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Special-K88

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762 reviews in total 
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RED 2 (2013)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
prototypical standard sequel, 10 February 2014

Unnecessary and underwhelming sequel finds ex-CIA operative Frank Moses now retired and enjoying life as a civilian with girlfriend Sarah. His "normal" life comes to an abrupt halt when he's tracked down by the still deeply eccentric Marvin Boggs, who informs him that they're being targeted for participation in Nightshade, a past covert operation that involved nuclear weapons in Cold War era Russia. Now they—along with an eager Sarah—must travel abroad, elude dangerous spies, sidestep deadly traps, encounter old acquaintances, and complete all the other obligatory steps you see in countless other films such as these. Lazy plotting and sluggish direction would ordinarily be overlooked when you have a cast this good, but all the jokes are either dull or self-conscious, the dialogue relentlessly silly, the action scenes mild, and each actor appears to just be going through the motions. A halfhearted effort brings down what could have been a fun film…too bad. **

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
imperfect but very hard to deny, 21 December 2013

An actor's movie if there ever was one, a part-true, part-fictionalized account of scandal, deception, manipulation, and justice all set during the glitzy 1970s, with colorful characters including a slick con artist, his seductive mistress and partner in crime, a firebrand federal agent, a self-righteous mayor, and the con man's wild card wife all thrown into the mix, all connected in one way or another to the behind-the-scenes greed and machinations of American politics. A smörgåsbord of pure acting ability, interesting characters, effective twists, brilliant dialogue that recalls Tarantino, and plenty of tense, heated exchanges and character interactions that test the limits of each actor's ability. A bit on the long side, and not always easy to follow, but darkly humorous and always engaging, though the plot caves in at the end and seems much too formulaic for a film that is anything but conventional. It's difficult to identify a true standout because every actor (Bale, Cooper, Adams, Renner, Lawrence, et al) is sensational across the board. One of director Russell's most memorable films to date, who shoehorns in major actors from two of his previous works, and yet still somehow finds a way for all of them to shine. ***

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
entertaining but don't expect to be blown away, 9 November 2013

Although the reprehensible Loki has been captured and imprisoned for his various crimes, dark times still lie ahead not just for Asgard, but for all of the Nine Realms. Malekith—the ruler of an evil race known as the Dark Elves—has awakened after eons of hibernation and seeks to use a powerful weapon known as the Aether to leave the universe in darkness. Knowing that Malekith and his army will be too much for Asgard to overcome, Thor must reunite with Jane Foster and reluctantly recruit Loki for a perilous mission to try and save all. Made watchable by memorable fight scenes, excellent special effects, and a good sense of humor, but suffers from a standard storyline, as well as some underdeveloped supporting characters and subplots. Hemsworth—now appearing as if he could play the role in his sleep—is again a force in the lead, but no one has more fun than Hiddleston who goes for broke as the villainous Loki. Acceptable entertainment, but the results are still slightly underwhelming. **½

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
you'll get what you paid for, 25 October 2013

Not bad action/suspense thriller with the 80s dream pairing of Sly and Arnie coming to fruition, thrown into the mix with guns, chases, explosions, and violence galore. Stallone is an escape specialist whose job is to infiltrate maximum security prisons and test their reliability by breaking out without a hitch. When his latest assignment turns out to be a setup that lands him in the most secret and secure prison in the world, his only way to finish the job is to team with a fellow inmate who looks and acts a lot like Schwarzenegger. For escapist entertainment this takes itself much too seriously (especially Caviezel's overwrought portrayal of a corrupt warden) but manages to squeeze what it can out of the two action stars. Pretty standard stuff, but good lines, inventive action, and of course the joy of seeing these cinematic icons go head to head make it tolerable. **

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
why?, 13 October 2013

More like Stupid MoVie; where do we begin? Let's see, a well-known but controversial actor has three children missing who are later found, they're adopted by a married couple and the husband happens to be the actor's brother, unusual and supernatural events relating to someone called "Mama" begin to occur, then we get a sloppy and unfunny series of skits that land with a thud, referencing films like Paranormal Activity, Inception, The Cabin in the Woods, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and even Tyler Perry. With cheap gags, crude humor, and painfully unfunny bloopers, the desperate filmmakers throw in pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, yet somehow still managed to leave out all the laughs! There's really no reason for this to exist; the fact that it managed to attract several reputable stars—in any role, no matter how small—is a total mystery. *

