Reviews written by registered user
practiced_bravado

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35 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not too impressed with my first viewing. 2 1/2 stars out of 4., 17 February 2008

After reading so much about this cult classic, I was rather underwhelmed after watching the pic for the first time. I bought the Unrated Special Ed and viewed it last night. During my screening, I quickly thought of Gary Fleder's "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead" which starred Andy Garcia, Chris Walken and Steve Buscemi. Both films are quirky, tongue-in-cheek gangster flicks and yet the former did not gain the cult following like Troy Duffy's violent, profane thriller did. I even found Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" to be a more enjoyable and accomplished film.

Yes, "Saints" does have style and a pulpy premise (twin brothers who want to rid the world of evil), but I was expecting a lot more in terms of execution. One of the disappointments for me came from the lack of watching the brothers go to work. Their murders are shown as flashbacks and I believe a wiser choice would've been to depict them in "real time". More suspense and visceral thrills would've been the result, at least I think.

In the end, I believe it lacks freshness. Not bad for a first time director, but Duffy is an ego-maniac that seriously killed his own career. So sadly, we won't see a second film from him that probably would've been even better. ** 1/2 stars out of ****.

A departure from the previous PS2 GTA games in terms of story and tone..., 12 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

is not the only the biggest GTA game ever, but it's also the best. It took me awhile to truly appreciate it. Whereas GTA III was a spoof of tough guy mob archetypes and GTA Vice City was a hilarious parody of 1985, San Andreas is a dark satiric view of California's ghetto lifestyle. Instead of capturing the feel of the decade like the way "Vice City" did so well, it tries to capture the diverse feel of the state of California. The story is much more serious and the missions you embark in "Los Santos" is all about living it up as a South Central gangsta. You go on drive-bys, house invasions, beat up drug pushers with bats, "tag" walls and recruit members to help take over other rival gang territories. Some of the missions in L.S. are classic GTA missions, but most involve gangsta/hood activity. However, once you hit the "Badlands", the countryside outside of Los Santos, things to start to lighten up a bit. "Badlands" missions are unique in which you're living up the criminal life in a rural environment, something the GTA series had never done. Once you're done with the country part of SA, you open up the chapter to "San Fierro", Rockstar's version of San Francisco. It's then when the game starts to feel like "Grand Theft Auto III" with its hills and Triad storyline which are similar to the Yakuza missions from GTA III. The "San Fierro" missions are part of the coolest chapter of the game. When you leave it, you're off to the desert. The desert is filled with abunch of unique missions, but then you're introduced to Ken Rosenberg from "Vice City" in "Las Venturas", Rockstar's name for Las Vegas. Now, it's not part of California, but what the hell, it's close enough. The replica of Las Vegas gives the sweetest sights "San Andreas" has to offer with all the mockery of Vegas'popular casinos and hotels all across the board. Mob characters from GTA III show up in this chapter with even a surprise visit to "Liberty City". After you're done establishing your empire, you go back to "Los Santos" to tie up loose ends and save your family and your friends. But this time, you're a much different character from when you first visited "Los Santos". You've gained businesses, territories, flashy clothes, pimped up cars, muscles, girlfriends, tattoos and skilled in the art of dual wielding firearms and fist fighting. You're also an expert driver, pilot and rider of bikes, bicycles and choppers. Respect and sex appeal are results of all your achievements. I liked VC's 80's epic soundtrack more than SA's, but overall, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the most involving of all the GTA games. I cannot see how Rockstar top this, but then again, I couldn't see how they could've topped "Vice City" and yet, they did!!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
It has expertly crafted action sequences and grand digital design, but is overlong and lacks a soul. Grade: C Plus or B. Depends on your perspective., 2 June 2005
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" is one of those movies that disappoints you. It's not a bad movie, but not quite a good one either. It's just sort of in between. George Lucas' middle chapter of his prequel trilogy of the "Star Wars" saga is perhaps the least of the six movies. Oh, most people will say it's a much better film than "The Phantom Meance" and in away, it is. There is no annoying Jar Jar Binks or Jake Lloyd. The endless dialog scenes of "Phantom" are no longer evident and the movie is much more action-packed. However, I felt there was no tension or real excitement in the picture. The imagination and wonder of "Phantom" was seeing bizarre new worlds and strange new aliens, villains and heroes.

