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BloodRayne II: Deliverance (2007)
I don't know what some people were expecting. . .
But it's got BIlly the Kid as a vampire, I mean, come on, how seriously could such a movie take itself? From the unabashedly spaghetti-western style soundtrack during the titles, and the opening scene with the "dude" arriving in town and proclaiming in wide-eyed wonder "Deliverance, the wild west, this is it," then almost immediately saying "Howdy, Tex" to a complete stranger, it should be quite apparent that the movie makers intended to have fun with this one.
I went into this one with no expectations at all. I am not familiar with the Bloodrayne franchise; I have never played any of the games or seen any of the "graphic novels," so there was nothing here to disappoint me by being "non-canonical." I thought it was a great cheesy romp of a movie. I'm sure the fanboys disagree. Oh well. Taken on its own, it is quite entertaining.
The soundtrack by Jessica de Rooij is wonderful throughout, by the way, something I could easily believe Moricone had written.
If you are the sort of person who appreciates movies like the original cowboys and aliens movie, "Oblivion," or just plain absurd westerns like "Lust in the Dust," you will probably like this one. Just don't watch it with someone who is a fan of the franchise.
If you haven't watched it. . .
You really should, while it is still available for free on Hulu. Don't let the negative reviews deter you; you may have noticed that most of them are from people who gave up in disgust after the first episode or so. I eagerly watched the whole thing, and am sorry there will not be more.
This is a pirate tale, not a documentary, and yes, the writers have taken a bit (or more than a bit) of license with the Blackbeard legend. I for one don't care, to me it is an entertaining story, and an engaging application of "What if?"
I find the dialog to be exceptionally well written, especially the exchanges between Richard Coyle and Claire Foy. I think the writers may have overestimated their audience in this regard; it seems to me that of the people who complain about it, most simply haven't the vocabulary to understand it, therefore to them the dialog is "bad."
Regarding the much-maligned accent of Mr. Malkovich, it may be horrible, it may not, but I for one can't claim to be expert on the amazing diversity of accents to be found on that little island. I do know enough about them to realize that not everyone there sounds like (well, insert the name of your favorite posh-sounding English actor here.) In any event, I do not find it so off-putting as many seem to. And I am a Johnny Depp fan, but I really don't understand why so many people seem to find his Keith Richards impression preferable to John Malkovich's Blackbeard, at least regarding accent. To me, accents fade into the background as you become familiar with a character. I think if they do not, you may be focusing on the wrong things.
In my opinion this was very well cast. Of course I was familiar with John Malkovich, but the others were almost entirely new to me. Richard Coyle looked vaguely familiar, and it wasn't until I happened to re-watch his performance as Moist Von Lipvig that I realized from where. The same went for Claire Foy, though her Adora Belle Dearheart character was so different from Kate Balfour as to make her pretty much unrecognizable from one to the other. (Terry Pratchett fans will probably understand these references, the rest of you can look them up.) :)
The rest of the cast performed quite well, and all deserve mention, but I must say Ezra Buzzington stood out for me, for some reason, even though his appearances were few and far between. Julian Sands, as usual, made a great villain.
Whatever else it may be, this is an excellently written and acted pirate tale; if you are the sort of person who enjoys this sort of thing, you really shouldn't miss it.
Year One (2009)
Not for everyone...
But, of course, the same can be said of most Jack Black movies. This one, however, seems to require a viewer who is familiar with the Bible, but who doesn't take it as, well, gospel.
If you don't know the Bible at all, you will have no idea who many of the characters are in the first couple of acts, the script will seem disjointed and meandering, and the jokes mostly limited to humor of a puerile and scatological nature. (Which will probably cause you to dismiss it as a "typical" Jack Black movie. If so, this is a shame.)
If you do know the Bible, you will get the jokes, but if you believe in the Bible, you may be offended by what you might think of as blasphemy. Jack Black's character taking the role of the "angel" who stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, for example.
As I write this, there is one item on the goofs page listed as an anachronism. It mentions Cain wearing rubber boots, blah, blah, blah. I think it is pointless to mention such things, as this whole movie is an anachronism, which seems to be kind of the idea. Zed and Oh leave their caveman tribe, run into Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel,then takes them home to meet Adam,Eve, and a whole bunch of other people. (who didn't yet exist in the Bible's time-line.) Zed and Oh then move on, and encounter Abraham and Isaac. Next they go to the city of Sodom... And so on. These people and places did not exist at even nearly the same time, according to the Bible. Oh, and the swords of the more militant people they encounter are apparently made of steel, though the movie is set first in the stone age, then in the bronze. Rubber boots are the least of the anachronisms, and were undoubtedly thrown in on purpose, with the movie makers giggling inanely. "Let's give the picky b@$tids something that will completely baffle them! Hee hee hee!"
