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Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Unimpressive rewrite of a good adventure story
This movie was rather disappointing as far as I am concerned. The original story has been rewritten rather drastically. This in itself do not bother me too much. I am not one of those fanatics that get a fart stuck the wrong way if someone messes with the holy bible. However, I really do not think this was a good rewrite. A lot of the magical moments had been removed and that took away a lot from the story.
The movie starts off good enough with some nice and fairly impressive battles. Then it slows down a lot and sometimes I got a "get on with it damn it" feeling. When we finally got around to the burning bush part I got rather underwhelmed. God as a vengeful kid? Come on! The disasters and the special effects are not too shabby but the entire bit where Moses confronted Ramses and warned him about the disasters that where to befall Egypt are taken out. They where just thrown on Egypt one after another in ways that could be explained away as natural disasters. From one point of view I can understand the wish to do this but to me it took something away from the movie.
Later when Ramses decides to go after the Hebrews it continues in the same way with Ridley Scott downplaying the magic in the story. There is no pillar of fire and Moses is not holding out his staff to split the see. The sea just decided to recede and Moses takes advantage of it. Sure the effects when the water returns where quite cool but again, the magic was gone.
Technically the movie is quite well done and the acting is quite okay but the biblical grandeur and mythical aspects are no longer there. This grand adventure story is simply reduced to an ordinary, fairly mediocre adventure movie with a high budget. I have to say that I enjoyed Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments more even though the special effects in that one is hopelessly outdated and the acting is a bit awkward.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)
What an utter load of crap !!!
I am almost ashamed to admit that I watched this movie. After all I knew that it was going to be a bad movie. There are mitigating circumstances though. When my youngest son saw that SyFy were showing this piece of crap yesterday evening he absolutely wanted to watch it. I said okay and since I usually watch a TV-show or a movie with the kids in the evening I sat done with them to watch it.
I was not really prepared for the level of crappiness that was going to be assaulting me senses. I thought that, since they managed to get funding for a third movie, that there would be some qualities in the movie that I could consider mentioning in a positive context. Well, if I should try and bend over to find something positive to say then the hash tags that where displayed in the lower right corner of the screen was occasionally somewhat funny.
For the rest however, it is an utter load of crap. The acting is more than lousy. The special effects are generally crap. Story? It is incoherent, ludicrous and must have been dreamed up during influence of forbidden substances. It jerks all over the place from Washington to Florida and finally into space. Sharks on a space shuttle? The entire movie is so unintelligent, dumb and lousy that it is not even entertaining as a comedy. Even if you try to put your brain in park you are assaulted by such an amount of garbage that you can feel your gray cells trying to escape your body. I probably killed more gray cells watching this movie than in a week long drunken binge.
What astounds me is that some people seems to believe that this movie should have a 10 out of 10 rating. That is even more unbelievable than the level of crappiness of the movie itself. This is a solid 1 out of 10 stars movie if any movie have deserved such a low rating. I do not often rate a movie that low. There are usually something in the movie that bounces it up to a 2 or 3 star rating. Not so with this one.
John Wick (2014)
Excellent, straightforward action movie without any unnecessary social and emotional nonsense.
This is very much my kind of movie. Straightforward, lots of good action, our hero never waivers from his path and no social or emotional nonsense. Those who have watched the movie might wonder why I claim that there is not emotional nonsense since the entire plot is driven by John Wick's very emotional response to his wife's death and the subsequent killing of the dog that he received as a last present from her. What I mean with "no emotional nonsense" is that John Wick is never second guessing himself, the movie never really tries to portray him as an "ordinary" guy having second thoughts about killing the bad guys and he doesn't go into some silly "oh should I really pull the trigger" trance and drops the gun in the worst possible moments as is done in a lot of movies. Sure, there are emotions in this movie. Rage and thirst for revenge in particular with the addition of a healthy dose of fear from the bad guys eventually that is.
The plot of the movie is, as I wrote, quite straightforward and classical. Retired hit man gets wronged by idiot son of big bad guy. Hit man gets pi--ed off and goes on a quest for revenge. People die (a lot of them). Hit man and big bad guy have a show down at the end. In terms of story that is about it. However, such a story can be told and presented in a good and entertaining way and in a less good and entertaining way. As far as I am concerned the way the story is told in this movie is very, very entertaining.
Keanu Reeves is quite good as the hit man. So are the big bad guy and most of the other actors of any importance. During the course of the movie we get more than a few glimpses into John Wick's former life and it is a quite cool background that have been elaborated. The secret world that John Wick was once part of and how it works and operates would be worthy a good old-fashioned James Bond movie.
