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638 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Most underrated film of 2014, 2 January 2015

The storming the beach sequences were spectacularly filmed. I never lost track of where I was within the action. Too many films these days try to hide their shortcomings by having the immersive camera, which basically means shaky cam. This does not enhance the viewers experience in "war", it does the opposite. You'll have your audience squinting at the screen trying to see what the hell is going on. Liman manages to film the battle sequences beautifully, blending action, comedy and drama in all those sequences.

Wait, what? Comedy? Yes, this film is funny. Liman has fun with killing off Cruise multiple times in funny and unique ways.

Cruise is a coward when we meet him, trying his hardest to NOT be enlisted onto the front lines. But things don't work out for him and he finds himself waking up in cuffs and thrown into the war. No idea how to use his mech suit, no idea how to fight, no idea how to do anything, he finds himself in hellfire trying to stay alive. He doesn't last that long and ends up dying after blowing up an "Alpha" alien.


He wakes up again back in cuffs, alive. But how? What can he do differently to survive this time? Edge of Tomorrow takes a few minutes to explain to the audience why Cruise has this ability and what he must do to stop it, but other than that, this film is non-stop excitement. The editing here is crisp and benefits the story immensely. We are in Cruise's shoes at the beginning, learning what is going on, seeing the different outcomes for the first time and how it can be changed. Then, we find ourselves in Emily Blunt's shoes, experiencing events for the first time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it hasn't happened already. Cruise reveals that he's been here before, despite the viewer never seeing this scene. Now we have no idea how many times he's gone back.

The third act raises the stakes a bit, I won't reveal why, but at that point it also tends to be a bit more generic and clichéd. Other than Blunt and Cruise, we aren't really given much character development from others. Not needed really, but how are we suppose to care for the squad Cruise is with when they die? We don't.

I found myself asking questions after the film was over. Does every time Cruise die start a parallel universe ala Back to the Future? There was one particular sequence where he dies and it continues on for a little bit. We see what happens after he dies, so the question remains, does each time he die have that exact timeline continue on? OR is it simply that ONE timeline that continues to be reversed. Either way is possible.

I highly recommend seeing this film. I went in with low expectations and was more than surprised.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
At least it tried., 2 January 2015

A film that is entirely shot from the perspective of cameras, laptops and cell phones. Sounds ambitious.

I saw a short film that employed this technique earlier this year, it was extremely well done. It hit the nail on the head about our use of technology, the good, the bad, the ugly. It was short and sweet. Here we have a feature film starring Elijah Wood as a fan who wins a contest to meet his celebrity crush, played by retired porn star Sasha Grey.

A man online tricks him into following his orders and the results lead to a chase of sorts, blackmail and other twists and turns. Not enough to warrant a feature length film though. Wood, does a serviceable job here and it seems he is creating a niche fan base in the horror genre after his turn in another experimental film; Maniac. Shot almost entirely from his POV. I'm more interested in seeing what he does next in the genre than I am talking about this film.

Grey doesn't do much here other than act as the "scared female" you'd find in so many horror films. She has no problem disrobing, which comes as no surprise. I don't get why people are enamoured with her.

To be honest, it did keep my attention better than I thought it would. It starts off slow, but manages to make it somewhat thrilling. I have to say they do cheat with "camera" techniques in which we see through cars and buildings in some kind of 3D rendering generator. It was odd and took me out of the "reality" of it all. This will not be the next step in "found footage" films, or at least I hope not.

Tusk (2014)
4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Never Go Full Walrus., 15 December 2014

Smith's second attempt at a genre other than comedy. His last effort Red State was Smith's homage to the Coen brothers, specifically their crime film Fargo. I applauded that film for being Smith's most ambitious film, taking him out of his comfort zone and always pulling the rug out from under me. I had no idea where he was going to take it and I was along for the ride. With Tusk we have Smith dipping his toes into the horror genre a bit further. This time he seems to be channeling more Cronenberg-esque with body mutilation, but knowing the history behind the creation of this project, I can't help but think the entire thing was a big joke.

