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The Walking Dead (2010)
Decent time kill
First off; I gave up on this series during the second season. So it might completely change tone and direction during the following season, however I doubt it.
The first season contained far too many obvious rip-offs from other movies in the genre. Starting of with small-girl Zombie and later getting trapped in warehouse (Dawn of the Dead), waking up from coma in "deserted" town (28 Days Later).
Also it was hard grasping any thread story-wise, where the series was heading. It was mostly about running into trouble and then escaping it, over and over again. This gets tedious after a while when there is no greater goal or vision they're heading for. The relationship drama between the characters quickly dabs into soap opera territory, and keeps doing such for at least the first two seasons. There are a lot of interesting "what if this really happened"-questions they leave unexplored.
Characters feel slightly stereotypical and at least I had a problem identifying with any of them. Thus it was hard to care about what happened to any of them. This was probably the biggest weakness for me and why I gave up. There was a crisis during the second season for several of the characters, I just found it annoying since I didn't care for any of them.
My final critique are the special effects. Though a lot of efforts have gone into the Zombies (or Walkers as they call them), there are too many CGI-effects that are a too obvious to look away from. Mostly it is blood splatter and such when the Walkers get shot, but also other shots. There is supposed to be a grand finale to season one with a big special effects shot. It is so poorly made though, it pulls you right out of it. It looks like you're playing an old computer game in the early 2000's.
It is now all bad though, it has some bright spots. They don't back down from gore in any way, but they don't wallow in it either. There is gore because that is the world they live in. The acting and casting is quite okay, although the characters they are handed are a bit thin as mentioned. They are charismatic actors for the most. The directing isn't a disaster in any way, although it often leaves you wanting a bit more suspense and build up.
If they could have taken a bit of the mystery and suspense from Lost and some of the character depth from Sopranos, I think it could have been a blast. As it stands now, it is a decent time kill, but nothing more.
Generic beyond words
I first gave it four stars, but had to come to my senses and slap another star there. It is well made, fantastic CGI that, like Avatar, mostly don't take you out of the movie. Also settings and music are very well put together, with overall good acting performances.
But oh my god is it generic! If you are young or for some other reason haven't devoured a lot of films, this might not be a problem. But if you've plowed through a fair amount of movies, there is no surprise in this one whatsoever.
About fifteen minutes into the movie I have the plot narrowed down, which characters will do what and roughly how it will end. You've got a sensible human man with his sensible wife, and a sensible ape with his sick wife and scarred son. They are teamed up with a trigger-happy ape-hating human on one side and a war-mongering ape on the other. Hmm wonder what will happen? Yes, exactly that will happen and nothing else.
This kind of stuff frustrates me and I hope it is not as obvious to you, cause then you'll probably enjoy this movie. But to most movie buffs, I'm afraid this one is just too generic to carry any surprises and ends up being just taking an old walk in a newly painted environment.
Not as bad as they say
Pros: No PG13 tone down, nice cast Cons: Story partially rushed, Arnold's weak acting, partially weak dialogue, shaky plot Giving this a 6 after writing so many cons might seem weird, but I entered with really low expectations after many others ripping this movie. It is an incomplete piece of work though.
First of the director squabbles between different tones. Sometimes being in your face realistic with (supposedly) gritty dialogue. Sometimes slipping into a more standard Hollywood style.
I like Arnie, but the man is no drama actor. This hampers him in just about every scene. In an otherwise interesting cast, he feels misplaced. It also feels like his status is what keeps the group from gelling.
The plot is shaky indeed and at times feels taped together on the go. Also some of the dialogue just feels out of place, like it trying to make the movie into something it's not.
All in all if you like Arnie and expect crap, you'll survive this one. If you're looking for a real good crime drama watch Narc instead.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Just one sentence
Only for the message.
(I have to submit further lines to this review in order to meet IMDBs criteria. Usually I submit normal lenght reviews, commenting acting, directing and so forth. For this one however, it is important to me that my review is the single sentence above, since this is one of extremely few films that, at least in me, connected to something deeper within me, that told me something, that taught me something. I walked away from this film with a new pair of glasses, old ones shattered. I don't know what these glasses will show me, but I am excited. My deepest gratitude to all who contributed in the making of this film.)
7 Below (2012)
Don't worry about the acting there is none!
Pros: Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames are always at least slightly interesting to watch, decent photography Cons: Extremely catastrophically horrendous acting, incoherent poor directing, generic dialogue, lots of stupid plot points The first few seconds of the movie are okay, it's like the build up to a generic ghost story. But then the so called acting starts, and it's all downhill. And trust me it's a steep hill to go down.
I like Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames usually is interesting to watch. But here they are stuck in a swamp of poorest of poor acting, and they get sucked in big time. The other actors range from horrible script readers to awful script readers, so there's not much to feed of.
I don't know how much to blame the story, cause it is slaughtered by the pacing and directing in general. Stuff just happens, they jump to something else, and emotions seems to go a on roller coaster for everyone one minute everyone is calm, then something happens and everyone is screaming, then back to calm. Not to mention it jumps from day to night from one shot to another.
