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THE excitement of The Expendables series has always been about elderly
and mostly white former action stars kicking the ass of dictatorial
regimes across the world.
The amount of violence and bodies in it provided a visceral thrill to audiences. The plot hardly mattered as there was always some regime in the world that needed to be beaten to pulp by angry Americans.
Sylvester Stallone, the creator and the star of the series, plays a former US secret operations soldier who is quick to dispense justice, and to make his character appealing, he has a moral conscience.
This theme is prevalent in many violent US films. It's as if the filmmakers are saying that it's okay for Americans to be violent and run roughshod over others, as long as they have a heart of gold.
The Expendables 3 follows the path created by the first two films. A bunch of oldies, part of a former group of dark ops agents, is given the task of taking out baddies or saving the world from a crisis of unparalleled proportions.
The third film, realising that this formula is wearing old, mixes it up by adding younger killers, and also giving it a much larger role to play in the film.
However, the result is always the same: a cacophony of violence and destruction that will give the Transformers series a run for the money.
As usual, the killers perform their job with aplomb and with nary a scratch.
Read more at: www.jeffleemovies.com/the-expendables-3-old-hand-at-violence/
** Turtles-on-drugs film will leave you feeling shell-shocked ** Movie
transforms into a wild ride into oblivion teenage mutant ninja turtles
A FRIEND, knowing that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was produced by Transformers director Michael Bay, asked me whether it was good. I told him it was better than Transformers.
However, there's a caveat. I had trashed the Transformers just as easily as the Autobots had trashed the Decepticons.
As usual, with Bay films, there is an avalanche of violence and quick editing that will make your eyes blurry-eyed.
Once the action starts, it just accelerates and leaves you breathless and wanting to get out of the theatre.
As for me, I don't know if I was just tired, but I had to fight hard to keep my eyes open, even during the film's chaotic and mind-numbing finale.
Another huge problem that audiences will have this film is the fact that they won't connect with the Turtles.
Sure, each one has a distinct voice, slightly distinct personality and comes with a coloured mask, but there's nothing about them that will make you feel for them.
Even the plot is risible. How many times does New York have to come under attack by malevolent people who are hell-bent on perpetrating their malfeasance?
Also, how many times does an up-and-coming TV reporter have to be the one who cracks the case?
** Eric Bana struggles to keep you interested in his travails while **
Olivia Munn's delectable low-cut white dress is the only reason to see
GOD should forgive the filmmaker for making this run-of-the-mill horror film.
There's mumbo-jumbo about a New York cop's loss of faith, and a priest's handsome curls distracting viewers from his message about fighting the devil.
However, the film's penultimate scene is its most ludicrous.
Viewers have seen many films about exorcism, so they would not be surprised about what happens during one, and they could even predicts its outcome. What is risible is conducting an exorcism in a police interrogation room.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wreaked havoc in a police station in Terminator (1984) so I suppose director and co-writer Scott Derrickson (Sinister, 2012) thought he could do the same thing in Deliver Us From Evil.
With all the wailing, screaming and broken glass resulting from the exorcism, I'm surprised that the police didn't send in a SWAT team to break up the proceedings.
Read more at www.jeffleemovies.com
THE fourth instalment in director Michael Bay's Transformers series is
as brash, loud and excruciatingly painful to watch as the first one.
Bay hopes to replicate the previous films' unusual success by doling
out more of the same stuff: a pretty girl, Autobots vs Decepticons and
Bay's films are characterised by a surfeit of violence, rapid-fire editing and special effects, and a distinct lack of proper narrative. He believes that editing an action film is similar to editing a Formula 1 race, which means the film will go by in the blink of an eye.
I was getting restless and my head was pounding by the time Transformers 4 reached its denouement. The jumble of images was annoying and the noise was pulverising any thought I had.
I've seen the three previous films so I knew what to expect in terms of noise and confusion, but Bay has taken both points to a new level in this film.
More at www.jeffleemovies.com
FIRST off, viewers must know that this film is co-written by Seth
MacFarlane, the foul-mouthed guy who co-wrote, directed and starred in
the profanity-laced 'Ted' (2012). And if they are expecting a similar
foul-mouthed rant in 'A Million Ways To Die In The West', they are
The problem is, viewers will feel that he's trying too hard to make people fall under his spell again. I didn't feel like laughing out loud during the screening; I was more prone to emitting the occasional snort of laughter, much like the rest of the audience.
