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Lat sau san taam (1992)
Among the best
When people start thinking that the United States is the only country with the directors that can make the great action flicks, they can think again. John Woo is basically the James Cameron of China. And Woo's film-making skill is on the same level as Cameron's since he can make films that have great eye-candy action and a film that makes us identify and care about its characters.
After seeing "Hard Boiled", I was completely blown away by the awesome gun fight scenes that were among the best my eyes ever witnessed. And there's plenty of it. The opening scene with the shoot-out at the teahouse is remembered for when Tequila (Yun Fat Chow) does a bunch of insane stunts like firing while jumping in mid-air and when he slides down the staircase handle and shoots the bad guys without getting hit. The warehouse betrayal will be known for the bad guys on the motorcycles shooting at the other bad guys, and then, Tony, who is really an informant for the police, betrays his gun-runner boss. And then that's when Tequila shows up and kicks a ton of @$$! There's even some shots of him shooting at the motorcycle engines and exploding them, which is some of the coolest stuff I've ever seen. And last but not the least, the climatic action scene at the hospital that lasts for over a half-hour, and it displays a long continued shot that lasts for almost 3 minutes. And in that shot Tequila and Tony shoot every bad guy in sight and while talking some emotional lines, I've never seen such a masterful shot like that until "Children of Men". This movie has EVERYTHING, grenades, shotguns, machine pistols and an entire arsenal of weapons that is shown in the hospital part. And we also have some suspense and emotional to along with the action since the hospital scene is very tense with all the babies in danger when Tequila tries to save them all while narrowly dodging bullets.
And also, the American audience probably liked the action because the setting was very different. We didn't see an American background or an American city like L.A, but what we see is Hong Kong. And in the action sequences we see Chinese stuff getting blown up, like in the teahouse for instance. We saw a bunch of Chinese pasta and tea (of course) getting smashed to bits. And it also works cause it's very unique compared to the same old American films that we get here in America.
The acting also works, Yung-Fat Chow, who is basically the Chinese Schwarzenegger due to his position as an action superstar is absolutely terrific as Tequila. Tequila is basically a maverick cop whose partner is killed during the teahouse shootout and seeks revenge against the Triad gang. However his boss is constantly pushing him over the edge and he has to deal with while disobeying orders to get to the Triads. And his character also delivers one of the most recognizable quotes in film history ("You're full of $h!t, you know that? There's a toilet over there.") I bet that if it was an American film, every person in the United States would be saying that in everyday situations, next to "Hasta la Vista, baby" and "Yippie-ki-yay, motherf**ker".
And Tony Leung, another Hong Kong superstar, totally shines as the undercover cop who is infiltrating the gang of weapon smugglers. And his loyalty is tested on whether or not he'll be loyal to the Triads or to the cops. And also, I'll remember his character for his face-off with that bad guy with eye patch in the hospital (forgot his name), and then one scene, they realize there are a bunch of innocent patients and they BOTH choose to let them go so they could finish their fight. But unfortunately the gang leader shows up and decides to kill them all and the eye-patch guy basically dies while standing up for what he believes is right that only the violent people should die. Very touching moment.
If you're looking for a great foreign action film and if you're tired of watching too many Hollywood stuff, then "Hard Boiled" is the film for you. The action is so insane that you'll probably see this over a hundred times before you die.
It's a stinker....but it had to happen sometime
Yes.....Alien 3 was an embarrassment, especially after all the pop-culture and movie influence that both "Alien" and "Aliens" put on. "Alien" was perhaps the greatest horror ever made, even surpassing "The Exorcist" and "Halloween". "Aliens" is a sure contender for being the greatest action/sci-fi movie ever filmed. And just knowing these two facts is why this movie fails, because there was so much riding on this and it turned out to be disappointing. And they also seem to be going back to the first film with the idea of the lone warrior alien and they don't do anything new except make the alien a quadrupedal. But of course, it's understandable because what else could they make of the Alien series? A comedy? But the entire film doesn't present itself very well and that's why it fails.
