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Free Fire (2016)
The worst film I've seen in my entire life
I've seen some stinkers - The Room, Manos: The Hands of Fate, Ryan Reynolds's Green Lantern - and they all pale before this movie.
Rarely has such a capable, talented cast been wasted on a script this bad, with a director this bad. I'm not sure what they were paid, but I hope it was Jaws III level money, otherwise it's an utter embarrassment to otherwise good careers.
Where to begin... An arms deal gone bad. That's a fantastic opening to work from, which many other films have taken and done well with - Lord of War, etc, etc.
But this? This is just... Milquetoast pablum. People yell and shoot at each other for over an hour and nothing changes, nothing advances, no truths are uncovered. Other than the amazing potential for actors to sustain flesh wounds, and guns to have Hollywood-level magazine counts.
There is little more to this than actors yelling and shooting. I wish there was, I do. And so will you, if you have the misfortune to see this steaming pile. But it's not bad enough to be funny, or campy enough for drunken laughs with friends. It's just... Bad.
Don't see this film. Do anything else. Do your taxes. Sort your socks. Mop your floors, clean out your dryer lint trap. All of these things will provide you with more entertainment than this film could ever hope to.
Jack and Jill (2011)
This is the worst film I've seen in my life
I have never seen a film this bad. Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Star Wars Holiday Special, these are Oscar-nominated films by comparison. I struggle to pare down the list of adjectives for 'horrible' that I'll use here.
I'd summarize the plot, but other reviewers have covered that fairly well. Let's get on to the strangeness *behind* this surprisingly horrible film.
The interesting thing is that it's horrible by design, in the sense that it isn't bad because the people making it were inexperienced or simply among the worst in the entire film industry. Adam Sandler's production company 'Happy Madison Productions' has produced a fair number of films that have done well, if generally with questionable taste in every aspect.
The first thing you'll find puzzling when seeing this film is 'This had a budget of 80 MILLION - where did it go?'. 'Independence Day' cost 5 million less than this and you have much, much, much higher production values. The film's actual cost of production looks to have been closer to about 5 million, if that. The rest went to line the pockets of... Well, I'm sure you can make an educated guess.
The commercial product placement alone is beyond the pale - there is a full-blown TV style commercial right in the middle for a cruise line. It looks like a TV commercial, it feels like a TV commercial, then you're back to movie-land. The cruise line was so kind to shoot footage for them!
Dunkin Donuts also bears much of the shame for this entire debacle. They have a commercial at the end that is just... Well, it's so bad you have to see it. It will leave you with absolutely no respect for Al Pacino, if you had any left after making it through the majority of the film. I don't know what sort of bills he has to pay, but they must be horrific if he's accepting work like this now.
This is one of those movies that will end up in film criticism text books citing how bad things became at this point in history. If it were only so bad that it became unintentionally funny, it would deserve a spot on the wall with Mano: Hands of Fate. But it's deliberately bad, just the bare minimum to pose as a film and get money into the hands of the producer and his friends. The sad thing is, they did nothing illegal. Not even Uwe Boll financially questionable. They just figured out how to game the system, I congratulate them on that. The sales execs at Pepto-Bismol, Coke, Royal Canadian Cruise Lines, Dunkin Donuts and Sony really need to learn when to draw the line on product placement. But this is really a case where no one could say no, to the detriment of all that is good in this world.
See this movie at some point, but do not spend any money to do so. See it only to know how bad movies can be.
Green Lantern (2011)
Green Lantern: Made of Fail
If someone gave you $300 million dollars and said "Make me an awesome movie about the Green Lantern", you might think to yourself 'Ah, twice as much money as Thor and X-Men: First Class had - easy as pie!'. If you're director Martin Campbell and you've impressed everyone with movies like Edge of Darkness and Casino Royale, but secretly hate super hero movies and Hollywood producers with an insane cunning, and really want to make an expensive pile of fail, you'd have made "Green Lantern".
