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10 reviews in total 
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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Dawn Delivers Drama where Rise Delivered Adventure, 15 July 2014

When a second installment of a series is released, it's always crucial to see how it built up from its foundation. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, multiple ideas, themes, and discoveries introduced on the first film are expanded upon, improving the series' direction as a whole.

This includes: Being able to behold--in thorough detail--the lifestyle and construction of the apes' habitat as reigned by Caesar. Establishing more ape characters who are emotionally resonant and well developed with their sense of identity. Seeing the devastating effects of the spread virus in San Francisco.

And Finally:

Building on the relationship aspects between human and ape, focusing on their perspectives towards each other, and the apes' morale towards humans. This last point is what brings Dawn into smart, thought- provoking material. The relationship dynamics are complex, and not as black and white as you would expect them to be. Viewers can end up sympathizing and hating characters from both the humans' and the apes' sides, as there is a mutual connection and similarity drawn between the two.

However, keep in mind that this is a distinct change from the previous movie. The first movie, was adventurous and curious in the sense you watched Caesar and others grow up in different environments (lab, suburbia, kennel) etc. all the way to the revolt. The tone was also much livelier. The new tone is darker, more serious, and relies on the drama more so than the energy spectacle of the first. However, at the last act of the movie, you will get the battle sequences you've been waiting for.

If it's another thing for sure the apes are given the focus they deserve, you might even say they have MORE screen time than the humans!

All in all, the technical dynamics are great, but could use more flair, more energy. 7.5/10

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Overly Cartoonish Sequel, 16 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a fan of the premise behind Percy Jackson. The first movie The Lightning Thief introduced me to the books, I read the series, and now just followed up with the second movie.

While I can note that some disliked the first movie due to adaptation inconsistencies, the first movie was still thrilling, well- paced, had a nice blend of action styles with the right touch of fantasy and comedy.

The second movie completely lacks those pros and I felt as a film--book fanatic or not--it was disappointing.

The beginning camp scenes were spot on and impressive, but after the group embarks on their quest, the entire movie feels all too Disney- esque, greatly lacking a feel of seriousness/urgency that would make me care enough for the story. Everything except action is used in overabundance.

CGI: Occasionally impressive, but the ENTIRE movie relies on it. When you see the backgrounds flash at sonic-speed in the taxi, Percy wave-surfing with Luke, and Greek mythological characters too casually tossed in the real world environment, the CGI really loses credibility.

Script: The script is horrible and the acting is very dry from all main characters--all voices were level the entire movie. Tyson's character is obsessed on the "Brother"-hood between him and Percy, you hear the word in his every other sentence. And a sickening amount of one liners. A couple may get a laugh, but they were beating a dead horse with 20+ of them, like they were trying to turn the comedy undercurrent into a subgenre.

Action: Action was not memorable--unlike the Medusa, Las Vegas and NYC scenes in The Lightning Thief. The bull scene and final scenes had the most of it, but the middle was left largely unfulfilled with only quick snippets of it, but generous portions of dialogue and CGI.

Music: Another movie with a ubiquitous never-ending orchestra soundtrack, just to glorify "the heroic parts" and string together the filler. For the most part, the music does nothing for the excitement of the movie, and with that said sometimes plain silence (or tracks from some signed artists) would be nice.

And without spoiling the movie, the climax really doesn't offer a sense of dread or fear instilled in the later books, due to revealing a certain feature of the book WAY too early and dealing with this "feature" way too easily.

My only hope is that I watched this knowing that Sea of Monsters was my least favorite book in the series, so I'm hoping the same rule applies with the film.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Mood and New Direction of Iron Man 3, 5 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, I'm going to clarify that I don't identify with the comic books, so I'm not an avid/biased fan apart from what I've seen with the previous Iron Man movies--so my entire review will be based on that, the first two movies and what most other critics here DIDN'T address.

Overall, I did get enjoyment out of this film...but not as much as I should have.

What I DIDN'T enjoy: Thanks to director Jon Favreau, first 2 installments of Iron Man had an optimistic/vibrant mood and soundtrack you can cheer with (ex. AC/DC), complemented with unique and exotic locations, on top of charming and well-placed humor.