After the end "Aliens", Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop are still in hypersleep until a face-hugger on their ship somehow causes a fire (which makes no sense) and then cracks through Ripley's cryo-tube and impregnates her. Then the spaceship crash-lands on a an all-male prison planet with Ripley as the only survivor. But the face-hugger (which can somehow infect twice) infects a dog, and then all hell breaks loose in the prison.
After they couldn't get either Ridley Scott or James Cameron to come back, they gave the job to film auteur David Fincher while he was still a rookie, and his lack of experience is painfully apparent in here. He just doesn't generate a lot of suspense or tension and we start to ponder our reason for watching this movie in the first place.
The supporting characters are just a bunch of useless scum that people call prisoners and there isn't a single explanation given as to why we're supposed to care about them, especially Dillon who is perhaps one of the most repulsive characters I've ever seen put on a film. He basically puts down Ripley because of her gender and even unemotionally states to her "I am a murderer and a rapist of women". And you're gonna feel totally magnificent when he ends up dying in vain while fighting the alien at the end. And it also doesn't reveal anything new about the Ellen Ripley character and she's sorta flat in here. But Sigourney Weaver doesn't do that bad of a job at playing the character that she plays best.
And also as for the alien itself, its really dumb and poorly done. The idea of it being modeled after a dog isn't remotely interesting nor is it threatening. And also the scene when the chest-burster pops out of the dog was really disturbing to watch and also unnecessary. If it's horror that you're trying to make, you have to make scenes that are scary but at the same time you still want to watch it, and the dog's death scene did neither of that. Honestly, I hope that same dog bit the director and the writers in the @$$'s really hard. And also it was basically poorly done because it was the early 1990's and it was obviously a puppet that they were using and it was very stilted and totally fake. Even the aliens from the first two movies were more convincing and terrifying and those two were made YEARS before this came out.
Some stuff I rather liked were the good camera work when the alien was on the ceiling chasing the prisoners, but this still didn't contribute to the suspense and it was more of an eye-candy thing for me. And also the tragedy shown about Ripley that she constantly suffers all because of the aliens. But other than that, just pass this one....
Another masterpiece that we can all enjoy forever
After the ending of "Alien", Ripley is finally rescued by a salvage team after drifting out in space for 57 years in hypersleep. Then she tries to explain what really happened all those years ago to the "Company" board, but they instantly turn the story down, much to her disbelief. However on the same planet where her previous crew found the Alien egg, she finds out that now a colony of families have moved there and they could be in serious danger and her fears are proved correct when And one of the main reasons why this is a sequel that works so well is because it's aware that its a sequel and its a real continuation of the first movie. And this and Terminator 2: Judgement Day are living proof of why James Cameron is the one and only guy to be making sequels and he can make his sequels just as good as, if not better than, the first movie.
Because that its a true sequel, you would expect Ripley to be even further developed, and she is. In "Aliens" you get to find out so many things about her that you didn't realize in "Alien", such as the fact that she had a daughter who died while Ripley was in hypersleep, wow what a shame, because of this she tries to make up for her mistake by bonding with Newt, whose family was killed by the Alien attack. And we even find out her first name towards the end And her development is actually continued from the first movie rather than her developments being abrupt and coming out of nowhere. And while Sigourney Weaver was nominated for an Oscar and she should've won obviously, because part of the reason why Ellen Ripley is an iconic character is not because of how she was written but how she was acted.
The supporting cast was among the best I've ever seen in any movie and it possibly rivals the one in "Predator" as the all-time greatest. The characters can remembered on the back of anyone's hand; Hicks, Vasquez, Hudson, Bishop, Burke and Apone and they all have their own thing for us to remember them by.
Hicks is blended in by the fantastic Michael Biehn as the silent, intelligent leader ("I like to keep this handy, for close encounters"). Vasquez is the totally bad@$$ woman pumped in sheer masculinity and toughness, ("I only need to know one thing, where....they....are). Bill Paxton is at his prime as Hudson, who acts tough all the time but is actually a timid little child inside ("How do I get out of this chicken$h!t outfit?"). And Bishop, the android with the big heart, plays an important role in Ripley's development through the movie, in "Alien" the android named "Ash" went berserk and made the crew expendable to get the alien organism since the start. And Ripley had an extreme distrust of Bishop even though Bishop is clearly gentle the minute you first see him. At the end they both make peace and sort it out when Ripley learns he ain't as bad and messed up as Ash was. And also, Paul Reiser is perfect as the slimy corporate guy who only wants to make a profit above other people's lives, and when he gets killed you're gonna stand up and cheer, I assure you. And Apone is the awesome sergeant who frequently belittles Hudson ("You secure that $h!t, Hudson!, "Hudson, get over here, over here!" in the film's funniest sequence).