The short review - don't waste your money on this unless you *literally* have nothing better to do than watch paint dry. If you like comic books, or even just action movies, AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
Where to begin... I heard bad things about the movie, but I thought 'How bad could it be?'.
First things first. Ryan Reynolds. Generally known for playing slightly air-headed characters with a sense of humor and formulaic Hollywood looks. Star of fifty-two mostly forgettable movies. And this is the person you cast for a tent-pole blockbuster that is about as comedic as Schindler's List? The Green Lantern's romantic interest, Blake Lively looks good, but can only do so much with the steaming pile of dialog she's been handed. Peter Sarsgaard as the mad scientist turned-host-to-evil-from-beyond-space! does quite well as a somewhat sympathetic villain. Save Sarsgaard and Mark Strong to a lesser extent, it's a text book exercise in bad casting of middle-of-the road actors.
Second, 150 million for marketing, 150 million for production, that buys some seriously impressive CGI, right? I mean, all three Lord of the Rings movies had about 15 million less for their combined budgets and look at the CGI there. From a tragic airport field at night that resembles a ray-trace from 1983 to CGI characters with entirely humanoid features (the Guardians) that aren't even *lip-synched* to a monster with a face that looks like something out of a Saturday morning children's cartoon and is roughly as terrifying, it's an amateur effort all around. Then there's the Green Lantern himself - something about the human head on the CGI body looks off for the entire film, and you sit in the theater thinking about a floating head attached to a CGI body rather than an actual character.
Third, the dialog, characters and plot belong in a straight-to-DVD release. Credited writers Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg are most known for Dawson's Creek, Smallville, CSI: Miami and Bed of Roses, respectively. With an all-star team of writers like that... Oh wait. Right. Most of those are awful in terms of writing. It's almost as if someone set out to create an all-star team of the most clichéd and bland writers they could get.
Super hero movies are experiencing a golden age - for the first time, CGI has gotten to the point where comic books can make the transition to the big screen and be something to actually take seriously and not just as entertainment for children. And for the most point, in no small part due to Marvell Studio's efforts - they've done so flawlessly. With a batting average far above Hollywood as a whole, a reputation for quality in an arena that has historically commanded little respect, they've succeeded far beyond the initial hopes of fans everywhere.
DC, Marvell's traditional rival in the comic book world, on the other hand, is doing their best to sink all of that to the bottom of the Mariana trench. With such efforts as Smallville and Jonah Hex, they're doing a bang-up job at that. The notable exception being RED, while not a fantastic movie, it was decidedly entertaining. The rest of their production credits read like children's entertainment. Oh wait, it is! It all comes together like a perfect storm of fail, with DC at the helm of the SS Failboat assuring everyone that it will be a wonderful film as the viewers watch in horror as a giant wave of bad acting, horrendous plot and shambling dialog prepares to smash the entire ship to flinders. Even Ang Lee is laughing, because the title of worst big-budget comic book movie has been snatched from his grateful hands. If you don't see this film, you won't have to work to forget it. Save yourself the trouble and don't.
The Catholic Review of Priest 2011
A priest throwing crosses like throwing stars into a vampire caught my attention.
Vampire meets post-apocalypse meets religious iconography meets Western. Staring Paul Bettany. I had the misfortune to see Legion and I've yet to forgive Mr. Bettany for participating in that wretched wince-fest. So given the actor and the genre, it's probably not going to be an Oscar-nominated type of film. But you know that the moment you saw the trailer.
As a Catholic (the orthodox type that grudgingly accepts Vatican II but mutters about 'the good old days' entirely tongue-in-cheek) it caught my eye. If you happen to be Catholic, every time you see a trailer for a movie where Catholicism is notably featured, you think to yourself 'Oh boy, how are they going to do a hack job that makes it out to be nothing like it actually is this time?'. Can't blame writers though, it's a religion that provides a deep, deep mine of interesting looking iconography and concepts (Apparently Catholic priests are the Ghostbusters of any movie that involves exorcism. You know who they're going to call. An old priest and a young priest.)
