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No fan of Jurassic World 1, but this one's pretty good
6 June 2018
In 1993 Jurassic Park made a big impression on me. I even thought its two sequels weren't that bad. Jurassic World was the movie I didn't like. To me it was a mildly entertaining mess and its global success was a total mystery to me. I really wasn't looking forward to seeing Fallen Kingdom, but luckily I did. Surprisingly it's very good!

The story picks up four years after Jurassic World. The dinosaurs of the island Isla Nublar are in danger because a volcano is about to erupt (!). Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) wants to save them and gets an offer from Benjamin Lockwood, former partner of park founder Hammond, to relocate all the animals to a new island where they can live undisturbed. She agrees and even convinces her (now) former boyfriend Owen (Chris Pratt) to join her. Back on the island they discover that they have been lied to and that their own actions have led to this...

Fallen Kingdom isn't the big Chris Pratt show and that's a good thing. Don't get me wrong: I love Pratt, but in terms of characters the film has a lot more to offer. Bryce Dallas Howard gets most screentime and even the kid in the movie, old Lockwood's niece Maisy, isn't annoying like the ones in the previous films. She's a real heroine. The role is played by first timer Isabella Sermon, of whom we without any doubt will hear much more from in the future. Well done!

The first half of Fallen Kingdom, when the gang gets back together and discover what happened on the island, is the best part. The hommage to Raiders of the Lost Ark ("Jock! Start the engine!"), when Owen and Claire must run for their lives because of the eruption and dive into the ocean (as seen in the trailer) is the best sequence. But there's also a lot of fun in smaller scenes. I won't spoil it for you, but there's a moment when Owen gets drugged and something very dangerous is approaching him. In typical Pratt fashion he escapes. In another scene he has to draw blood from a dinosaur in a truck. Very funny.

I also like the fact that Fallen Kingdom does a lot with suggestion. In Spielberg fashion we see a lot of silhouettes of dinosaurs which adds to the suspence. It also makes the film look very good. The ending of the movie is a bit strange, though. It's okay to have a heart for the dinosaurs, but to do something like that... well.. that's pretty extreme. It does make way for an interesting part 3.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom will be the big summer movie of 2018 and without any doubt rule the global box office. It deserves that success because it's a well crafted and very entertaining action movie. The special effects are excellent and the characters are more interesting than in most action flicks. Go see it!

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I'm a big SW fan but I hated (almost) every minute of it - 5/10
17 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Let me first say that I'm a very big Star Wars fan. I saw the first one as a teenager back in 1978, had to wait a very long time for the new ones and thought that both Rogue One and The Last Jedi were brilliant. This one however isn't. I even think that Solo: A Star Wars Story is the worst entry in the series.

Disney has bought the rights to Star Wars and in order to get their investment back they must earn money: I get that. So they made a sequel trilogy to Return of the Jedi and are planning a brand new one in the future too. I get that as well. At the same time they produce stand-alone movies so they can have a Star Wars movie every year. Logical. But why choose Han Solo as a subject, a project that can only fail?

Making a Han Solo movie without Harrison Ford is a big risk. Who can follow in his iconic footsteps? Actor Alden Ehrenreich does a decent job, but he can't make us forget the original actor. It's not even close. Trying to see the movie as a non-Han Solo movie isn't possible either, because you're constantly reminded that Alden is supposed to be the real deal. I don't know how many times the famous dice (Solo's lucky charm) is shown to proof this or when Alden tries to smile like the famous scoundrel.

Then the story... Well, somebody must have asked the question: "Okay, we'll do Han Solo. Which elements of his past can we use? How he met Chewbacca, how he won the Falcon, the Kessel run... well, they all appear in the story. Wow, that's some lazy writing! And remember that famous scene in the Godfather part 2 when Vito arrives in America and somebody asks him his name? Well, there is a similar scene in this movie explaining Han's surname. What, has he lived his life all the time without one? No, it doesn't look like a tribute. Again, it's just some lazy writing.