The action is totally relentless and packs a heck of a wallop. But during the first hour you won't be seeing any of the aliens or the gunfights so we can focus on the characters and get to know them first. But the action has everything, big machine guns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, you name it. And the final stand-off between Ripley on the loader and the alien queen ("Get away from her, you bi**h!") is among one the greatest ever filmed and it might be the fact that it was really a girl on girl fight which makes it more unique. And that's also why it works as a sequel, because the overall tone is different compared to "Alien", and the worst thing that Cameron would've done was to make it a rehash of the original, but he avoided doing that at all costs.
And this isn't considered one of the best ever action movies because of the action itself, but because it depicts a once innocent woman who lost nearly everything by a hostile species and will do anything to avenge herself and also try to rebuild what she lost. Awesome, awesome movie, this gets a perfect score from me.
Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
Who cares if this is over 50 years old?
After watching the great "Crimson Tide", I sought out to see more legendary submarine flicks. And while I was in Blockbuster, I saw "Run Silent, Run Deep" on the shelf and I remembered that movie being mentioned in "Crimson Tide" during the whole "submarine movie trivia" sequence on the bus. And the question that was asked was who the submarine commander in this movie was. And the guy answered "That guy with the ears and the mustache, Cary Grant." For those of you don't know what the answer was, it was really Clark Gable, and those massive ears and the thin 'stache were his trademarks throughout his career.
And once I picked up the DVD case, I showed it to my mother and she immediately saw the two actors on the front (Gable and Burt Lancaster) and told me how famous those two were. But the truth is, I didn't even know who those two guys were, obviously because of my young age at 17. But after I decided to rent it since it couldn't do any harm, my mother told me about the kind of acting legends that Gable and Lancaster were on the ride back home. But of course, it was a bunch of romance flicks that she told me about (Gone with the Wind, Elmer Gantry etc.), but I knew that if Gable and Lancaster were practically legends, and that this was a submarine film, I knew I might've started loving this. And strangely enough, I did. And I didn't even care for the fact that it was black and white, and the fact that it's 51 years old.
When it came to movies, I realized for the first time that my mother was right about Gable and Lancaster. Those two had real acting skill and were 2 of the best I've ever seen. But now in Hollywood we get too many male/female models who act and they have no talent. But I get to see what it was like in the old days when Hollywood cared about talent over money, fame and hotness.
Clark Gable is the submarine commander named P.J "Rich" Richardson. Rich is haunted by his memories of a Japanese battleship that destroyed his sub and his crew. For over a year, he dwells on that memory and wants vengeance more than anything. And then when a younger guy named James Bledsoe (Lancaster) heads a new sub that would be heading out into the Pacific to combat the Japanese, Rich abruptly takes command after convincing his superiors. And of course, Bledsoe isn't too happy about it but keeps his cool. And during the mission, Rich disobeys orders just to get the sub into the restricted areas which pushes the crew to planning on a mutiny, and causes tensions to rise between the two commanding officers (and I guess this is how Crimson Tide got that idea ).
The acting is excellent, thanks to Gable and Lancaster, we can feel the tension going on between these two. Oscar-winning acting in the 1950's was no different than it is today, and Gable and Lancaster could exhibit powerful human emotion especially when the 2 men clash over the safety and lives of the crew. And you're gonna find yourself siding with the both of them; you might side with Rich because of his quest for revenge even though he has to be doing the unethical to achieve his goal and Bledsoe just cares about the lives of the crew and even risked the sub being spotted when he ordered them to rise up to prevent a crew member from drowning. But by the end, the 2 men basically become each other when Rich realizes that revenge might not be worth it and when Bledsoe decides to go after the Japanese destroyer even when they're on their way home. Excellent character development to go along with the great story.
