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This movie made me angry...
I'm an American and this movie made me angry. It didn't make me angry for the reasons you think.
You see, a lot of people tend to think America is a great place (and for some people it is); others tend to think America is full of "stupid Americans" (and there are some). Then there are those who are disillusioned to the propaganda of America; they don't see the land of the free and the home of the brave, they see just another country with a bunch of crooked thieves holding office and subjugating anyone who isn't in the upper-class to social and economic oppression.
Elite Squad 2 makes me angry because it's real. It's not a fantasy recreation of the political system or the enforcement institutions controlled by them. The corruption in Brazil is a mirror of the same kind of political corruption in America; our electoral college is a joke; our candidate propaganda machine is a joke; our Congress is a joke and our Senate is a joke.
Recent uprisings from the average Joe and Jane (assuming they make it to the news outside of the U.S.,) is indication enough that not everything is strawberries and lilies in the land of the U. S., of A. And seeing a movie like Elite Squad 2 helps put that into perspective: this isn't just my nation that's like this, it's a lot of nations that are like this.
So yeah, this movie made me angry because it makes you feel helpless and small and insignificant with its powder kegs of truth. You see how violence can suffocate change and cronyism can hamper the democratic process. This movie outlines that even when you think the "good guys" can win, they don't. It's a harsh dose of reality served up in the most intense two hours you'll experience from a movie for a long time to come.
Despite the feeling of helplessness and anger toward the reality of our corrupt and pathetic political system(s), more than anything this movie makes you want to stand up and say, "enough is enough!"
Uma História de Amor e Fúria (2013)
A beautifully animated picture about life, love and fury
I don't write reviews often, but this is one movie that compelled me to write something; if not for the sake of this film being more than just ambitious, but for the sake of this film daring to be an home to love, cynicism and the brutal reality of oppression.
For people privileged enough to not have to deal with the everyday worries of living under an oppressive regime, this movie may fall on deaf ears. However, anyone who struggles in their day-to-day lives under institutions setup to disrupt and disparage the average person into existing to survive and surviving to exist, you'll easily and quickly recognize that this movie works on so many parallels to real life that it feels less like an animated feature and more like a retelling of all the historical atrocities that remind us why it's important to never forget history.
There's no point in trying to review the story of Rio 2096 because the story itself is linear only in the sense that it follows a single soul through a series of different time periods; everything else about the film is non-linear and almost more like a series of short films wrapped in a single film about how little an individual person is in the grand scheme of society's perceived image (and the realities) of oppression.
Take note that this film pulls no punches. It's violent and sexually charged, making it highly unsuitable for younger audiences. However, this is a very poignant film that speaks volumes about the necessity of standing by the virtue of fortitude, even when it seems like the results are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things.
This is a brilliant film that speaks on many levels.
Interview with a Hitman (2012)
An amazing movie from start to finish. A solid 8 out of 10.
This is the Hit-man movie that Hollywood should have been chasing, instead of that stinker with Olyphant and that upcoming sequel with Paul Walker *shutters*.
Luke Goss absolutely owns the screen in this eerie, atmospheric tale of a "stone cold" hit-man who rises through the ranks all while maintaining a very integral set of principles.
This is not a straight-through action-thriller. You will be required to think about a lot of what happens and it's one of those intelligent puzzle-thrillers that leaves you smirking with satisfaction at the end.
Also of note...this is not one of those anti-hero glorification films, nor does it pull any punches whatsoever. Some scenes may shock you.
I really wish this had been released in theaters because it honestly deserves a lot of acclaim.
A moderate running time, a great soundtrack and an inescapable performance by Luke Goss makes this a must-see for anyone who loves dramas, thrillers, action flicks or was hoping to see a proper and realized characterization of Agent 47 on screen.
Born to Race (2011)
Great movie, way better than Fast & Furious
Gearheads may have been given a lot of trash-worthy action-racing titles lately, mostly all trying to rip and copy on Vin Diesel's Fast & Furious franchise. But the stupid part about it is that it seems like each one of those "street racing" movies get dumber by the sequel and stupider by the spin-off, except for this movie...Born to Race.
