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RED 2 (2013)
Move Over Bruce!, 14 October 2014

After watching RED I knew with absolute certainty that I wasn't watching RED 2. Needless to say, since I'm writing this review, I watched RED 2. Well, at least I can say I didn't pay for it.

RED 2, like RED, was a high octane, shoot em up movie big on action and small on story. The only differentiating factor that separates this movie from so many others is that the main characters are all AARP members.

As I pondered upon why I didn't like this movie compared to other action movies that I did like, it hit me: I don't care to see sexagenarians parading around like Jason Bourne. Your, or anyone's, rooting interest in this movie lies solely in one's like or dislike of Bruce Willis and gang. I haven't seen a Bruce Willis movie I like since Unbreakable (although Surrogates wasn't too bad). Bruce is just too old to keep doing this stuff and he fails to reinvent himself. What, is he going to be 80 years old still knocking out trained killers and killing bad guys? At least Clint Eastwood had sense enough to go a different direction. Even in the movie Unforgiven Eastwood played an over-the-hill gunslinger that operated very much in the boundaries of an over-the-hill gunslinger.

All I ask is that Bruce and company leave the action to the youngsters. Bruce, man, it's time to move over. Let the young up-and-coming draft picks get a chance to play. I know that you, like Brett Favre, don't like to leave the game, but guess what, it's time for others to shine.

Kick-Ass (2010)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Welcome Change to the Superhero Scene, 30 September 2014

This superhero-ish movie was such a breath of fresh air. Not that I'm at all tired with the DC comics and Marvel productions because they are fantastic, it's just that I didn't want to be inundated with yet another superhero with the same talents but different than all the rest. Kick-Ass' most impressive talents were his ability to not feel pain during severe beatings.

Kick-Ass was both humorous and exciting. I know that Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was the star, but as far as I'm concerned, he can take a back seat for Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz). She made the movie. Without her it would have been a mildly funny action flick. With her it became a mildly funny action flick with some good action. How can you resist a gun wielding 12 year old that can take out an entire mob?

9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Best Denzel Action Movie, 30 September 2014

I may be just giddy about this movie because I just saw it and I'm already thinking about when I'll see it again. OK, so the mere fact that Denzel Washington was in the movie was enough to get me to see it. Is he a good actor? Yes, he's great. But it's not only that he's a great actor, he chooses excellent films. He has an uncanny knack to choose perfect roles OR he's just that good that he makes the movies better.

I went into this movie thinking "Man on Fire", another Denzel action movie that I loved. Well, if you want a true reference for this movie, think Man on Fire, Bourne Identity and R.E.D. but better.

The acting was great, both from the protagonist and the antagonist. Not that the acting had to be that great because this was an action movie after all, but it's always better when the actors give a good performance. The directing and cinematography was wonderful too. The director, Antoine Fuqua, who also directed Training Day, masterfully worked the action scenes with well timed slow motion and soundless shots. Even the musical score for the climax was enough to draw you in.

The entire movie boils down to Denzel Washington playing Robert McCall, a retired agent that has incredible skills. He played the quintessential hit man/assassin.

Intelligent. Check.

Creative. Check.

Skillful. Check.

Ruthless. Check.

Ice in his veins. Double Check.

Robert McCall was so sure of himself it bordered on arrogance. He was so ingenious it bordered on savant. He was so tactically cold and calculating it bordered on robotic. He was so altruistic it bordered on saintly. To be honest, he was a character that I'd abhor in another type of role just because of how pristine he was, but I admired him in this role. Everyone loves the helper to the oppressed and voiceless.

In summary: I loved the story; the build up, the climax and the ending. I loved the players, both the good and the bad. I just plain loved the movie. Throughout the movie I was demonstratively trying to hold back oohs, aahs, yips, yaps and claps. It's been a long time since I wanted to applaud after every action scene. My favorite Denzel action flick.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good Adaptation, Not a Fan, 20 September 2014

Ender's Game is in the same vein as the dystopian movies with teens/young adults playing the key roles. In this movie Earth was attacked by aliens and although Earthicans won the battle for the planet they want to ensure that they are never attacked again. To that end, Earthlings have been training child soldiers all the while searching for the one that will lead all Earthians to annihilate the aliens once and for all. Ender seems to be just the one that they've been looking for but can he deliver?