Interestingly enough, this film really... Doesn't involve religion. There's the iconography of Catholicism, a few words here and there, but there's really no actual religious content to the film. It's as if a tourist from another planet did a really in-depth one month tour of all things Catholic, but unable to understand the language, did the best job they could of representing it to their friends back home. The film doesn't denigrate Catholicism, it treats it more like a grab bag of 'ooo, that sounds / looks cool' material. It's a post-apocalyptic vampire western that involves characters that participate in a world where there's a State-run religion that is akin to Catholicism in a weird sort of 'parallel dimension where everyone has a goatee' type way. It's what you think you know, but not.
The movie itself is visually interesting. In many ways, it's similar to Event Horizon - another film where a concept wrapped in bad dialog with little to no sane plot caught the viewer's eye with interesting imagery.
Do you like vampires? Do you like westerns? Do you fancy a post-apocalyptic world? Does religion intrigue you, but in a 'not enough to be serious about it' way?
This is your film. It's not a bad film. It's not a great film. If you like certain things, like I do - vampires, vampire killing in a kick-ass style and a certain visual je ne sais quoi, 'world view' that's unlike anything else out there, it's worth seeing.
People you shouldn't take with you to see the film: Serious boring types that get upset if there aren't things like 'good dialog', 'character development' or 'a plot that doesn't make you put your head in your hands'. Much like Ke$ha, it's one of those catchy things you would never admit to enjoying to anyone you respected.
If you happen to be Catholic, rest assured that it's not butchering the religion and presenting some horrific view of it that alienates all who would see it. That's because it doesn't understand religion, but hey (blame the material it's based on - eastern writers tend to have a really strange view of Catholicism and Christianity in general.)
See it in 2D if possible. Like any 3D film originally shot in 2D, the 3D isn't great. Not as bad as Alice, but Avatar it ain't. While rated PG-13, taking anyone who isn't in college or older to see it isn't going to add anything to their life at this point.
And, if you, like me, enjoy it - try not to mention that in respectable company and we can just nod at each other in passing, secure in the belief that not everything enjoyable under the sun needs to be Oscar-worthy material.
Very solid revenge flick
Normally when it comes to movies the Rock is in, I'm not expecting Oscar-worthy material.
The revenge flick doesn't fall into this category either, unless you count The Rules of the Game or something on that level.
This, however, is a damn fine example of the genre and one of the best I've ever seen. The look and feel of the movie is beautiful. The dialog, what little there is, has one or two misses, but the tension is solid throughout.
If you've seen the trailer, you'll know if you like this sort of film. If you do, go watch it! If you don't... Well, why are you reading this?
Billy Bob Thornton has 'skeezy' down to a T. And the Rock plays the 'man on a mission' with deft skill. The Killer, Oliver Jackson-Cohen occasionally has interesting moments, but is sadly a very wimpy example of the breed. Then again, compared to the character of the Driver, even the most stone-cold killer would find it a tough contest at best.
For those that say the Driver's revenge list is as easy as a grocery list, I'll have to admit it's more realistic for it. A man that driven and determined against a group of criminals that weren't at the top of their class to begin with - well, I know where I'd put my money.
Good movie, surprisingly tense
Good, boring or bad? It's good. Worth your money? If you can spare it for a ticket, sure. Better than the trailer makes it seem? Yes, oddly.
There isn't much to the script - Guards working at armored truck company move vast amounts of cash. Guards see opportunity to retire as millionaires, one of them is too honest to go along with it all, and a well-laid plan goes to hell.
This could have been a poorly-executed Reservoir Dogs ripoff, but the skill of the cast and the director's ability to make just about anything tense pull it out of that realm and put it onto a solid footing.
Ninja Assassin (2009)
A step above what you might guess
Went to see Ninja Assassin tonight, wasn't expecting a lot really, but was pleasantly surprised, great fight scenes. Gore hit the top of the gratuitous meter (Kill Bill ain't got nothing' on this movie) fairly often, but when it came to ninjas, ninjas doing what they do best, and pretty much anything ninja-related, the movie does an amazing job.