Only the photography saves it from being a 100% disaster but it sure reads at least 90% on that scale.
An unexpected pearl
Pros: Partially charismatic cast, fairly passionate, make best use of resources
Cons: Low budget, partially weak acting
Let me first tell you that I am no B-movie buff in any way. I don't grade them especially high. Giving this movie an 8 is not because it is as good as Lord of the Rings in every aspect, but rather because with the Resources handed, this is probably one of the better movies you could make.
What sets it apart is that the actors, for the most part, buy into it and most of the main cast are fairly charismatic. The true subpar acting you'd expect in movies like these are confined to lesser, supporting actors. There is attention to detail and some passion and effort both in from of and behind the camera.
To be fair this movie probably struck a chord with me personally somehow. It is not a great story, it is not magical directing but it is a good enough, low-budget matinée and if you're into fantasy and can stand low-budget, this one will probably at least amuse you for the time being.
A surprising pearl in the genre
Pros: Nice cast, tremendous directing, nuanced story, very good acting
Cons: Slightly predictable
From the very first scene you know two things; the directing will be original and somewhat bold, as well as that this will not be your standard crime drama. The characters in this movie feels believable and the acting is superb.
The story isn't extremely original in itself, but with all the layers put on it by actors and director, it becomes more diversified than most other movies in the genre. Also, the director never lets the pace up. You're on a ride from the first scene to the last.
The only downside, slight predictability, is only slight. I of course cannot expand on it without giving spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.
All in all if you like crime dramas, this is one to put on the list. Even if it turns out not being your cup of tea, you'll at least have enjoyed some really nice craftsmanship.
Not worth half a dollar!
Pros: Nice cast
Cons: Horrible dialogue, incredibly stupid plot line, massively incoherent storytelling
I'm sorry for the grammar, but running out of adjectives to enhance the poorness of this film. It is listed as a crime drama, but should be under Sci-Fi, because anything Star Trek is more probable than most of the stuff in this movie.
I live in Sweden and don't have a clue how the Police Force in the states works, and much less about how the corrupt side of it would look. But I'm willing bet taking poison that it doesn't even remotely look anything like this. Rookies coming in and on the first day being offered to become dirty, through a "one way door". Basically saying become dirty with us or we will kill you!? That's just the beginning of the ludicrousness.
You will not enjoy this movie, no matter how much you love any of the cast. Apart from the story being incredibly stupid, it is told in such an incoherent way that it's hard to understand what is going on. It feels like the actors know this, because most of them just come in and read their lines some scenes literally sounds more like a read through of the script..
I won't go on ranting, because there is no end to all the horrendousness I could pick on. 50 Cent I understand you have some sort of liason with (director) Jesse Terrero, but please stop appearing in his horrible movies.
Doesn't tap potential
Pros: Great cast, really nice costumes and settings. Fairly good story.
Cons: Edgeless directing. Poor acting on some parts. Poor stunt fighting. Poor dialogue and some irrational behavior from characters.
Let me first dream what this could have been with the right director; a dark, realistic, gangster drama with both emotions and action, as well as memorable performances.
A reality check gives me a bleak movie. It is not exactly bad, but it never takes off in any way. It starts off with a street fight, so poorly performed you'd think it Star Trek from the 60's. It really makes it feel like you're watching a play, and that feeling sticks.
The cast is great, although some subpar acting exists. Mainly from the duo of Chi McBride and Loretta Devine, who sometimes seems to play a parody of Afro American stereotypical acting. The weak dialogue and unsharp cutting/directing, hampers the rest of the cast though.
What you'll get is a walk through a nice setting, seeing some nice people along the way. But the only thing you'll remember is what it could have been.
The Cave (2005)
No one will like this
Pros: Nice photography. Nice settings. Partly really nice visually. Nice cast.
Cons: Crappy dialogue. Absolutely disastrous action sequences. Extremely poor use of soundtrack. Generally poor directing.
This is director Bruce Hunt's first and probably last budgeted motion picture as a director. He has apparently done second unit on the Matrix franchise and some work on Dark World previously, but probably nothing action oriented if I may guess.
The biggest weakness of this movie is the action sequences. You don't know what the heck is going on in any of them. Extremely fast cuts at close up range wastes just about every moment of action in the movie.
But the directing is overall poor. Even in non-action sequences you sometimes don't know what's going on and why they made some of the choices they did. Just all of the sudden they are doing something, no real explanation why. Also, some of what happens is just purely idiotic and illogical.
The use of soundtrack in this one is a pet peeve of mine. From the starting scene they put on some generic "spooky music" which plays over every single scene. This includes some of the initial sequences where we just see the crew gathering and briefing.
The fact the there is a pretty good cast in, at parts, visually stunning settings, is not even close to enough to save this mess. I'm sure Bruce Hunt is a nice enough guy and has a purpose on this earth like all of us, but from this I doubt strongly that it would be directing movies.