MacFarlane is not afraid to mock Chinese, blacks and Christians, but you really feel him straining when you encounter a prostitute who services 15 men a day but is averse to having sex with her virgin boyfriend.
You may feel him more than just straining when a woman places a daisy in the anus of a man she's just knocked out cold with a rock.
Read more at: www.jeffleemovies.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THIS RoboCop reboot by director Jose Padilha, thankfully, doesn't try to copy the original 1987 version by Paul Verhoeven, although it does follow the same path. Viewers will still get to see a Christ-like figure being killed, resurrected and saving his city, or flock, from the evils of capitalism. There's still a corporation that's pulling the strings of the city, and maybe the whole country, by promoting its saviour, which in this 2014 version comes in a sleek black chrome finish. The 1987 was a satire about TV news programmes and the greed of corporations. However, its main theme was that underneath the Judge Dredd-like armour lay a heart teeming with humanity. The 2014 version still places the story in Detroit but doesn't mention that the city in reality is bankrupt. It also focuses more on the relationship between RoboCop and his wife and son, who were not prominent in the first version. RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman) hands Dr Dennett Norton a tough question. This film has its moments, particularly when RoboCop faces off against a multitude of robotic cops in a warehouse. He disposes of them with the elan of a confident gamer, and viewers even get to see his point of view. However, for a film that talks a lot about emotions, this film feels strangely detached, meaning, it doesn't encourage viewers to root for our "black" superhero. It doesn't help that RoboCop's wife keeps popping into the picture at inopportune moments. The filmmaker wants to show more of RoboCop's family life, but this is the part of the film that fails miserably. The idea of having robots patrolling cities was a new one in 1987. But, in 2014, with all the news about US drones taking out Afghan Taliban rebels, the idea of that now is much more plausible. Padilha frames his film with the notion that US robots and drones are maintaining law and order in faraway lands (Iran) but can't do the same back home because of a piece of legislation that bars them from doing so. Samuel Jackson plays TV host Pat Novak, whose in-your-face reportage is often incendiary. He asks if Americans are robo-phobic. "What's more important than the safety of the American people?" The preamble doesn't aid the film in any way. The film should have just cut out the first few minutes and leapt headfirst into the story. It wants to comment on current issues, just like what the 1987 film did, but its preface bogs down the film. Similarly, it showing OmniCorp as thinking about ways to maximise profits from its robots and drones in the US market is nothing short of boring. Isn't that what all corporations do? There's nothing devious about it. The firm wants to humanise its robots because OmniCorp boss Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) says Americans want a product with a conscience, or something that knows what it feels like to be human. I take this to mean that American troops or security forces will always think twice before killing civilians. I had to suppress a snigger when I heard Sellars say that line. Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman of TV's The Killing) is a righteous cop who stumbles on a plot about dirty cops working hand in hand with drug lord Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). For that, he gets blown into smithereens. When he next wakes up, he's in a body armour. He recoils at the sight of his metallic structure and runs out of the lab and into the fields in a scene similar to that in Avatar. The scene of Dr Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) showing RoboCop what's left of his body is touching, and so is the scene where he meets his son for the first time. RoboCop's wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish), is competent as the strong wife who wants to know what happened to her husband. Her total acceptance of his new body is commendable but it would have been more realistic to show her gasping or taking a moment to take it all in. She could also have been showed wondering how they would ever make love again. However, Clara becomes persistent and a pain in viewers' necks. I don't think viewers will for one minute believe in their unusual relationship. For the rest of the film, viewers will see RoboCop being put through his paces and watching him expand his limited acting skills. This brings us to Kinnaman, whose sardonic and wisecracking ways are curbed by the suit he's wearing. In fact, he's just a lump of metal. Paul Weller was in a similar situation in the first film but he allowed his acting to show us his pain, anger and desire for revenge. Kinnaman, meanwhile, just goes through the motions. In short, RoboCop is a huge mess that lacks emotion. Heck, I can't even be bothered to make myself be angry with this film or take it as an affront to the first film. 2 1/2 out of 5
New Pope Francis 1 should ban exorcism films as they insult the
intelligence of viewers.
This film is so boring and derivative. What's the big deal about Nell floating above her bed.
