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Taken 3 (2014)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Tasteless Pizza !, 4 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, you can say that fast food is enjoyable. But, by all means, not this time !

I think since (Liam Neeson) was extremely busy in 2013 and 2014, starring 4 movies and a stage musical, performing vocally in 4 animated movies and 1 animated series, and doing cameos in a comic feature, short movie, and TV show; clearly the producer of (Taken), who's also the co-writer, (Luc Besson), decided to mix pieces of previous movies, to fix a new sequel as fast as he could. And the result was sorrowfully this yellow, hasty, and boring B-movie mishmash / rehash. Or, in less words : this tasteless pizza !

This is, again, the doomed family of Bryan Mills (Taken), where he's framed with killing his wife, and pursuing the real killer (The Fugitive.. even with hiding from the police in a sewer pipe !), through numerous car chases, and a climax which involves a car chasing a plane (The Transporter 2 by Besson himself !). Let's say that the unoriginally of that package wasn't what bothered me. It's the dull offspring of marrying all of that !

I couldn't stand cannonading us with that plot's negative points. Simple examples : Since the stepfather (Dougray Scott) did it for the wife's insurance policy, he should lie convincingly on Mills. However, the fool said to him : I told the police that you killed my wife to avenge you for sleeping with her, AND told the gang that you're after them to protect myself and your daughter from them ! It's like I wanted to hang you, and hug you, in the same time ?? Fairly, the one who wrote this is THE FOOL ! The stunningly smart inspector (Forest Whitaker) discovers that the lead is innocent because the bagels were hot (WAW, a black Pink Panther.. this is new !). The lead wipes the Russian mafia off the earth, though the police doesn't interrogate him about any murder he did while attacking their leader ?! (WHO DIDN'T NEED TO BE HALF NAKED WHILE THE SHOOTOUT !). Then, when the stepfather kidnaps the daughter to wrap up the third act; it's the most obvious and tacky plot device ever used in the recent history of the American action cinema !! By the way, why in the restaurant the inspector holds a chess piece ? Did he find it there ? Does the restaurant give a chess figure with every Happy Meal ? Is it his toy that speaks to him since childhood, so told him about the genius "hot bagels" clue ??

Bryan Mills isn't that great character in the first place. He looks super, acts super, while he's more superbore than superman. He has nothing original, doesn't get harmed, and is devoid of humor (at least The Terminator got to crack lovely one-liners !). Which makes the only things to love about him are that he's dedicated ex-husband / father, and played by the great (Liam Neeson). Hmmm, not much in book either. So that leaves us with his gadgets, edge, martial arts moves; which this movie does badly !

Here, forget about creative or impressive gadgets. And as for his edge and martial arts moves, they don't truly affect. He fights tens of goons, faces hundreds of bullets, gets into glass, survives explosions yet WITHOUT ONE SCRATCH OR A DROP OF BLOOD ! This unbroken invincibility is offensively predictable, deadly tedious, and loses the human connect between you and him. Plus, look at (Neeson) and you'll easily see how he was very uninterested in doing this movie, right in every shot of it. E. g. : observe him when he gets punched in the face, he has no pain at all on his features; as if he doesn't interest in giving a damn !

I believe that (Besson) is an action moviemaker cyborg that manufactures senseless and robotic action movies copiously per year. And this round, as a prouder / co-writer, he did it with no possible wit, much imagination, or cool anything. Mr. Not My Cup of Tea, aka director (Olivier Megaton), made a long soulless trailer of a movie, which is outmatched by the movie's own trailer. And that irremediable "Yellow" mania.. GOD! Why to fill up the whole image with that mawkish color ?? If it's an artsy thing, to embody the heat and the humidity of the events; then it was overused to an extent that gave me a sunstroke ! (Nathaniel Méchaly)'s music is emotionally sterile, and out of the blue leans to be as bombastic as (The Ten Commandments - 1956) soundtrack after the plane's clash ! In brief, a frank and various blandness hit (Taken 3) in the gut, and (Taken 3) hit us back with it !

It runs all along like this : Something we've seen before in much better movie, stupid plot point, and action sequence where the lead automatically prevails, all played with rapid-fire cutting so you can't think of, enjoy, or see, anything ! It has nothing to be proud of. Maybe how the lead's car crashes the plane in the end. However, few moments later, you get beaten by that mega banal last line. So they'll name the baby after the late mother's name; Hurrah ! If that isn't a hint to (Taken 4), and a new kidnapped Bryan Mills family's member, then it's an honest Hurrah !

..I kind of like pizza. But not as cold, and already eaten before, as (Taken 3) !

P.S : It only works if you imagined it all as a loose remake of (Meet the Parents), with the boyfriend as the comically miserable lead, who gets to meet his girlfriend's family, which consists of now-murdered mother, now-criminal step-father, and always angry, James Bond-like, father; getting suddenly stuck in the middle of their crazy violent hell !

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"The music never ends", 27 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love Frank Sinatra. While my teen years in the 1990s, he was The Voice to me. I used to collect his albums (rarely available in Egypt back then), record his songs from the radio, and never miss a movie for him on TV. My friends disliked me for loving him. Some of them asked me "How do you listen to that old guy ?". And some of them even asked me "Who's that old guy in the first place ?!". But I pitied them all, thinking what a world of class they were missing.

