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Saving Private Ryan - with tanks
A band of soldiers battle hardened in Africa now find themselves in Europe. They are joined by an inexperienced and naive soldier used to administrative tasks. He tries to be friendly but his new unit treats him roughly. They are scoundrels but they respect the commanding officer.
Their difficult mission will see graphic, realistic violence, moral dilemmas (treating a captured enemy soldier) and tough choices. Do what's right or what will keep you alive? They choose the latter but their commander will persuade them to do what's right.
They will die, one by one (except for the rookie), and the commander will be the last to die, fighting enemy even when mortally wounded. Despite that, their mission will be successful.
OK, what movie was that? That was a trick question: both! Saving Private Ryan and Fury share so many elements that it borders with plagiarism.
Is it a good movie? Up to a point. Acting is good and so are special effects, but military buffs will be quick to point out that the supposedly realistic portrayal of war is full of absurd situations. The worst of them is Rambo-style battle in the end in which elite soldiers perish in droves while running with rifles around an immobile tank.
Not a great war movie but definitely better than American Sniper!
Pacific Rim (2013)
Great action. Characters... not so much
Not a fan of blockbuster movies, I was dragged to see this by some friends. In the first part of the movie I was pleasantly surprised. The scenes were visually beautiful and the plot was interesting. It will still require lot of suspension of disbelief because the basic premise, that the most efficient method of killing giant animals is constructing giant robots to punch them, is ridiculous. If you can accept this, the movie will be very enjoyable...
...at least until the Hong Kong base part. We'll meet a lot of characters there who are best described as caricatures. They are single-dimensional and their interactions are forced and annoying. I hold two hysterical scientists and all the Jaeger pilots in this group. The altercations between the main character and another pilot, and between the main character and the general are grating. They can only appeal to 10-year olds in the audience and their idea of how Real Tough Men act like.
Fortunately the female lead makes up for this by being an original and interesting character (unlike her male counterpart), and a knife-wielding Ron Perlman would be beneficial to any movie. They will help the transition to the final fight.
In conclusion, not a masterpiece but a decent monster-robot blockbuster.
The Battery (2012)
the most boring zombie movie ever
This is an independent, low budget movie that focuses not that much on fighting zombies but on two guys who wander around the post-apocalyptic world. It's a cross between a road movie and a character study and I welcome that angle, rarely seen in a zombie movie - but however it fails to deliver.
The main characters are not very interesting and most of the movie is spent on showing them arguing and doing mundane stuff like playing catch, fishing, eating, brushing teeth, smoking. Playing catch and actual zombies are given roughly the same screen time! There are a few funny scenes but they are not worth the effort of enduring such a slow and cheap movie.
J'ai tué ma mère (2009)
annoying and mostly irrelevant
This film is about a teenage homosexual obsessed with his mother and their love/hate relationship. If the subject sounds specific - it is. Talented filmmakers make even the most specific stories interesting to the broader audience, but Xavier Dolan is not one of them. The film is a torture if you don't have interest in this very subject.
The boy is narcissistic and annoying and the mother is unlikable too, so it's impossible to identify with them. Most of the time they yell at each other and their relationship is not very interesting at all.
Only after I saw the movie I learned that the main actor is also the director and the screenwriter and he dominates the cover image too. At least he managed to accurately convey narcissism!
Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997)
Intriguing thriller turns into Lara Croft
I really liked the main characters - a strong but seemingly cold-hearted woman and her strange neighbor who manages to be attractive and pitiful at the same time. One of the rare movies in which I was as much interested in the characters and their development as in the story line.
Unfortunately half-way through the movie the events become more and more unbelievable and convoluted. People get killed, stuff explodes and our half-Inuit heroine goes through it like Lara Croft, with the difference that she keeps surviving not by skill or guns but by pure chance. The ending seems taken from an 80's James Bond movie. Disappointing for those of us who are not fond of evil scientist / mysterious forces clichés.
Stand Up Guys (2012)
great actors, weak script
Pacino and Walken are excellent, Pacino even better than usual.