Visually the movie is also disappointing. The first part, when we meet Han and his girlfriend Qi'ra for the first time, even looks like a middle-of-the-road Direct-to-DVD film. There is a nice scene however when Han and his crew must rob a train (as shown in the trailer). To me that was the (visual) highlight of the movie.

In the end there's an effort to make this stand-alone film fit more into the Star Wars movie canon by showing a famous character that will probably play a big part in the sequel. This surprise comes out of nowhere and it just doesn't work. And yes: sequel. Depending on the success two sequels will follow. At the end of part 3 Han will probably walk into the cantina on Tattooine to meet Obi-Wan and Luke for the first time. So yes: that doesn't happen in this movie.

It's incredible that the great Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the lost arc) co-wrote this story. There are absolutely no surprises in there and the character build up (of Solo and Emilia Clarke's Kira, pardon: Qi'ra) is very poor at times. The scene in which Han speaks Wookie (!) is an all time low in Star Wars history (only to be outlowed by the "Yippie" from Episode 1 and "Nooooo!" from Episode 3). And a robot with an attitude? Come on! Been there, done that.

I think Disney - like so many Stormtroopers - pretty much misfired with this movie. Who the hell okayed this script? Donald Glover is charming as Lando, but could have had more screentime. Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany always perform well and Emilia Clarke... well, the movie stops just when her character becomes interesting. Her character could be fascinating in the sequel (that hopefully will not be made).

Ever since I heard of Solo: A Star Wars Story I had a bad feeling about it. I wasn't wrong. Solo is a movie made for all the wrong reasons (money) and should have never been green lit. It's just Star Wars overkill. Let me end with something positive: in the movie theatre there were also fans who did like the movie, so there's a slight chance that I'm too harsh for the film. So if you really want to see it: go ahead!

Oh yeah: there's no aftercredits scene in this film!
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Wait a minute, replicants can do... WHAT?
5 October 2017
In science fiction the viewer must believe in a certain fantasy in order to enjoy the story that will be presented. In Back to the Future you must accept the fantasy that it is possible to travel through time. In E.T. you must accept the fact that aliens from other planets do exist.

In Blade Runner 2049 the main story is all about a certain ability the replicants seem to have - and it's a totally absurd and unbelievable one. That and a few plot holes almost wreck the whole movie.

In the end Blade Runner 2049 is saved by the incredible visuals and the love director Denis Villeneuve has for the original. There are many big and small scenes that refer to characters and situations in Blade Runner 1. The film brings back two characters from the original (beside Deckard) and the second one is actually very well done. The now famous Vangelis soundtrack also plays a major part at the end. The first encounter between Gosling and Harrison Ford is an absolute delight, just like the performance of newcomer Sylvia Hoeks (who makes us Dutchies very proud). The film is long - almost three hours - and could have used a shorter cut.

Blade Runner 2049 certainly does not surpass the original, but it's a courageous effort that's worth seeing in the cinema, especially in 3D IMAX. Only time will tell if it will also become a classic.

7,5 / 10
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Screamers: The Hunting (2009 Video)
An entertaining Aliens rip-off
25 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The original Screamers movie was an entertaining scifi film that could best be described as a serious science fiction variation on Tremors. Years later the sequel is clearly inspired by James Cameron's Aliens and if you don't expect much it's pretty entertaining.

In this highly predictable tale a team of soldiers are traveling to the Screamers planet because of a distress call they received. They only have six days to rescue the one who sent out the signal before a big meteor storm will destroy the whole planet. Okay, let's do this!

The story will then give you all the clichés that you want, from the lead who has a personal score to settle to the one who wants to steal the Screamers technology to sell it on earth (yes, that's Burke!). In classic The Thing fashion anybody could be a Screamer so if our protagonist meets this handsome survivor (a young Stephen Ammell) you'll probably know how this will end.