I first heard 1984's album "L.A. is My Lady" in 1995. The Musical Program, a national radio station in Egypt, aired big part of it in a program named "Half an Hour With..", edited and presented by the late Mostafa Mohran, who I befriended later through the station's phone, and never met him in person at all (God bless his soul, he left us so early). Then, after 17 years, I discovered that the album was filmed as well. And thanks to the unorthodox YouTube, I watched it. Now, and since 1 week, they deleted that copy, and "The official Quincy Jones Productions video channel" downloaded more fine, and completely legal, another copy.

As for the album, it was the last solo album that Sinatra recorded. And clearly, in most, and not all, the songs, Frank's voice wasn't as graceful as it used to be. The certain softness and sentimentalism, which bewitched millions over the years, were largely missed. There was congealment and affirmativeness instead. I don't know why. Maybe he was out for a long time. Maybe he was tired. Or maybe he used to give his best in the live concerts. True he was still having the never-ending breathe, the signature long vocal finale, and the strong pipes with "new 4 or 5 notes down below"; but the captivatingly passionate feeling, which made Sinatra prodigious, wasn't there.

There are survivors. "L.A. is My Lady" is on their top. Here I found Frank who I love. He was sweet and young again while performing it. It's where the magic radiates. Let alone Quincy Jones's melody. He supplied Sinatra with a time travel to the 1980s pop; yet while offering him an appropriately Jazzy, Sinatra-like, finale. On the other hand, "It's Alright With Me" doesn't have the holy essence of Sinatra. Despite the 1980s cool arrangement, he seems badly old in it. And don't get me wrong, the man never got old in his life, and in his last live concert in 1994, when he was 80 year old, he was tremendous. So all what I mean by "old" is overworked and uninspired; which makes the performance close to a cold rehearsal more than a thorough record.

As for the filming, it gave us the delight of watching the awfully handsome 70 year old Frank working, anew. The orchestra's A-list musicians are all in the cadre as well, headed by so lively, and so thin, Quincy Jones as arranger / conductor / producer. The editing was dynamic and smooth. We listened to some of the king's men and women, such as lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman, session engineer Phil Ramone, vibraphone player Lionel Hampton (strangely they forgot defining his job by a screen board), however not the king himself. Whatever the reason was, it granted Sinatra a special halo; as if interviewing the rest made them earthly in comparison. And although their testimonies were insightful and warm; but Sinatra's actions were more important, rather priceless. Watch him while making fun of the old payrolls, or lightly dancing to the pace of "It's All Right With Me", or deeply feeling "How Do Keep the Music Playing" till he makes it his, or gladly welcoming the young Michael Jackson; believing and respecting that he's the next best thing; it's where this documentary acquires its precious value.

Btw, the music video of "L.A is My Lady" was nice. Once more, they mastered the halo of Frank by hiding him while assembling a little army of stars to celebrate him and L.A together. You can see Dean Martin, Donna Summer, Jane Fonda, Dyane Cannon, Latoya Jackson and many more (was that really the hand of Michael Jackson ?!). It showed Sinatra's rank in the pop culture through small touches; like the kid who wears his trademark suit and hat. And I loved its intro, when the 2 hard rock stars of Van Halen, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and vocalist David Lee Roth, get to watch Frank in their limo, as a reference to the man's popularity; not for just younger generations, but for totally different tastes too.

So yes, the album isn't great in itself, though for the combination of Frank, the old songs, Quincy Jones, and the 1980s; it's interesting. And as a documentary; it's even more interesting. Still, its highest point is in its meaning. In the start of "How do you keep the music playing ?" you'll hear questions like : How do you keep the music playing ? How do you make it last ? How do you keep the song from fading too fast ? Actually, this film answers : by truthfulness and insistence. This way "The music never ends". And for this meaning; I loved it.

Hercules (2014/I)
The A-Team : The Prequel !, 23 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Grrrr, I'm filled with rage. I love Hercules. But what I watched in this movie is more like Hannibal Smith from The A-Team !

Forget about Hercules as half-god, who works alone. Here he's an ex-soldier, who heads a nomadic group of mercenaries. I bet, they deleted the moment when he accepts the king's mission by telling him "You've just hired The A-Team" !

OK, the script wanted a more human Hercules, which is good; to see his struggle for obtaining what's supposed to be owned by the gods only. However, considering the movie's condition; I believe that canceling the fantasy factor was a major letdown. It could have benefited the movie visually and dramatically. Visually, since watching things like the lead's fights with the mythical monsters, or the 12 labors which the script somehow admits, could have raised the bar, enriched the image, and heated up the action. And dramatically, because when that Hercules develops his human abilities to a degree where he can beat legendary creatures (to write "his own legend" as one of the dialog's lines); it's tougher challenge, higher victory, and greater than beating just evil men and angry wolves ! Unfortunately, the movie lost this and that. And when the trailers insisted on those monsters' presence as part of the story; it's eventually a complete hoax, and a certain disappointment.

