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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Kristen Stuart ruins this movie.
I got so fed up looking at her stupid face. She only has one expression throughout the whole movie. Which wouldn't be so bad, if it didn't involve her goofy underbitten mouth being constantly open, and one lazy eye pointing at her nose the whole time. Yet we are supposed to believe she is 'the fairest in the land'? Fairer even than Charlize Theron, who frankly makes Kristen Stuart look like Quasimodo by comparison.
It just didn't work. I found myself wishing they could have cast someone like Claire Foy or Anne Hathaway, who could have carried this role properly, and might actually have done some acting. I just hope Kristen Stuart never gets trapped inside a wet paper bag.
That aside, Chris Hemsworth does a fine job playing a smelly drunk homeless guy. I think he is also supposed to be some kind of hero, but that doesn't come across quite so well. He was probably too young for this part. The guy is 29 and he is meant to be playing a widowed ex-soldier. This part was really crying out for someone like Sean Bean. Apparently Viggo Mortensen (someone not unlike Sean Bean) turned the role down, which was a shame, but also a good call on his part, because this movie sucks.
Charlize Theron is amazing and professional as usual. Her and the special effects team carry the whole movie. If not for them it would just feel like some straight to DVD trash. Ian McShane should get an honourable mention as leader of the dwarfs, it's a shame he didn't have a bigger part (ho ho ho). Most of the dwarfs were decent in fact. Apart from Bob Hoskins who just played his usual cockney self again, but he was supposed to be playing a wise Gandalf type character, so the end result was awful.
I hate to draw parallels between this movie and Twighlight, but it seems like this movie was targeted at the same demographic as Twighlight, and I expect casting Kristen Stuart was a symptom of that, trying to cash in on some of that Twighlight publicity.
If you did like Twighlight, then you will already be familiar with Kristen Stuart, and you probably have no taste, so I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this too. If you thought Twighlight was stupid and annoying I'm afraid you will probably feel the same way about this.
If you really love fantasy and fairy stories then you might want to check this out too, but don't expect too much. How much you are able to put up with Kristen Stuart will probably be the deciding factor. I would suggest watching the movie on something small like a laptop or a phone, so you won't be able to tell how cross-eyed she is, that could help a lot.
This film could have been so much better, it is probably a 5.5/10 but Kristen Stuart makes it feel more like a 4. I would like to give it an even handed 4.5, but I will be generous and give it 5/10.
The Grey (2011)
This film is something of an enigma.
This film is something of an enigma. It has possibly the most stupid premise of any movie ever. Yet in spite of this, it manages to be beautiful, captivating, thrilling, thought provoking, and touching.
I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this film because of the unrealistic portrayal of wolves. Admittedly the wolves are the worst bit; not only do they behave in an unrealistic manner (for any animal lacking walkie-talkies), they are also poorly animated. But don't let that put you off. The protagonists have more to face than just wolves. There is the bitter cold, the treacherous wilderness, and their own despair at their situation. Even if you edited out all the parts with wolves, this would still be a great film about survival against the odds.
Liam Neeson's acting is amazing, but he is not alone. The entire supporting cast is great. The characters are deep and fleshed out. The scenes are powerful, suspenseful and dramatic. The cinematography and editing are both superb. As is the music.
The wolves didn't bother me too much in the end. I started to view them more as a generic antagonist, necessary in order to tell a deeper human story. It didn't have to be wolves, it could have been aliens, monsters, cannibals etc... I find it ironic that so many commenters have felt the need to proclaim how "Wolves wouldn't behave like that, it is unrealistic" so it is a bad film. Yet you rarely see people complain in sci-fi films that "Aliens don't really exist it's unrealistic!" or "travelling beyond the speed of light is impossible, it's unrealistic". In the end these things don't have to be realistic, they are just props to tell a story. Who knows? maybe there is a species of huge killer wolf out there in the wilderness, waiting to be discovered? It's probably a lot more likely than Aliens attacking us (which apparently no one minds).
If you are thinking of renting this film and not sure what to expect. I would say it has a lot in common with other survival films like Alive and The Road. Though perhaps not quite as shocking as those two. If you are a fan of Liam Neeson you will will surely like this, and he plays an Irishman which is nice.
I'd give this film a 7. It is well made and I enjoyed it, despite the wolves being a bit silly.
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
Not as bad as you might expect.
I like action movies, but I know the score with movies based on games. They tend to be low budget crap, that offend every sensibility you might have towards good film making.