The action was, for its time, very well done. To be honest I expected much worse from the special effects, but you can still see what's going on with all the torpedoes and the subs underwater. And especially the explosions of the ships, while they were black and white, they still captured the grim reality of warfare on the ocean.
Also the thrills will make your heart pound like it did to mine and if the thrills were any more thrilling, I would've fainted. The scene at the end when the two subs face-off is among the best underwater battles I've seen in my life. The suspenseful part came when the fighter planes were dropping the bombs onto the sub underwater, and when one of the bombs hits the top of the sub and rolls over to explode and barely misses is when I nearly bit my fingernails off. And this was all perfectly edited and directed by the genius Robert Wise.
And another thing, that pin-up girl that the crew slaps on its back-side before battle is a total icon to me and it's hilarious. I wish that I had a poster like that at home, haha, but that's just the boy in me talking. And I think that was even referenced in "Die Hard" when John McClane pats a similar poster of a girl on the wall, and given Die Hard's reputation, that has clearly gotta be saying a lot about "RSRD". And I'm gonna remember that part forever because it displays the crew's humanity as men.
I'll admit that I said before that "Crimson Tide" was my favorite submarine movie of all time, but now I'm on the fence, because "Crimson Tide" took the idea of two submarine superiors clashing, from RSRD. And I'm not sure when I'm gonna decide. But anyway, this is a classic in its own right with two legendary actors and a great story about vengeance set in World War II.
Predator 2 (1990)
Yup, you heard me, a real disappointment, especially after how great the first "Predator" movie was. But of course, everyone could've seen this coming, because that's how sequels tend to be like; very, very pale in comparison to the original.
This time we have the Predator not in the jungles of Central America, but now in the streets of Los Angeles that has become over-run with a gang war between the Jamaicans and the Columbians. Putting the Predator in the big city wasn't a terrible idea, because where else could you put him besides the jungle? But the thing is, it worked a whole lot better when he was in the jungle, because you could feel the deadly silence and the claustrophobic feel. But in a metropolis like LA, you're just gonna find yourself being distracted, and you can't focus enough on the Predator to be intimidated by it. And also, the film spends over 20 minutes trying to hide the Predator behind its camouflage, question is, why? We've already seen the Predator before and we already know what it looks like, so the movie is basically wasting time trying to keep us guessing.
But what really killed this movie for me was Danny Glover. And "Predator 2" did nothing for him except prove one fact; Glover can't play the bad@$$/maverick cop. Why? Because that's just not him, he's better off being the good cop who plays by the rules in the "Lethal Weapon" series. He somewhat acts very awkward when he tries to be the tough guy, but that's just ruined by his stilted mannerisms and his good boy face. An the bottom line is, he's just not very convincing. And what makes it even worse, is that his character "Mike Harrigan" is totally shallow and not a lot is explained about him. For instance, who is Mike Harrigan? What are his motives for him being a maverick? Did he used to have a family? What were his past experiences like? Movie doesn't say. In the original "Predator", we knew who Dutch Schaeffer was, we knew he was an ex-combatant who got involved in too many battles and he's seen a lot of death happen. And that's when he decided to tone himself down and become a rescuer and not an assassin.
And also the supporting cast is way outta the league of the one in the first movie. The special forces team members were their own individual characters and we basically wanted to see a spin-off prequel for each of those characters. But in Predator 2, all we get is Bill Paxton being bought in to do what he does best; comic relief. But the jokes that tells are so out-of-place and awkward, and in a few small parts, you can tell that Paxton is just embarrassed to be there in front of the camera and spewing out those crappy lines.
Gary Busey's performance is nothing special, and he basically just keeps the same expression throughout the whole way. And the idea of an NSA agent trying to capture an alien isn't even realistic.
But one thing I liked about this one is that it revealed new facts about the Predator itself. It reveals that it follows a code and a law and the killings that it commits is just an act of sport. And it only kills those who are armed and it doesn't strike at a pregnant woman so it won't take away any innocent lives.
But the action just doesn't interest you and the suspense is pretty much abysmal. Just watch this if you want to learn more about the alien and if you are a real die-hard fan of the first movie....even though you might be disappointed.
Alien.....the one that started it all........