In addition to that *realistic* dealing, the movie suffers several reasons of neediness and weariness. For example, the fight sequences are poor; whether we're talking about their budget, choreography, or direction. The CGI is all about the exteriors not the battles, and exposes as fake in the climactic sequence, especially while pulling down the palace. At one point, 2 long swards mechanically expand from the sides of one chariot; the thing is, no one cared to surprise us with modern-like weapons such as this, anew. All the names ends with (aus) or (eus); this is so boring, utterly confusing, and an indication of poorness as well. There are 2 training montages; maybe to emphasize the bore ! The dialog is hastily written, with scanty one-liners. And the 3 belly dancers were pathetic; while the king dismissed them with a hand gesture, he should have yelled at them "You're Fired !". It's lamentable when the best bits are when the movie recalls, rather fantasies, the famous mythical monsters; in comparison, they represent a better movie I didn't watch, plus the closing credits as drawings in a comic book; which I loved more than the movie itself !

As for the cast, let me freely weep. (John Hurt) seems damn old; namely sickly, fragile, and with one foot in the grave. This doesn't fit someone who turns out to be a cutthroat tyrannical and the movie's antagonist. Frankly, with his womanly voice in some scenes, (Hurt) fits playing a delicate grandmother instead ! (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) has uncharismatic face, and painfully ugly legs (and the movie's makers enjoyed baring them FOR ALL THE TIME !). As the title character, (Dwayne Johnson) is fatal error. He's not a good actor I know, but this round he was in one of his worst conditions. He couldn't convince me that he's Hercules, or a human Hercules (he merely convinced me as a human truck !). And please pal, don't you ever get that hairstyle again, it sure makes you look fool, not cool. Due to it alone, I thought I was watching a comedy !

On the other hand, (Rebecca Ferguson) is charming; as a beauty or talent. (Rufus Sewell) and (Joseph Fiennes) both did fine, assuring that they're bigger than their common roles. However, (Ian Mcshane) was the one who stole the whole show. With a perfectly written character, of a funny sidekick and a wise mentor, he hit 10 out of 10, being the most enjoyable and memorable element around. Why the movie wasn't about his character, and starring him in the lead role ?! WHHHHY ??!!

(Brett Ratner) isn't a stylish director, or a professionally distinct one; with unforgettable good moments. He's the guy who gets the job done, without much creativity. I don't wait much from him. And what I expected when I read his name on the poster; was badly fulfilled. I saw him in an interview about this very movie, where he talked and talked about the lion, and how he was concerned about bringing it, enthralled by it, and diligent during shooting it. Well.. if only he felt the same about the rest of the movie !

Finally, I have 2 conclusions. A merciful one that says "Save the rock song on the closing credits, it's another trite sword-and-sandal movie from the 1950s; of which has its familiar B-movie fun". And an unmerciful one that says "It isn't the Hercules I love, or a Hercules I can love. Without his superpowers, the lead looks like Col. Hannibal Smith, and even compared to Smith; he's so unfunny. Sadly it doesn't end at this; it's where "disappointing" comes with many meanings". As you see, merciful or not; this is cheese both ways !

P.S : I think they forgot that : "Ten years ago / In 347 B.C, a savage commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These worriers promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Macedonian underground. Today, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire.. "gunshots.. sorry, clank of swards" : The A-Team.. of ancient Greece !"

Bloodmoon (1997)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Cool action, with cool problems !, 22 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite what you think, despite what hundreds of reviews think, and despite what I myself sometimes think; this is one cool action movie.

Yes, Gary Daniels can't act, Chuck Jeffreys' magic routine is weird (doing it over dead buddies !), Frank Gorshin is all-the-time angry, and Darren Shahlavi is horrible !

But hey, this time you can forgive. And for 2 reasons.

Firstly, there is redemption. A very fine one. Which's the rest of the movie. I mean, look at the fight sequences; they can't get more perfect. Their choreography is magnificent, their performing is flawless, and their direction is fiery. In brief; it's rare when you see hard-working, creatively-done, and highly entertaining action like this. Kudos to the movie's choreographer and director Siu-Hung Leung. This man knew and loved what he was doing.

Then, the writing. It made the antagonist as a martial arts heroes killer; which's interesting, as it's the serial killer movie where we'll have the opportunity of enjoying a fight sequence before every murder. The buddy cop formula was on. Not the best, but workable. The script was surprising and convincing; one of the definitions of "smart" in my book. The use of the internet element wasn't less smart. It even managed to add some emotional moments; concerning a father and daughter relationship, and an odd-couple turned good-buddies relationship. I just hated the personal, no legal, man-to-man encounter in the end, where killing is the only available justice !

You have to love extra merits; such as the rapid-fire pace, the expressive electronic music, the lovely montage of New York, and the sexy body of Brandie Rocci.

Secondly, there is a strange quality. It's in the way this movie's bad points develop into good. Watch carefully the infamous acting form nearly everybody, especially the iconic one of Shahlavi. It's TOO DAMN LAUGHABLE! It magically serves as brilliant comedy. Shahlavi is worth watching, more than once, for every single reaction he does. His smiles, eye looks, and way of talking; all were done in a style that great comedians can't reach !

