans wet dream - a match up made in hell!
With that said, the reaction from fans of both franchises about Freddy Vs Jason is mixed. If you went in expecting a dark horror movie, forget it. If you went in expecting a dark action comedy with over-the-top gore, then you are probably closer to the mark. A lot of fans are extremely disappointed by this movie, and I can certainly can understand and accept their point of view - the characters and atmosphere of the movie hardly resembled what made F13 and NOES classic slasher movies.
My personal opinion, as a casual Freddy and Jason watcher - I didn't mind the movie overall. I didn't go in expecting some amazing storyline with tense and scary scenes - I knew it would be a cheesy over-the-top battle royale. To be honest, I found the majority of the movie very average. Although it all changed when Freddy and Jason mixed it up onscreen, especially in the last 15 minutes, I really enjoyed it.
**** SPOILER ****
The final battle at Crystal Lake was a riot; unfortunately it only happened in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Watching the tiny Freddy climbing up Jason like a ladder and elbow-smashing him was rather amusing. Followed up by the scene on the construction site with the "torpedoes" flying past Jason, and the steel rod scene (which reminded me of something out of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon.
**** SPOILER OVER****
What I found amusing in the over-the-top fight scenes and gore would more than likely mortify diehard fans of these franchises - and I can certainly understand why it would. To them this movie essentially take everything great about the characters and the movie franchises and basically dumb it down and turn it into nothing short of a farse.
Hmm it kind of sounds like I'm sitting on the fence?... well no - I'm just trying to see it from different points of view. The casual Freddy/Jason fan will probably enjoy this movie, but if you are a real fan of the series then I would imagine you will either love, or hate it with a passion.
With the box-office battle for Freddy Vs Jason almost over, the rumors of a sequel where more horror icons are thrown into the mix has heated up - is this a sign of the horror (pardon the pun) that we around about to see unleashed on the box office in the future?
I gave the movie an 8/10 purely for the end battles with Freddy and Jason... if it didn't include the battles I'd probably give it a 3 or 4 out of 10.
A reasonably fitting end to the series, or a vision of things to come?
Terminator 3 was nothing short of a thrill-ride of explosions, over-the-top action and fun - although after three movies I am finding the Terminator series getting very repetitive. Is it just me, or does it seem like a member of the resistance comes back to protect John Connor/Sarah Connor, the machines send back a Terminator to take them out - we see some fights and bingo-bango, a couple hours later it is all resolved?
I felt Terminator 3 lacked the look and feel of the classic Terminator 2, and often bordered on unintentionally comical scenes. I had to laugh at some of the fight scenes between The Terminator and the T-X, which seemed like some sort of CGI bad dream. On the opposite side of the coin, the scenes throughout the movie which were supposed to be comical, felt very cheesy and tacked-on, i.e. the Elton John glasses.
That aside, Terminator 3 was packed full of what Arnie movies do best - fights, chases and s*** getting blown up. The car chase scene involving the crane was great, and as far as I am concerned was better than The Matrix Reloaded's attempt at a car chase any day. The T-X, played by very cute Kristanna Loken, brought a freshness to her role as the 'Anti-Terminator' Terminator. The T-X seems to take the best of the Terminator and the T-1000, and chucks in some extra firepower for added effectiveness.
Terminator 3 might not add as much to the overall story as possibly Terminator 2, but it will fill a lot of holes, expand on some of the concepts hinted at in previous movies and tie up some loose ends in the series. You will learn more about John Connor's future, Skynet, Judgement Day, and the future of mankind's battle against the machines.
As for the ending? Well I thought it was a very interesting and thought-provoking way to end the movie, and possibly the series. Although given Hollywood, I would imagine there will probably be at least one or two more movies. With or without Arnold, the series surely must move away from the "send back a Terminator to kill John, and they send one to protect him" style, and take us to the future where John Connor takes control of the resistance.
I give T3 an 8/10.