A lot of what happens has to be seen to be believed. After seeing this, I have to ask people who have also seen it a simply question. Should this film have remained a smodcast idea? Was there enough story here to justify Smith making it? I asked myself these questions when the film would oddly throw in some flashbacks. One set of flashbacks are told in black and white from Parks' lifetime, while the other, in colour, belongs to Long. As mentioned earlier, the idea was from a smodcast that Smith and his long-time producing partner, Scott Mosier did and you can actually hear them talking about this idea near the end of the credits. They laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and ask fans to vote #WalrusYes #WalrusNo. Well, as you could have guessed, #WalrusYes won and we have our film. Tusk awkwardly tries to honour the original idea of it being a horror film, the grotesqueness of body horror and also try to be hilariously stupid at the same time. Smith doesn't balance this tone very well and the reason is the cameo performance from a Hollywood A-lister.

I'm not going to spoil who the actor is, but he plays the role so comically over the top that I sat there thinking; did Smith give him 100% free range to do whatever the hell he wanted? I was on board with the seriousness of the film until he showed up, then it went off the rails in ways I can't even describe. Smith goes for an ambitious mixture of tone and I think he fails here. Played half for laughs and half for seriousness, I couldn't help but feel a little let down by it all.

I think the horror aspect works better than the comedy here. The humour here is lacking, especially with the Long character. He comes off as obnoxious and not funny, despite the numerous jokes he tries to throw out there. Does he deserve what he gets? That question is left in the viewers mind. Some people might make the argument that this film exists merely to give Parks a juicy role. Verbally eloquent, vaguely sinister, Parks spews his lines so well and with such gusto that he gives his performance in Red State a run for its money. It's one of the most successful elements of the film.

I am interested in Smith's career direction now. Red State and Tusk aren't receiving as much praise as his previous films, but the man is stepping out of his comfort zone to try something different. He's been accused of being a lazy filmmaker that only makes poop jokes. Not anymore, so I applaud him for this, he's finally making interesting films, good or bad, they are interesting.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One Of The Year's Best Films., 15 December 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his career in Nightcrawler in which he plays an alien, who learns everything he needs to know through the internet, but lacks any kind of empathy for the human race. At least that's how I saw it.

Alien, that's the best way to describe how Lou Bloom interacts with people. Each conversation seems more like a wager on what Lou can take away from it. He doesn't ever have a normal conversation with someone. He always has an angle and he always gets his way. Case in point, the dinner scene with Rene Russo. At first this seems like a scene in which he is trying to score a date of some kind of her. He's a weird guy and we all know his advances will eventually be shut down, but he turns the tables on her and us pretty quickly and his ulterior motives are revealed. One of the best scenes of the film and of the year.

His dialogue his fast and to the point. He doesn't ever waste a breath or a word on something that doesn't give him some slight advantage in some way. I so hope come award time, Gyllenhaal is given the recognition he deserves.

The title serves the film perfectly. This movie takes place 90% of the time at night. Shot beautifully in a cold dark tone with bright lights that emulate the bright light that Lou wants to chase. His dream. Does he want to be in the TV business? Who knows. He's shown wanting a job, any job and this is just something that he's good at that people want. He has no problem crossing ethical, legal and moral lines to get the shot. Sometimes, shockingly, he will change the perspective of the truth to support his gain.

With a memorable soundtrack, slick direction and a script that deserves awards, Nightcrawler is one of the best films of the year.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
This Was A Surprise., 11 December 2014

Had no idea what this film was when I decided to watch it on Netflix and was pleasantly surprised by how attached I became to the subject matter, the characters and the story.

Brosnan is a disgraced TV personalty and decides to commit suicide by jumping off the top of a building on New Year's Eve. While up there, he meets 3 other people, played by Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots, all there to do the same thing. None of them commit the act and instead form a weird bond between each other. A pact is made not to commit suicide until the next "popular" suicide date, which is Valentine's Day. Dark subject matter, I know.

