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Welcome to the Jungle (2013)
Van-Damme makes this film watchable
I'm not going to get into any plot or detailed film descriptions in this review (if you can call it that). All I'm am going to write is what I did and did not enjoy about this film.
Firstly, the bad parts - the thing that really let's the film down is the writing - basically the majority of the actors just aren't given enough to play with. They all try really hard to get laughs, whether it be by forcing out swear words or resorting to penis and boob jokes that come across more than a little forced. The characters for the most part are likable enough but the comedic actors/actresses like Kristen Schaal are not used to their full comedic potential and it is disappointing to say the least.
TV actors Adam Brody and Megan boon are good on their roles and do their best at trying to keep the viewer from nodding off into a dull boredom coma.
So why give what really is just another average comedy film that would otherwise deserve only a 5 out of ten, a 7?
Well, the answer is obvious - Jean-Claude Van Damme! Not only does he save this film from being shelved completely - he manages to make it really enjoyable and worth watching and he really is hilarious!
I have always been a massive Van Damme fan ( or "Fan a Damme" as I like to put it) but that being said, I think comedy is really a route he should explore on a more regular basis. Every scene Van Damme appears in - he steals completely and the only laugh-out-loud scenes in the film are they ones with him in them! Clearly he is enjoying himself and it really shows on screen. Whether he is stealing the other actors lines or just making fun of himself - JCVD is the one and only reason you should watch this film and I give the extra 2 stars to this films rating due to his brilliant, comedic performance.
Hopefully this film is the comedic stepping-stone Van Damme uses to land a comedy role in a big-budget comedy film and to give him the big mainstream hit he really deserves :)
You are and always will be the man, Van Damme!!!
The Expendables (2010)
Big action balls!!!
So I guess with any film review - it's all about the answers to the important questions. So let's get them out of the way first shall we?
Q) Is the plot descent, with a substantial storyline including dramatic arcs, twists and/or turns?
A) Not particularly.
Q) Are there character arcs and meaningful character developments?
A) A little.
Q) Is there romance?
A) Next question, please.
Q) Is the overall film original?
A) Not at all.
Q) Is it a likely Oscar nomination contender?
A) Hell no!
Q) Is it still awesome?
A) HELL YES!!!!!
Critics should be banned from reviewing films such as these. Anyone with half a brain can tell exactly what kind of film this is and what they're in for purely by the film's trailer alone.
This is a film made for action movie fans and not just regular action movies - I mean REAL action films in the style of the classic 80's action movies where plot and substantial character developments and dialogue took a backseat to intense over-the-top violence, explosions, car chases, sex scenes and catchy, memorable one liners!
The 80's action hero (and villain) breed was a rare phenomenon which will likely die with those very actors who gave them life. No 90's or new millennium "action" movie star will ever come close to being anywhere near as genuinely tough and just plain bad-arse as their 80's predecessor's! Even now with the main 'Expendables' cast pushing 60 +, you know that they would snap Matt Damon's spine in 2 with one hand tied behind their backs!
The 'Expendables' cast consists of Sly Stallone as the fearless leader of the team, Jason (Basketball stabber) Statham as the trusty knife-throwing sidekick, Dolph Lundgren as the treacherous giant one, Jet-Li as the small one, Terry Chews as Wesley Snipes, Mickey Rourke as the tattoo/previous knife-throwing sidekick and Randy Couter as the "who the hell is this guy, oh he's a UFC fighter" guy.
I still can't believe the unbelievable shape these guys are in! They're giants (exception for Jet-li of course).
Still, despite it's 80's throw-back appeal - the film isn't all action. Believe it or not there are slow parts. Mostly unnecessary filler between the action scenes. However the third act of the film makes up for the lack of action and then some!
It's when this third act commences when the true action film we've been waiting to see kicks in and steps up several notches to become the manliest most testosterone-fueled film since the last 'Rambo'!
It's funny, it's loud, it's un-relentlessly violent, an action-packed no-brainer of a film! An 80's action movie fan's wet-dream!!!
Bring on the sequel/s and bring on Jean-Claude Van Damme so he can give Statham the butt-kicking he so desperately deserves!!!
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
"Vegon! Be gone!!!"
"Scott pilgrim vs The World"...or more suitably "Scott Pilgrim vs The 7 super-powered evil Ex's" (doesn't quite have the same ring to it) is a hyper-active action comedy extravaganza perfect for today's A.D.D. generation of short attention spans! The fast-paced action-packed visual style of the film and it's humorous, witty and catchy one-liner dialogue will keep anyone with a Goldfish's attention span up-right in their seats, drool leaking from their mouths and eyes firmly planted on the screen for the full duration of the film!