However I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It has a nice clean style, doesn't take itself too seriously, and it was fun and entertaining to watch. Most importantly I didn't feel it suffered too much from the bad acting, casting and costumes that plagued similar movies like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The notable exception being Ayane, who suffers from the dreaded 'white girl in an anime costume' playing Asian. Thankfully she is not in it too much.
If I could liken it to other movies. I would say it is on a par with films like Fast and the Furious (or any Vin Diesel film really), Charlie's Angels, or Men in Black. If you were able to sit though those, and be entertained, then you should be happy with this too.
I don't usually like watching trailers because they often spoil films. But in this case, there isn't a great deal to spoil. So I would advise watching the trailer and go with your impulse. If you find yourself thinking "this might be fun" then you will probably enjoy it. On the other hand: If you think "this looks like inane tripe" then I doubt watching the whole thing will change your mind.
I would give this film a 6, it has good fight scenes, hot girls, non- stop action, and nothing too serious or annoying to spoil the fun.
Yip Man (2008)
I was inspired to watch this movie by all the positive reviews it has received, and the high rating here on IMDb. I was expecting something epic beautiful and captivating. I was however disappointed.
The problem with this movie is that it is a martial arts movie that tries to be 'Gone with the wind'. However martial arts has no place in a serious drama about the cruelty of the Japanese occupation of China, and human tragedy is probably too angsty a backdrop for a movie that seeks to entertain you by kicking people in the groin. The genres are fairly incompatible, so they can only be held together by a story that is so contrived and stupid that you might as well just fast-forward through it to the next fight scene.
In this film the universe seems to revolve around martial arts. Everyone cares way too much about it. Even though it has zero practical applications, and they all have more pressing concerns like war and famine.
As a martial arts movie it holds up quite well. The first 20 mins has some of the best fight scenes I've ever seen in any movie. The cinematography is also excellent. It is really just the awkward, nonsensical wartime narrative that makes it blow.
As a historical wartime drama, it is obviously just shallow and silly, not to mention overly long and boring. Movies like Full Metal Jacket, Schindler's list, Empire of the sun etc... explore this subject properly. Ip Man really only scratches the surface, and I kind of wish it didn't bother.
I would give this film a 6 because that is a realistic representation of how much I enjoyed it. It was okay, but I doubt I would watch it again or recommend it to anyone (apart from the first 20 mins which are unquestionably awesome). I'm tempted to give more because it is quite epic, and has that rich epic quality too it. But 7 is probably too high, for all it's qualities, it is just not that interesting.
A step in the right direction for Predator movies at last.
Before I took a chance on this film there was really only one question I wanted answered...
'Is this film going to be another steaming pile of disappointment like the AVP films?'
And the answer, happily, is 'No', though after having to sift through all the unhelpful and uninformative 1 rater reviews here, I never would have guessed. I almost gave this film a miss, but I'm glad I didn't. It was actually quite good, and I'll tell you why (no spoilers I promise).
I think it is important to go into this film with the right expectations. This film returns to the original Predator format, and borrows heavily from the first 1987 Predator film. There are scenes and characters (and even weapons) which are so reminiscent of the first film that they would not be out of place in a remake. I like to view this as very deliberate homage to the original rather than shameless plagiarism, and I enjoyed the film more and feel much happier because of it. Of course this is not a remake. It is a sequel with some major differences from the 1987 film, and enough originality to make it interesting and unique in its own right.
The story is not overly ambitious, they play it straight and the focus is given more to building tension, which it manages to do very well. Because it is a Predator film you kind of know what is going to happen, but it still manages to be suspenseful from the start, and there are quite a few surprises and twists along the way to keep you guessing. The unnerving way the truth of their situation unfolds for the characters is quite enthralling, and reminded me strongly of shows like 'The Outer Limits'.
The characters are interesting and all of them are well portrayed. Some are a little cliché, but the main character played by Adrien Brody is actually more human and teeters on the edge of being a full blown anti- hero.
My only major gripe with this film is that there is little character development. The characters are (as I said) interesting, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time to explore them very deeply. The most you really get is a shallow glimpse of who they might be, which left question marks over some of their motivations. This does make the film slightly forgettable, as you never really end up feeling or caring too much for them, and sometime it feels like they do things just to drive the plot/action forward, rather than because it is something their character might do.
