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A good, if standard, science fiction themed effort
Saw this at a free screening. It turned out to be better than I expected. Johnny Depp plays a brilliant and eccentric scientist who is a leading expert on artificial intelligence, and when he is mortally wounded by an anti-technology extremist/terrorist group, he and his small inner circle of fellow genius scientists embark on an ambitious experiment that will test a radical theory of his.
The plot and overall story is pretty standard fare for science fiction, but it still manages to keep things interesting, with various echoes of other classic sci fi movies like 2001: A space odyssey in there as well. The visuals can be really striking at times, with long, brightly lit white hallways that seem to go on forever in an advanced scientific lab, and neat-o computer-like visualizations of cities. The best part of the movie is the last segment, with some really good twists. No spoilers, but the ending is particularly interesting and well done. There is a nice ambiguity and there can be different interpretations of the overall message of the movie. My friend and I disagreed on what the movie was ultimately saying, for example. It's no masterpiece though, but science fiction fans will like it.
Another modern horror snore fest
Stay far away from this one if you are a horror fan and have seen more than a handful of horror movies. This is just another in a long line of modern horror movies from the past decade or so, where it is full of jump scares and bad CGI ghosts. Ugh. Dumb, boring, and about as non-scary as they come. The best part is the first third or so, with some actual suspense developed, but it never follows through and turns into a generic ghost horror movie from there. The actors all play standard parts, nothing surprising, but the little boy character was mildly amusing, as he always seemed to be scared out of his wits, no matter what was going on in the scene. They could be having a calm normal morning breakfast, and he was scared as heck! I didn't pay a cent to see this, saw it at a free screening, and I think I got what I paid for.
Somewhat over-hyped thriller
I became a Liam Neeson fan when he started his new turn as an action hero in the excellent thriller, Taken. But I think this newest entry in his recent action roles is more routine and by the numbers than what some of the enthusiastic response is giving it credit for. It is a "bog standard" action thriller aboard an airplane, and to me, it seemed a bit too goofy in places and overly contrived. It's not terrible by any means, but nothing special. I hope to see more interesting movies in this genre from Neeson in the future, because I still haven't seen any of his other action movies rise to the level of "Taken" yet.
As far as special effects and set design, the movie is strong in those departments. I think the movie is actually best in its first 3rd, there is a nice style and atmosphere built up, and the movie seems quite promising at that point. Then it slowly goes downhill at an increasing rate from there. By the time the ending rolled around I found it to have become very silly and a disappointment.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
Not just slow, but moves at a glacial pace. And feels like a TV movie
"Out of the Furnace" has an all star cast of current and former huge Hollywood names, but this movie feels very small, and more like a TV drama than a feature movie. It also has a glacial pace, and seems like a 5 hour experience, a real slog. The only bright spot is Woody Harrelson, playing an uber-hillbilly who is a down and dirty scumbag, he shows his usual great range when compared to his recent work as a very different character in the blockbuster Hunger Games movies. This movie is very pedestrian in the story line, with nothing that surprises you, and you know what will happen from a mile away. I would not be surprised if this bombs at the box office. Very dull.
Wow, an amazing sequel that outdoes the first one in all respects!
I must say that Catching Fire blew me away in how good it was, I didn't expect this. I was not impressed with the first movie - The Hunger Games - but this sequel raises the bar significantly and its stunning at just how entertaining the film is, and very surprising what they accomplished here.
Jennifer Lawrence was phenomenal in the lead role, showing a great range of emotions and intensity, it was one of the best performances by a lead that I have seen in a long time. But this movie is full of great acting, with all the parts being played to a high level, and it goes along with a suspenseful and exciting plot, which draws you into the movie with ease and skill. I know I sound like I'm gushing, but it's just that kind of a movie, where you leave the theater excited and with an afterglow of having seen a first rate piece of film making. I can't wait to see the third movie, the anticipation is already building to see what happens next. I applaud all the actors and directors and special effects people, they really excelled and made quite a movie!