Daniels's low acting talent is compensated by his presence and martial arts wonders. Jeffreys' magic routine was a feature to make his character funny; and it's better than similar features, done with other sidekicks, in other buddy cop movies, for the same purpose; like Dan Aykroyd's schizophrenic spasms in Loose Cannons (1990), Kevin Kline's disguise as a woman in Wild Wild West (1999), and Josh Hartnett's acting mania in Hollywood Homicide (2003) ! Gorshin wasn't a disharmony; scrutinize most of the police chiefs, in the American action / thrillers since Dirty Harry, and you'll easily find out that they're nothing but screaming angry naggers !

In this manner, some details are rather appealing. For example, the evil man's customs; as if he's KISS' biggest fan. His joyful bomb at the end. His explanation of it, as he refuses to kill children, yet left on a recorded tape, in case he died (how thoughtful !). And the way how that very tape starts running right after the explosion (Now how precise !).

1997 was light on the buddy action movie (Men in Black, Double Team, The Edge), and heavy on the buddy comedy movie (Mousehunt, Gone Fishin', Fathers' Day, Nothing to Lose, Out to Sea, Money Talks, Trial and Error, Good Burger). Now here's Bloodmoon, which can proudly join the list of that year's best buddy action movies,.. and best buddy comedies as well !

It's where the vices can be considered virtues.. Aaah, the more you live, the more you see !

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Pupilpiece !, 22 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brian De Palma is one of my favorites. I love how stylish, smart, and unforgettable he is. But considering his last movies, I have to reconsider !

In 2000 he made Mission to Mars. It was no Brian De Palma classy horror, thriller, action. It was no good movie. And I was no satisfied. OK. The rule says "Every good director is allowed to do one not good movie." In 2002 he made Femme Fatale, which extremely infuriated me, being the last thing I excepted from him : A sophisticated soft porn ! OK. The rule can be rephrased "Every good director is allowed to do two not good movies !". However in 2006, when he made The Black Dahlia, it turned into "Every bad director is free to do bad movies !"

The script runs as an old-fashioned 1940s noir, mixed with the 2000s heavy sex, having its good twists. Although I hated its soporifically long and semi-unnecessary first act, dispensable earthquake, and way of throwing nudity more than clues; but the casting and the directing were the actual criminals. They almost killed everything !

Sure talking about ugly casting directly leads to one name. Yes, it's the same name that jumps in your mind at this very moment : Josh Hartnett, rather Josh have-mercy-on-us-dear-god Hartnett ! Well, it's in Webster that he isn't a fine actor or an actor in the first place. He has no eyes to express, nor face, nor talent (regarding his eyes, he seems like a clone of Richard Gere, a truly low-grade one). He was unconvincing to the max as a tough guy, police investigator, or anything. For little instance; while he was watching the murdered girl's screen tests, you couldn't tell; was he angry ? was he in love ? was he hungry ? The tragic dilemma wasn't in his statue-like face, but – more – in the strange way De Palma shot that face, with no appropriate lighting or clever angle that could fix these problems. So maybe De Palma was happy with Hartnett's weakness, or so weak in dealing with it !

(Aaron Eckhart) isn't as awful as Hartnett, nevertheless can't be a co-star of a movie. He's deprived of charisma, and spent all the time between shouting and mimicking the reaction of someone suffers constipation ! (Scarlett Johansson) ?? Anyone ? Really !!!! My best guess she was doing a cigarette ad within the movie ! And can (Mia Kirshner) be a (Hilary Swank) look alike ?? In fact, the resemblance between them is exactly as the one between (Tom Cruise) and (Arnold Schwarzenegger) !

The sets mistranslate the events and the characters. For example, the 2 detectives live in a lavish villa (??), where nothing speaks about the residents of it or the relationships in it. The decadent rich family lives in a mansion that feels regular, and – save a stuffed dog – has no dark, or basically expressive, element. As for the cinematography, I don't know who decided to drown the image in yellow and brown colors ? What was the goal ? Embodying how old the time was, or how sick the crimes were ? I only know that that was visually boring and uncreative, looked as if a stupid way to cut down the budget, not to mention made me sick myself !

Dopplegangers or evil twins, and Femme Fatales are frequently present in De Palma's movies, such as this one. The thing is De Palma himself isn't present in this one ! Don't tell me about the extended shot, the slow- motion, or the strange angles. They are here, but poorly made and trivially effective. His poems of thrilling sequences, which bewitched us in earlier movies, are gone short, dull or vanished. All the scenes are greatly bland, without De Palma's once familiar glamorous touch. That guy accustomed us to how the usual scene in his movies must be unusual. This round, it's deliberately poisoned with huge amount of "usual". The thrill isn't pictured well, or even there. Sometimes the script plans for a creepy moment, though the directing successfully disappoints it; like the moment of discovering the painting. Other moments miss any distinction; like when the lead destroys the mansion's curios which was executed in a way any trite TV movie would do. Long, and hard, story short : I came to believe that De Palma didn't direct it; it was someone else, executive at best, who looked like him and used his name (talking about doppelgangers !).

If one thing is perfectly done in this wretched movie, then it has to be its pungent satire. It's where the upper class is worst than the devil, living in non-stop crazy sins, contracting the human decay. And the proletariat, while being partly seduced by the latter class, is the closest chance to have a moral hero. It's common in noir movies to face a world of degeneration. And this time, it's well constructed, maybe the sole "well" thing around !