Thanks to the new director Shane Black, the mood of this movie almost takes a 180, is dark and heavy a large portion of the movie, which does not transition well into the humor. Which the humor is shallow, overabundant, and placed at the wrong times. Following that, the locations are mostly bland and uninteresting (ex. small-town Tennessee). Even when you see Tony Stark's amazing mansion, it doesn't look as beautifully lit and set as you remember. Even the editing of some scenes (ex. Mandarin's broadcasts) don't fit in smoothly, they just abruptly appear, and the enhanced realism, and politics in this movie feel out of place.

*Mild Spoilers* Nobody even mentioned the horror sub-genre in this movie (thanks to the inclusion of AIM and the unstable Extremis drug). It's bearable and even thrilling, but it's unexpected, way more violent and imitates movies like Ghost Rider or Resident Evil. And some themes of the movie don't even capitalize, from Mandarin's whole character to the fact that it's supposed to be Christmas in this movie but you barely feel it apart from the occasional Christmas Carols.

Sigh...but apart from that here's what I DID enjoy: All the actors deliver, putting great amount of effort into their character's personality as always, and you get to see Rhodes and Pepper more involved and convincing than ever. The lengthy Action Sequences are impressive and memorable, and will have you on the edge of your seat. The movie features a lot of twists which will throw you off, which can be viewed as groundbreaking, new territory for the franchise. One of which includes Tony being reckoned to deal with his enemies by fighting without his suit. Plus, the movie makes some real thoughtful messages upon reaching the conclusion.

Standalone, I moderately would've liked it with no further questions asked. But comparing it to the first two Iron Man movies, it feels like a letdown in a way. If you see it, adjust your expectations as far as the mood and direction go.

Taken 2 (2012)
70 out of 136 people found the following review useful:
Solid Sequel, 6 October 2012

When I heard there was going to be a Taken 2, I must admit, I didn't have a positive reaction. It just seemed completely unnecessary given the plot of Taken, and its near ideal ending, I just didn't want to see the whole thing rehashed all over again in a sloppy way.

However, I went to see Taken 2 and I had a pleasant experience. They took the storyline and characters into full consideration. In the original Taken, the girl, Kim, seemed like a brat and all you saw her do was laugh, smile and run when she got her way and cry when things go wrong. Lenore seemed cold and proud of herself as well, only to be humbled when Bryan (Liam Neeson) proved her right of the dangers of international travel.

In Taken 2, both characters are more mature, more respectful and watchable, and are more involved in the plot. Because the antagonists are after everyone, Liam and Lenore as well as Kim, it makes an interesting triangle of how everyone plays their part and help each other out.

The movie is not over-coated with the action sugar with loud music and explosions everywhere. It has a great deal of thought, suspense, and a share of original technique and even dialogue, just like the original. Istanbul provides some good locations, both intriguing scenery and gloomy scenery which can also help in taking the movie seriously.

Sure, it has it's flaws, and the camera-work is sometimes choppy, but the point is, if you thoroughly enjoyed the first Taken, you should see this one too.

In Time (2011)
5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
In Time, it Delivers, 28 October 2011

What you will be handed is: A fresh spin on a dystopian-bound future featuring the concept of time--literally prolonging the expiration date of your life--replacing the value of money.

A good serving of drama; they don't just go all adrenaline on this concept. They focus on the reality of human struggle how there's almost no hope for the future if you're living on the edge of paycheck to paycheck. Or, on the other hand...what does life feel like when you're earning and freely enjoying all the coveted time and wealth in the world that the whole world is suffering over? Some moments in this movie will punch you cold-blooded and it hurts.

Great life-or-death situations. Since the clock is always ticking in this movie, the suspense never dies when someone's life is on the line and the suspense has been some of the most unnervingly close calls I have seen in a while. The accompanying action is decent, but nothing too impressive or never-before-seen.

Okay acting. Cillian Murphy and Vincent Kartheiser really had the best performances, the two leads were just okay, yet fell flat on an often basis.

A plot that can be steadier. The pacing works well, though the tone doesn't maintain it's level all the way through, it does in the beginning, but not the middle and end. Some humor is thrown in but it doesn't work well. Some scenes try to have that fun, pump-up-the-music bad-boy action style and that has no flow or belonging either.