Midichlorians were introduced in "Phantom" and Darth Sidious and Darth Maul were intriguing baddies. The classic racepod sequence was truly exhilarating and for the first time ever we saw how badass Jedis really were in their prime existence. There was even a human element in it with the way Anakin is torn away from his home in order to be a great hero. Like Alec Guiness before him, Liam Neeson brought some needed class to the picture. And it was obviously a kick to hear Ewan McGregor speak in the exact same vocal tone of Guiness. Say what you want about the Gungans and the silly race announcers, but Lucas seemed inspired to bring a whole new "Star Wars" to life with fully computer generated characters. The quadruple simultaneous climactic battle was pure tension-filled brilliance at the end of the picture.

"Clones" is obviously better directed than "Phantom". What it lacks is the excitement and awe from the first film of the "new" trilogy. With the exception of McGregor, the acting is actually worse than what was seen in "The Phantom Menace". Peter Travers said "Clones" has cool gadgets and cooler villains and this is correct. I loved the chase sequence that starts the movie. I loved the sequence on Kamino when Jango Fett tangles with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the cat-and-mouse chase that ensues. The visuals are awesome, but lack the freshness of what had come before. I do appreciate the "Film Noir"-esquire approach Lucas gives to Obi-Wan's part of the story (which is a mystery clouded in rain and darkness), but the romance between Anakin and Padme is horrible with bad writing all across the board.

The sequence in which Anakin discovers his mother's fate and then turns bad feels a bit rushed. And although the action sequence in the droid-processing factory on Geonosis is technically competent, it's a little to video game-ish, in my opinion at least. George's need to do a "Gladiator"-type scene is worth watching. But, when the Jedis do come to the rescue of Anakin, Padme and Obi-Wan, the battle is abit underwhelming, I was expecting much more. The great Christopher Lee (best known as Sauron to all you LOTR fans) brings a classy screen presence as the villainous Count Dooku (a.k.a. Darth Tyrannus). When the movie seemed to come to a close, all hell breaks loose and it starts all over again as Yoda and the Clone Army come to shut down Dooku and his Seperatist Movement.

At this point, it seemed that the picture goes into overkill. Sure, it's a great visual scenario. Aircraft and ground troops and tanks fire missiles and laser blasts trying to annihilate one another as the Clone War begins(which was talked about first in "A New Hope). But something quite isn't there, which is a sense of urgency or tension. We sense that we're going through the motions of watching computer generated images wreak havoc (though it's done very well). The climax of "Clones" does conclude with a great lightsaber sequence between Dooku, Obi-Wan and Anakin (Dooku: "Master Kenobi, you disappoint me. Yoda holds you in such high-esteem. Surely you can do better!!") But, why, oh, why George!! Yoda!! Why??!!! John Williams' score is great, epic and sweeping. I love the movie, but I don't. It's very well made, yet lackluster when you consider that it is a "Star Wars" movie.

Overall, it's a great ride for those not expecting much, but disappointing for those expecting more. Die-hard "Star Wars" fans will love it, those who aren't will have mixed reactions. It's worth watching more than once.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Finally!! It took three tries, but Lucas finally gets it right with "Sith". This is a grand entertainment and the best film of the prequel trilogy. Grade: A Minus., 19 May 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" IS the "Star Wars" movie every fan has been clamoring for since the original trilogy ended. With one swift stroke (sorry General Tarkin), Lucas redeems the "Star Wars" legacy by concluding the series on a very high and special note. This is a glorious swan song for the "Star Wars" saga and I applaud Mr. Lucas for finally being able to come through with an installment which will most likely be adored by all fans. In a way, I feel the movie is really a "rebirth" for the series since it will probably reinvigorate longtime fans. Demands for more of these films to be made will not come unheard of. In fact, wouldn't it be a great if "Star Wars" reclaimed it's crown of popularity by surpassing "The Matrix Reloaded"'s current record-breaking gross over the same weekend from two years ago?