Then of course there is the action. It is an action movie so you do expect quite some expenditure on the action and this movie do not disappoint. There are lots of action and it is good action. Sure, the ease by which John Wick picks off his opponents waiving his gun(s) in all direction without hardly looking is sometimes a bit over the top but it is still done with a fluidness and grace that just makes it so cool. The gun fights are generally mixed up with some equally good martial arts close combat stuff and it is really well woven together.
One thing that I really like with this movie is that John Wick is the cool, cold, determined, not to be pi--ed off, killing machine from start to finish. There are really no slow parts or "obligatory" scenes of doubt and self-recrimination. It is "the bad guys will pay" all the way. This of course gives the opportunity to include some other elements that I quite like in a story like this. For instance the parts where the spoiled total idiot son of the big bad guy slowly gets his arrogance replaced by some good, honest to God, fear. Fear of death and fear of the guy he so carelessly pi--ed off.
Needless to say, I enjoyed this movie a lot when I sat down to watch it with my oldest son yesterday.
Taken 3 (2014)
Decent enough action movie but quality has gone down since the first installment
I was looking forward to this movie and I have to say that I was a wee bit disappointed. It is a decent enough action movie but the script leaves somewhat to be desired. A good chunk of the movie is quite good, actually it is very good, but there are some crucial scenes that, in my opinion, really drags it down to a rather mediocre level.
The plot is a fairly classical, not a very intelligent nor a very original, one. When trying to push the third sequel in a series Hollywood have a tendency to fall back on certain "trusted" elements. Like, make the hero haunted by the law and / or the government (no I do not consider the government to be the same as the law) or kill off some of the main (or at least likable) characters.
In this movie they are doing both. I do not know why this always seems to be the standard solution because I certainly do not like it. Are the general movie going audience really falling for these, in my mind, cheap scripts? I guess they must be since this formula is repeated over and over again. Well, it is not for me to judge other peoples tastes and if I would have been a bean counter for the movie industry then it would really have been my duty to squeeze out as much money as possible regardless of whether I thought it would make a good movie or not, However, I am not. I am a consumer of movies and my personal opinion is that these plot elements are pretty cheap and not really to my liking. But then, that is just me.
Anyway, the movie is not really bad. It is a decent enough action movie and, in general, I quite like the performance of Liam Neeson. He is the half-sad, silent and, most of all, ass-kicking hero that I like. He is pretty much what holds this movie together. Well, that was perhaps not entirely fair. Forrest Whitaker is doing a quite good job as well. Most of the other characters are mostly fillers. The main bad guy started off fairly good but he really never got the chance to shine and the ending scenes with the big confrontation was well I would say pretty pathetic.
This brings us to my man gripe with this movie. Up until this point Liam Neeson was really playing the big bad, and really skilled, killing machine. The way he, with the help of his friends, entered the bad guy's stronghold was perhaps not very innovative (seen that, been there , done that) but at least it was professional. After that however it turned into a bloody joke. Not only does our hero walk into a heavily defended stronghold carrying only a small pea shooter but every time he manages to liberate a decent weapon from the hopelessly incompetent bad guys he throws it away and, occasionally, picks up another pea shooter. What the f ? Then we have the fairly ridiculous big fight at the end where the bad goy runs around in his underwear. That was just embarrassing. Maybe I could have swallowed the underwear thing if it was not for the fact that Lieam Neeson suddenly lost all kind of professionalism. Apart from the pea shooter syndrome mentioned before he just gets himself whacked by this maniac until, in the last minute, he miraculously recovers and gets the upper hand. There where a few minor glimpses of intelligence in the whole scene but they where never really exploited.
One the whole, if would say this was a fairly decent and enjoyable action movie but I was expecting more from it. If the last third of the movie would have matched the first two thirds then my rating would have been higher. Maybe Liam Neeson is not a big enough star, although I like him a lot, to pick his roles like he wants to but I would say that he should indeed be a bit more picky and read the scripts before signing on.
Æon Flux (2005)
I really liked this movie
I am quite surprised, astounded even, that this movie has not received better ratings. It holds a meagre 5.5 at IMDb. Rotten Tomatoe's ratings are, as usual, pure nonsense with a 10% rating and a big rotten icon. Personally I think this is much undeserved. Yes the movie is a bit silly at times and yes it does not take a genius to figure out roughly what is about to happen nor what has happened in the "mysterious" past.