Overall I would give the film a 7 out of 10, it was above average for and action flick and screamed quality, despite a retentively low budget, and I definitely wouldn't mind going to see it again. An entertaining action thriller at worst, and a nice edition to the Predator franchise.
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Thinking about renting this?
First let me say that I have never read the punisher comics, so I didn't have anything invested in this film being good or bad. I was just looking for an action move to rent and watch while I ate pizza. Having seen most of the others I thought I would give Punisher a shot. If you are thinking about renting it too, then I will try to give you some idea of what to expect without spoiling too much.
This movie is an orgasm of violence. It's right up there with Sin City, RoboCop and the recent Rambo when it comes to people getting shot in the face and generally ripped apart. I personally thought this was awesome. I was disappointed by movies like AvP that were toned down for a younger audience. Punisher War Zone doesn't make that mistake. It's an 18 and it knows it.
The violence however is the only thing that stands out about this film. Everything else is unremarkable. The plot is almost nonexistent, and really only there to tie the action scenes together. It never goes beyond that to try and fill out any of the characters. There are lots of characters that you have probably seen before in other action movies. There is a bad ass FBI agent who is just as tough as punisher but likes to do things by the book, and can't agree with Punisher's vigilante ways. There is a cute little girl for punisher to feel sentimental about. And a nerdy Whistler (from Blade) type character that sorts out Punisher's weapons. Unfortunately none of these characters get enough screen time for you to care about them, or to develop in any way.
The main bad guy 'Jig Saw' probably gets most of the lines (Punisher hardly talks). Jig saw is very reminiscent of the Joker from Tim Burton's Batman, but again nowhere near as filled out. He is backed up by his brother 'Loony-Bin' Jim, who in my opinion was badly cast. He is meant to be some deranged psychopath who even the bad guys are scared of... But he wasn't very intimidating at all, and came across as a bit camp, and the most poorly acted.
Despite its faults the action scenes were top notch, which is really the most important thing in an action movie. The action leans mainly towards violent fight scenes and graphic gun battles, rather than high budget explosions and ridiculous stunts. They did manage to awkwardly force in a bit of parkour... Perhaps because that's 'cool' but it was unnecessary to the story and fairly meaningless.
I would give this movie a 6 out of 10. It wasn't special, but the over-the-top violence made it a good watch. I felt I got my money's worth, and that it was much more entertaining than the 2004 version. Most of the stuff in Punisher War Zone has been done better in other action films, but if you are really stuck for something to watch (like I was) then I would probably recommend this. You could certainly do a lot worse.
Hammer of the Gods (2009)
My most disappointing rental so far, by a long way.
I didn't have very high expectations for this movie. I was expecting something low budget but watchable, around the standard of 'King Arthur', 'The Last Legion', 'Reign of Fire' or a Uwe boll movie (if you have seen any of those?) or a feature length episode of Xena Warrior Princess... But even with such low expectations I was surprised by how bad this film is. It's much worse than any of the above.
If you have ever seen a movie made by high school students. Which stars themselves and their friends running about in the woods and play fighting... Then you will have some idea of what to expect here. This is not just a cruel exaggeration it really is that bad. In fairness you might wonder where they got the money for a boat and a snow machine, but otherwise 'school media project' is about the standard we are talking here.
This movie is basically about a bunch of Vikings who sail to a distant land, which turns out to be inhabited by low budget werewolves. Don't be fooled into thinking that the movie has any relevance to the Viking god Thor or actual mythology... It doesn't. They just reused the name (presumably to add inaccuracy to the long list of flaws in this film).
The film has a distinctly amateur feel even by TV movie standards. At no point did I ever believe I was watching real Vikings. I'm not even sure if I was watching real actors since most of the lines are simply read aloud rather than acted. And half-heartedly forcing out a 'ye' or a 'thou' in a modern Liverpool accent didn't add anything to believability.
The set is quite literally 'the woods at the bottom of someone's garden' and most of the film takes place within 50 feet of an old shed, which we are supposed to believe is a village.
It's difficult to find anything good to say about this movie. Some of the girls are nice looking I guess... that's about it *shrug* You might want to watch this just to see how bad it really is, but most of it is boring and painful rather than amusing.
I normally reserve ratings of 1 and 2 for films where the sound and picture quality is so bad that the film is virtually unwatchable. This film doesn't have those problems but I just can't bring myself to give it a 3. Unless you are Todor Chapkanov's parents, you aren't going to be impressed by this.