George's new movie fires on all cylinders this time around. The picture is a non-stop imaginative action space opera spectacular. From the first frame to the last, it has a brooding dark intensity not seen since "The Empire Strikes Back". Peter Travers called Lucas a "dark fantasist" and it shows in "Sith". Anakin is no longer a whiny teenager, he's hardened a lot. There's no more long dialogue speeches and best of all, no more Jar Jar (did you read that? No more Jar Jar!!). Instead, Lucas concentrates all his efforts into depicting the downward spiral of Anakin's confused state-of-mind. His descent into darkness. In this episode, Senator Palpatine gets more screen time and actor Ian Mcdiarmad gets to chews up the scenery big time. He plays the Devil, the Father of Lies, who seduces Anakin into the Dark Side of the Force.

While epic space dogfights and lightsaber battles may not have the kind of excitement they used to. It doesn't detract from the experience of watching this latest chapter at all. In fact, I would have to say the action sequences in "Sith" are perhaps the best ever in the series. Darth Maul added some needed fire to the climactic lightsaber fight in the climax of "The Phantom Menace", but the saber sequences here far surpass it. John Williams' score is also a triumphant. Seeing Chewbacca for the first time since "Return of the Jedi" is a treat. I also loved the homages to cinema history (the nod to "Frankenstein" is obvious, but loving). Steven Spielberg said the picture contains the "payoff of payoffs" and for initiated faithful "Star Wars" fans, this means we finally get to see the saga come full circle.

We see the birth of Darth Vader as well as his twins Luke and Leia. I love how Lucas intercuts these scenes. We see both Life and Death being born simultaneously. We also get to witness the birth of the Galactic Republic and the death of the Jedi. The concluding shot is a love letter to the classic scene from the original "Star Wars" in which Luke looks out his home in Tatooine and watches the two suns set. Overall, "Sith" hits all the right notes in the hearts all of its fans. I was no more than 1/2 a year old when the first "Star Wars" was released. As a kid I grew up with watching the original trilogy and admiring it more than any adult could ever. Now, as an adult (28 and 1/2), I can see that "Sith" will be the first great "Star Wars" movie that kids of this generation will never forget. Thank you George for sending off this spectacular legacy with such a dynamic ending.

P.S. Like the James Bond series, "Star Wars" has always excelled in great, popular larger-than-life villains. With General Grevious, Lucas has created a fully computer generated masterpiece of a character. I expect the General to get his own following from fans, novelists and comic book writers alike.

Elektra (2005)
24 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
A special-effects extravaganza. It lacks story and character development, but is visually stunning with a surreal atmosphere and terrific action sequences. Thumbs up!, 14 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw the movie earlier today and liked it for what it was, a special-effects extravaganza. Directed by Rob Bowman of "The X-Files", "Elektra" is a movie not concerned with any kind of story or character development. It just places us in a comic-book world filled with ninjas, a group of super-powered freaks and a bad-ass heroine. She's the typical hit-man (or in this case, hitwoman), the kind with a conscience. Her targets are a widowed father and his young daughter. Of course, she can't bring herself to kill them and instead, decides to help them. What follows is essentially a long "cat-and-mouse" chase which the remainder of the movie consists of.

The action scenes are well-choreographed and surrealistic. When members of "The Hand" appear, they briefly tangle with Elektra before meeting their makers. As for the actors, Garner is sexy in her red leather garb and Terrence Stamp (General Zod in "Superman II") has a commanding presence as her blind old martial-arts mentor. "Elektra" is a slick, entertaining action film up there with 20th Century Fox's other Marvel Comic movies "Daredevil" and "X2: X-Men United". It may not be a masterpiece of film-making, but it is well-made and much better than the disaster that was "Blade: Trinity". I enjoyed it and anybody who is a fan of martial-arts, video games or comic books should enjoy it too. Thumbs up. (B Minus)

12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
A sick low-budget horror film well worth seeing. I liked it., 19 December 2004
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first rented this movie on the infamous day of September 11, 2001. Since then I've seen it a number of times. My only complaint is that it's too short. "Strangeland" would've be a complete piece of horror art at two hours. As it stands, the running time is only an hour and a half.