Despite the content of the film involving topics such as cancer, suicide, underage sex and other questionable character choices, the film balances this topics interestingly enough to keep it rather light. It never became too dark, nor too comedic. It walked a fine line of genuine trust in the characters. I found myself attached to each one, their faults, their quirks and liked them all. Imogen Poots has the hardest task of playing the "wild card" character. This character can sometimes become irritatingly annoying and I can see some people thinking her performance here is just that, but I found it oddly charming and real. She's a young girl who yearns to be loved and can't find it. She's lost, she feels alone and she turns to uncomfortable humour as a shield to hide her true feelings. I felt that her character had the most demons and she came off as the most interesting.

The film is broken up into four segments and each segment is from one of the characters POV. At first I was afraid that it was going to be one of those films that played the same event multiple times from different character perspectives, but was relieved when that was not the case.

The film fails to use the supporting cast effectively. Sam Neil is only in a few select scenes and Rosamund Pike is in one very uncomfortable one. Couldn't help but feel that their talents were slightly wasted here. I had no idea this film was based on a book, thus had nothing to hold it against. There seems to be a lot of hate towards it, but I was genuinely interested from start to finish.

Fury (2014)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
"Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.", 20 October 2014

Fury is a brutal look at the men who find themselves stuck in the death traps known as tanks, in WWII. Brad Pitt leads those men on various missions and they just lost one of their own. A typist, who has never seen the war on the front lines, never killed man, never even fired a gun, is thrown into the tank, that these men call Fury. First, he has to clean out the blood and guts from his seat, the previous person in there has left pieces of himself all over, including part of his face.

Yes, Fury is gory, violent and relentless. It doesn't sugar coat the war and it shouldn't. Not only do people die left right and centre, but they do so in cruel and terrifying ways. One particular death that comes to mind is when a soldier would rather shoot himself in the head than burn alive. It's a shocking moment that makes you realize the horrors of our history. History is indeed violent.

Logan Lerman is Norman Ellison, the boy barely shaves and he is thrust into battle not knowing what to do. He is against killing anyone, it's against his morals, he simply cannot do it. That is until Pitt forces him, against his will, to kill a German soldier who pleads for his life. Another depressingly realistic scene in a film full of them. Pitt knows that if he doesn't break this kid down, he will be the death of Pitt's entire crew. His crew consists of a religious gunner, an impressive Shia LaBeouf, a hot headed redneck prone to outbursts, an outstanding Jon Bernthal and their driver who is consistently drunk, the always reliable Michael Pena. These men follow the orders of WarDaddy, a scarred and nobel Brad Pitt. People might try to relate his performance to Lt. Aldo Raine from Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, but the two are very different. He puts on a confident and brave face for his men, but behind the tough exterior is a scared man, who only admits his fear once. He predictably takes Lerman under his wing, the typical father-son relationship ensues, but aside from that and a clichéd "follow the leader at the darkest hour" scene, the film is a fresh take on the WWII genre.

I say a fresh take because the focus is on the claustrophobic dynamic relationship these men have within the confines of the tank. I loved all the scenes that had me stuck inside with them. You feel the intensity in every moment. Ayer knows this and shoots the scene well enough so that even though you feel trapped, you never get lost or feel that you need to get out of the tank. When Ayer does take us out, he shows the risks and dangers of not being protected by Fury's walls. Even when you think you're safe, moments later you're not. Ayer shows his skill for the battle and the slow moving tanks make for heightened suspense.

Fury doesn't match the levels of Saving Private Ryan, but it's a realistic take on a time where good and bad men on BOTH sides of the war fought for what they believed in. Fury is entertaining and harrowing at the same time.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Simply doesn't need to exist., 7 August 2014

What did we gain from this film? Any advancement in the story? Advancement in the war? Revenge from the initial 300 who died? The answer is unfortunately no for everything. 300: Rise of an Empire is a cash grab sequel, with less style than the original and more cartoon violence. I can only recommend this film if you are a huge fan of the original and want more of the same.

