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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Not as good as the first., 24 August 2013

I really liked the first Kick-Ass. I thought that it made some good changes to Mark Millar's graphic novel and recreated the really fun tale of regular people turned heroes. When Kick-Ass 2 was announced, I was stoked...until I found out that Matthew Vaughn was no longer going to be involved in the movie (as more than a producer). Jeff Wadlow wrote and directed the sequel, his first rated R adventure. So...did it kick ass?

I'll start off my review by saying that Kick-Ass 2's story is an absolute mess. I'm familiar with the source material, and I know some liberties had to be made with the story for the screen (some of the violence in the book is disgusting), but the characters here seem like that have little to no motivation to do anything. Kick-Ass gets back into the crime fighting game...because he's bored. One of Kick-Ass's friends becomes a super hero seems cool. Hit Girl gets back into the crime fighting game because...she's basically also bored. Certain characters seem completely forgotten about. This script is, simply put, a disaster.

There are several really fun, really well done scenes here. The 'van' scene (hinted at in the trailer) is outstanding. Mother Russia showing the NYPD that she means business is another stand out scene. However, the rest of the movie seems entirely forgettable, with the exception of Jim Carrey's charismatic turn as Captain Stars & Stripes.

The direction is competent. Wadlow lets the action breathe a bit instead of getting up close and personal with the shaky cam that I hate so much, so I did appreciate that. You can actually tell what's going on. The CGI blood is a little distracting (why don't we just use squibs anymore?). The acting is competent, although Mintz-Plasse is even more annoying here than he was in the first one.

Here's my bottom line...going into Kick-Ass 2, expect the following - a terrible story, some cool action scenes, and a ton of dick jokes. Aside from a handful of scenes, this won't be a movie that you remember in a year. Hell, you may not even remember most of it as you exit the theater. It's definitely not as good as the first one.

Final Score: 4/10

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Couldn't be worse than X-Men Origins: Wolverine...right?, 1 August 2013

The X-Men movies have been a roller coaster for fans of the source material. 2000's X-Men was a delight to see on the big screen, seeing our favorite band of heroes actually come together on screen for the first time. X-Men 2 topped that, becoming one of the finest comic related movies still to this day. Unfortunately, that's when X-Men: Last Stand came out.

Helmed by a new director (Brett Ratner, infamous in Hollywood for his mediocrity), Last Stand basically flushed the X-Men legacy down the toilet. Armed with memes and the audacity to murder off prominent members of the X- Men lineup, the X-Men movies came to a halt.

In '09, Wolverine had his first solo outing, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It was, in a word, terrible.

After seeing those two duds, I was not excited for X-Men: First Class, but went to see it anyway. It was surprisingly good, and brought life back to the X-crew. Finally, the series had a pulse. Now, in 2013, in anticipation of X-Men: Days of Future Past, comes The Wolverine.

First, the cast. Hugh Jackman has never looked better as Logan. He worked hard to get in shape for this role (even employing help from The Rock), and it really showed. The rest of the supporting cast is sufficient, but does not stand out.

The direction was sufficient by James Mangold. I can only dream about what may have been with Darren Arronofsky at the helm. He had worked on the film and script for 6 months, but wanted a much darker, rated R film, which the studio did not want. Shame. Could have been amazing, and much closer to the comics.

Overall, I liked this movie, but I liked it to the point that I probably wouldn't watch it again. There was one scene that really stood out as being amazing - a fight along a bullet train that happens near the beginning of the story. It was simply breathtaking, and one of those scenes that will stand out for years to come. It's a shame it wasn't topped later on in the movie.

I think that the problem with The Wolverine is that there was no great villain. The villains in the film, including one female mutant, are very one-dimensional and very, very uninteresting. From the trailers, you can see that we get the Silver Samurai, although he's nothing like he is in the comics. I hope that the next Wolverine outing comes with a dose of Omega Red, as I think a one on one Omega/Wolverine movie would be outstanding. If you look at the great comic book movies, they all have iconic, menacing, charismatic villains. The Dark Knight had Joker, the king of villains. Spider-Man 2 had Doc Oc. The Dark Knight Rises had Bane. This movie...had a few unmemorable villains. Shame, really.

There were a few good scenes here and Jackman did a great job as Logan/Wolverine, but as an overall product, I didn't think it was great. It was better than Origins, however.