Ex-Twisted Sister member Dee Snider wrote, produced and stars in this 1998 shockfest set in a small Colorado town. He plays Carleton Hendricks, a crazed sadist who has psychotic ideologies on human evolution and a love for near-death experiences. Hendricks is no pushover, he's a pumped up six-foot "modern primitive". Someone who has tattooed and pierced their body to the very extreme. When he makes his first full appearance in the film, it is a truly terrifying sight.

Hendricks' main hobby in life is to share his "spiritual awakenings" with his kidnapped victims. He visits Internet chatrooms under the name "Capt. Howdy" and then invites people over to his house. They believe they're going to a party. Instead, they find themselves in a house of pain and suffering. Hendricks sows their eyes and mouths shut and tortures them by sticking blades and hooks in numerous parts of their body. If it sounds sick, it's because it is.

One of Hendrick's victims is Genevieve, the teenaged daughter of detective Michael Gage. Gage not only manages to save her, but arrests Hendricks as well. Four years later, Hendricks is released from a mental institution completely rehabilitated to the disapproval of the community. A group of rednecks led by Freddy Krueger himself, actor Robert Englund, decide to kill him. They fail and Hendricks reverts back to his old self.

The rest of the film I'll leave to you, only to say the conclusion is satisfying and will leave you in shivers. With the exception of Snider, the acting isn't too good, but it's serviceable. The direction is okay, too. There are some humorous parts in "Strangeland" and they are very funny. I also loved the soundtrack, it's awesome and worth buying if you love rock. Overall, this is a movie worth watching. If you love low-budget horror films with a sense of humor, check it out. You'll probably like it.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The darkest of the trilogy. "Temple of Doom" is a great action-adventure film unsuitable for younger children or the weak of heart. **** out of ****, 8 October 2004

This prequel to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" may be a bit excessive in terms of gore and gross-out scenes, but it still is a great cinematic rollar-coaster ride. In fact, fans of the horror or supernatural genre would probably prefer this to "Raiders" because of its darkness. Critics found it too dark without an ounce of fun, but they are wrong. "Temple of Doom", while lacking the class of its predecessor, matches it when it comes to pure visceral thrills. Like "Raiders", not only does its inspiration come from the serials of the 30's and 40's, but from the James Bond films as well.

The opening pays homage to old Hollywood musicals and to Bond when Indy enters the scene in tux and all. He speaks to Chinese gangsters in their native tongue and then a masterful overextended action scene ensues. When all is said and done, Indy, his sidekick and love interest find themselves in India. A village has been destroyed by a centuries-old cult who want to rule the world. They ask Indy to rescue their children and a special stone that contains superpowers.

Of course, he goes along with the plan and finds himself in some scary places. The cult, lead by an evil priest named Mola Ram, offers human sacrifices to their demonic god, Kali-Ma. In the following intense scenes, Ram removes the heart of a victim, who then perishes in a lake of fire, all set to some creepy chanting. Indy is taken prisoner, tortured and then drinks the blood of the Kali. He becomes a "Thugee", a zombie-like member of the cult, for a short while. Miraculously, he is saved from the "black sleep" and decides to save the day.

The mine cart sequence is the most breathtaking set piece of the film. It is followed by our heroes outrunning gallons of overspilled water only to have to walk a long rope bridge. The climax finds Indy in a showdown with Mola Ram and his cult members on it. Overall, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" is exhilarating entertainment. It may not be for everyone and may not be the great film that "Raiders" was, but it is a great action film on its own merits. Watch it and you'll see for yourself.

Bloodrayne (2002) (VG)
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Move over Max Payne! "BloodRayne" has arrived! A bloody good time!, 16 August 2004

It's been out for quite sometime, but I just played it and was impressed. It's a highly-kinetic action/horror game where you take the role of Agent Rayne, a female version of Marvel Comics' Blade. In fact, she's also part Indiana Jones and part Trinity of "The Matrix" fame. As a member of a secret organization known as Brimstone, your job is rid the world of supernatural threats. In this installment, Rayne fights off the Nazis aquire power from ancient artifacts and slimy infectious creatures.