This battle, which happens at the same time as Leonidas is commanding his 300, is fought on ships. The battle on the ships try to be creative, but seem to fail on that aspect and push into the absurd territory. The artificialness of it all only takes away from the excitement. The original film felt fresh and exciting. Zack Snyder behind the camera gave us some creative visual violence. This entry tries to imitate that and it doesn't match up. The blood, the kills, the set pieces, feel fake this time around. Snyder had a cast and stakes which made the film feel a bit more real, despite the stylized violence and green-screen. Rise of an Empire has non of this, save for a deliciously evil Eva Green as a vengeful psychotic warrior.

The film even feels like a remake. It hits the same notes at the same moments. It literally ends on the same note. Why not try and advance the story further? Aside from some insight into the past of Xerxes and a sad story attached to Eva Green's character, we are given nothing to hold onto. The film is more interested in the blood and guts it splashes on the screen than anything else. It feels like a video game where the player keeps playing the same level over and over again.

So unless you love the original, Rise of an Empire is easily avoidable. Even if you do see it, you'll most likely forget about it a day or two later. Save for one memorable scene involving Eva Green and her beautiful assets. There aren't many films these days with sex scenes that actual show the act. Sex scenes have been toned down recent years, close ups where we see nothing, cut aways before the act. Rise of an Empire isn't afraid to go a little adult.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Figure out your escape plan to get out of seeing this., 7 August 2014

I can't help but think this film could have and should have been better. Maybe if the two leads weren't old men past their prime, or if the script didn't resort to routine action, or anything else that this film tried to do and failed. Escape Plan is a redundant action escape movie where we are to believe that Stallone is some kind of prison escape genius that runs a crew with 50 cent and Amy Ryan.

If the film doesn't bore you with its depiction of escaping prisons, the utterly bad performances will. Has Stallone ever acted? Put his performance in this film up against anyone of his previous efforts and try to tell the difference. He dipped his hand in comedy before and took chances, this guy needs to do that again. Playing it safe with his "resurgence" is dull. An even worse offender is the Terminator himself. He seems bored here and doesn't try to hide it. Finally we have Jim Caviezel collecting a paycheque and totally checking himself out of a performance. The guy doesn't even try to act here. Even in the face of certain death, his expression never changes.

Escape films are suppose to be thrilling, inventive and let the viewer have fun with the escape sequences. This film doesn't do that. We are treated to a shoot em up climax that is dull and uninspired. Where is the creativity? This is the first official team up of Stallone and Schwarzenegger that isn't a glorified cameo (Expendables) yet their chemistry isn't there and they seem to be reaching too far into the past here. Escape Plan wants to be an 80's prison escape film, but doesn't know how.

I'd advise you to avoid watching this flick. It'll bore you before you get bored. Twists in the film are obvious a blind person can see it coming. Put those responsible for this flick in this prison, it's a crime I tell ya!!!

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Fresh Fun Filled Entertaining Ride, 4 August 2014

A rag-tag group of has-beens ban together to stop a ruthless villain who wants nothing to do but destroy cities killing millions.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge gamble of Marvel, branching away from a well known formula to introduce a completely new universe, with odd creatures such as a talking raccoon, with no big A list stars and based on a property that very little people knew about. Guardians of the Galaxy was without a doubt a huge gamble and fortunately for them, it paid off in spades. Just when the Marvel films started to feel a tad stale and routine, here comes along a fresh fun filled film that is an entertaining ride from start to finish.

I had a lot of fun with this film and it's been awhile since we've had fun at the movies. Dark, depressing, brooding films seem to make out summer blockbuster schedule, heck even the last two Marvel outputs were pretty dark (Captain America and Thor) but Guardians breathes new life into the summer blockbuster and more importantly the Marvel universe.