Geeks, nerds or just anyone with too much time on their hands and lack of social-life will delight in the many video game and pop-culture references spliced throughout the film. The films slick editing and cartoon/comic book visual style is superbly executed and despite the film being outlandishly random, it all seems to make perfect sense in the fictional world it is weaved in.
Michael Cera plays a slight variant on his "Arrested Development" persona as the title character, Scott Pilgrim - a nerdy, awkward bass player and video game enthusiast who's had his fair share of bad luck with the ladies. Yet the real star of the film has to be Kieran Culkin as 'Wallace Wells', Scott's gay room-mate. He is hilarious and gets all the films best lines. I couldn't help think throughout the film just how much he resembles Mike Patton! If they ever do a film on 'FNM' - they should most definitely cast Kieran as Patton!!! The music is also pretty good and all the tracks performed by Scott's band; "Sex Bob-Omb" were suitably composed and arranged by the genre bending artist 'Beck'.
Though it may not be everyone's cup of tea (herbal/green/sleep, etc) - the film never ceases to entertain and it's humour, stylised visuals and fight scenes pack more punch than most films out this year (excluding 'Expendables' which I have not yet seen). There are also some amusing cameos thrown in as a bonus in an amusing scene involving 'Vegans'!
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
"Dear God! What ARE you doing to the furniture?!"
I remember being an 11 year old boy in stitches with laughter when I first viewed this film on new release VCR (yeah, video - old school)!
Having just watched this film again recently I have to say that it's still just as funny as it was as a child. The film of course is a parody on the 'Dracula" mythos and the jokes and gags are much better understood if you've watched films such as "Bram Stoker's: Dracula" which I can't watch seriously anymore cos' I constantly think of this film in certain scenes and start laughing!
The cast is brilliant in their roles especially Leslie Neilsen as "Dracula" and his brain-washed slave "Renfield" (Peter MacNicol) portraying an insane, insect eating madman extraordinarily well!
The humour is all in the typical Mel Brooks 'tongue-in-cheek' style and also quite reminiscent of Monty Python in parts, the over-the-top British accents may attribute to that part.
The final film directed by Mel Brooks, "Dracula Dead and Loving It" is very entertaining and the mindless humour make for a very enjoyable spoof movie!
Highly recommended : )
Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
One of D.C.'s worst films....
OK, well I've never been the biggest of G.L. fans - I still couldn't help but be disappointed with this film. My expectations were never really that high to begin with but so far the DC animated films have been so good that I couldn't help think this film could have been great if not better than it was.
I'll be quick:
The animation is OK. Not great. Not horrible. Lacks the detail that other DC films have and relies a little too much on very average CGI effects.
The story is similar to the comic but adds in silly rip-offs from better science fiction films such as "Star Wars" and "The Fifth Element".
The action scenes are few and nothing special.
Voice acting is fine.
All up, worth a watch if you like G.L. but honestly - he is portrayed better in the 'Justice League' series and films.
Not up to standard of some of DC's previous works.
"Don't think about Elephants"
What are dreams? How do our minds construct alternate realities? What is an idea? Can the seeds of an idea be planted in our minds?
If we could construct our own dreams....how will that effect our own reality?
'Inception' is a spectacular, psychological, thriller so complex in nature it has to be experienced on a personal level to be appreciated. No review or recommendation can justify how good or bad this film is. It's all in the eye and mind of the viewer and how it is personally perceived. I can explain the whole plot to you right now and it still won't spoil the film as Inception - like a dream really needs to be experienced.
'Inception' is not just a compelling psychological thriller, but also a vast exploration and study of dreams and the dream state and what they are to each individual. There are some brilliant insights into dreams and the construction of dreams and the effects they have on our minds and personalities which just adds to the films unique authenticity. The terminology used is also excellent and makes a lot of sense such as "the kick", that falling sensation that jolts us awake.
The cast is perfect. Leo Di Caprio has once again proved that he is truly a remarkable actor and a legend of this day and age. Ellen Page sheds her "Juno" persona and adds some weight to her character, proving that there is more to her talent than just young girly film roles.
So why not a perfect score? Well, Inception is not without it's flaws. The story in parts is quite convoluted and some key plot points are not properly explained or explained at all - they just happen. The amount of attention required to properly understand the film is vast and if you are prone to "zoning" you'll miss key plot points and no doubt be confused by the end. Although the special effects are spectacular - there is still nothing truly ground-breaking in that respect and some scenes in particular were reminiscent of fight scenes from "The Matrix" franchise which, if done 10 years ago - would have been more spectacular.