The problem is that the movie revolves around the Walken's character's dilemma, which is forced. I don't think a single person who watched it doubted for a second what will happen, not to mention that it's also spelled out in promo materials. Almost the entire movie goes by while we are waiting for this obvious turn of the events.
What goes on in the mean time, the old guys' crazy night out, is sometimes exciting, sometimes silly, and sometimes plain stupid. The encounter with the victim of rape and torture who acts merely annoyed by the ordeal, certainly falls in the latter category.
We can only hope for a sequel with the same main two characters, but with better antagonists and a more convincing story line.
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)
not bad enough and certainly not good enough
Watched this and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009) the same evening. The Mega Shark movie was so bad that we laughed throughout it. It succeeds in crossing the "so bad it is good" line.
Shark Attack 3 doesn't. It is poorly done, unoriginal and boring. The only time we laughed was the main character's incredible pick-up line - you can see it in the Trivia section.
The movie takes place in Mexico but was actually shot in Bulgaria. The director fakes Mexico by putting a Mexican flag wherever it could fit the frame. You can play a drinking game - take a shot every time you see a Mexican flag! That's the only conceivable reason to watch this movie. If you want something funny and shark-related, see Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Bring a snack, don't bring a brain
I'm not a fan of superheroes but I was pleasantly surprised with the first half. The actors are good - I love Michael Caine, and Bale, Hathaway and Oldman are spinning an interesting story. It's intriguing to see weakness and depression as a well executed theme in a movie of this kind.
However when the villain (Humongous, anyone?) takes over it all turns into an irrational whirlwind. He was shaping up into something interesting but his hatred towards Batman is poorly explained, his master plan is excessively contrived and unbelievable, and despite all his speeches and gestures the audience is left wondering what the hell does he want.
I must confess that I didn't see the first two movies of the trilogy but you would expect a screenwriter/director of such esteem as Nolan to deliver regardless of the viewers' previous knowledge. Instead, the crucial parts when they reveal the villains' "family" relations were undecipherable and irksome to me. Other trilogies like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings don't suffer from this.
For the last half an hour I fought to make sense of characters' motives and actions (and I fought to ignore how ridiculous the remote prison setting is) but had to surrender and let my brain flat-line while my eyes watched fighting scenes. I know many people enjoy that kind of cinema experience but I don't.
Visually great but with terrible characters
Watched in 3D. Prequel or not, a decent Alien movie.
Impressive visuals without getting too aggressive with CGI. I'd give it 10/10 for visual enjoyment if it weren't for one character's terrible mask (isn't it easier to get an old actor instead of masking a 45-yr old into a 90-yr old).
Storyline isn't waterproof but it's interesting enough and will have you trying to figure out details and plot holes after the movie.
Where this movie fails is characters. None of them are believable, charismatic or even nice enough to care for them. They are scientists and other highly skilled professionals but they act like a cast of a reality show - stupidity, unnecessary drama, occasional aggression. A pack of high-school dropouts would make a better scientific expedition than these Doctors of Science from year 2093.
Pyhän kirjan varjo (2007)
Boring and surprisingly uninformative
Unfortunately for Turkmenistan's residents, Saparmurat Niyazov's dictatorship left a huge and bizarre footprint on the country. He renamed months and days of the week in honor of him and his mother, he outlawed opera and ballet...
It would be excellent material for a documentary, but authors instead focus on Niyazov's book Ruhnama, which is regarded as holy scripture in Turkmenistan. The angle they chose is collaboration of Western corporations with this oil-rich country by means of translating Ruhnama to gain Niyazov's blessing.
So, corporations are ready to do business with a dictator if there's money to be made. Who knew?! This revelation grasped the authors' attention so much that they spent almost the entire movie filming themselves in motel rooms, calling said corporations' PR people, unsuccessfully trying to get them to talk about their support of Niyazov.
We learn very little about the book itself. The hour and the half apparently weren't enough to discuss the content of the book, its writing style, historical inaccuracies, alleged author - it was more important to record 45th phone call to the PR of some French construction company and 29th failed attempt of reaching the owner of some Turkish construction company.
This documentary manages to be too long and boring and at the same time convey very little information.