Still the movie is visually stunning. I would not say that this is a special effects movie in the traditional sense. There are no insane outbursts of explosions, no car chases, no space fights. However, the scenery is quite good and the martial arts stunts are really really good. Maybe I am biased by the fact that I am a male and the main character happens to be a woman in (very) tight suits but to me many scenes where simply visual poetry. There is an especially noteworthy scene where Aeon and a colleague (who have hands instead of feet by the way) are traversing a "garden of death" in order to get to their target. The whole setup is fairly ludicrous. I mean, in an advanced, highly technological, society who would resort to so bizarre means of protecting their main base of operations? Regardless of that, the sequence is just so cool and visually pleasing.
The first two thirds of the movie is probably the best. In the last third it goes a bit overboard with pretty ludicrous gun fights which pretty much defies any logic, science fiction or not. If you have seen old Western movies where the good guy just walks down the street against a hundred "baddies" who all constantly misses him as he, on the other hand, blasts them just by pointing his gun in the general direction well then you get the picture.
Charlize Theron was doing a quite good job of portraying Aeon Flux but my favourite actor was really Marton Csokas as Trevor Goodchild. His mostly calm yet quite imposing appearance was very enjoyable to watch. I had more difficulties with Jonny Lee Miller in the bad guy role. I felt that he was a bit bland but then I am watching Elementary on Netflix right now and there he is a so much more dynamic and impressive character.
Anyway, if you are a science fiction fan, do watch this movie. It is much better than the ratings give it credit for as far as I am concerned.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Decent, even very good but depressing movie
The backstory of the movie is the eternal battle over the city of Jerusalem. That city is of course a tempting subject for makers of adventure movies given that it has been destroyed at least twice, been attacked 52 times, besieged 23 times and changed ownership 44 times.
Balian de Ibelin comes to Jerusalem (not really of his own will mind you) during a time when it was in Christian hands only to discover that most of the Christian noblemen are arrogant, warmongering assholes. Not only that but they are stupid beyond belief. The results are disastrous of course. The movie blurb is actually not very accurate. When Balian is at the point were he has to defend the people there is no peace, fragile or otherwise.
The movie is quite well done, no question about that. The scenery, the acting, all of it is on the level of a very good movie. It is not really an action movie though. More of a adventure/drama movie. Balian's journey towards the final confrontation is a rather slow process and it is only towards then end, during the siege of Jerusalem, that the movie truly heats up on the action front. The siege of Jerusalem with its siege machines is quite impressive though. Not overdone with ridiculous CGI but well done.
It is also a depressing movie. The Christian noblemen, their disastrous behaviors and the equally disastrous end result makes me have a hard time to really like this movie. It is a good movie but I did not enjoy it as much as it deserves.
Seventh Son (2014)
Good, solid, fantasy adventure
This is a good, solid fantasy adventure. It is not a "wow great" kind of movie but definitely enjoyable to watch, at least if you are a fan of fantasy, magic, dragons and such like.
The movie is based on a book which I have not read although I believe it is considered as a young adult book. The movie seems to reflect this in that it has a fairly simple, straightforward, adventure plot. This is a movie made to entertain with magic, adventure, a bit of humor and visual effects. Nothing more and nothing less.
In my opinion it does so fairly well. I do like Jeff Bridges in his role as a rather wacky hunter of evil witches who have fallen into a dark and uncaring attitude towards the world around him. Uncaring about everything except slaying of witches that is. Ben Barnes, portraying the apprentice and Seventh Son is unfortunately making a rather bland impression. Then Julianne Moore is definitely better as the evil witch.
No movie where fantasy, magic and dragons are among the main themes can be without special effects. So, not surprisingly, there are a fair amount of them in this movie. I think they are generally well made and complements the story well without being overdone.
On the whole I liked the movie. It is a simple but solid adventure story with just the right amount of a few humorous remarks, nice visual effects, a bit of romance and action.
Great fantasy adventure
The Lord of The Rings are still occupying the three top places of my top ten movies list. Needles to say I am a fan of Tolkien and his Middle Earth fantasy story. I never felt that The Hobbit series could match the original trilogy but then much of the story in The Hobbit is not really Tolkien's but produced by Hollywood scriptwriters to embellish the story enough to fill three movies. It is not a bad attempt by any means (for being a Hollywood one) but it does not really reach the heights of The Lord of The Rings.
Still, I quite liked these movies. They are good adventure, fantasy, special effects movies. Thus it saddened me when I went to IMDb and the first things I saw was a bunch of people shouting crap and giving it one star reviews. That is just so much rubbish. This is the third movie and it is not vastly different from the others. If you disliked the first ones so much why go and see this one? Also, the harping about not following the book. At this point that is a nonsense argument. It was fairly obvious that it was not going to follow the book in detail when it was announced that there were going to be three movies and if you did not get it then then you should have gotten it from the other two movies. One star ratings looks more like trolling to me.