A guarantee that you will do some of the thinking and drawing some of your own conclusions. Some motives/outcomes feel under-explained though. But most importantly, the writers didn't go through the hassle of explaining how the clock and all the complimentary commodities work with your body, but I commend them for skipping out on it. Don't worry about the past calculations, worry about the present effect. Go in preparing to accept a challenging concept, this is one for the thinkers.

Overall, this was a pretty solid sci-fi movie. If you enjoyed Surrogates with Willis, you will most likely enjoy In Time.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
See it For Suspense, 29 August 2011

If you're interested in, or planning to go see this movie...then what you need to do is accept this notion that this is a suspense flick and the suspense will outweigh the horror. This however, is not necessarily a bad thing...unless you crave loud and gory and the top-frightening movies--which is where I believe the IMDb hate is coming from.

While the horror is mild to moderate--more like PG-13, the premise and the suspense is strong. One thing the director does very well is building up the tension, step by step, letting you watch as dreadful events and chilling ambushes unravel. The atmosphere, of course, is very effective...from the topiary with the mushroom circle in the garden, to the wood-paneled walls and swirling staircases in the foyer...It adds to establish a creepy/on-edge feel (rather than blatant terror).

Also, its nice how the movie reserves space for character development and change...I almost didn't care about any of the main characters in the beginning, (plus their character's actions really could've used some improvement) but by the end they had earned some sympathy from me.

The scares consisted of some effective "jump scenes" and decent "trap" techniques, but if you go in expecting a suspense might enjoy yourself.

Overall, decent moderate entertainment.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Beautifully Exceeds Expectations, 9 April 2011

I walked in the theater expecting another Vantage Point...with just boring repetitions of the same crime scene, but the movie is fulfilling in so many other themes as well as having much more involvement that it was a pleasant surprise to go see it.

Okay...I will admit, that the first 3 scenes or so are really...average. EXACTLY what you expect, even the explosion is done in a quick/rushed nondramatic and unconvincing manner.

But one thing I enjoyed was that just about each time when Gyllenhaal's character gets sent back into the train via the Source Code, how

1)There's a different objective

2) There a subtle changes to pay attention to

3) Achieving that objective often plays out awkwardly and comically.

Going back into the train felt like an I-Spy game or even like Goosebumps books where you choose different endings. This part of the movie feels really free and loose, and Gyllenhaal really takes advantage that he knows he can do just about ANYTHING in this reality, though knows he has a goal to pursue--which may be more challenging than it seems.

More predicaments, twists, character involvement and additional plots occur, too many of them do, so they're not all predictable. Also, this movie was truly emotional towards the end. It delves into what it means to live life to the fullest and to experience happiness.

What I must admit also that the ending took off the "perfect 10" star for me. A forceful moment in the storyline near the end was so perfect that you'll wish that was the ending, but instead, the story continues for an extra 5-10 minutes, in a fashion that provokes questions and confusion, and the real ending is definitely not as satisfying.

BUT...the movie was still largely a great, and surprisingly entertaining ride, and a nice runtime too. The end WILL suit you better if you don't sit down and analyze it too hard. My theater, roommate and I all had fun.

Limitless (2011/I)
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Clever Fun...but Inconsistent, 18 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie with its premise sure does attract a lot of curiosity: What could happen if you take a pill that can: speed up your mind, and drastically increase your intelligence, therefore getting you a professional job with money and influence? Therefore, this movie definitely gets you to think. Some "What would you do" situations occur, and knowledge that Cooper's character goes into risky territory is really invigorating.

Well, the movie took its premise in many different directions, unevenly jumping genres (from drama to suspense to drama to action to drama) and implicating multiple characters and conflicts into the screenplay, which in a way backfires. Yes, this means you will need to pay close attention to everything going on while crucial explanations can be very rushed (especially towards the end). The overall storyline seems overlong (felt like 2 hours 15 minutes), very choppy and inconsistent.