So, with lifeless first act, lead actor, and director; The Black Dahlia is more dead than the real Black Dahlia ! Though, in my leniency's furthest degree, I'll sentence it as average conventional noir; which's still painful as it's made by a director who has the reputation of being super and stylish. As I said earlier, De Palma is one of my favorites, yet his last work isn't. He used to deliver, nearly every time, a masterpiece, not another movie. Now it's mostly pupilpiece or simply.. another movie. Whether the 2000s isn't his lucky decade, or he became like his inspirer professor, Alfred Hitchcock, in his last days : Unimpressive !

..To end it with a positive point; The Black Dahlia is more exciting than Mission to Mars, and less bad than Femme Fatale.

Eraser (1996)
One of The 1990s Parties !, 6 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So what do we have here ?

A plot with the action thriller movie constituents and condiments : Brave hero. Beautiful heroine. Nice sidekick. Bad guy from the supposedly good guys. Chase the good guys. Try to kill them. Frame the lead. Plus a new sophisticated gun, some good action sequences, one every 7 minutes, added to a dialogue consisting of successive macho and funny one-liners like : "If you drop your gun now, I promise I won't kill you.", "You're luggage!", "Mr. Sixty Minutes, tell me something I don't know.", "You're late! / Traffic.", "Where is this? / Earth. Welcome.", "They caught a train.", and my favorite since the first viewing long time ago : "You've just been erased."

Schwarzenegger is so charismatic and in shape, being shot in mostly low angles to look like a *true* tree trunk. See how he walks perfectly confident, wears a long coat as if he's a dusty sheriff, fights like a live wire, and humorously negotiates a kid "50 Bucks ?!" Vanessa Williams never looked better, shining every scene she's in. She didn't have to get naked or vulgar to be sexy, because with modest outfit and by a look from her incomparable blue eyes, she instantly is. And I love when she had to move her lips to curse by the F word without uttering it.. so delicate ! Robert Pastorelli made what could be his best role. Alan Silvestri music explodes instead of the image sometimes. And some of the CGI impress.

It even had a promoting music video, "Where Do We Go From Here", fervently arranged, and charmingly performed (by Vanessa Williams herself); being part of the MTV legacy which, for its quality, won't fall into utter oblivion.

So this is fast-paced, action packed, colorfully dazzling fare, that hit $234,400,000 gross, and an academy award nomination for best sound effects editing. Though, many accusations may find a way to harm it.

Vanessa Williams doesn't have a real character, she's more like a doll whose being chased, and that's it. We don't know a thing about Schwarzenegger's character either. And, most importantly, there is no love story to develop between them, or even a friendship with distinct features. Look at a scene like the one in which he forced her to burn her ID cards in the hearth's fire, the script didn't utilize the moment to build any kind of emotional convergence between the 2 characters, so nothing was warm there but the hearth's fire ! However, million can defend by saying that this is a straight action, where things like character development, or characterization in the first place, are considered bore, nonsense, or blasphemy !

How a man jumps off a plane, to chase his parachute, and catches it, then shoots the plane's windshield, as if he's facing a car ?!! But, again, it's a fantastic realm, exclusively made to entertain you, show you an invincible hero, give you a lovely dream, to compensate your foibles, feel victory and have a model, whatever..

The lead doesn't have a solution at last, but murdering all the baddies, since the law is so weak to condemn them. It's another way to gift you with the salvation. An extremely violent, if not insane, but it's the Dirty Harry effect, where justice must be bloody !

However, other accusations can harm the movie, with no defense from my side. While being ideal in places, the CGI is exposed in others. The crocodiles, the exploded door of Williams's flat, the falling container, and hitting Arnie by the plane; are enough examples. And it always provokes me to "see" the bullets while the moment of the bulletproof glass ! The face of Arnie's double is so obvious in couple of shots (one is at the parachute sequence). Arnie's nail injury disappears within a scene. No way that Arnie couldn't glimpse implanting Williams's picture in the murdered woman's clothes. It gets laughable when the pilots don't pay attention to the non-stop fired bullets in their flying plane, though feel panic only when the engine is injured! The Baltimore docks' men are suddenly heroes, all-set to sacrifice their lives for their country (they seemed rather angry for not having a commission !). Dismembering one of the bad guys' shoulder was awful, and felt inserted just to get the R rating, as long as there is no sex scene ! The no love, friendship, or character in the mix did leave the movie a bit empty. And James Caan can't be Schwarzenegger's antagonist. Yes, he's a tough guy, but also old, shorty, and un- scary compared to Arnie !

When Arnie comes disguised as a balloon delivery man to Williams's house, with "Let's Party!" printed on his jacket; it's a reference to Commando (1985) in which he says that line. Actually, Eraser is nothing but a party. It mixes the 1970s tough cop actions, and political thrillers, with the 1990s Terminator's sci-fi, and big and loud blockbusters, through the formula of "a-man-and-a-woman-on-the-run", which was in fashion since the 1960's end, and being made in numerous movies at the time; such as The Pelican Brief (1993), I Love Trouble (1994), Fair Game (1995), and The Long Good Night Kiss (1996), all to end up as average crap, though ready to entertainingly fill any 2 spare hours in your life. I know it did that for me, many times too !