The cast seems to really gel well together, even Dave Bautista, a wrestler with little acting experience, seems natural here getting some of the biggest laughs. Both Groot and Rocket Raccoon are computer marvels that have both heart and laughs. Of course finally Star Lord himself does his Han Solo with the right charm and wit. Gunn's films always blend comedy into whatever genre he seems to be diving into: Horror (Slither) Superhero (Super) and now Sci/fi-Action with Guardians. Gamora is the one character who never plays anything for laughs, her character is too serious to let the jokes fly, but she is a deadly assassin.

Gunn uses a beautiful colour palette here reminiscent of Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. A welcome sight to these eyes. Guardians loves to bath in the colour it introduces to us. It loves its characters, action, self awareness and most of all, music. The music in Guardians plays into the story as well. You'll sometimes fight the urge to dance in your seat.

I can't recommend this film enough. It's sheer fun that is non-stop entertainment. Chris Pratt is about to burst onto the scene and I look forward to more Guardians to come.

35 out of 100 people found the following review useful:
Expendables 3 is a fun, yet flawed ride., 24 July 2014

On yet another routine mission, the Expendables stumble upon an old friend, Stonebanks, one of the original members of the crew and now, a vicious war lord. Can Barney look past the revenge and get the job done, or will it consume him until it's too late?

The Expendables 3 throws a lot at you and for the most part, it sticks. It follows the same formula as the previous films: open up with a big action set piece, introduce the problem, get the team together, suffer some form of defeat, band the team together again and shoot the hell out of everyone until the finish. What this film does better, is give the new members something to do and deliver on the action. The final sequence in this film alone warrants a watch in my books as it's the best action the series has delivered yet.

Just like last time...this time it's personal. I know, they seem to be running out of ideas, but this series never cared for realism, story or plot. The sole purpose was to give the old stars of the 80's one last hurrah. Well, it caught on and they seem to have enough fuel left in their engines to keep up with the young kids these days. This entry balances both old and new. We have an even bigger Expendables team, with the introduction of Wesley Snipes's Doc, a knife wielding sarcastic medic and Antonio Banderas' Galgo, a guy who desperately needs to be in the action and never shuts up about it. Both are given ample amount of screen time to justify adding them, with Banderas stealing the show in every scene he's in. Without a doubt, he is the stand out character this time round. Harrison Ford basically replaces Bruce Willis, he literally says Willis is out of the picture. Just one of many...MANY winks and nods to the camera about the outside world (snipes has a great one in the beginning and Arnold closes it with a classic Predator line).

But what about the original members who've been with the series since the beginning? Well, they do get left behind, literally at some point. Yet the film never feels like it abandons them. They still have some of the best scenes and make the third act what it is. Poor Terry Crews is giving the least amount to do though, I won't spoil why. Both Jet Li and Schwarzenegger have small cameos as well as Kelsey Grammar. Each have their comedic moments in a film with a lot of laughs. The new kids include Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Ronda Rousey (UFC Fighter), Victor Ortiz (Boxer) and Glen Powell (Small Roles). They all have their charm and "abilities" although I feel Ortiz got the short straw and is showcased very little. Finally we come to the man himself, Mel Gibson, as the villain. He has a few scene chewing sequences that he seems to have fun with, and is withoutadoubt the scariest villain in the series, but he needed a bit more to do. JCVD was showcased quiet a bit in the the second film, as was his right hand man Scott Adkins, but very little time is spent with Gibson. You never feel the emotional relevance of this character to the group. Maybe a flashback might have helped flesh out his significance better, but instead we are given just some dialogue and then we move on. The performance is there, the character is not. This leads up to a final fight between Stallone and Gibson, much like the second film and just like that one it falls a bit too short. All this build up and we get a lackluster final fight.

The Expendables is a lot more fun than the series should have been. The second film and now this one, learned from the mistakes of the first. These films are suppose to be fun and thankfully this one is. The Expendables vs the Army at the end is some of the best action sequences of this year.The film does have some really bad CGI though, stuff you would expect out of a Roger Corman SYFY MEGASHARK film. With that aside, this film is a great addition and a nice send off....hopefully.

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