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1) It's intention - did it deliver on it's promise.
2) It's target audience - who this was aimed at. I see too many reviews by people who don't enjoy the genre and cannot be objective
10 - Perfect wouldn't change a thing
9 - Excellent movie
8 - Great with some minor flaws
7 - Good solid entertainment
6 - Not bad, but not memorable
5 - Mildly entertained
4 - Entertained at times, but can be skipped.
3 - Didn't deliver much
2 - Disaster
1 - Avoid at all costs
Science Fiction Perfection
I was 12 when I first saw Predator and it has been a firm sci-fi favorite ingrained in my psyche ever since. Predator, now 23 years old, hasn't aged and still feels current - if you can excuse the 80's testosterone. It just goes to show that expensive CGI is no match for a good story with a colourful and competent cast.
The story follows Dutch (Schwarzenegger) the leader of a specialized group of bad-ass soldiers who run rescue missions in areas Chuck Norris would be scared to go. He is duped into a supposed rescue mission in South America by an old college, Dillon (Carl Weathers) who now works for the CIA.
Once in the Jungle, Dillon's true reason for using Dutch becomes apparent when the team comes across the mutilated remains of a previous special ops team sent in by Dillon. The team is not there to rescue anyone, but stop an arms deal. Someone begins picking off the team one by one and and to quote Billy (Sonny Landham) who provides the spiritual insight "There is something out there, and it ain't no man". The action begins...
Alien hunters on safari, CIA operatives, professional black ops soldiers, South American rebels and a whole lot of hot steamy jungle in the mix and you have one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.
The 80's style testosterone fueled acting gives great insight into the period and muscle-bound cast perform well and this must be Arnie's finest performance. Thankfully there isn't much of the of cheesy 80's dialog, like that painfully delivered by Bill Paxton in Aliens and Predator 2.
Like Ridley Scott's Alien, the franchise has only gone downhill since and fans have eagerly been waiting for Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal to restore the franchise to it's former glory with the release of Predators.
A timeless classic and sci-fi masterpiece. 10/10
Welcome to Collinwood (2002)
It's a bellini!
This to me must be one of the most underrated films ever made. I fantastic cast, colourful characters, a great script and wonderful soundtrack.
It has a Cohen Bothers beat and feels like it could be at home on stage. The film follows unsuccessful lowlife criminal, Cosimo (Luis Guzmán), who lands up in jail and learns of a "bellini", a once in a lifetime job, from his lifer cellmate. He wants to pay a 'mullinski", someone to take the fall for him, so he can get out of jail to pull the job.
His girlfriend begins to enquire around and in doing so ends up letting more people know about the bellini forcing the team to grow. Eventually Pero (Sam Rockwell), a second rate boxer, attempts to take the fall but things don't go according to plan and Pero finds out the details of the job and leaves Cosimo in jail. Pero is forced to let the others in and the fun and games starts as the motley crew attempt to plan and execute the caper.
It is a wonderful, well thought out script. The style of the story and directing have a Cohen Brothers feel and that is not a bad thing. It is light and humorous and has plenty of laughs. It is silly, but not far from stupid.
The casting and acting was superb and everyone puts on good performances, but Michael Jeter as old man Toto was the star of the show and it is one of the most memorable performances I have seen. George Clooney seems totally at home in this style of movie and was excellent too.
If my film collection was burned and stolen, Welcome to Collinwood would be in my top 20 and always delivers a warm smile.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Scariest movie I have ever seen
This is the scariest movie I have ever seen.
1) Scared that is received 6.7/10 as that shows how the population is getting more stupid as technology progresses.
2) Scared that is has made $181m dollars and there are that many mindless zombies out there going to the cinema to watch this.
3) Scared that 7400 people have given this movie 10/10.
4) Scared that Oren Peli is making a sequel.
5) Scared that I may see a poster again for this movie and be reminded of how terrible it was.
Probably the biggest load of rubbish film-making and makes Blair Witch look like a masterpiece.
I am more scared of meeting people who enjoyed this movie then I am of that demon.
After seeing that Robert Rodriguez had chosen Nimród Antal to direct Predators (2010) based on Kontrol, I was intrigued to see it.
Knowing nothing about the film, I was pleasantly surprised and it was fantastic to see a film strong enough to stand on it's story, script and acting own without any explosions, cgi or high profile actors. Instead it is a fantastic symbolic story with great characters and solid story.
