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The Grey (2011)
Joe Carnahan's best since Narc
I've been a fan of Joe Carnahan ever since I rented Narc on DVD from my now closed video store. Narc is one of the most underrated films of the last ten years. Containing Ray Liotta's best performance ever and the fact he didn't get a Oscar for it boggles me. Carnahan created a film that was intense, raw, and had emotional depth. Then he made Smokin Aces which I liked as well. The A Team I have yet to see but very much want to. With that said, it seems that with The A Team that we were seeing what Carnahan was building his career to. Leaving the dark edge thrillers for campy action films (which I have no problem with).
Then he makes The Grey which I saw the trailer and thought it'll be okay. This movie caught me by complete surprise. The dark edge Carnahan returns with a vengeance with The Grey. I won't describe the plot because it is about as simple as you think. However, good films can be made from a simple plot, it takes good writing. Carnahan is a good writer and you can see that in the film. You actually see men talking to each other that we could all relate to as opposed to them saying dialogue that would only carry the plot along.
The performance by Liam Neeson is a little different from his actions roles like Taken. I'll even go as far and say that this film is better than Taken. I love Taken, don't get me wrong, but this film would only worked if we can cared for the characters and not depend only on action. The film delivers that in a basket for you.
It's very suspenseful as well. What Carnahan does brilliantly is that we never, not one do we see the wolves from their POV. Instead, we stay with the seven men throughout the whole movie. Every jump scare in this works because of both good direction and no music is in it that can indicate when the attack can happen. In fact, I haven't see a film that had done that sine John Carpenter's The Thing. The wolves could attack at any point of time in the film and you are on edge throughout the film.
We need more directors like Carnahan, sure he ain't no Scorsese or Kubrick type but films like The Twilight Saga and Transformers 3 make me stop caring for current movies. Carnahan shows that we can still make very good action thrillers if we took the time and actually develop them. If Transformers 3 was the worst experience I've ever had, this was the best experience next to The Dark Knight. Oh yes, I went there.
A Powerful Exploitation Film By Brad Jones.
4 out of 4 points
NOTE: Available only at thecinemasnob.com for free viewing.
What begins like a sleazy exploitation film, THE HOOKER WITH A HEART OF GOLD becomes something much more and beyond. This film reminds me of MIDNIGHT HEAT, another triumph made by amateur exploitation filmmaker Brad Jones who also directed CHEAP and GAME BOYS.
What makes HOOKER great is that it's a mini series so it allows time to develop all of its characters. They all lovable no matter how bad or sleazy that they are, each of them are redeemable and honesty I didn't want to see any of them die, even the villain despite of his insanity.
The title is the best of all because it both literal and poetic. Its poetic because Sarah Lewis, our main character, is a lovable person and someone you want to be with despite she's a hooker and does coke. Its also literal because she really has a golden heart.
PLOT: Film begins with Dr. Rogen (Brain Lewis) attempting an operation on a corpse using a prototype mechanical heart that is painted gold. That is until he is stop by Don (Ryan Michette, the producer of HOOKER) and Mike (Jake Norvell). Rogen owes money to their employer Steele.
Then we are introduce to The Hooker (Sarah Lewis, and yes that is her name in the credits) snorting some cocaine with her customer. The Hooker is tired of the life and wants out which her pimp Zalman (Jones) does not take lightly.
The hooker escapes from his clutches until she is accidentally ran over by Rogen. He brings her to his basement and uses the prototype heart on her, replacing her old heart. The second she awakens, they hit it off and becomes friends and have a romance which is the most interesting part.
There is more to the plot which I will not reveal to you. Like MIDNIGHT HEAT, you should see it without being told about.
Overall, its Brad Jones' masterpiece. Out all the films he has done, its the best acted and most well crafted. According to interviews, Jones would like to do a DVD of HOOKER. I hope he does because I will be first in line to get it.
Is it sleazy exploitation?...yes it is
NOTE: This movie is only available on thecinemasnob.com
Watching Brad Jones' CHEAP made me consider on either giving this zero points or the current points I have it now. This is a violent, vulgar, depraving, and ugly film but at the exact same time that is what is meant to be. Brad knows what movie he wants it to be and he goes all the way with his vision and that is sort of understanding that word "vision".
Nevertheless, I sort of enjoyed it, it's not offensive and tries not to moralize its story like most movies in this genre do. Not a single character in this movie has any redeeming values. One is a rapist and drug user, two are killers and enjoy it, one is the director conducting all this gruesome murders, and their cameraman is a child pornographer. That is a smart move on Brad's part not to go that route of morality and making characters redeemable. In the sick world we live in today, who knows what would happen. I honestly believe that something like this could happen.
So, three points will have to do with this movie.
PLOT: Movie begins with a two killers beating a woman to death while its being recorded on camera. Don't all good movies do? It then cuts to days before when a porn actress asking money from her manager Max Force (David Gobble) for her drug need. He rapes her in turn for the money. Subtle.