Still - 'Inception' is without a doubt, Christopher Nolan's finest film to date and a revelation that there are still some original ideas floating around Hollywood.
Idle Hands (1999)
"Go! Go! Buffalo!"
"Idle Hands" is a classic 90's comedy/horror flick which although swooped a little under the radar - it is still a must-see film for fans of horrors such as the "Evil Dead" series (especially army of darkness) and/or teen comedies like "American Pie".
"Idle Hands" works well by striking the perfect balance between comedy and horror and this works extremely well. The cast are brilliant especially Seth Green who is always great to watch in comedic roles. Reletavely unknown actor Devon Sawa plays the lead character 'Anton', who's hand gets possessed by an evil entity and goes on a murderous rampage! Though I have never seen Devon Sawa in any films prior or since "Idle Hands" - he is excellent in his role and the way he makes his hand move wildly and mis-behave really makes it look like it is not controlled by himself! In fact, one of the funniest scenes is a make-out scene between 'Anton' and 'Molly' (Alba) in when his hand keeps trying to strangle her! It's hilarious!!!
American skate-punk band, 'The Offspring' also make an amusing cameo in the film and also play a tune "off with her head" from their debut self-titled album which was a bonus! I won't give away what happens to singer Dexter Holland but it is pretty amusing!
In conclusion, "Idle hands" is a great late 90's comedy/horror flick which should have been bigger than it was.
Most definitely worth a watch!
Predators: Big ones, small ones - some as big as your head!
Now let's just get this out of the way before I get into any details for the film:
'Predators' is NOT better than the original 'Predator' film. It might be better than 'Predator 2' as I haven't watched that in a long time but remember not thinking that much of it when I was 12 so I would imagine I probably won't think any more of it now.
'Predators' with the "clever" "S" on the end making it a plural as apposed to a numbered sequel which would be 'Predator 3' or 'Predator 5' depending on whether you count the god awful 'AVP' films as anything - still suffers from everything sequels suffer from.
Mainly lack of originality. O.k. yes it's a sequel so it can't be as original as the original film is but it can still get by on adding it's own new original merits to the mythos can it not? Well....yeah, sorta. But instead - what we get is pretty much a carbon copy of the first film with many unnecessary 'copied' scenes!
Example: so we're back to jungle settings now. Congrates to the film makers for that as the "concrete jungle" for Predator 2 just wasn't scary in the slightest. There's a bunch of soldiers/mercenaries/murderer/tough guys with personalities which resemble that of the tough guys in the original film who this time make their way through the jungle whilst the 'Predator/s' watch from the trees learning there movements and speech phrases also like in the original. A few action scenes; "oh no! we're on another planet etc." some running from aliens which consist of some giant predators for some reason. Now this is where the film makers really break into their own originality: instead of just ONE person falling down a water-fall - we'll have the WHOLE CAST fall down it instead!!!! O.k. I accept that. Moving on.
Laurence fishburne's character is introduced into the film. Finally the film gets interesting. Fishburnes character is the best in the film. Sadly, we can say bye to Fishburne 15 minutes later and go back to running from all sorts of different colour/sized Predators who in this film don't seem to mind attacking un-armed individuals.
So far - there has been zero suspense in the film and besides a few mediocre action sequences and some not-THAT-gory murders, the third act of the film is upon us.
Now we can look forward to a ridiculous sword fighting sequence which was not even well shot or choreographed and looked like it was done in one take. It was just bad and completely irrelevant.
Anyway, final act comes. Some plot "twist" thrown in to make things interesting. Brody and giant Predator face-off Arnie-styles, mud and all! Brody wins. Grabs the girl. "Let's get the hell off this planet!" hint at inevidable sequel happens. Little Richard sings us the credits. The end.
'Predators' ultimate downfall is the typical Hollywood idea that "Bigger is better"! Adding too many things and expanding on already existing themes makes the film too muddled and just silly in parts. It takes away from the suspense the film should have but loses due to too many changes and silly alterations made to the Predators themselves. There does not need to be more than one type of predator. Why do the big predators hunt the little ones??? Why do they all look different, we don't need to decipher between any of them - they have no personalities!
Besides all my complaints, I did still enjoy the film. It's hard as a male not to enjoy pointless carnage at the hands of mutated alien man-hunters on another planet.
It just lacks suspense and has a few too many "Hollywood" moments in it for my liking.
Could have been better.
Could have been worse too......'AVP' worse!!!
The Book of Eli (2010)
At first glance - 'The Book of Eli' may look like another typical post-apocalyptic film in the style of such classics as the 'Mad Max' saga and the excellent anime feature "Fist of the North star" and in some ways it is similar in nature. The deserted open desert style landscapes, the leather-clad fashion accessories and lack of technology/resources are all present - but what really sets 'The Book of Eli' apart from those other films is it's story.