I loved this movie because it stays completely true to itself. One of the dumbest parts about Tokyo Drift was how many cars that kid burned through, there was no respect for the vehicles they way they respected the cars, the tuning and the performance in this movie. Now, if you're not a gear-head a lot of the lingo will go over your head, but if you're not really into cars or racing movies then I don't see why you would be reading reviews for a movie about cars and racing(?) Anyways, the writing is actually several times better than most Hollywood flicks. They don't have "easy answers" for everything and most scenes fade out instead trying to drag on and force characters to resolve things. Mostly because in real life we don't always resolve things in one sitting.
I also liked that the movie stayed true to the character direction, even with its clichés...It was easy to both hate and root for the protagonist in this film because you could understand why he did the things he did, but at the same time, he was a young idiot, so the director and writer did a job of balancing it out.
Also, I just have to say, that 2011 Black Mustang was a freaking beast and the Subaru was a true standout star. I'm glad they also kept the races realistic with real cars and not all that crappy CG stuff.
This was a good low-budget film for car enthusiasts and racing fans.
Mind Game (2004)
Unbelievable...I loved it!
I had to give this a 9 out of 10 for a couple of reasons: 1.) This is a truly original movie 2.) With a little patience the animation is greatly rewarding 3.) It's a rare movie about the enthusiasm of life without force-feeding it into the viewer's face.
I liked this movie mostly for reason number two and next because of reason number three. The animation is one of the real driving elements behind the film and if you enjoyed stuff like American Pop or Fire & Ice from Ralph Bashki, then you're also (more than likely) enjoy the animation and wacky celebratory art-style, rotoscoping, cel-shading, 3D and a bunch of other animation techniques used in this film.
Now, the real meat and potatoes lies within this movie's message for appreciating life, as it goes in the movie: the story never ends, just like life goes on even after the curtain drops for the main character (being you).
Unlike most films that force-feed viewers a "hero" who must save the day, get the girl and redeem himself, Mind Game instead wants viewers to root for the hero because the hero is put into a position where only he can root for himself. I also liked that this movie gives a flipside on what it is to appreciate life, even when you have nothing to look forward to in life. I think it helped turn this sometimes violent and dark film into something inspirational and hopeful. I also truly enjoyed the "possibilities" this movie played with that life can sometimes throw our way.
All in all, I loved this film. It's not a typical Japanese anime by a long-shot and it's certainly not for everyone (especially younger viewers) but it's a great film that any avant garde film enthusiast would greatly appreciate.
Zone of the Dead (2009)
This movie was awesome.
You might see the 5 out of 10 score and think it's terrible and that's true, this movie is terrible according to the standards we usually rate movies, hence the 5 out of 10. The lighting is kind of terrible in some scenes, the camera-work isn't always consistent, the dialogue is cringe-worthy enough to be funny, the plot is asinine and the sound editing is poor.
Now, if you're like me and you're in the mood to see a bada$$ movie with characters that don't make stupid decisions and instead decide to kick butt and take names, then you'll love Zone of the Dead. No whiney, pot-smoking teenagers here to waste time in this movie, no sir-ree.
B-movie legend, Ken Foree, leads a no-name cast in this modern-day classic that pays homage to John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 and George A. Romero's original Dawn of the Dead (which also starred ken Foree). It's basically about some toxic gas turning people into zombies and thus, it becomes a zone of the dead.
I'm not going to give anything away but if you really dig awesome cheesy movies with a lot of action, you'll love Zone of the Dead.
Also, I must say that this movie introduced some of the most bada$$ characters ever featured in a zombie flick. Armageddon the "Lunatic" is fantastic and entirely refreshing to the zombie genre (if you're a fan of shooter games this guy will have you cheering from your seat) and the "Prisoner" is a dead-ringer for Rico Rodriguez from the Just Cause games (and he acts like Rico, too, which is awesome). I was just so glad that there were characters in such a low-budget flick who did more butt-kicking than most $100 million dollar Hollywood movies.
If you're into more dramatic, realistic horror flicks like The Strangers or 28 Days Later, then steer clear of this movie. However, if you thoroughly enjoyed movies like The Horde, Dawn of the Dead, Escape from New York, Vampires, Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing or any other classic action-horror flick then you have to add Zone of the Dead to your collection.