Then we meet Jack Stone (Jones) after having sex with the woman that was beaten to death in the opening he has an idea to make films that have never been done before. He hires two women (Carrie Jo Stucki and Jessica Stone) and his cameraman Manny (Nick Foster) to create a film. Of course, they are creating snuff films of the girls in mask murdering their victims in gruesome ways that I will not describe to you. That woman they beat to death in the movie has got it easy I'll give you only that.
They sell it to Force and it becomes popular online. However, Force's drug use starts going out of control and he ends up raping one of the girls. Stone and their girls then exact revenge on him.
Overall, CHEAP is what it wants and needs to be. There is a craft in the making of this movie despite being one of those shot on crappy video quality. I am aware of they have a term for it but I think IMDb will allowed me to say it so I'll keep at that.
The performance are not all strong but they do their best with the material they have. Jones and Gobble are the best in the movie which is not a surprise to me. And the soundtrack is a nice touch considering the subject material. In ways it reminded me of Dennis Hopper's EASY RIDER. Have no idea why but...it happens sometimes.
Game Boys (2008)
A video game style movie that isn't action filled but yet great!!!!
3 1/2 out of 4 points
NOTE: Movie is only available on thecinemasnob.com.
The first time I've discovered Brad Jones, the writer-director and star of GAME BOYS was through Doug Walker's film KICKASSIA who played his internet show character The Cinema Snob. Since then, I've been a admirer of his show. It's only been a couple of months when I discovered Brad Jones the filmmaker with his films FREAK OUT, CHEAP, MIDNIGHT HEAT, and this film. The only other film I saw was CHEAP but I look forward to seeing the others.
But I look up about what all the movies are about and its safe to say that Jones' GAME BOYS is the most innocent and romantic of all his films. He steps away from the sleazy exploitation films for once to create this work of gem that can be recommended to those who are nostalgic about video games or particular...bad nostalgic video games.
The plot centers around Jones as Scott and his best friend Ray (Alex Shryock) as they like to do nothing but play video games, talk about video games, and buy video games from their local store. Jones befriends the cashier SALLY (Bianca Queen, also the producer of the film).
That day Scott is dumped by his girlfriend and becomes depressed. In order for Scott to get his mind off of things, Ray comes up with the idea of having a contest to whoever can get the highest amount of points on Custer's Revenge (which I never heard about till now).
Finding this game is going to be difficult so they search for the game. Meanwhile, Jones begins to have a romance with Sally and invites her to the contest as well.
The acting here is wonderful especially by Jarrid Foiles and Brain Irving who bring a lot to their roles. Jones and Queen's chemistry is very good and I wanted to see more of them together. Actually I never thought I say this but...BRING ON A SEQUEL.
Overall, Game Boys is an under rated gem from Brad Jones. The film is the most PG of all his movies even though all of the characters say the F-WORD like their passing out candy but it still doesn't take away from the innocent and warmness of the film. And trust me, after seeing CHEAP...this is a Disney film in comparison.
Makes you want to get in a car and just drive.
3 1/2 out of 4 points
Like a lot movies now a days, DRIVE belongs in a genre that has been done so many times. Ryan Gosling is a driver by day and a driver by night. He is a Hollywood Stuntman during the day and a getaway driver during the night. He has no emotions until he meets a special woman that lives next door to him who has a kid. Almost immediately they bond. He then pulls off another job that goes wrong and now he is marked for death.
However, what is great about DRIVE is that it is a fresh take on the genre. Yes, it has car chases but not a single moment is CGI which is a nice break. The action of the chases is plausible and the director understands geography very well. But it is the character study of The Driver as well as everyone else and that is what holds the movie from falling apart. Otherwise it would of been all style and no substance. Ryan Gosling and its supporting players are colorful in their roles. Especially Ron Pearlman but its great to see Albert Brooks out of his comedic roles into a role that is serious and scary.
The director is Nicolas Winding Refn who made only two films that I saw, BRONSON and VALHALLA RISING. I didn't finished VR but it was excellent so far as well as BRONSON. He made more movies prior to the two which I would love to see. He is a great art house director and DRIVE does not hide away from that. In fact, bringing the art house style is what help this movie. Any other way would NOT work.
Overall, an excellent film that refreshes a genre that is dated and maybe...just maybe Hollywood will learn from this movie and make more movies like this.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Sucker Punch packs a lot of punches
Zack Snyder, the director 300 and Watchmen, has been finally given a chance to do a film based on his original creation. When I first heard of the movie, I knew this will be something special. It would be both a beautiful looking film and an insane thrilling ride.
It's hard for me to sum up what the entire film is in a nutshell but I can say this. This film is the collection of all of Snyder's films put into one. The visual look of Watchmen, his female warrior version of 300 (minus 295 of them), the slow motion technique in all of his movie and finally topping it all off with his own creative world.
This is the first film I seen in theaters in a long time but I can simply say that while Sucker Punch may not be the best film of the year or the greatest movie ever made but it will be on my best film of the year list.
Author's Note: I gave this film a 10/10. To be honest, I don't rate a movies with a 10 because its too high of a number to rate a movie. So if I had to rate Sucker Punch out of 4 stars, I give it 3 and a half stars.