Anyway, back to the movie itself. I definitely liked this movie better than the second one. It was on par with the first one for me. There was less silly stuff, less stuff that just felt like fillers and the special effects were generally good.
The story and the implementation is, as I wrote, less filled with fillers as the last movie. At least from my point of view. Still though, the story is not at all up to the standard of the original Tolkien works. It shows that it is a Hollywood product that favors effects and quantity before depth and quality. The battle at the end was epic but at the same time somewhat nonsensical in how people ran back and forth clobbering people and beasts right left and center. I did quite like the ramming troll though.
I have to say that I did not like that weasel Alfrid though. Sure he was meant to be disliked but he got tiresome rather quickly. He could have been left out after being pushed into the water as far as I am concerned. After that I just got annoyed every time he appeared and I got especially annoyed by the fact that everyone, even Gandalf, seemed to trust him to actually do what he was told. I was hoping to the end that he would meet a gruesome end.
On the whole I definitely liked this movie. It had a "Tolkienesque" atmosphere, decent acting, decent story and loads and loads of special effects. Even though it does not reach the heights of The Lord of The Rings it is definitely great entertainment for the fantasy, not to mention special effects, lovers.
Surprisingly good sci-fi / horror movie
I was positively surprised by this movie. I would not say that it is a great movie but it is definitely worth watching. The movie plays on the classical horror elements with its dark and claustrophobic setting, horrific things that go bump in the dark and some rather psychopathic behavior for added flavor.
I would say that the story is somewhat original. Sure if you take each element of the story individually then most of them have been done before but the way they are tied together and with the additional twists I would say that the story did indeed surprise me somewhat.
I cannot say that the movie kept me on the edge by its horror qualities but then, after having seen enough various horror movies you kind of get too used to them to be scared anymore. It has its share of nasty creatures and some blood splatter to go with them. The monsters, the effects and the dark and gritty scenery works quite well although some of the areas of the ship seemed to be designed more for cinematic effect than having any logical or practical purpose on a spaceship.
It is somewhat difficult to write a review of this movie because much of it qualities and originality lies in the various twists, some predictable and some less so, in the story and a spoiler would definitely ruin this movie.
The acting is on par with the movie. Not great but decent enough. Both Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster performed their roles quite well.
As I wrote above, definitely a movie worth watching, preferably sometime after the sun has set and the younger kids have gone to bed.
I cannot believe the ridiculously hight ratings Interstellar has received
That this movie, at the time of writing this, holds an 8.8 rating at IMDb is simply beyond my understanding. Needless to say I did not really like this movie. The story is not very good, the science is ludicrous and the visuals not all that impressive. Maybe the latter would be better in a big theater (I watched this on my home cinema system which has a relatively large screen by European standards) but I am not really sure about that either.
Be warned that the rest of this review might contain a spoiler or two.
The movie starts of with the usual "I told you so" wet dream of the green fanatics on a dying Earth so it is off to a depressing start right away. That is an overused concept today as far as I am concerned. Then they pour it on with a school official claiming that he Apollo missions and moon landings never happened. What the f ? If they wanted to depress the audience right from the start they succeeded, at least with this audience.
The story proceeds with our heroes finding these gravity waves in the sand and by a huge stretch of imagination decrypts them to mean coordinates which leads them to the secret NASA base. Once there Cooper is told that he is their best choice of pilot for a "save the human race" mission through a wormhole. Yeah, right! This guy was former NASA. His whereabouts could hardly been unknown to them. If he was their best choice why would they entrust a mission to save the human race to someone else until he stumbled onto their door? Typical Hollywood nonsense! The movie is full of this kind of rubbish. Romilly wastes 23 years of his life doing pretty much nothing except deciding not to go into the sleep capsule. The supposedly highly trained and vetted professor that they do find turns out to be a psychopath as well as and idiot almost blowing up the ship when trying to proceed with a docking that all the systems tells him have not succeeded. Then they proceed to dock with the main ship and stop its spin as well as bring it out of orbit around a planet with the shuttles engines. That is one hell of a powerful shuttle not to mention the strength of the docking mechanism! This just goes on. When someone is not doing something illogical or stupid (or both) they sit around talking, philosophizing and dragging the movie forward at snails pace. 169 minutes is way too much for this movie.
The movie ends up in one big time travel mess (okay they do not travel in time, just sends messages through time but still
) during a bunch of psychedelic scenes while traveling through the back hole. Science? Not so much. And what about this totally ludicrous massively illogical and inefficient robot design? The one good thing I can say about this movie is that the performance of most of the actors, especially Matthew McConaughey, are quite good. For the rest, not my cup of tea.