Von Ryan's Express (1965)
Enjoyable WWII "escape" movie
Having caught most of Von Ryan's Express one Sunday afternoon many years ago, and having enjoyed it, I was pleased to have recently been able to watch the movie again in its entirety.
Von Ryan's Express tells the story of how an American POW (Col. Joseph L. Ryan) leads a group mainly British prisoners to escape from the Germans in WWII. The stereotypical brash and daring American POW, is played by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra.
Seeing Frank stride into the POW camp with his slicked-back 50's hair style and leather jacket near the start of the movie, it felt like this movie was going to be nothing more than vehicle to push Sinatra's "sex god" status, rather than a serious WWII movie. His character's plane had been shot down over enemy territory by the Germans, and he seems to come out of it with little more than a scratch, looking like a 1943 version of Fonzie from Happy Days. After the first twenty or so minutes of the movie I had realized that while this movie was a Sinatra vehicle, it was also an attempt to tell a great WWII escape story.
Von Ryan's Express has all the elements a good WWII escape movie needs: tension between the brash American character and the 'tough as nails' British Major (played by the talented Trevor Howard), the harrowing camp scenes, evading the enemy, dressing up like Germans in order to get past checkpoints, a bit of fisticuffs, shoot outs, and of course - THE ESCAPE... which involves a large train and the Switzerland border.
Is it up there with The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare and similar movies of that era... not entirely, but this is a great movie none the less - a solid 8/10.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Do fast cars give you a woody?
This movie was terrible, no other words can sum it up.
I'd like to think of myself as a connoisseur of the late 80's action movie genre, so it's not like I am some highbrow egghead who can't appreciate a good action movie.
Frankly this movie is nothing more than an excuse to bring out some flashy cars and drive them around really, really fast... gee doesn't it give you a woody just thinking about it? Well I reckon it must have given some executive a woody, thus draining the blood from his brain and rendering him unable to reject signing-off on this stupid film. This movie had a non-existent plot, crappy acting and dialogue - even for an "action" movie.
Unless you are one of these types with an IQ lower than their shoe size who gets off over fast cars - forgetaboutit!
Bridge of Dragons (1999)
This movie should be called Bridge of Crap!
This movie sucks really bad, even for a B Grade action movie. Dolph Lundgren needs to get some decent roles, I don't mind the big fella, but his recent movies are terrible.
This movie is supposed to be set in China, but it doesn't look much like China, and most of the people in the film aren't even Chinese. Then you have Dolph Lundgren and friends working for the Chinese as Soldiers of Fortune or something? Who knows?
Basically there is a evil General (is there any other sort?) who wants to marry a Princess (who is a bit of a hottie) and the evil General killed her father the King. So the Princess, with the help of big Dolph, saves the empire in big Dolph fashion by killing the General.
The two things that really annoyed me about this movie:
1) Set in some country that you can't work out... is it China or what?
2) The props. It appears the Chinese army in this movie shop at the Nazi Army Surplus... everything the soldiers used was straight from a WWII movie, i.e. Nazi helmets, sub-machine guns, Lugers, those Nazi bike with sidecars... the props department just stripped off the Swastikas and used them in the movie.
Avoid this movie at all costs if you have any sense.
Soldier of Fortune (2000)
SOF brings the player closer to the blood-thirsty and graphic reality of combat... the reality of being a Soldier of Fortune!
Who is type of guy that tracks down stolen nukes, assassinates Vietcong officers in Vietnam and carries out generally any other tasks that the US government won't touch - a guy like John Mullins!
The player is put into the character of John Mullins, an Army Special Forces trained soldier, turned Soldier of Fortune. As the movie-style cinematic sequences introduce the player to the Subway systems of New York City, the player is immediately thrust into the action with a little hostage negotiation - mercenary style.
As the plot continues to evolve, Mullins will travel all over the globe from Serbia, Siberia, Iraq to Japan - all in the name saving the free world... well all in the name of business!
Soldier of Fortune is certainly one of the most realistic and violently graphic games around, bringing the reality of combat ever so much closer to gamers. This game is fantastic!