The story follows Bulcsú, a young ticket inspector, working in the Hungarian metro. He has suffered some emotional problems and has retreated to the underground where he works and lives, never going above ground. Murders are occurring on the tracks. We follow Bulcsú and his colourful team of inspectors giving us a glimpse into his day to day adventures and the search for the killer and eventually meeting a girl - in a bear suit.
It is a great piece of symbolic film making, concentrating on building the characters and their interactions with each other. It is not an action film or thriller, but has enough tension and mystery to keep you more than entertained.
Acting is great and particular enjoyed the support roles.
Was great to get insight into the Hungarian people and thoughtful enjoyed the film.
The Happening (2008)
An acceptable concept unable to make a story resulting in poor execution.
Two things I learned about film watching The Happening: 1) Just as it allows for an incredible creative result allowing a filmmaker to write, direct and produce their own film (Stanley Kubrick), it can also be a self indulgent disaster with nobody there for damage control and a reality check. 2) People have faith and want to see Shyamalan make another movie like The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable. They will keep giving him money, to the insane amount of $161m to date, hoping he will come back from the last string of disasters. After The Village, The Lady In The Water, this and The Last Airbender, which seems to be bombing, I think it may be tough.
To quickly cover the synopsis: People are suddenly killing themselves in droves. One minute fine, next gory suicide. The "happenings" start in NYC and begin to spread. We see the movie through our lead protagonist, Eliot (Wahlberg), a nice-guy science teacher having marriage difficulties with his wife Alma (Deschanel). They are trying to evacuate NYC and get away from the happenings which are spreading. Along the way we discover the cause of the happenings and watch the characters dynamics change as they are faced with life threatening events.
The setup and opening act is strong and intriguing, but falls apart shortly thereafter and the final act feels like the filmmaker had a good concept, but did not know how to make it a story.
The plot is simple and the comment is easy to grasp. An acceptable concept poorly executed. The film is wrecked by the atrocious and insulting script, with mistakes a seasoned filmmaker should not accept, and is further spat on by some of the worst acting and dialog ever released in a commercial movie backed by a decent budget and experienced team.
The dialog and acting is insulting to the audience and characters are unnatural, have no depth and talk the plot throughout the film. Wahlberg can be hit and miss and this is his worst by leagues.
The film is a disaster and may even be worse than The Daughter with Kev Costner, which is saying a lot and the only reason I am glad I have seen it was for the lessons learned in how not to make a film. This is the current benchmark for bad film making and unless you are interested in some aspect of film making, it is a waste of 91mins and will only insult and enrage any person with even the most basic level of intelligence.
The Book of Eli (2010)
Look past the controversial themes and find a decent action movie.
SYNOPSIS: The earth is left in a post apocalyptic state from what seems like a final religious war that happened 30 years before our story starts. Typically for this genre, resources are scarce, people are disorganized and lawless and murderous gangs roam the abandoned highways. There is no government or religion.
We meet Eli (Washington), a resourceful loner with special abilities who has survived in the wasteland for over 30 years by dispensing of the heads of those who try and do him harm. Believing he his has been tasked with a mission from God, his faith allows him achieve some pretty questionable feats and guides him on a route that takes him through a small town run by a rather immoral businessman called Carnegie (Oldman).
Carnegie is searching for a Bible to access words to help him control the remaining people. After the war, people burned bibles to prevent another religious war from happening. None have been found for 30 years and not many elderly people remain and the youth have no idea of religion.
Carnegie learns that Eli may have what he wants and the struggle to get it unfolds producing some great fight scenes.
ACTING: Washington is decent and Oldman does a great good job with Carnegie. The rest of the roles are convincing.
CINEMATOGRAPHY/PRODUCTION VALUE: The production value is good and the sets are convincing. I particularly enjoyed the opening scene which provided a excellent view of the bleak environment and resource shortage.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Gary Whitta's script has some major flaws in it which make the direction of the movie difficult. Twists that arguably may should have been omitted as they removed credibility from the film. If you are able to look past the clichéd religious comments, you have a pretty decent action movie that is best enjoyed for some great fight scenes.