Finally, it's a shame that Chuck Russell, director of The Mask (1994), and Eraser (1996), isn't working in Hollywood movies anymore. Unlike the way it goes in Eraser, something erased his future, and left him unprotected !

Valkyrie (2008)
Thrilling Documentary !, 30 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bryan Singer's Valkyrie (2008) reminded me of Anatole Litvak's The Night of the Generals (1967), and not for being – both – thrillers, taking place in Nazi Germany during WWII, and concerning German officers.

Valkyrie depicts the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The plot failed, however Hitler ended up, not so long after, suicide (don't listen to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds 2009 !). So it's a movie where the good guys lose, which could allow a lukewarm feeling, especially while watching a Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer, Hollywood thriller. Unfortunately, that feeling fulfilled, yet due to extra other reasons.

The script focused only on the star; Tom Cruise as Colonel Von Stauffenberg. Because save him, you don't know a thing about the rest of the plotters; Just slight touches to separate one from another, more than characteristic features. You're even less informed in places, to ask about the identity, and the necessity, of that man who swims in a pool, mocking at "It's a drill, or not ?", or that old, always infuriated, general who curses with insults like "Montgomery's whore", with no good answers. So when United Artists propagandized Valkyrie as "A character-driven thriller", you have to sense big deficiency.

Sometimes not speaking in a movie, with meaty image, produces something great. In this movie, it's enjoyable in counted moments. Like when the lead is shaving, however awfully tortured. Or when he plans the whole Valkyrie plot, while listening to Wagner's music, beaten under the bombing. But in more moments, frank oddity was the result. For instance, when the lead returns home, first-time handicapped, there is nearly no dialog uttered, even from his children (whom leave him to play ??). Another moment when he arrives Hitler's meeting, secretly carrying a time bomb to assassinate Hitler, the latter eyes him in fearful manner, inexplicably; as if the movie wants to delude us that Hitler exposed everything, and our lead is in danger, yet in a forced way to naive extent. Generally, that technique concerned about visual tense at the expense of drama, which left good amount of emptiness, while having – in the same time – many different characters, motives, and events.

To add fuel to the flames, the dialog was strictly informative more than expressive, witty, or fair to this blend of people. Many scenes, like the one of presenting the Valkyrie plan by the lead, felt extremely dry, exactly the way any uncreative documentary would make. Everybody speaks as directly as a robot. Any mildness is interdicted. And there wasn't enough heart. So when Terence Stamp's character commits suicide, easing up on himself "I remember better times", it's like the script's attempt to capture a historical moment, however sternly, with no juice or much background. This is why you eventually don't feel satisfied by the movie's list of actors like Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson and others. Because other than falling in the big shadow of Cruise's character, they were wronged by semi-mute script !

In the operation part, things run clearly mute, with a feel of flat documentary. It isn't about the nature of Valkyrie's plot as a failure, or missing art re-writing history (a la Tarantino's movie); it's about preferring suspense on human beings, and in a movie with no familiar "suspenseful-movie-climax". So while the script strove to build exciting moment after another; it forgot to dilute the viewer's negative emotional load, out of executing all the plotters at last, with adequate character study. Therefore, the movie became a thrilling documentary about bunch of failures, more than character-driven thriller about courageous heroes.

David Bamber as the Führer of Germany was perfectly pale, being a short unperceivable guy. Depriving Hitler from charisma and menace, in a movie where he's the main target and enemy, is a fatal mistake. And the movie's tricks to compensate this miscast, and misdirect, were pathetic as I showed early. John Ottman's music was too undertone to effect, enhancing the movie's cold character.

Pros : There are plenty of well-made suspenseful moments. The CGI is impressively inspiring. Cruise counties smashing his image as Mr. Handsome, enjoying disfiguring his face, to assure that he doesn't need his good looks to gain capability and popularity, as he did before in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Vanilla Sky (2001), and Tropic Thunder (2008). But he was the usual serious him, with a few exceptional moments, where the script granted him with precious material, like when he looked at his assistance, after winning Hitler's signature on the revised Valkyrie, with the most concealed victorious smile in his eyes. Bill Nighy won the best character around, the man who with and against the plot, and he did it with powerful imprint.

Valkyrie is pure thriller mixed with tepid documentary. It delivers the goods, but with undeniable disappointment; weather in terms of impossible happy end, or could-have-been possible dramatic satisfaction. It leaves you with more thrill than talks. While The Night of the Generals leaves you with more talks than thrill. Being unbalanced, in this part, is the main point of resemblance I meant between the 2 movies.

Out of Reach (2004) (V)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"He's not one for words".. or acting, or action, OR ANYTHING !, 24 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wanted to start my review by "Steven Seagal rides again", but it's actually more like "Steven Seagal fails again !", because come to think of it, the last movie where Seagal did right, was long time ago, and since years, he's doing the same poor movie, time after time, with lower and lower action, rather effort, from his side, every time !