PS: Be sure to stay after the credits, as (if you watched and remember the abomination known as X-Men: The Last Stand), there's quite a shocker that leads us into 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Final Score: 6/10

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Time to Meet the Devil., 28 July 2013

When Only God Forgives was announced, I was stoked. Drive was my favorite film of 2011, and the re-teaming of Refn and Ryan Gosling...I mean, how could you go wrong? The original plot was listed as:

A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai- boxing match.

However, that must have changed. That's only a few minutes of the film. The actual plot has nothing to do with that. The synopsis should have read:

A drug dealer's mother hunts down the men that killed her son.

This film is available in VERY select theaters or on VOD right now at home. I went the at home route, as it was not playing anywhere near me.

So...did I like it?

This film is very hard to explain. It's very avant-garde, and very 'old Kubrick'. It's almost all visual, with little dialogue to support it. All in all, Ryan Gosling only says about fifteen lines of dialogue. That being said, the visuals are amazing. Cliff Martinez does an amazing job creating a very unique look in Thailand...lots of contrasting reds and blues. The score also stands out as swooning synths back the scenes not set to Karaoke music...and there are a few of those.

The characters in this film (aside from the police lieutenant) are all unlikable. There are various levels of filth, from Gosling's 'impotent watcher' to pedophiles, to sadistic mothers. The lieutenant does leave an impression as a justice seeking machine, with little conscience. I cannot say much more about the characters without spoiling things, so I won't. The plot is very thin. It's basically a standard revenge story. The violence is sporadic but fierce. There's a torture scene in here that is definitely not for the squeamish.

The acting is serviceable. Gosling is withdrawn and blank. Most of his acting in this movie consists of errant stares. Kristen Scott Thomas does a pretty good job as a mix of Courtney Love meets Lucille Bluth in a sadistic mother role. Vithaya Pansringarm is fantastic as Chang.

A lot of people are going to hate this film. Gosling is even more withdrawn than he was in Drive, and Refn is in full on art house mode here. This is for fans of Drive and even more so, Valhalla Rising. If you didn't like those, you'll hate Only God Forgives. Dave Chen from /Film described the film as 'Ryan Gosling walking down red hallways, fingering people'. Not everyone is going to 'get' this one.

I did not hate it. I also did not like it right away, but the more I thought about it afterward, the more I did like it. It left an impression on me. It's a beautifully crafted film, and I would definitely watch it again.

Final Score: 3/5

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The worst entry in this series., 20 July 2013

Someone eats dog dung. Yes, that's where this film had to go after Stiffler drank pee in American Pie 2 and Jim had sex with a pie in the original.

The real shame in this one is that Stiffler is turned into a complete and utter child. In the others, he's almost believable as an immature high school kid, but in this one...he's intolerable.

The rest of the cast is as you'd imagine it, minus some of the major players (Oz is the most glaringly absent).

This is by far the worst entry into the series (not counting the direct to video entries, which I refuse to watch) - do yourself a favor, skip this one and go straight to American Reunion.

Way, way different watching this as an adult., 20 July 2013

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

Watching Drop Dead Fred as an adult is 100% different from watching Drop Dead Fred as a kid. Yes, I know that certain movies are like that - you'll pick up on jokes that you didn't get when you were eight years old...however, most don't give you an entirely different experience.

If you haven't seen Drop Dead Fred, the basic synopsis is about a girl who goes to live with her (terrible) mother after she loses her car, her husband, and her job. As a kid, I remember cracking up at Fred's antics, flinging boogers at people and looking up the skirts of unsuspecting women. As an adult, this movie really ventures into dark territory. It's about a girl, verbally (and possibly physically) abused by her mother - so much so that her father ends up leaving. Finally an adult, she escapes the throngs of her household only to find herself completely co-dependent on men, and ends up in another abusive relationship - this time with an abusive husband. All the while, she conjures up an imaginary friend named Fred (who has a British accent, much like her father).

Watching this as an adult, this movie has some heavy things going for it. Lizzy, the main character, definitely has issues upon issues. It's actually fun to see her transformation from co-dependent to independent.

Fred's humor doesn't exactly do it for me anymore, but the scenes in which he's simply making Lizzy's body move are still hilarious (a standout scene in an Italian restaurant comes to mind). The acting is fairly pedestrian, the only real standout being Phoebe Cates as Lizzy. Since this, the director went back overseas and hasn't done any movies that I've heard of since then.