Despite all its flaws Screamers: The Hunting is a nice low-budget action movie. There is a lot of blood and although actress Gina Holden is no Ripley she does a decent job (and isn't hard on the eyes either). Go see it!
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Could have been the best Iron Man movie ever (but is still great!)
20 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Don't get me wrong: Civil War is a great movie and Captain America is by far my favourite Avenger. But actually in the story the real drama and conflict comes from Tony Stark - not Steve Rogers. Captain America goes rogue in order to save his friend Bucky - that's understandable. But it is up to Iron Man to bring his friend in. Adding to this drama Stark has a few ghosts from the past he has to fight as well. So although Civil War is one of the best Marvel movies ever, it could have been even more interesting if the main focus was on Iron Man.

But let us not be unthankful. Civil War is a great fun and an exciting ride. First of all Spider- Man gets a great introduction. I liked the fact that he's in highschool instead of being a student like the previous movies. His scene with Tony Stark is brilliant and during the fight at the airport he steals the show - still being in awe of seeing his Avenger heroes for the first time. I also loved Black Panther. His role in the story is pretty vital. Because there are a lot of Avengers seen in Civil War it could easily have been an Avengers film. The Russo brothers did a great job by giving all the heroes enough screen time.

So were there any down points? Personally I didn't like Ant-Man becoming the giant that he can be at the airport fightscene. With the Avengers not really wanting to hurt each other, the fight scenes almost became slapstick. Ant-Man becoming the giant was just a little bit too much, I think.

But enough complaining. Captain America Civil War is a great action movie about loyalty and friendship. At the end the relationship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is changed forever and I can't wait when they will face each other again in The Avengers III. Oh yeah: one spoiler: finally Captain America gets his first kiss. It was about time!

Can't wait to see it again.

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Great film, but... (read only when you've seen the movie!)
16 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The greatest thing The Force Awakens did for me was that it made me feel like that little kid again. I was transported back to 1977 when I sat with my older sister in a movie theater in Amsterdam and was watching the first Star Wars film. What an amazing experience!

Overall I think JJ Abrams did a great job with The Force Awakens. Being able to please the old fans as well as the potential new ones must have been a difficult task. He cast great actors, used some excellent SFX and made a great mix of new elements and Star Wars nostalgia. The first part of The Force Awakens is great fun. In a brilliant way we see how the lives of Poe, Finn and Rey get intertwined and how they're forced into a war between the First Order and the Alliance.

Strangely, the pace of the story gets interrupted a little bit when we meet the old cast. Han Solo is the first one. Although his scenes are magical they also divert us a little from the story. Luckily things fall into place very quickly when they join forces and go meet Maz Kanata, a great CGI character played by Lupita Nyong'o. Solo plays a major role in this Star Wars outing. He gets a lot of screen time and when the movie is finished you know why. Carrie Fisher looks great as General Leia.

The bad things then. Daisy Ridley is not always convincing in her role as Rey. But she's charming as hell and at the moments she really must perform she really delivers. Well done! The new bad guy, the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is a different story. He looks like a low budget Voldemort and therefor isn't quite as menacing as Darth Sidious. Why does he look so fake? Kylo Ren: he is introduced as this ruthless killer who is very skilled in The Force. He can even freeze a blaster fire in the air! Wow, he makes Darth Vader look like a pussy. But later on in the story he must fight Finn who - as a non-Jedi - has a lightsaber in his hand for the very first time. Why doesn't Ren demolish this boy? He doesn't even have The Force!

I was impressed by how Han Solo died. His fall into the fog is both epic and impressive. Although you know it will happen it still comes as a shock. But at that point you know that Kylo Ren can't be turned to the Light side: it's too soon for that. Thanks to Han's death we know that Kylo Rey will go berserk in Episode VIII.

Although the scenes between Kylo Ren and Rey are great to watch, it is strange that the girl knows how to use her Force powers so soon. 24 Hours earlier she didn't even know what The Force was. "Yes, the stories are true. All of them!" That development was not convincing at all.

With the prequels we knew how the story would end: Anakin would become Darth Vader and Luke and Leia would be separated. But now with the new trilogy it's a whole different matter. In the next chapter we'll probably witness Rey being trained by Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren by the Supreme Leader Snoke. But what else? In this new story anything goes. Luke can be killed. Rey can be seduced by the Dark Side. BB-8 can marry R2D2 if he/she wants. And that makes this new trilogy so exciting.