If you have not yet seen this film, I suggest you stop reading this review right now as i am about to go into plot details and touch on the "twist" so uh; "SPOILER ALERT":
'The Book of Eli' is essentially about a blind (that's the "twist" part) man who wonders the plains of a post-apocalyptic (possible result of a nuclear war as briefly mentioned in the film) landscape by himself with a single book in his possession. The "book" of Eli turns out to be none other than The Good Book - as in 'The Bible'. Not only is it 'The Bible', it also happens to be the very last 'Bible' on earth!
Eli's 'mission' given to him direct from the voice of God is to take the book West, so the film focus's on Eli's journey and the characters he meets/confronts throughout.
Denzel is good in the title role and brings enough overall substance to his character to make him believable and never over does or over acts any of his lines. I've also read he did all his own stunts and fight scenes for the film which scores extra points in my book!
Gary Oldman plays the lead villain role and his purpose is to take the book (Bible) from Eli and use it for his own personal methods of control. Gary is born to play villains so you can imagine that he is also superbly cast in his role.
Mila Kunis provides eye-candy and gives a very testosterone fueled film a very much needed female injection. I must say for someone who doesn't bathe (with soap at least) or wear any make-up in this post-apocalyptic future - she looks pretty fine to me!!!
Overall the films pace plays out well and there is enough plot, dialogue and action sequences to please most people who would bother seeing a film such as this one.
Now as for the "twist": So it turns out Eli is blind and the Bible is written in brail. This is only revealed to the viewer at the end of the film. However, there are many hints to Eli's blindness scattered throughout the film and off the top of my head - having seen this film only once, I can think of the following:
* When Eli first encounters the bandits at the start of the film, he lures them into the shadows to fight them indicating that he does not need sight to take out his opponents and that they will be at a dis-advantage in the dark. * Eli's sense of smell and hearing is re-remarkably good and obviously heightened as he smells the bandits when they are hiding and often sounds are louder in particular scenes indicating that this is how he hears things. * Though Eli wears sunglasses through the majority of the film, the bright desert sunlight does not seem to effect him as in one scene - he walks out of a darkened area into the sunlight and does not put his glasses on straight away. * Eli is mistaken for being asleep by Solara (Kunis) when he in fact he is not.
I'm sure there are more clues than that which will be easily identified on a second viewing when the viewer is looking for them.
All up, a very entertaining film with a decent plot and solid acting from the cast.
A must-see for fans of post-apocalyptic films!
"Guns are for cowards!"
If you've seen the trailer for this film, you would more than likely be expecting another typical Superhero comedy spoof in the likes of "Kick-ass" and "Mystery Men". Fortunetly (or unfortunately depending on which type of film you want to watch), the trailer is actually very misleading as in I myself thought I was going to be watching a funny superhero spoof starring the very talented Woody Harrelson as a vigilante hero known as "Defendor" which I was totally o.k. with.
What I actually got was a brilliant and compelling story about a simple man (Woody) who's lack of intelligence and grip on reality result in him suiting-up in a homemade superhero outfit, arming himself with lethal weapons such as marbles and angry wasps and taking to the streets to fight crime! More often than none, he ends up getting the cr*p beaten out of him by petty thugs and nearly killed several times in the film as you can imagine.
Sounds funny, right? And for the most part - it is. There are some genuinely funny parts (granted the humour is a little dark) in "Defendor" yet the overall story is actually quite moving and somewhat heart-warming.
The main ingredient which makes this film work on this level is the brilliant performance given by Woody Harrelson. He breathes so much life into a character that could have so easily been portrayed as silly and slap-stick-ish but instead, you really end up feeling for the guy. Here is a man who is brutally honest, extremely child-like in his behaviour and naivety, he doesn't have many friends, who really is just trying to make the world a better place by removing the scumbags! Whether it be the humorous one-liner superhero babble "Defendor" spews from his mouth or the quieter, more subtle honest lines - Woody delivers with such conviction it's hard not to love this character.
"Defendor" is definitely a character driven film. Everything else from the story to the action scenes to the comedy are secondary features to a fascinating character study of human behaviour and morals.
Along with "Zombieland" (also filmed 2009), Woody Harrelson is fast becoming a household name again and if he keeps it up - he'll no doubt be up there with Depp and Downey Jr in a quirky character league of his own!
I highly recommend "Defendor" to anyone who enjoys films that are a little different and who enjoy memorable character stories.
Just don't be fooled by the trailer!!!