The movie is based upon a book written in 1983 by Orson Scott Card. I read the book, and even though there are some deviations from the source material, they adapted it pretty well for the big screen. The director did a nice job bringing to life the events depicted in the book but he didn't do much for the acting. The acting in this movie is atrocious even if they were kids. I think even Harrison Ford was affected by it.

Ultimately, what I disliked about the movie (besides the acting) is what I disliked about the book... the ending. That's no fault of the movie, it is what it is.

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Closer to the Book, 27 August 2014

One thing I will give Catching Fire credit for is being more akin to the book. Of course, movies will always have limitations books don't have and vice-versa, but this movie did a fairly good job.

Although I liked Hunger Games better, both the book and the movie, this movie was a very close second. The conflict in this movie was the same but different. The Capitol and President Snow are still the enemy, the various districts are still oppressed and the Hunger Games make another appearance, but that's where the similarities stop.

The ante has been upped by both the Capitol and the districts. In other words, both sides have a lot to lose this time around with the Hunger Games. I like how Suzanne Collins seamlessly and neatly wove in another Hunger Games with Katniss and Peeta being thrust back into them. It is a solid, solid second installment, just not quite as good as the first.

Brilliant Movie Until the End, 22 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After hearing about this from a teammate, a friend and a coworker (not all the same person), I decided to watch it.

This is a tale of revenge. A middle aged man by the name of Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) witnesses his wife and daughter get brutally murdered at the hand of two criminals. This atrocity happens very early in the movie and sets the tone. Asst. DA, soon to be DA, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), tries the case and doesn't secure a verdict satisfactory to Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler). That leaves Clyde to take matters into his own hands.

The movie was quite inventive and clever, even if Clyde was mad with vengeance. You couldn't help but root for Clyde to some degree as he wrought death and havoc upon those responsible for his family's killer's light sentence. He started his warpath with the most responsible parties, i.e. the criminals, then he extended out from there. Each move made tactical sense until towards the end. I ask you: after the two scumbag criminals, their lawyer and the judge... who is the MOST liable for the lack of justice? Obviously it would be Nick Rice!! So why then wasn't he immediately targeted?

At first I was thinking that Clyde had something more in store for Nick. I was thinking: he's going to destroy his life. Get him fired, make him lose his family and then land him in prison somehow. But, as the movie went on, Clyde was targeting everyone BUT Nick. It really didn't make any sense. Then the ending plain sucked. The dialog between Clyde and Nick was too cheesy; in fact, this was not a good Jamie Foxx performance. It was obvious that he was trying to play the cocky DA but he mailed in the performance. Back to the ending... it was not well thought out. Sure, they brought the bomb back to his cell to make him do himself in, but that was so absurd. Let's see: 1.) transporting armed napalm 2.) have no idea when he'll detonate it 3.) got it back to his cell (of course through the secret entrance) 4.) stayed in the cell until he was ready to detonate it 5.) escaped before being blown up too.

A better ending: A.) Nick Price straight up kills Clyde or B.) Clyde kills Nick Price as the final sacrifice and either gets away or gets caught and takes his death penalty having gotten the vengeance he sought. I assume this was supposed to be a happy ending because the good guy gone bad was killed, but I couldn't help but feel that the ending was incomplete. At the very least the ending was ambivalent; no way to say that good triumphed over evil.

Fair Adaptation of the Book, 22 August 2014

I watched the movie, read the book and watched the movie again in that very order. Probably not the best approach, but no big deal right? Not exactly.

I thought the movie was good when I first saw it, not great, but good. After reading the book the movie was diminished a bit but still good. Hunger Games did a fairly good job adhering to the book. There were some changes, but I could see that the majority of the changes had to do with time constraints more than anything else. To stay completely true to the book the movie would have had to be four hours long or so. After reading the book I found myself being overly critical and longing for certain scenes to be more detailed. I was looking to capture the same emotions I had when reading the book.

As movies go, this is a nice dystopic film. The tale is not over the top with heroism but rather subtle heroics. The action is moderate and enough to keep the movie lively. Ultimately, your attention is held by your desire for the main character to survive because that's what the Hunger Games are all about.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
This Movie has Serious Wow, 11 August 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (DPA from now on) hearkened back to its roots. 1968 Planet of the Apes was socially relevant and had some very powerful symbolism in it. DPA, I thought, brought a lot of symbolism just as the 1968 movie did. This story was layered and complex and made you think and consider what was right, what was wrong, whose side to choose.