In the end Star Wars The Force Awakens is the story of an extraordinary family and the one of a great spaceship. Because the way the Millennium Falcon is shown in this movie is pure magic!

Looking forward to seeing the next chapter!

8,5 out of 10
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Unbroken (I) (2014)
Good material, bad movie
10 May 2015
A true story is no guarantee for a good movie. That's the lesson we can learn from Angelina Jolie's Unbroken. The movie is based on the biography of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympic track champion who joins WW2 and experiences near death on the ocean and almost gets killed in a Japanese concentration camp. When the war is over, he returns home.

That's the story, frankly. The end credits roll on the screen after he is reunited with his parents and brother on an American airport. No more scenes about being home in the States. Fade out: this is the end.

However, thanks to these end credits we also learn that he later went back to Japan to face and forgive his Japanese camp guards and as an old man sees a dream come true when he carries the torch for the Olympic Games in Japan. Especially the forgiving part is exciting. Why didn't Angelina Jolie show us that? Why didn't she use the Saving Private Ryan structure and tell the story as a flashback, showing Zamperini visiting his Japanese opponents in the present while thinking back of his time during WW2? It would have made the movie much better.

Unbroken is a well made drama. The war scenes with the airplanes in the beginning of the movie are very well done. The flashbacks to his youth as a problem child are also impressive. But once the bad times begin, the movie falls flat. Yes, it's impressive what the real Louis Zamperini had to experience to survive World War 2. But shown from the eyes of director Angelina Jolie it soon becomes pretty boring.

Unbroken is a great monument but a flawed film. With this material Jolie could have done much better.
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Even with high expectations it doesn't even disappoint!
20 April 2015
Tony Stark wants to invent something that benefits mankind but instead turns out to be the one responsible for the creation of this dangerous self thinking robot, Ultron. The Avengers must assemble once again to fight this menace that wants to kill all the humans on this planet. But Ultron is powerful and the way he is presented makes you wonder how our heroes can defeat him. Just you wait and see...

What I liked best about Age of Ultron was the fact that all our favorite heroes get equal screen time to show of what they can do. Although the action scenes are great (Iron Man in the Hulkbuster versus Hulk!) the thing that really makes this movie work is the interaction between all the people involved. Stark and Banner, Banner and Black Widow, Hawkeye and Black Widow, Thor and Captain America... like in real life you can see with whom each of them get along best. It's also nice to see that Hawkeye gets a lot of screen time. He even gets the most interesting background story of the bunch. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch make a great addition to the team (sort of) and there are a lot more cameos in the movie (although I don't think anybody spotted Lou Ferrigno!).

The movie runs about two and a half hours and that's pretty long. It could have been a little bit shorter, but overall I didn't mind. With great action scenes (pay attention to the opening action sequence in which he introduces the Avengers in one mighty shot!), nice humor, a lot of cameos and a satisfying finale writer/director Joss Whedon has everything under control and that pays of.

This year (2015) The Avengers Age of Ultron will shatter all box office records and that will be a fitting reward for giving most Marvel fans and 'normal' moviegoers this big treat. Even Pixar slipped (with Cars 2 and Brave) so everybody's waiting for Marvel to produce a real stinker. Although that day may come, The Avengers part 2 is not the movie that will be responsible for that!

8,5 / 10
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The Remaining (I) (2014)
Wow, a Christian action movie
3 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a religious action movie that takes the subject of Christianity to the next level. Not that that's a good thing, but once you know that The Remaining is actually Christian propaganda, then you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Because really, this movie is not bad. Actually I found it highly entertaining.

The Remaining is loosely based on the last chapter of the Bible, The Book of Revelations. It's about the actual Judgement Day when during the Rapture all good people die and go to Heaven and all the bad ones stay on earth. There's been a lot of criticism on that last matter. In the movie it's not important if you're a good person: if you still not believe in God then you're doomed. You must turn into a believer in order to be saved. That message is pretty much smacked in your face in the finale of the movie and that hurts.