The Hunted (2003)
Stereotypical clichéd action film served best when out of options
Synopsis: The movie follows an unofficial missing in action black ops soldier, Aaron Hallam (Del Toro) who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after being exposed to some questionable covert missions. He becomes disillusioned with the military and it's objectives and claims to have been setup on his last mission. He feels this was to get him killed, this is a crucial part in the movie and was not highlighted enough as it becomes the argument of his sanity and motivations, and he goes AWOL.
He starts killing "civilian" hunters that he believes are actual military sweepers trying to kill and silence him. FBI calls in retired specialist L.T. Bonham (Jones), a military contractor who trained elite soldiers including Hallam to him survive and kill. Hallam tried to make contact with Bonham to discuss what is happening to him, but Bonham did not respond for fear of not being able to provide him answers or justification. Now Bonham has to hunt Hallam and so the story begins...
A fairly plausible storyline sometimes stained with credibility errors. Having said that the the Kali style knife fighting (also used in The Bourne Ultimatum) required expert advisors and added a fresh element to the storyline - the only fresh element...
It is a story we have seen before in Rambo. Hunted is filled with stereotypical themes and characters and you can't help but feel you have seen this all before.
The underlying question the movie asks of you is to judge who is actually worse, the military for carrying out the black ops causing the mental torment of the soldiers then "silence" Hallam, or Hallam actually killing the "hunters" in what he believes is his defence. Not very complicated or deep.
Acting: Jones and Del Toro are two seasoned actors and not sure what happened here - I do feel the script let them down. Jones is somewhat dependable. Del Toro to me can be the luck of the draw - he is either excellent (Fear and Loathing, The Usual Suspects, Sin City) or can be terrible (The Wolfman, Snatch). He delivers some of the cheesiest dialog and weak, unconvincing acting and feel he was miscast.
Cinematography/Production Value: The production value is good, albeit misspent. The estimated $55 million dollars could have been better spend on a improved screenplay. Cinematography did the job with some great wilderness scenes. The opening was scene with ridiculous even for an early 80's Norris film.
Final thoughts: If you are faced with limited alternatives on TV and want to see some interesting knife fights then go for it.
Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
Having never seen any Scandinavian film and living with a Swede while in London several years ago I was curious to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Having not read the book and not aware of the synopsis, I started the movie with an open mind and no expectations.
I won't cover the synopsis in detail, but the movie follows two lead protagonists. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a mild mannered investigative reporter facing a light 3 month sentence after being framed by following fraudulent documents that were able to expose the Wennerström corporation for illegal activities, and Lisbeth Salander, (Noomi Rapace) a bi-sexual tech savy feisty goth complete with an array of piercings, tattoos and a mountain of emotional and commitment issues brought on by an abusive father.
While Mikael is waiting sentencing for forging evidence against the firm, he is being investigated by Lisbeth on behalf of the Henrick Vanger, the patriarch of the wealthy Vanger family. Henrick is doing a background check on Mikael before offering him a job to help find his niece who went missing some 40 years ago. He suspects it is someone in the family...
The grim storyline being quite intricate and digestible, forces quite a lot down the viewers throat and certain scenes may be quite disturbing for viewers. The books seems to be very successful so clearly the plot is acceptable and works. The acting was superb and the leads were convincing and had more than enough depth to their characters. Cinematography was excellent and and really enjoyed the Swedish landscapes.
Although a slow builder, there was more than enough tension to keep you engaged not only to find the killer, but also to see how the relationships played out.
This is the first film by director David Fincher I have seen, but see he has quite a few titles in development inc 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Heavy Metal. Definitely will keep an eye out.
Satisfied and entertained and enjoyed a foreign take on the crime thriller
Escape from New York (1981)
Far better Sci-Fi movies available from the period
I am not sure how John Carpenter gets the credit he does and pretty shocked to see an average review here of 7/10. I think you get an extra 3-4 stars just be putting "My Name Here" presents: "TitleName" on every movie you do.
I really enjoy sci-fi and in particular post apocalyptic still themes. Quite a few posts review this as a B movie, but it had a decent budget and known cast and don't think it was designed to be a B movie.
Personally I only enjoyed The Thing from Carpenter and was really disappointed with Escape from NY.
Kurt Russel was absolutely terrible and fumbled around from scene to scene muttering 1 corny line at a time.
The characters were weak and poorly directed. The sets were great and you could see that a great effort went into the construction.
Considering that movies like Alien, Mad Max & Mad Max 2 etc came from the same period and didn't feature cheesy dialog and poor acting I think there are better choices from the period.