You can stand many negative points, as long as the positive points are more. So, let's play what's negative and positive in Seagal. It's a universal fact that Seagal can't act. No problem. Many action stars can't too. Seagal is incredibly cold. On the contrary of what you think, that may serve his movie-character, enhancing it with peculiarity. Seagal is unattractive, with uncombed hair and obvious paunch. So what ? Bud Spencer had that, yet he was charismatic, with a devil of a smile and millions of fans. Seagal isn't funny. Come on, Charles Bronson used to be an action hero, till the age of 70 something, while having no sense of humor, or doing a comedy. Let alone that Seagal mocked at himself numerously, in movies like My Giant (1998), and The Onion Movie (2008). Seagal doesn't work with major studios anymore. Don't bother yourself, as since the 2000s start, he makes from 2 to 4 direct-to-video movies per year, producing all of them, so his career is continuous, and his name is still there. Seagal is whispering instead of talking. Get out here, you go to his movies to watch good fights and action sequences, not listing to anything but bullets and explosions, and arguably his whispering voice can be intimidating and a proof of scary confidence. As you see, I was too indulgent, all the way. BUT, when Mr. Seagal makes movies, where he doesn't hit somebody by himself, or even speak with his own voice, then I must scream AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH !!! Because this way, it isn't about having many negative points, IT'S ABOUT NOT HAVING ANYTHING POSITIVE ANYMORE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, I don't hate Out of Reach's script. I think in the right hands, it could have been wonderful and huge. Kind of early Taken, which would be produced 4 years later. I loved the main conflict, the unspoken language of the girl; with always smart ciphers, and the idea of ending the movie with a climactic fencing. However, everything else was hateful. The production is wretched to the utmost. The sets are have-not. How to make an action movie in so tight places ? You can swear that the cameraman was squeezed while shooting a lot of scenes. And you read that it cost 20 million dollar to make ?? Most probably, 19 million were Seagal's salary, and 18 million of them he spent on his food ! The performance is between usual, bad, and very bad. I won't forget Matt Schulze as the evil man. He was truly evil, yet to the whole schools of acting all over the world ! Here's a guy who thinks he's evil by goggling, screaming, and – let's not overlook – spitting ! The heroine is there in utterly inserted way. Save the first laconic fight, there is no action. That climactic fencing ends before it starts. It's crystal clear that watching a Seagal movie for enjoying some action has become fruitless lately. I believe they used dubbed voice for Seagal, not due to "changing the story after most of the movie was shot", as I read, but for substituting Seagal's unheard voice with more audible one, and adding some one-liners to make the movie look funnier or cooler. And when you hear Seagal dubbed over by a voice-over artist, you have to furiously ask; what's left for that guy to do ?? I know. Putting his picture on the posters to fool some of the most miserable viewers out there, whom are ignorant enough to know the ugly truth, incapable of finding better movies, or – worse – still have faith in the late Steven Seagal !

Seagal once said : "I have been able to make Above the Law (1988) which was a politically conscientious movie. And On Deadly Ground (1994) which was environmentally conscientious movie. So I want to keep making movies like that, which are more geared with a certain entertainment value, but also bring people forward into contemplation". OK. According to that, Out of Reach has the least entertainment value, plus it brought me forward into contemplation concerning how Seagal and his movies grow more and more deprived of any discernible talent during the last 15 years !

This is very little to entertain. And you have to bear a lot of diminishing factors to finish it as well. So, consider it an unimpressive episode of Without a Trace, or a special one of The Biggest Loser !! Finally, Seagal's pen-pal in the movie, played by Ida Nowakowska, said describing him, in the movie's last line "He's not one for words". I can describe Seagal, in the last half of his movies, as someone who's not for words, or acting, or action, OR ANYTHING !

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Jason Wins !, 24 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've always asked; why visual effects master Ray Harryhausen regarded (Jason and the Argonauts – 1963) as his best movie, while he did many movies after it, and in more modern years ? But watching next movies for him, like (Clash of the Titans – 1981), kind of allowed me the answer.

If you read Harryhausen's biography, you'd discover that (Clash..) was his long-awaited chance, where a big Hollywood studio finally gave him the green-light to make a blockbuster, with name actors, and an expanded effects budget. However, it didn't eventually live up to the expectations of that, or the description of its poster "An Epic Entertainment Spectacular" !

As for the list of stars on that poster; let me flame up with rage. Despite having main title billing, Ursula Andress has only one line to say. More infuriately, while playing Aphrodite herself, Andress didn't do anything naughty, or wear anything revealing ! Knowing that MGM increased the budget to hire him, Sir Laurence Olivier was awful as Zeus, with senseless performance, and some of the dullest lines to say ! Harry Hamlin as Perseus was too flat. As a physique, he suited anyone but a Greek hero who fights all the terrifying legendary monsters. And as an actor, he suited more a lead of a porn !

Generally, the whole cast was somnambulist, doing a perfectly wooden performance (Where was the newly born Razzie for god's sake ?!!). You can blame the director, the actors, but I have to mainly accuse the script. There is none in the first place. What I saw was fighting sequences, thinly tied together, with pale excuses of dialogue scenes, of which didn't have the least attention, touching situations, or any interesting character. It didn't either have a relief to spread some needed vitality, and if the character of Ammon was it; then this was deadly poor !