She hears the usual weird noises and sees funny things, typical in all exorcism films.
This film plods along at a leisurely pace until the exorcism, which is so weird that you have to see it to believe it.
WHO brings a heart monitor, a chicken and salt to an exorcism???? Ha ha.
THERE is a trend in violent films that makes it excusable for the
protagonist to go on a killing spree, regardless of the damage that he
inflicts on people and property. For example, vigilantes are given
permission to exact revenge to fulfil their desire for blood, while
criminals can cause wanton damage because they strive to keep the
This trend continues in producer-director Taylor Hackford's Parker, about a robber who is cheated of his share of the loot by his crew, and is left for dead. It's a miracle that he survives the attempt on his life, and it's a surprise that he can still walk after the innumerable shootings, stabbings and knocks he receives.
He then plots to get back what belongs to him because "it's the principle". Nothing can stop him from his determination to regain his money. If the number of bodies rises, so be it.
Viewers go to see a Jason Statham film not because of its intellectual superiority, but because of his superior reflexes when it comes to dealing with villains. Statham's preferred method of settling problems is to either whip out his gun or to whip the enemy to death.
He plays the titular character, Parker, with his trademark blank look and gruff voice. Parker's crew is robbing the cashier's department at the Ohio State Fair, and during the heist, a guard has difficulty breathing. Parker asks the guard to calm down and asks the latter to think of his girlfriend.
The film cuts to a scene of Parker in an intimate moment with his own girlfriend. This is supposed to assure viewers that Parker is a robber with a big heart.
The crew has an altercation with Parker, but he recovers from his near-death experience, has time to commit another robbery on his own to obtain money and then tracks down the crew, which is preparing to commit a heist in Palm Beach, Florida.
The film's sole moment of wit takes place when a killer is sent to dispose of Parker's girlfriend, Claire (Emma Booth). He trespasses on the property, with a knife in hand, but Claire, who hears him entering the house, hides away, also with a knife in hand.
She runs out of the house but has the temerity and calmness of mind to slash the tyres of the killer's SUV, parked in front of the house, before making her escape.
So far, everything is proceeding according to plan in a Statham film: high on violence and low on mental stimulation.
The introduction of Jennifer Lopez is a welcome distraction. Her character, real-estate broker Leslie, injects an iota of intelligence, humour, sexiness and, perhaps, a touch of reality.
Leslie says that she's fed up driving rich playboys to see homes that she can never afford. At the same time, she must fend off their gropes, all for a full commission.
The sexiness part comes in when Leslie has to strip to her underwear for Parker's viewing pleasure. Lopez is 44 this year, but she's still muy caliente.
Lopez's marshal character in Out of Sight (1998) is probably her best performance. Her chemistry with the fugitive (played by George Clooney) is amazing. With Statham, she's acting in front of a statue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
HANSEL & Gretel: Witch Hunters is on the surface a rip-off of The
Expendables 2. The dialogue is just functional, risible and crude, and
the action -- not to mention the abundance of blood splatter, and
crushed and decapitated heads -- dominates most of the film.
The film certainly doesn't mince its action; in fact, it'll make director Quentin Tarantino blush.
Norwegian writer-director Tommy Wirkola, in his English-language debut, uses the Brothers Grimm's tale of child abandonment as a springboard to display his aptitude with medieval fantasy, tight leather clothes, face-changing witches and an arsenal of heavy weapons for the most enlightened of bounty hunters.
Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) dig deep into their souls to get rid of witches.Beneath the river of blood that permeates this film, however, lies the simple fact that two orphaned siblings are on a quest to find out what had become of their parents and why they were abandoned, in short, a search for their identities.
Unfortunately, to get to that point, viewers will have to sit through an avalanche of violence. As one sibling says: "Unleash hell."
The film opens with Hansel and Gretel being carted into the woods by their father. He never comes back. Brother and sister walk into a home made of cake and dispose of the witch in it, thanks to their immunity from spells.
Fifteen years later, diabetic Hansel (Jeremy Renner of The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton of Quantum of Solace) are witch hunters.
The mayor of the small German town of Augsburg (in a nod to the tale's German roots) hires them to kill witches who have been abducting children for a sacrificial ceremony.
For a while, it's fun to see the male and female siblings working together to eliminate witches.