I hope the director gets a bigger budget and makes more movies like this. I really miss films of this nature and the writer/director did a great job of reviving a genre that's recently been abused with a lot of cheap cash-ins. Long live low-budget flicks that entertain!
Max Payne (2008)
Max Payne is a game with a story...so where was the story?
When every gamer and fan of Max Payne (the original, not the gaudy sequel) found out that Hollywood had tapped Rockstar for one of the most celebrated and praised video games in recent history, a lot of gamers were excited.
Let's get one thing out of the way for non-gamers: Max Payne is a heavily noir-oriented game that is entirely fueled by a dark, brooding overtone involving corruption from the city streets all the way up to city hall. It's a game that focuses deeply on the psychological trauma of a cop whose family is murdered and he eventually becomes a depressed DEA agent that gets framed for murder. Max Payne is probably one of the few games with a story that's better than most crime movies, seriously.
Fast forward to the release of the movie and gamers and non-gamers alike have been completely confused on how the heck this movie turned out as bad as it did. Nothing good from the game translated over into the movie...not the narration from Max, not the poetic scenes, not the action...nothing. There were about 10 plot points in the game that could have been used to convey a purposeful and deep rooted movie, full of meaning and intrigue yet instead we get a movie full of fluff.
Heck, they could have focused the movie on the corporate corruption affecting the lower-grade of our social order; they could have focused on the police corruption involving the pay grade that separated the haves from the have nots (which was a strong overtone in the game); they could have focused on the drug addiction, either that of the low-lives using the drugs or Max's saddening addiction to pain-killers (an extremely strong crux of the first game).
There's so much more from the game that was just compelling and at times breathtakingly poetic that was just completely passed over, skipped and misused in the movie. They didn't even bother to interpret the eerie dream sequences involving Max's guilt over his wife and child dying.
Instead, Max Payne the movie delivers less than a handful of actual shootouts (and poorly edited shootouts at that), and the whole diving and shooting thing that made the game famous seems to be underused in the movie. Mila Kunis looks too young for Walhberg, which creates an uninteresting relationship between the two. The movie's pacing is horribly slow and because of that it forfeits its right to be called an action flick (because an action movie needs actual action scenes every so often so the crowd doesn't get bored). There are no fight scenes and only one watch-worthy shootout in an office building and even that's kind of short and forgettable.
I'm running out of words, but hands down this movie could have done 100 different things with its plot to be 10 times more interesting and engaging than what it was. This isn't a good movie for gamers and non-gamers alike. It's boring, too long, too stiff, unevenly paced and just a bad cash-in by Hollywood.
Hopefully, five years from now, someone will reboot this movie where it's not two hours of wooden acting, boring action sequences and a plot that's been recycled from twenty years ago composed of predictable characters and an ending that was visible a mile off.
This movie isn't even bad enough to be funny, and that's the sort of bad worth avoiding.
Better than a lot of other action movies
Amazingly enough I went into this movie thinking it would be complete crap because of JCVD and Dolph "I can't act" Ludgren, but it was much better than a lot of other action movies, including Terminator: Salvation.
A lot of people might be hesitant because of the conflicting reviews, but ignore the whole "This is bad because it has Jean Claude in it..." stigma and you might be as surprised as I was after watching it. In fact, I found myself watching it a few times again because, through and through, it's an extremely engaging film.
What actually shocked me is that it covers an important social issue of terrorism versus political tyranny; using terrorism to maintain (and gain) freedom as well as capitalist control of armies without nations. Yeah, it's a movie that actually covers something important about sociality.
As a lot of other people pointed out, though, Jean Claude and Dolph only lend their faces for brief (in Dolph's case) and extended (in Jean's case) cameos. This film is not really about the aging action heroes but rather, they play a part in the outcome of things, very similar to Snipe's role in Blade 2.
As for quality...the movie is shot to look like the Bourne Identity and even has a cool chase scene like it, too. All the action is depicted with startling realism and all fist-fights result in such because people either run out of ammo or get too close to use weapons. In other words, all the fight scenes in this movie make a heck of a lot of sense and are very realistic and practical. Added to this, the musical score is extremely fitting to the science-fiction overtones.
Overall, this movie is leaps and bounds better than every other Universal Soldier movie made before it and actually takes itself serious enough to deserve better praise than what it's been receiving.