After 23 years, they finally made the sequel that is in vein with the original
Seeing the original as a kid with the old VHS tape brings back good memories. Watching Arnold kick butt and then gets his butt kicked by the sneaky alien.
Predator 2 was not bad but it had lost touch of the original by making it just a gore feast sci/fi horror film.
AVP.......PUT IT THIS WAY....DUMB AND FOREVER BE DUMB.
Predators, on the other hand, brings back the elements that I enjoyed in the first one. However, it didn't start too well at first, its wasn't till 20-25 minutes in it where the movie gets really interesting. The story really has a lot of twist and turns (more at the end) that keeps you going and going.
I thought the characters in the movie were well develop and stood alone as their own like with the first one. Like with the story, twist and turns with their characters that got me really intense.
I was very pleased that Nimrod Antal represented the intense and creepy atmosphere tone that made the first one a classic. Having only seen one of his films, Vacancy (which I liked except for the ending), he was the perfect choice for the director. He was like what John McTiernan used to be when he first started out.
Overall, some things could of work a little better in the beginning but it was a great movie and a great sequel to the John McTiernan classic. A flat 10/10.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
To my shock, this is a worthy entry in the series.
James Cameron's vision of the Terminator series was a very epic and revolutionary films. The first film, he gives you his vision of a dark and distant future and shows you something that you had never seen before. The second film, instead of him remaking the first film at a greater scale (a bigger one if I might add), he gives you something that you never seen before, the birth of CGI.
The third on the other hand, is a remake of the second one but even at a bigger scale. The film wasn't really epic and revolutionary as the first two and the only thing that was significant was the ending.
Salvation almost gives back the audience what the series deserves. The acting by Christian Bale and Sam Worthington were excellent and they dominated the film. McG really shows that he isn't just this campy commercial director with Charlie's Angels but he has something to say.
Its not the best and could have been more but overall, it's excellent and well made.
12 Rounds (2009)
This movie dominates all of the other RECENT WWE films
I have to admit that I don't watch wrestling. However, I do watch the movies and most of them are crappy (except for The Condemned and The Rock movies). This movie on the other hand, is an awesome film from start to finish.
Director Renny Harlin once again proves why he's a great action filmmaker and that Hollywood can't never get rid of them. I see that he shy away from action films since The Long Kiss Goodnight by doing thriller/horror films and an action/drama (Driven). I'm glad that he's back to his old roots of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger. I also knew that Renny would make this film kick ass because WWE films got a veteran filmmaker who's been in the business longer that WWE films had open unlike The Marine and other movies.
John Cena proves that not only can be a wrestler but he can act and kick ass. I know that people won't see the movie because 'just cause he's a wrestler, he can't act'. Its bull, the man can act and could expand in Hollywood while being a wrestler.
The film was pure great 100%. I bought the DVD without seeing the movie and I seem to as people would say 'put my mouth on the money'. I say this because I did the same thing on Death Race when that came out and I don't regret it.
The other actors in the film were great in their roles although I line that I hated but I won't spoiled it because I'll let the people who didn't see the film see it for themselves.
I thing I was concern was with the camera that shakes all the time, zooms in and out all the time. I admit it was annoying but it didn't affect my feeling for the film. But I do hope that Renny doesn't use this style in his next film.
I give this a film a 10/10.
Snow Angels (2007)
A Very Sad But Excellent Independent Film
I've heard of this movie for a very long time (I guess 2 years or a little less) and I've been very interested to watch it. Finally, it came on to HBO just this past Thursday. With my sister, we watch the entire movie from the start to finish and I was shock. Shock about how the story unfolds given these twist and turns that kept me going. Also, the well done performance for the actors and not just the principles actors like Kate, Sam, and Michael but also the actors who had the small roles, without them also the movie wouldn't have the same feeling that I had experienced.
Kate Beckinsale who I have been a fans of hers for the past years did an excellent job in her role. During the course of the film, I had several emotions about her character Annie. I was feeling happy for the character, mad at her but feeling sad for her for what happened to her daughter and what happened to herself.
I must say, (and this part contains spoilers for those who didn't see it) the death of Annie I felt was UNJUSTIFLIED. Why? Simple, she didn't deserve to be killed and especially by Glenn (Sam Rockwell). Glenn had no right to shoot her in the back of the head just because of she had done to him. He blames her for the death of their child when it wasn't her fault. Annie was too sick to stay awake and watch her child. She could of called her mom and ask her to watch her little girl or lock the doors so her child didn't get out. Annie was already punishing herself and felt guilty about what she had done. This feeling I have about the film is why I think the movie is so brilliant.
The other actors as I said before did a fantastic job. David Gordon Green was very brilliant as a writer and director. I thought his vision of the film was very suitable for the content of the story. Although, I didn't like the last ten seconds of the film when Glenn's mom calls out for her dog. I thought it was random but it maybe its meant to be there.
Overall, the movie was fantastic and I would always treasure this film. I have to read the novel which this movie is based on.
I give this movie a 10/10 See the film!!!