Like "Dead to Rights", "BloodRayne" gives the player a number of ways to dispatch their enemies with. You can use a number of firearms in Slo-Mo or go into "rage" mode with the arm-attatched blades. Either way, you'll cause a bloody mess with enemy limbs getting severed. Rayne also has a spear reminiscent of Scorpion's from "Mortal Kombat". She can make huge leaps and jump on her foes to suck the blood from them until they die.

The story is nothing to write home about, but it's fine for this type of game. I also like the boss fights and the way a screen appears everytime you kill a high-ranking Nazi officer. "BloodRayne" is a lengthy action title with very few shortcomings. I'm sure the sequel will address them and improve on everything this game has to offer. If you're an action/horror fan, you must try "BloodRayne", it's a very solid title indeed. Grade: B

This cornball sci-fi "B-movie" has a good look to it, but little else. * 1/2 out of ****., 16 August 2004

I went into "Alien Vs. Predator" knowing it would be a cheesy flick, but I was hoping it would be a good one, it's not. Helmed by "Resident Evil" director Paul W.S. Anderson, the picture starts out promising. When a satellite owned by robotics developer Charles Bishop Heyman detects heat beneath the ice of Antartica, people of various profession are recruited to inspect the mysterious findings.

Heyman (Lance Henriksen) meets the group and explains to them an ancient temple is the location of their expedition. He joins the group and together they search for fortune and glory. Unfortuantely for them, what they walk into is a centuries-old war between two alien species. It takes about 30 minutes before the action takes off in this 90 minute movie.

Unlike previous franchise efforts, "AVP" is lacking in blood and gore and is rated PG-13. That's kind of pointless since the hard-core fans are those who love that kind of thing. I went with this movie until the point when Heyman signs his own death warrant by yelling to a Predator, "Hey! Don't you turn your back on me!". It's silly and it only gets sillier as the movie goes on. As for the ending, don't get me started.

I guess the franchises are both truly done for. Congrads to director Anderson who continues to show how much of a hack he really is. I have know idea why Fox chose him to direct. I'm sure there's dozen of other first-timers that would've done much better jobs. Oh well. Grade: D Plus.

9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
"The Matrix" of video games., 10 August 2004

"Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty" is the best action game ever made. It's also one of the best video games of all time. Creator Hideo Kojima and his team have made the impossible possible. They have created a sequel that outdoes the original in almost every way imaginable. It is a masterpiece that redefines what a video game can be and will be the standard of this industry for years to come.

If there's one thing all players can agree on, it's that "Metal Gear Solid 2" excels in its cinematic presentation. Not only in the cutscenes, but in the gameplay itself. The graphics are an awesome sight to behold. It's been almost three years since the game first debuted in the U.S. and yet few other game releases have surpassed its visuals. They are detailed, lifelike and stunning.

Interaction with the game's enviroment is encouraged and so is the open-ended gameplay. The sky's the limit when it comes to your imagination and curiosity. You can move around in stealth and collect dogtags off soldiers or be a "Rambo"-type badass and just kill everybody in sight. Your choices determine what the game's experience will be. Be inventive and you'll realize how deep this title actually is.

The game is divided into two parts. A "prologue" takes place aboard an oil tanker just off of the coast of the New York Harbor and the "main story" is set on a cleanup plant. If "The Matrix" stunned with you the surprise twist, then "Metal Gear Solid 2" will have your head spinning way before the end. It's talky, but if you stick with it you'll feel like you survived the ultimate mind bender.

There are two action sequences that "Matrix" creators the Wachowski brothers would probably envy. One is an awesome gunfight involving high-tech ninjas and the other is the climactic fight you engage in with samurai swords. Not only does MGS 2 mess with your brain, it is also the very definition of cool action. "Metal Gear Solid 2" is definitely a 10 out of 10. An A Plus. It's gonna take alot to top this installment of Solid Snake's adventures.

I'm sure Hideo Kojima will be up to the task. His "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater" will be released this November. Until then, if you have haven't played "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty". Then what are you waiting for? Go and buy it now! **** out of ****.


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