Most of mankind has been wiped out by a man-made disease called Simian Flu. During this time of societal collapse a group of apes have created and grown a community of their own in the woods of Marin county. Caesar, the lead ape, again was the focus. Now, he is far more developed in his thinking and his emotions.

One immediate reaction: the CGI was A+ awesome. There were times when the CGI was more noticeable than others, but by and large the CGI was superb! Honestly, I was wondering at times if I was looking at real apes.

Another thing I noticed: the trailers didn't give anything away. Yes, there is a battle between apes and humans and yes a critical action sparked that battle but there is so much more. It was enough of a story that I discussed it with my brother at length the next day. This is a good sequel even better than its predecessor.

Lucy (2014/I)
0 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Good til it got weird, 11 August 2014

So Lucy was pretty good until it got kinda weird. Weird is probably the best description I can think of for the events that occurred in the latter quarter to one-third of the movie.

Conceptually the movie touches a cool subject. As human beings we only use 10% of our brains, what would happen if a person achieved 100% usage of her brain? Lucy (Scarjo or Scarlett Johansson) was exposed to a drug that allowed her to use 100% of her brain.

Parts of this movie reminded me of Natural Born Killers in that there were several cutaways to file footage of other things that could be symbolic or relative to what was being said or perhaps felt. There were some exciting moments and some awesome moments, but then the movie got way too esoteric and almost metaphysical. A valid and plausible theory became mystical and almost comical. Essentially, what started off good sorta waned and ended with a whimper.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not enough grit and reality, 5 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a very novel concept. A mysterious yet indestructible dome that encases the town of Chester's Mill. Little is disclosed about the dome or why it appeared at Chester's Mill but much was revealed about the individual characters. What I found out almost immediately is that none of the characters interested me. Even with the myriad of characters and their various qualities and flaws they seemed very generic. The drama that unfolds in Chester's Mill seemed fabricated and soap opera-ish. Although I continued to watch Under the Dome, much like we watch the train wreck, there were several detractors for me. Without making this review long and drawn out I'll point out a few criticisms.

1.) Under the Dome makes townsfolk look overly simple and servile. How many times were the dozens of townsfolk told to do something and they just went right along with it. "Everyone disperse," everyone leaves. "Lets attack Olly's property," they gather and attack. "Give up your guns," they gave up their guns. "Lets lynch Barbie," they gather to lynch Barbie. "Share your food," they share their food. Are you serious? Some simpleton, megalomaniacal councilman instructs them and they act. Really pathetic.

2.) Is it that easy to disarm someone? I think I counted at least six disarmings and Barbie was responsible for at least three. It's amazing how someone with a gun in their hand can so easily allow someone to just snatch it from them with a brisk action.

3.) Treachery pays. I know that every show needs an antagonist. I know that in life, sometimes evil people get away with their evil. But... we're talking about a small podunk town in which a councilman was able to murder six people, he was responsible for the deaths of five others, and he was going to try to eradicate a portion of the population with an infectious disease, yet... "everyone deserves a second chance." WOW!! How noble! How kind! How benevolent!

How ridiculous!

Let me tell you what life would be like under a dome. Within days, maybe seven tops, it's going to be total chaos with survival of the fittest ruling the day. People with guns are not giving them up. People with food are not giving it up. Every store of any kind will be raided and people will resort to killing in defense and in offense. But I guess the altruistic town of Chester's Mill is immune to all of that. The few little dust ups they had were summarily and tidily handled with seemingly no blow back or residual issues.

So, I guess I would say that this show is too clean. Yes, even with the killing, the psychos, and the skeletons in everyone's closets, the show is too clean. Everything is still running relatively smoothly as though no dome is over them and no lives have been taken. Injustices are quickly forgiven and forgotten. Losses of resources become a non-factor and the people are still generally upbeat and happy in the face of this dire uncertainty. Maybe that is the goal of the program; to show us how a people can truly and somewhat harmoniously survive in a crisis. As for me, I would prefer a grittier, realer show; perhaps if this show was done by HBO or AMC it would have the edginess to make it more likable.

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