Speaking about the script's sins; I must refer to the ugly climax. In moments like these, and after facing many mighty opponents, through hard battles, it's so unfair, rather shameful, to crown all of that, with a joke of a scene, where the hero doesn't have to fight, but just runs the Medusa's eyes, and ending the so-called, or so cold, climactic fight, in 3 seconds !

The direction was bland, and as static as the little statues that Zues used. Re-watch the scene in which Zeus sends Perseus the helmet, the sword, and the shield to understand this director's method in destroying magic on-screen !

Bubo, the "mechanical" owl of Athena, was annoying, totally useless, and such an unforgivable dissonance in the movie's fantasy. Frankly, it was introduced to capitalize on the popularity of R2-D2 from Star Wars (1977). It obtained further silliness, when Bubo – while having no role or logic – was drawn above everyone and everything on one poster !

Although it's notable for its stop-motion special effects, with plenty of monsters includes : Forest Scorpions, the Kraken sea monster, Dioskilos; the two-headed dog, the Gorgon Medusa, and Calibos; Lord of the Marsh—it's below Harryhausen's achievements in movies like (Jason and the Argonauts). For me, the long fight of the 7 skeletons in (Jason..), which took over 4 months to complete, meritoriously beats nearly all the fights of (Clash..); where you can see, in a rare precedent for Harryhausen, the contrast between the studio's lighting on the Forest Scorpions, and the location's lower lighting on the actors !

Let alone, that in the 1970s end, many milestones in the visual effects' filed were made; such as (Star Wars – 1977), (Superman – 1978), and (Alien – 1979) which all won Oscars for visual effects, while (Clash..) wasn't nominated. Compare the flying of Pegasus, here, to the one of Superman, 3 years earlier, to know the difference between a technique got old, and another recent one; more developed and less fake.

For these reasons, stop-motion animation became "dated", hence Harryhausen failed to find funding for his planned sequel (Force of the Trojans), which caused him to retire from filmmaking at the age of 61 (he died yet at the age of 93 in 2013).

Pros : Yes, Burgess Meredith wasn't effective as a relief or sidekick, and mostly was brought to use his popularity as the hero's trainer in (Rocky – 1976) and (Rocky II – 1979), but as an actor, he was the sole one giving a damn around, being truly "human" among all the stiff gods ! For me as a kid, in the 1980s, the Gorgon Medusa proved to be powerfully horrific, and I still deem its sequence as the movie's most impressive effort.

Answering my first question; you may think that Harryhausen considered (Jason..) his best because Columbia booked it as a single feature in many "A" theatres, unlike his previous movies which used to be shown as part of double features in "B" theatres. But I think compared to his next movies, especially (Clash..), (Jason..) wins in terms of having top visual effects, better plot, and less awful acting. Ironically, (Jason..) was a box office disappointment at the time of its release, while (Clash..) grossed $41 million at the North American box office, to be the 11th highest grossing film of the year (Did nudity play a role in that ?!).

Finally, it's fun. Sullen, not dazzling, or so exciting, but can satisfy your kids, if they aren't accustomed to cooler visual effects, and don't mind some bad writing and acting. Otherwise, it exclusively fits the kid in you; who has watched it at the time of its release ! In this connection, I hated it when some user said "Can you honestly imagine the Medusa sequence being done any better with some computer program ??!!". Ahh, this is exactly what I call "the nostalgia crap" !

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Death by Ugliness !, 24 June 2014

I have a friend who believes that bad movies have to be ignored when it comes to writing a review, advising me numerously "Don't glorify junk". I used to disagree with him, debating that even the junkest movies have to be reviewed, to learn about the different faces of "bad", to chronicle a movie despite its low quality, to spread awareness, or to register your opinion anyway.

This round, I swear, for the very first time in my life as a reviewer I feel that he's right. Because just writing about (Girls Gone Dead) seems like a glorification of junk, rather filth !

So it's a slasher. And there are the forever usual goods : naked girls + cruel murders. Namely : nudity + gore. In more pure words : sex and violence. BUT made in the worst worst worst Z-movies' traditions !

The production is surreal. The sex factor is beyond inhuman. The performance is extremely painful. Long story short; the artistic everything is what really "Gone Dead" !

After Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse 2007; as if a wave of so proud crap was born through many independent companies. They thought that they were making the genre badly, yet in a respected self-parodying and honoring manner. However, they impudently forgot to do anything right in the way !

The wicked subtlety was replaced by stubborn primitiveness. And parodying the stupidity was done by frank and true stupidity. For little instance, some of the special effects look gross-out, not because it tries to cinematically look gross-out, but because they're actually gross-out !

The cyclopean marathon of "which was the worst ?" doesn't end. I mean, was it the black midget ?, was it the comedy ?, was it the girls ? No, it was my status while watching all of that, where "great" is deserved being said about one thing, and one thing only, in this movie : its superpower to make you vomit !

This is incredibly poor, abysmally dirty, and deadly ugly. As a horror, horror-parody, or even too-bad-it's-good movie; IT SUCKS. Yet, to find any appropriate definition for it; I can say that it's a parody of the horror-parody, so horrifically bad and no comic at all !

Everybody dies once. But seriously, watching movies like this absorbs life out of you, to die by ugliness, many times.

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