Alien....the creature......the film.....the legend. The one that started it all, the one that led to one of the greatest sequels ever made, one that got a comic book mini-series and 2 cross-over films with "Predator". This is THE film. And without a doubt, the greatest horror film ever created, and this totally makes "Halloween" look like "Chicken Little". You can forget about all those rubbish "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies, 'cause "Alien" just takes horror up to so many levels! In "Alien", we find ourselves in the distant future with a crew just coming back from a haul of 20 million tons of ore back to Earth. But while the crew members are in stasis, their ship picks up an "SOS" from a nearby planet, and once the crew is awakened, they are forced by the "Company" regulations to follow that signal. And then when they land on the planet and it turns out that something terrifying is in store for them, when a hostile organism attaches itself to one of the crew members. And later on, it becomes clear that the crew member was being impregnated and then dies a horrible, violent death from a deadly breed of an other-worldly life-form. And now the rest of the crew must fight off the creature.
As other classic films should always have, "Alien" does great on the characters. And of course, the most recognizable one is the lead woman, Ellen Ripley who is played then-unknown Sigourney Weaver. She provides a very human face and you're gonna feel like you're actually watching a real-life woman in here, and it could be because of her accent, or her mannerisms. But as the film progresses, she develops into a more mentally tougher woman while combating the Alien. There are times when she totally keeps it cool, times when she's afraid, times when she's angry, and times when its just Ripley being Ripley. And thanks to Weavers acting talents, she can really dish out one hell of a character.
The rest of the supporting cast are nothing short of spectacular, Parker and Brett are the selfish, sarcastic men who only want to make a profit. And through most of the film, you can feel the tension that Ripley and Parker have. Lambert, who one of my favorites from here is the second woman who happens to be the opposite of Ripley, a total coward. Dallas, who the viewer might get the vibe that HE is the main character in the 1st 15 minutes or so, is pretty much the leader here. Kane, is the tired, dead-looking guy who is the one that carries the alien species inside of him. And finally, Ash is the one with the sinister purpose and you start to suspect that he's up to no good at some point. And movie characters need to have their own personalities and that's what "Alien" has.
And as for the Alien itself, well what can i say? It is the most horrifying creature in the history of cinema, period. I mean, how could you stop it? It has acid for blood, and is very lethal to fight face-to-face. And the special effects were over 20 years ahead of its time. The face-hugger on Kane looked so freaking real, that you're gonna be scared just by looking at it, even it doesn't do anything except breathe most of the time. And the sets couldn't have been better, very futuristic, yet there's always something ominous and dark about them.
The suspense is impossible to resist as the sequences deliver the chills at times when you least expect it, and when you do expect something to happen, nothing happens. And "Alien" is one of the very few horror films that understands that you can't scare people by raking up the bodies and the blood, but you have to build up the suspense to do it. And director Ridley Scott is such a genius, and he shows that here, he absolutely knows how to make any kind of film, ones that can scare (Alien), one that can sadden (Thelma and Louise), and one that can excite/thrill (Gladiator). And Ridley really keeps up the dark atmosphere, especially in the beginning when there's no talking for the 1st 5 minutes or so, we get the feeling that something's not right all the time. Some parts are very quiet and very depressing and we feel exactly what we see.
This is the legend that I'm talking about here, folks. Don't miss the chance to see this, because it will scare the living daylights outta you more than any other movie you're gonna see in your life. Take my word for it....I'm practically a movie buff, so I know what I'm talking about....
The Abyss (1989)
An underwater adventure that is among the greatest......
"The Abyss" was the first underwater film by film-making genius James Cameron. In less than 10 years after "The Abyss", "Titanic" came and swept the Oscars and the box-office with ease. And then in the 00's, he made a few underwater documentaries, but still has yet to make a real film (which he will, in 2009 with "Avatar").
And "The Abyss" is freaking excellent, and it's got everything, acting for the realism lovers, a story for the film lovers and special effects for the action/sci-fi lovers.
It tells the story of a diving team that are forced by the marines to search for a missing nuclear submarine that was sunk by an extra-terrestrial alien species. Once the Navy SEALS reach down to the diving team, the leader of the SEALS starts to become more and more paranoid and schizophrenic and hatches a plan to steal a nuclear warhead and use it on the aliens while believing it to be the Russians. And also the head of the diving team also has to go on this mission while dealing with his ex-wife.