The editing, despite reports to the contrary, is just fine. The fight choreography, while not quite at ballet company standards, is certainly flashy and attention getting.
And it is nice to see a realistic depiction of what happens when you swing a razor sharp sword at someone (hint: it's not just a minor surface flesh wound). Surprisingly, ninjas are vulnerable to bullets, though most of the time 'you can't shoot what you can't see' holds all too true.
Clichés are observed, though surprisingly, handled well enough to not hit the point where it makes you roll your eyes.
If you're an action-film junkie, or a ninja fan, you'll like this film. If you're only into films that get Oscar nominations, might skip it. Otherwise, it rocks :D
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
I'm a die-hard Tarantino fan, so I was pretty psyched going into the theater. When I left, the most feeling I could sum up about the movie was 'meh'. It's got some great bits, don't get me wrong - the acting and the dialog, at times, are just amazing. But things draaaaag out, and between trying to be funny and trying to be serious, it fails at both.
It's hard to cheer for the heroes, because their actions make them just as bad as those they torment. The film takes itself far, far too seriously, and that's really what ruins it.
I don't mind the fairy-tale style, I don't mind the hyperactive violence. The acting, dialog and cinematography are amazing. But when put together, someone forgot how to edit a film for time and pacing, and found it all so amazing they couldn't cut a second more.
It's disjointed, lengthy to the point of nausea, and amoral to the point of making the heroes no different from the villains. I wanted to like this film, but I can't. Don't bother with paying for tickets.
The Machinist (2004)
Well shot, but not that interesting
Watching this film, I realized two things. One, this was well shot and written, and two... It became tedious and boring twenty minutes in.
Some had to do with the slow pacing, and the rest had to do with none of his revelations being all that interesting. If your protagonist is going crazy, it should at least be fascinating to watch for the entire movie, not just the first twenty minutes.
The whole 'Christian Bale pieces together strange clues that lead to a revelation' became far too repetitive after the first twenty minutes, leaving the rest of the film seeming like 'ah, he's found something else that correlates with some memory. How fascinating! Oh, wait, no, it's the same thing again, just with a different window dressing!'
The music was also problematic, as it hurt the film by it's incredibly lack of subtlety. "This is weird! We've got violins to tell you this! Every time it's a weird moment, we're using this same violin riff! No, really, it's iconic, not trite!"
Visually, it was very well done. I wasn't a huge fan of the look, but it was executed with such flair that was hard to dislike.
Plot-wise, it was good also, but what hurt the plot was the pacing. If you're going to be repetitive about something, it's got to be absolutely mesmerizing. This unfortunately wasn't.
Babylon A.D. (2008)
Babylon A.D. - It's An Awesome Movie, Go See It
I just got back from seeing Babylon A.D. Aside from seeing the trailer, I had no idea what to expect. Obviously Vin Diesel isn't Sir Anthony Hopkins. But nor is Harrison Ford.
What I saw was an impressive sci-fi film that looked amazing. It was an excellent movie, and while at times its reach exceeded its grasp, it is no less a movie for that. It's a far, far better movie than 'Terminator 3' or 'A.I.' It's a movie you'll enjoy seeing.
Reading the IMDb comments, the only conclusion I can reach is the vast majority of the people that gave it negative reviews saw an entirely different movie. The comment about the special effects being crap really makes me wonder, as they were quite good and I work on such things on a daily basis. Have there been better? Well, yes, with movies that had ten times the budget of this one. Was this movie any worse for not having special effects better than any movie before it? Er... No. Were the special effects good enough for any normal human being? (eg, not internet people that apparently go around smoking illicit substances) Yes! They're quite nice! If special effects are all that matter to you, go see Darren Aronofsky's 'The Fountain'. I'm sure you'll like that movie more.
Simply put, it's a great movie and you'll enjoy seeing it. So what are you waiting for? Go see it already!