Kids movies were definitely different back then. Watching this now, I can honestly say that I don't think this is a good movie for kids, but if you saw it when you were younger, it's definitely worth another exploration now.

Final Score: 3/5

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Welcome To The Punch, 4 June 2013

Welcome to the Punch is written and directed by Eran Creevy - if the name isn't familiar to you, you're not alone - this is only his second feature (his first, Shifty, earned him a BAFTA award and a few other nominations). It features James McAvoy (I'm becoming a big fan of his) and Mark Strong (another great actor - you may recognize him as the villain in Kick-Ass).

The story at it's core is a cat and mouse game between a detective and the thief that got away by shooting (and crippling) the detective years before. However, like many British crime flicks, there is much more than meets the eye.

In terms of story, it's serviceable, although I do think it has more twists and turns than it ultimately needs, sometimes tying itself into knots. The characters (mainly the two leads) are interesting and have personalities and vulnerabilities. This movie really shines through with the visuals though. It's got that new school 'blue tint' which I'm not a fan of, but there are a lot of beautiful shots to be seen here. I'd say that Creevy's technical expertise shows more than his penmanship.

I still think it's worth a watch, if you're in the mood for a gritty, British thriller.

Final Score: 7/10

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Firing on all cylinders!, 27 May 2013

I haven't always had a love affair with the F&F series. I thought the first one was pretty dumb, hated the second, and never saw the third. The fourth drew me in - I rented it at some point and found it really entertaining. Then, they brought in The Rock for the fifth, and I knew I had to see it. Justin Lin made a near perfect action movie with Fast Five, including one of the best action movie sequences (as unbelievable as it may be) of all time with the safe steal. That heightened my expectations for Fast & Furious 6.

Let's get this out of the way first - this movie has a terrible, terrible script. The dialogue is beyond horrible, to the point of eye rolling, and there are plot holes galore. However, you don't go into a F&F movie expecting to see a great script or natural dialogue - you go in to see over the top action set pieces, fast cars, and butt kicking...and on those notes, it hits on all cylinders.

There isn't anything in this movie that tops the stolen safe from Fast Five, but a scene featuring a tank on a freeway comes pretty damn close. The finale is also really intense, but I wish it would have been shot during the day instead of night, because a lot of what's going on is hard to see. I understand it was probably done for editing purposes, but a lot of it was just so confusing during the end. We get to see a lot of classic cars, testosterone, and explosions - overall, it's just a really fun movie, as ridiculous as it may be at points.

Don't get out of your seat right after the movie ends. There's a scene at the end that is surprising and amazing.

56 out of 106 people found the following review useful:
If not for the director, this would be DTV., 19 January 2013

I saw this tonight with four friends. There were 7 people total in the theater.

This movie is TERRIBLE. Terrible to the point that it's funny, but still terrible. The dialog seems like it was written by a ten year old. The action is pretty good, except for the final battle.

The comedy and "one liners" are just bad. It's nearly on the same level as Collateral Damage.

It will probably be a cult classic because of how bad it is (ala Punisher: War Zone). I think people are giving it a free pass because it's Arnold. Anyone else makes this movie, it would be getting skewered right now. I'm excited he's back on the big screen too, but I swear, sometimes people have blinders on.

Savages (2012)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Longing for the Oliver Stone of the past..., 28 December 2012

When I first saw Savages pop up on the radar, I was stoked. A story about two guys going up against the Mexican cartel, directed by Oliver Stone? Sounds awesome. Once I saw that Emile Hirsch was cast, I was all in (for some reason, I'll see anything the guy is in). Well...did it live up to the hype?

Savages is one of the most poorly written screenplays I have ever had the pleasure of watching unfold on screen. The dialog is laughable, and none of the characters have any traits that an audience member would want to latch on to. One of the bits of dialog, right in the first five minutes of the film, says something to the effect of "I have orgasms, he has wargasms." Sounds like something that a tenth grader would write in the first draft of a dramatic short story. The acting is just about the same caliber.

There's one action scene that was well done, but it was short and, well...too little, too late. This train wreck doesn't even end in a satisfying way.

Avoid this mess. What was Oliver Stone thinking?