Both have equal strength and are well-equipped to deal with any event that arises, especially as they have weapons that emit arrows. That fun quickly disappears as their witch hunts involve only a huge amount of carnage.
Hansel says: "Killing innocent women won't bring back the missing children." He'll get to skinny dip with pretty Mina (Pihla Viitala), initially wrongfully accused of being a witch.
Mina later gets to spray bullets with a machine gun in a scene similar to that in The Last Stand.
Gretel finds an unlikely romance with a troll, Edward (Derek Mears), who's the Beast to her Beauty. Edward crushes victims, especially their heads, as if they were ants.
The film, of course, sets its mind and path on beating viewers into submission.
ANNE Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed A Dream in director Tom Hooper's
sing-through musical brought tears to my eyes. Hathaway plays
seamstress-turned-prostitute Fantine in this adaptation of Victor
Hugo's 1862 five-volume novel of the same name.
Hooper (The King's Speech) frames Fantine in this scene in a close-up and with a black background and films it without an edit. Hathaway's expression captures everything her character wants but can only dream of.
I dare anyone to see this scene without shedding a tear. The Academy Awards can already present the best supporting actress award to Hathaway.
The problem with this scene is that it raises the bar so high that everything that comes after this is a letdown. Fantine also disappears early on from this 160-minute film and reappears only at the end.
The interminable length doesn't help and the film could have lopped off a few songs, especially that of Russell Crowe, who plays policeman Javert, who is obsessed with hunting down petty thief Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman).
Perhaps the novel did a good job of explaining Javert's single-minded focus in wanting to catch Valjean, but, in the movie, he appears as a buffoon with nothing better to do than to ride all over France during the 19th century to look for a man who was convicted only for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's dying son.
Valjean (Jackman) consoles a beaten-up Fantine (Hathaway).A lot has been said about Hooper getting the actors to sing live during filming, and not during post-production, so this translates into greater intimacy between the actors and the audience. Viewers can really feel the actors heaving during the singing.
This may have worked out well for Hathaway, but, alas, not so for the rest of the actors. Crowe sings with his band, but his singing can best be described as mediocre. He also looks glum most of the time, preening in his policeman's costume.
Jackman is known to sing for his supper, so he handily carries most of the film. His singing is better than average and he hits all the right notes, but compared to Hathaway, he doesn't even come close.
Jackman's Valjean is tormented by his past. He made a vow to do right and has stuck to it since he broke his parole, changed his name and became a respectable member of society. But as singing Who Am I? twice says, he can never really run away from his origins.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter goof around.However, there's hope for him as Fantine appears to him when he's on his last breath, telling him: "To love someone is to see the face of God." Heck, he should have been called J.C. instead of J.V.
He's been carrying his burden from the moment he was set free (shown at the beginning of the film) to his very end. He was, after all, influenced by the forgiveness shown to him by the priest whose church he robbed. That was the turning point in his life.
He will risk life and limb during his life, fighting until the last moment to justify his second chance.
The story is a social critique of the unjustness of the law and the ruthlessness by which the police will pursue petty crooks, regardless of the severity of the crime and the justification for it.
It's also about a man who turns over new leaf but can never get rid of the vestiges of his past.
Valjean becomes the mayor of a small town who runs a sewing factory. For all his good intentions, he doesn't keep close tabs on his ornery and horny foreman, who abuses his position to oust Fantine.
After Hathaway's bravura singing, Valjean has no choice but to take care of Fantine's daughter, Cossette (Isabelle Alan, and later, Amanda Seyfried, who sang her way through Mamma Mia!) Crowe and Jackman face-off in Les MisViewers won't be swept of their feet by Seyfried's singing, but her duet with lover Marius (Eddie Redmayne) does add a romantic spark.
What is more interesting is Marius' friend, Eponine (Samantha Barks), who pines for him and is devastated when he falls for Cossette.
Her singing of her loss is heartfelt, and viewers will feel great sadness when she sacrifices herself to save Marius in the 1832 Paris rebellion.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter add a touch of levity to this seriously serious musical by playing the innkeeper parents of the young Eponine.
Samantha Barks plays Eponine, who pines for a guy falling for someone else.The film, although immeasurably wonderful, could have done better with a tighter storyline, fewer songs and better singing from some actors.
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