Every time when conflicts are introduced they earn a nice scene or two, and are practically dropped, not sticking to the overall storyline. Examples including Eddie Morro (Cooper's) brain "skipping moments" and forgetting recent events, discovering the harsh and lethal side effects of abstaining from the pill, killers trying to track the users of the pill, etc. They all seem very temporary, while between these conflicts, the previous suspense is drowned out with talk: a good chunk of it sophisticated business-style conversation and generally maneuvering around the workplace.

The movie does have its pros without a doubt though.

Acting and Character development. Cooper's character has a strong dynamic change is very amusing to watch, seeing him go from a fatigued, on-the-brink author, not too much emotion in his life, to a happy confident smart-talking genius. De Niro made quite a firm/rigid impression as well. As you can imagine now that Cooper accesses 100% of his brain, the script is technical and poetic.

The camera-work/editing/director of photography department is certainly a unique add...some may like it some may not. In a way makes it feel like you are on drugs, featuring intense tunnel zoom effects, view distortions, surrealism with nearby objects, and changing the color from a dull dingy shade before the pill to a lively burst of color afterward. Though the dingy side of the editing is viewed far more often and can be somewhat depressing/boring to look at.

Some of the action--when there is action--is creative.

I would have wanted to see more dazzling locations and paradise though.

Overall, the movie was a good effort, had some smart scenes and performances, and the storyline is good at first, but it totally divides apart and wasn't as consistently entertaining as it should have been--unless you are okay with talk.


Unknown (2011/I)
7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
More Suspense Element than Taken, 19 February 2011

Okay, we all know we can compare this to Taken. Same actor: Liam Neeson. Near the same location: Eastern Europe. Similar plot as far as rescuing/redeeming a person/persona. Yet, there are enough differences in this movie to make the experience stand out from Taken.

First off, Taken is more of a "go-get-em action/thriller", and during that experience you were confident in Liam's ability to pummel through every obstacle that got in his way. Unknown is more of a dark suspense. It has good action, but it is scattered and mostly contains mystery, questionable phenomena, and thought-provoking circumstances as your entertainment.Here I (and probably other viewers) felt less certain about Liam's capabilities mainly because he is playing DEFENSE instead of OFFENSE, plus with the aid of the identity context itself. Liam certainly doesn't feel invincible here. There are many tense, close-call type situations that don't necessarily involve fighting and jumping onto a boat.

Also, the plot of Taken is almost as straightforward as it could get, finding his daughter through one witness, one trafficker one locale at a time. Don't get me wrong, Taken was fun, but as soon as Unknown really settles in, it feels as if there are three or so antagonists/enemies at the same time and therefore provokes many more questions that you want answered. I have to give credit to the use of multiple characters who were quite unpredictable, by the end when you look back to the beginning and see all that's transpired you feel like NONE of the characters were who they used to be. Last note, the photography was satisfying. Throughout the film it has a dreary/overcast/stormy type of feel that emphasizes the tension and downward motion of Liam Neeson's feelings towards his sanity.

With respect to Taken, overall it's a chilling, twisty, and enjoyable experience.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hire the Mechanic, 30 January 2011

First, I must say, if you are familiar with Jason Statham, you are familiar with this style of the movie. The action here does not disappoint, as it is filled with mostly stylized and intense fight scene choreography, along with some vehicular stunts and explosives. Not too over-the-top and bound to keep your eyes fixed to the screen. Stealth also comes into play quite nicely with the plot.

What I must emphasize specifically with Mechanic is the storyline. It has a solid, satisfying beginning and middle, as you see character development between Statham and his trainee Ben Foster, you can sense some complicated terms of relationship and emotions in them and between them. There is a nice pacing of action and drama going on and interchanging. When it hits around the 2/3 mark of the movie, the pace/plot gets quite repetitive: An assassination is set up—Statham and Foster pursue him, during the pursuit there may be a mistake that results in a fight scene and maybe some guns, but the target gets killed, and the two move on. This cycle repeats—while you're wondering who the general enemy or conflict is, yet they do make that known later. The finale impressed me a little more with some twists and amazing stunts, and then I came out of the theater thinking it was good—overall decent, fun entertainment--but could've been a bit better. However, the action and the characters were still entertaining enough to enjoy the experience--so I say, Hire the Mechanic!