Other than that, The Remaining is quite enjoyable. The visual effects are good, the audio effects sounded even great on my Dolby 5.1/DTS audio surround set and the young actors are sympathetic and certainly not hard on the eyes. There's also a lot of nice suspense in there. Sometimes you think that the director could have done more with the subject because whether you believe or not, the Bible is a book with lots of great ideas and themes. The film sometimes reminds you of the Nicolas Cage stinker Left Behind, but this movie at least has a cinematic feel.

I liked The Remaining. It's even better than a movie like The Darkest Hour and it could have been great if they hadn't slapped you in the face with that over the top religious message. Go give it a try! One last thing: the story starts out as a found footage movie but luckily it isn't anything like that :-)
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Kick-Ass meets Men in Black and 60s Avengers
11 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
With movies like X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, Stardust and Layer Cake writer/director/producer Matthew Vaughn established himself as one of the most exciting movie makers around. Having turned down the offer to direct X-Men Days of Future Past we were very interested in what he was working on instead. Luckily Kingsman: The Secret Service - again based on a comic - doesn't disappoint. Afterwards we can be glad that he put all his efforts in this incredibly funny but also comic-book violent spy flick. With Bryan Singer again involved as director, the X-Men movie also turned out very fine anyway.

The film is about Kingsman, an unknown but powerful British Secret Service. When one of his spies dies, all six remaining agents are asked to come up with a candidate that can replace him. After a dangerous selection only one will remain. Kingsman Harry Hart (Colin Firth) nominates Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (played by newcomer Taron Egerton who's also being eyed for the role of Cyclops in X-Men Apocalypse). Eggsy is a small criminal who doesn't know he is the son of a killed Kingsman agent. In the meantime the organization investigates the dubious plans of billionaire and philanthropist Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who says he wants to save our planet but doesn't tell the world at what costs he will do that.

Three movies pop in mind when you see Kingsman. First of all: Kick- Ass. It has the same humor, violence and over the top characters. Valentine's bodyguard for instance is a girl with no legs but with killing blades. Her action scenes are quite spectacular. Samuel L. Jackson is a crazy disturbed villain. His madness suits the finale of the movie very well.

Secondly: Men in Black. Young Eggsy must participate in a very nasty selection process in order to be the chosen Kingsman. The missions they must do are very dangerous. In the first one a candidate even dies (or it seems that way).

The third ( and major) title Kingsman resembles is The Avengers. No, I'm not talking about the Marvel one. In the late sixties there was this British TV-series starring the ultimate gentleman John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and the first powergirl ever, Emma Peel (played by the legendary Diana Rigg from On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Game of Thrones fame). These two spies used a lot of (hidden) gadgets to solve crime. But whatever happened, like Colin Firth in Kingsman, John Steed always remained polite and stiff. The Avengers TV-series even got a very bad movie version in 1998 starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery.

Kingsman starts of as an entertaining action movie with lots of violence and humor. Entertaining, but not exceptional. Turns out director Vaughn saved the best for last. In the incredible finale the movie really delivers. Absolute highlight is the way the baddies get defeated by the two remaining Kingsman. That scene is so over the top, I think only Matthew Vaughn could have pulled that of.

Yes, Kingsman is great stuff and I can't wait to see it again. Especially actor Colin Firth deserves lots of praise. He not only gives us a very likable and funny performance, but his action scenes are also very convincing and must have cost him months of training. The shots in which he does the fighting are also very long with very few cut aways. We hope he didn't have to do that many takes. Newcomer Taron Egerton as Eggsy is also impressive. He's not only believable as a low life street thug, but as a James Bond-like spy as well. No doubt Kingsman will launch his career.

In one of the first scenes of the movie we see actor Mark Hamill in the role of professor James Arnold. And that's a nice surprise given the fact that it's 2015 now, the year of Star Wars The Force Awakens and his great movie comeback. It at least gives us a hint of how he will look as the elderly Jedi Luke Skywalker.