Gravity (2013)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
a momentous achievement that must be seen as advertised, 8 October 2013

Spectacular, visually stunning space odyssey/suspense thriller focusing on a medical specialist (Bullock) on her first space shuttle mission, and a veteran astronaut (Clooney) commanding his final expedition, and their arduous journey after an accident leaves them stranded in outer space. With a setup that initially seems indistinguishable from other films in this genre there's reason to be skeptical, but it immediately grabs you by the collar with a taut, multilayered story of strength, faith, and survival, and overwhelms you with some of the most arresting visual effects ever put on film. If there were ever a case to justify using 3-D for a mainstream Hollywood movie, this would definitely be it! Bullock easily gives the finest performance of her career, creating genuine pathos and conveying a gamut of emotions that have not yet been seen in her previous efforts. To see it any other way than on the big screen would be an absolute crime. ***½

Don Jon (2013)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
watchable though sure to be off-putting to some, 29 September 2013

A unique hybrid of romance, comedy, social commentary, and character study with actor/writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt in peak form as the titular character, a suave Jersey stud who can pull "dimes" at the drop of a hat, but prefers to indulge himself in the salacious world of internet pornography. He reaches a crossroads when he meets two vastly different women who dramatically alter his once routine life. With graphic subject matter and explicit dialogue this is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's laser sharp in its observations, the characters make sense, the acting is strong, and the laughs are abundant. Lead actors Gordon-Levitt, Johansson, and Moore are all completely believable…but the film's resolution is just a bit too hasty and a bit too pat to keep it from scoring a home run. Still, it's an ambitious and impressive showing from a novice film director. **½

After six years, this is what they give us?, 22 September 2013

Witless "sequel" does a disservice to the much lauded Die Hard series and the iconic John McClane character by bringing him on screen yet again for this boring and generic action flick. McClane, having been informed of the whereabouts of his long estranged son Jack, travels to Russia then teams up with Jack after they get caught up in your typical government conspiracy type plot. The result? Gun fire, explosions, car chases, some occasionally meaningless exposition, but zero tension, excitement, or memorable scenes. For a franchise known for its disparate villains, memorable action set pieces, and witty dialogue, this fails miserably on all accounts. Was this actually meant to be part of the same series? *½

Riddick (2013)
8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
recalls the original but doesn't live up to it, 8 September 2013

Years after tangling with the deadly Necromongers, the infamous Riddick finds himself marooned on a desolate planet where the dangers are numerous and seemingly endless. With time running short and needing to escape from the hostile world, Riddick must lock horns with a rogue group of bounty hunters, as well as a highly skilled team of mercenaries in order to survive. The only question is…who can he really trust? An improvement over its immediate predecessor the film relies on a fairly straightforward approach with intense, violent action/effects sequences, but it's hampered by routine plotting, leaden pacing, generic characters, over-the-top acting, and some truly awful dialogue. Essentially a reworking of the original Pitch Black only not as good, though Diesel is game as always. **

18 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
not much entertainment value, 12 August 2013

Some time after the events of The Last Stand, this sequel of sorts focuses on Logan/Wolverine as a tortured soul living in isolation and haunted by vivid memories of his lost love. Now, having reached an emotional impasse, he travels to Japan to visit an old comrade. Once there, he quickly gets caught up in a complex political power struggle that, for the first time in his life, makes him truly vulnerable. Jackman, not unexpectedly, is formidable in the lead, and there are lots of visceral action scenes, but that does little to compensate for the faults; film's tone is grim, its characters—sans Jackman—are unappealing, plotting is convoluted, subject matter turns ugly, and the pace lags heavily after a strong start. Jackman effectively spits, scowls, snarls, and flexes his muscles in what has become his go-to role, but he has almost no support; too long, too dark, and too serious to really be fun. **


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