James Cameron has always been known for giving his characters very human personalities and characteristics. And there's this one scene at the beginning when the whole diving team are all singing along to a song on the radio which shows off their goofiness and the human nature that we all have.
"Goddammit, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight!"-Bud Brigman
Ed Harris who plays as the central character Virgil "Bud" Brigman, is at his best. Bud is basically, as i said before, a very human and vulnerable character, and although he frequently makes jokes and taunts his soon-to-be ex-wife, Lindsey (Mary Mastrantonio). But deep inside, he's very troubled and still loves his wife which is evident when he throws his wedding ring into the toilet and then goes through the trouble to get it back. Also, after the film's 2nd hour, he tries to resuscitate his wife in the one of the best scenes of the movie, you can totally see Harris' acting skill in there. And Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is excellent as Bud's wife and displays the right emotions at the right time, like when she and Bud start to re-connect towards the end and when he about thousands of feet below her.
"It went for the warhead, and they think it's cute."-Hiram Coffey
Another high-point performance is Michael Biehn as the insane Hiram Coffey. Everything Biehn does in here justifies the claim that he should've gotten an Oscar for this. As soon as Coffey enters the rig, you can tell that there's something about him that is sinister and when his hand starts shaking, you feel like that theory is proved correct. It is to this day, the most realistic portrayal of a delusional man suffering from pressure-induced paranoia, and I've never seen an actor perform like that in my life. And we all must be wondering why Biehn never got the recognition he deserved.
And the other supporting actors are totally memorable and likable because of their humanity, and that's what James Cameron does best. And after seeing this movie you can remember all their names right off the bat: Hippy, Catfish, One-Night and Jammer. And they each got their gimmicks, like Hippy with his pet white rat and Catfish with his fist that used to be called "The Hammer". And like in "Predator" and "Aliens", "The Abyss" makes you care about and wanna see an individual movie on each character to show you more of him/her. But the world ain't perfect, so we may never get to see that happen.
The special effects were great and totally ahead of its time, and the water tentacle completely blew me away and I wonder how they did that since modern film studios can't do that if their life depended on it. And I think that tentacle was probably the inspiration for the boss "Morpha" in that Legend of Zelda game. The aliens and the mother-ship were very well-done and Cameron would only get better with the special effects in Terminator 2.
Also, Cameron's directing shows us a story about the survival of humanity and how we might be destroying ourselves. And that's what the aliens show Bud at the end when gets onto their ship. And they plan on sending a massive tidal wave to wipe everyone out. But after seeing Bud's message to wife, they realize that not all humans deserve to die, so they spare them.
And as for the adrenaline rushes, you're gonna be relying on the thrills mostly. The part when the rig gets damaged and a few people drown is one of the best edited and one of the most suspense filled sequences ever. And when Brigman and Coffey face off in a brief fight scene, basically has James Cameron written all over it. And the sub chase is another one worth mentioning.
"The Abyss" is just another one of the greats that James Cameron has to offer, and he is only gonna be making more in the future.
Strange Days (1995)
Strange Days........and a WOMAN directed this?!
I guess James Cameron made action films better for all of us. Not just for the audience, but for the actors and the people involved in the movies too. He even smashed the gender barrier in the world of action movies and gave us the toughest females ever (Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, Helen Tasker, and Lindsay Brigman). And in 1995 he wrote up a screenplay that had a really fascinating story about the impending millennium and he called it "Strange Days". But instead of directing it, he decided to hand over the directing duties to his ex-wife Katheryn Bigelow, who made "Point Break" a few years before. And I've gotta say, women have really earned their place in action cinema, and we owe it to good ol' James Cameron.
Strange Days tells the story taking place at the turn of the millennium from the 1000's to the 2000's and from 1999 to 2000. And due to the fact that it's a science fiction film, it features an outlawed device called SQUID that people can use with inserted discs to see, feel and experience an event that someone else already recorded. And a former cop named Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) who is now a hustler and seller of this device frequently uses the thing that he devotes his life to in order to experience the old memories of his ex-wife. And two other sub-plots emerge when he gets a disc that reveals corruption in the LAPD and another that shows a serial killer stalking, raping and murdering women. And it all finally converges at the end.