If you know the Bible, but don't take it as the be-all and end-all of truth, just watch the movie and have fun. All in all, I truly think this was one of Mr. Black's better efforts. It literally made me laugh out loud several times, and there are not many movies that have done so.
Boh lei chun (1999)
A nice departure for Jackie.
If all you want is an action movie in the Jackie Chan tradition, you may not like this one. It is instead a romantic comedy, which I will admit not too many Jackie fans will be expecting.
I, however, applaud the fact that he branches out from the typical comedic chop-socky formula in this one. I think it would be terrible as an actor to endlessly have to come up with new "they done me wrong, so I gotta beat 'em up" plots for movies. So all you folks who just want to see amazing stunts and so on, I would advise that you watch something else.
This movie does not contain much in the way of stunts, or even fight scenes. However, it does contain a couple of comedic fights with the Four Stooges of henchmen, which might elicit a chuckle or two. It also contains two fights with Bradley James Allan, which are fought within spaces about the size of a boxing ring, and with only walls to run up and do backflips off, as far as the acrobatics go. However, these are amazing fights, especially the last one, because with Brad, Jackie doesn't have to slow down. So it is blazing fists a-flying, and some of the best toe-to-toe single opponent action you will see in any Jackie movie. And I don't think they contained any wire work at all. Just straight honest action. Somewhat ironically, one part of the last fight with Brad was the only part of the movie I got a full belly laugh out of.
Admittedly, this is kind of an odd movie, but as long as you approach it in the right frame of mind, I think you might enjoy it. Maybe think of it as a chick flick with some Jackie Chan action thrown in. This would be a great one to watch, for instance, with a girlfriend who doesn't usually like martial arts movies. It has both action and touching moments. And after she sees this one, you may persuade her to watch some of the real Chan actioners with you. :)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
A wonderful spoof on the original Star Trek cast.
While this movie stands quite well on its own, it is obviously not intended to. The basic premise is "What would happen if aliens, years later, thought that the original voyages of the Starship Enterprise were real?"
If you think the original Star Trek is just an outdated old sci-fi show, and you are unaware of the fact that there are STILL fan conventions devoted to it, and you are also unaware that many people, including members of the original cast, thought Shatner was an ass, you probably won't get this movie.
But, if you get all this, this movie is hilarious. If you don't like it, read Shatner's autobiography, and then watch it again. :)
Dragon Storm (2004)
Surprisingly good, after a rather bad beginning
I watched this on television this morning. I hadn't really intended to, but when I saw that John Rhys-Davies was in it, I decided to give it a chance. I, too, at first wondered what he was doing in this movie. The dragons were immediately impressive, but the stunts during their first rampage in the opening scenes looked like they could have been pulled off by average high-school drama students. Guys getting their backs lit on fire, screaming, flapping their arms, and falling down. (This, by the way pretty much sums up the stunts in the rest of the movie, as well, and none of the people seem to have the sense to even roll in the snow once aflame.)
To anyone with at least a little of a discerning eye, these opening scenes are a bit of a red flag. Bad stunts usually make for bad movies. But, as I hadn't yet seen John Rhys-Davies, I kept watching. And I'm glad I did. All-in-all, it was an enjoyable film.
I think budget must have had a lot to do with the way this movie turned out. The dragons must have been expensive, and unless John Rhys-Davies was doing it as a favor to someone, I'm sure he wasn't cheap either. So, it seems, they had to skimp somewhere, and they apparently chose to do so with the stunts.
Yes, the acting is cheesy at times, but appropriately so, for such a tale. And, regarding John Rhys-Davies, he certainly brings a certain presence and dignity to all of his parts, but if you really take a look at his body of work, he hasn't exactly done Shakespeare all his life, either. I think, just as with Sean Connery, he improves any movie he graces with his presence, even the stinkers.
Ultimately, I think they did quite well with the resources available. And when you think about it, would the movie have been better with great stunts, but with lousy dragons?
So, if you like this sort of thing, it is well worth a watch. Just keep your sense of humor about you, and don't allow yourself to be put off by the opening scenes.