Good genre movie for science fiction fans
"Riddick" was better than I thought it would be. I had read some mixed reviews and went to see it not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised, it was a good science fiction and action movie, and I think fans of the genre would be pleased. The storyline is a little bit confused, especially if you forgot what happened in the previous movies, but you can follow it along good enough and make sense of most of it.
The movie starts out very strong, with Riddick stranded on an inhospitable and deadly alien planet filled with forbidding vistas and predator type wildlife that would love nothing better than to snack on a human for a quick meal. Riddick, the ultimate survivor, must contend with these creatures, and also with basics such as finding water and a place to shelter. I really enjoyed this opening act, and also the special effects and general look of the planet are very well done. I especially liked the colors used, a lot of yellow and orange hues that are striking to look at on screen and its effective in creating a rich atmosphere of a forbidding alien planet.
I thought the acting of Riddick and the other characters in the movie was good overall, and even though most of the characters are minor, the actors did well to create a memorable impression.
The movie is no masterpiece though and has its problems (some lame dialog, some of the action gets a bit tedious, and the movie also runs too long, should have been 90 minutes), but it has a definite appeal for fans of the previous movies and fans of the genre, and is entertaining to watch.
The Conjuring (2013)
I had read positive reviews about this movie, with some saying it was really scary and others giving it high praise. So it was with some anticipation as I sat down in the theater to watch this,since I am a horror movie aficionado, thinking I was in for a treat. Well, instead of a treat, the trick was on me. This movie was not scary in the least, and it was not even a good horror movie. I found myself laughing at some of the scenes, instead of feeling scared or spooked. The only thing I felt was spooky was the weird doll, which was well done and freaky looking. Besides that, this is a bog standard ghost horror movie that many movie watchers have seen a thousand times before. It brings nothing new to the table. Not sure where all the glowing reviews are coming from.
Damon gives it a good go, but the movie disappoints in many ways
I had several problems with this movie. The ending went on far too long, leaving a bad after-taste. I also hated how the politics of the current day were injected so blatantly into the movie - I don't go to a supposed science fiction movie to get lectured about political issues (illegals). I want escapism from a sci-fi movie above all.
Damon is the only thing good in the entire film. He gives it a good college try, but he can't save this movie from failure. A very awkward story line about a childhood sweetheart runs throughout, and the love interest is cold as a fish, and there is no chemistry between Damon's character and her. None of the other characters make an impression.
This movie felt really clunky and unsubtle and just awkward is the best way to put it. Recycled robots from other better sci-fi movies didn't help matters. The space station, Elysium, was kind of cool, but that is about it. 5 Stars only because Damon is always an engaging presence to watch, even in a lousy movie like this one.
The Wolverine (2013)
Great entertainment, made for adults
This is not another light and fluffy comic book super hero movie. This movie actually has depth and substance to it, and there are not fight scenes taking place every few minutes like in most comic book movies lately. It is more of a deep character study of the Wolverine. I thought it was unexpectedly good, with Jackman doing a superb job in the lead role, as a tortured hero, who seems as if he no longer wants to go on living his near immortal existence because of deep regrets and guilt he is feeling about things that happened in the past.
But it is not all doom and gloom, there are indeed fight scenes, and they are what you would expect of a summer blockbuster type movie. The last fight scene involving a giant robot-like Samurai is especially spectacular. Just don't expect the fight scenes to be the main focus of the movie, this is more about the Wolverine and his inner struggles of conscience. I liked it very much.
The Purge (2013)
Really good thriller
This was surprisingly good, and delivered in the suspense and thrills dept. with a wallop. The direction was no nonsense and lean, with no unnecessary padding or scenes. I think this didn't get as much attention as it should have, and will be a good movie to rent if you didn't see it in the theater. Ethan Hawke is good as the devoted father, who just wants to save his family, no matter what the cost. But all the actors give good performances, from the kids to the strange neighbors, to the black guy who is on the run and trying to escape with his life.
There are some nice and suspenseful scenes with a building tension, and no cheap scares. I really liked the ending as well, with its neat twist. This is much more of a thriller than a horror, but does have some fairly graphic scenes of violence, so that is something to keep in mind. Anyone who likes thrillers with an intriguing science fiction-like premise shouldn't miss "The Purge".