Two years after playing the heartless Nazi Amon Goeth in "Schindler's List", Ralph Fiennes shows a completely different side of him in here. His character Lenny Nero is basically a vulnerable, weak guy who happens to be a lying, deceiving and vain hustler and due to his occasional silliness, it's almost impossible to see the negative aspects of his personality. He's also quite stubborn and a fool for love since his ex-wife chose fortune and fame over him. And Fiennes was perfectly cast here due to his skill of conveying several personality traits into a character. Also, his character is somewhat unique since he isn't really as macho and he seems to be more feminine due to his clothing style of silk and spandex. And we all know we can't keep ripping-off other movie characters to be make a profit, and "Strange Days" does the opposite. It does what it should do to get originality.
My favorite acting performance in here was, without a doubt, Angela Basset as Mace. We all know that James Cameron constantly puts tough female characters in his films, but Mace in "Strange Days" takes the cake! She serves as Lenny's bodyguard and provides a couple cool fight scenes. Mace used to be an average woman and then her husband got arrested and when he started doing time, Mace completely changed and became more masculine, kinda like Sarah Connor between the first two Terminator movies.
Tom Sizemore, who is a Bigelow regular, is great as Lenny's best pal and Juliette Lewis is great as Nero's ex-wife and she provides a realistic portrayal as the hot woman who wants nothing but money and could care less for morality and love. She also does some great singing in a couple scenes when she's performing with her band. And the dirty cop Steckler played by Vincent D'Onofrio before his Law and Order days, is played flawlessly and he's a pretty scary guy and he's willing to do anything to cover up what he and his partner did (although I'm not gonna tell exactly what in this review, you'll have to watch and find out).
"Strange Days" has got it all; action, science fiction, suspense, and romance. The SQUID things were really something cool, original and creative, and it would be even better if it was really invented someday. This isn't really as action-packed as James Cameron's movies tend to be like, since it's got a different director, but the vision of Los Angeles is just remarkable, there's arson fires and riots packed in almost every scene and its just horrifying. Even though it hasn't happened yet, it makes you think and it makes you worry, especially if you're foolish enough to be living in LA.
And remember, a woman actually made one of the greatest action adventures of all time. Katheryn Bigelow, we salute you.
A great psychological thriller, a must-see for Pacino fans
Since the release of "Memento" (which I honestly haven't seen yet) Christopher Nolan has become a rising star in the world of film directing. And he finally shined with both "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" which revitalized the Batman character and established it as the most popular and even putting him above Spider-man. The fact is, Nolan is among the greatest film-makers in the world and he is going to keep making new classics for the years to come, and I'm already looking forward to "Inception" in 2010. In 2002, he directed a remake of the Norweigian film of the same name called "Insomnia", and I gotta say, it's the best psychological thriller I've ever seen and it even surpasses "The Silence of the Lambs" big time.
The premise-A highly known and highly accomplished Los Angeles detective named Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is sent to a town in Alaska to solve a murder case involving a 17 year old girl. But his partner Hap, just revealed to him that he's planning on testifying against him because he knows about Dormer planting evidence to gain a conviction on a previous case. And all that guilt, fear and the midnight sun that is constantly shining sends Dormer a whole week of no sleep (insomnia). And Dormer starts to lose his concentration and his reasoning.
Al Pacino has been known for dominating every movie he's in and stealing the show from the other actors and he totally does that in here. And it also seems that he was perfectly cast in here because he has the look of a guy who hasn't slept in days. And that might be due to his facial appearance with the dark circles under his eyes and his wrinkled face and he even looks tired the moment he gets off the plane at the beginning. And the more days that pass, he looks more and more fatigued. And I wonder if Pacino really kept himself awake during filming or if he's really that good as a method actor. Although fatigue is the main emotion that he demonstrates here, his feeling of guilt is masterfully shown after he accidentally kills his partner in the thick fog while they're chasing the killer. And we, as the audience wonder if it was really a mistake, or if he shot him on purpose to shut his partner up and prevent his testimony. And Dormer even does some extreme measures to cover up what really happened. At the end, the question is never answered and we're left wondering about his morality and how ethical of a cop he really is. And also the scene when he confronts the victim's boyfriend (whose a smart-mouth, always doing his "f**k the world act") and he really shuts him up. I personally thought that was pretty darn cool and he really fits into the mind of Will Dormer and gives one of his finest performances ever.
Robin Williams, who plays as the girl's killer, is known for doing comedy roles and he should start listening to everyone's advice and stick to doing dramatic or serious roles, because he is WAY better when he's doing the kind of acting he does in "Insomnia". He actually doesn't start showing his face until about half-way through the movie and spends the first half either hiding his face or giving sinister, yet strangely non-threatening phone calls to Dormer. And it turns out that he saw Dormer shoot his partner and spends the rest of the movie blackmailing him and forces him to pin the murder of the girl on someone else.
Hilary Swank gives perhaps the 2nd best acting performance and once again, Nolan casted her perfectly as the detective who idolizes Dormer. I guess it has to do something with the way Swank's mannerisms are like. And she's totally believable as the character who looks up to Dormer and she seems like she wants to impress him all the time. And she cuts Dormer some slack even though he gives a vague explanation for an incident involving an officers death.
Having a trio of former Oscar winners really helped the film here, and also was the masterful direction of Nolan, he makes the scenery of Alaska somewhat peaceful, yet disturbing. And as all psychological thrillers go...u have to keep the suspense and tension going though the whole move....otherwise, what's the point? At first, you can feel the tension between Dormer and his partner, and then between Dormer and the killer.
This is simply the best psycho-thriller I've ever seen, and if you think that "The Silence of the Lambs" was something, wait 'till you see this!
The Marine (2006)
One of the worst action flicks I've seen in a long time
About 2 decades ago, people witnessed the age of when the action genre in films was at its finest. The world was given some of the greatest action entertainments ever (Terminator's 1 and 2, Die Hard, Predator, Robocop etc). And all of that was shamefully thrown away for the cheap rip-off's just so Hollywood can make a profit. And here we get WWE starting to finance and distribute films in hopes of expanding their fanbase and their publicity. And they start by throwing their superstar John Cena in his horrendous, over-the-top debut.
"The Marine" follows John Triton (Cena) who has been recently discharged for disobeying direct orders and he now has a lousy security job (but at the end, the problem of having a job he hates isn't even resolved, but what do we care?). Later on, a group of diamond thieves who are trying to evade the authorities after their latest heist kidnap Triton's wife. Triton decides to do the usual in a dumb action flick; he decides to go after them and take the law into his own hands. But the plot itself is too weak for us to care about what's going on. I mean the problem basically occurred by chance and coincidence when Triton and his wife just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time at the gas station. And all the plot elements don't mesh together very well.
And of course its action because the WWE wrestlers just want to prove their masculinity. And overall, the action sucks. There's explosions and gunfire, lots and lots of explosions and gunfire. But the special effects team must've been on crack because the blasts look like splashes of Sunny Delight, and the gunfire looks like it was made from a home computer with just that stupid orange X and the annoying sparkles that we see.
And the acting performance by Cena is atrocious and more wooden than a redwood forest. Robert Patrick as Rome is sub-par since he wasn't as threatening as he used to be in Terminator 2 and even in Die Hard 2 which he appeared in only 2 scenes. He's pretty much just spewing out dumb one-liners and acting goofy. All that, rather than the intimidating silence he's known for.
And the rest is just a bunch of badly timed jokes, dialogue and scenarios. Especially the part when Morgan is telling about his experiences with his camp counselor and Rome ordering him to find the generator. That part was WAY outta place, badly acted and awkward and it felt like it was never gonna end. And towards the end when Triton surely kills Rome in the blast, then after reviving his wife, Rome suddenly rises again with severe burns and then Triton kills him for good, VERY VERY B movie, if you ask me. And the "The Marine" is chock full of moments like those.
I didn't give this the lowest score because some of the fist fights here were alright and I liked some of the pop-culture references such as the ones to Terminator and Scarface here.
But don't waste your time, this is for John Cena die-hards only......