Kingsman: go see it!
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25 December 2014
Okay, The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant and David Niven remains a brilliant Christmas movie. But I must admit that its remake, The Preacher's Wife, isn't bad at all. As a vehicle for the singing talents of Whitney Houston it surely succeeds and I think the gospel setting is a great idea as well. Denzel Washington is charming as angel Dudley, Whitey does a great job as a disappointed wife (and sings wonderfully) and Courtney B. Vance is very convincing as a preacher who has lost hope.

Strangely there were not a lot of things copied from the original black and white movie. It looks like the people behind The Preacher's Wife only took the basic idea of the original movie and then made up its own story. I think the lack of commercial success is due to the fact that movies about angels don't fit in these cynical times anymore. With James Stewart, Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant in a black and white production you could get away with it. But in these modern days? I doubt it.

The Preacher's Wife is no classic, but it's a nice movie when you want to watch a (musical) Christmas film during the holidays.
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The best one of the trilogy!
7 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Yeah, did I make you curious? Of course! The most IMDb reviews want to make you believe that this is the worst action movie ever. Well, I didn't think so. I even dare to say it's the best Expendables movie until now. Okay, the action scenes weren't that great. Once you see one man shooting or fighting, you have seen them all (although the motorcycle stunt was hilariously spectacular). But this time this Expendables outing has humor and a heart and that makes a big difference.

Three actors make this movie worth seeing: Wesley Snipes, who gives the first part humor, Antonio Banderas, who does that in the second part, and Mel Gibson, who is actually a great villain. Oh, and before I watched this film I had doubts on the presence of Harrison Ford, whom I didn't see as a gung-ho member of Stallone's macho fight club. Well, actually he isn't. Ford - who's really old in this one - plays Stallone's CIA client that gives him the order to kill Gibson. In the finale he can't resist being part of the action, puts on his helicopter uniform and flies to the scene of the crime.

What I very much liked about part III of The Expendables was the logical presence of the actors involved. I remember Chuck Norris suddenly popping up in part 2. That scene seemed pretty forced, only facilitating the idea that the producer had scored another 80s action star. With the exception of Jet Li, who can be seen at the end, all the actors get enough screen time. Even Dolph Lundgren gets his moment.

I can imagine the actors having a lot of fun filming this movie. And let's be frank: subconsciously you wonder which actors you want to see in part 4 yourself. Pierce Brosnan has shown interest. Who follows?

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Ghost Ship (2002)
Could have been great
5 August 2014
This is a nice ghost flick with a great cast. Among the leads are the always watchable Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies and a young Karl Urban. The story is about an experienced salvage team that encounters a still floating abandoned Titanic-like ship and wants to bring it home. What they don't know is that the ship is haunted and one by one the crew members lose their lives.

The story starts in great fashion with a shocking massacre on deck but when the crew finally meet the ghosts (and when they start explaining things) it all goes down. What a pity. I liked the movie sets and actors in this story. Some scenes even reminded me of Kubrick's The Shining - and that's a compliment.

About two minutes from the end you think that you have been watching a okay but not classic ghost story but unfortunately the last surprise spoils the whole film. Don't you hate that when that happens?

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Grudge Match (2013)
They blew it
30 March 2014
You gotta hand it to the producers of Grudge Match. They managed to get both Rocky Balboa and Jake La Motta into one movie. Unfortunately they were so glad with this achievement they forgot to take care of the most important thing in a film: a good script.

The story of two old champions who battle it out to determine who's the best is okay at best, but most of the time you get bored by what happens on screen. The film can't choose between drama and comedy and therefor doesn't hit any target. The only reason you keep watching is the cast: DeNiro and Stallone are okay, but it's nice to see the still beautiful Kim Basinger (who turns 61 this year) and the always brilliant Alan Arkin at work. Kevin Hart as wannabe box promoter is pretty irritating though. On the bright side: at the final fight the movie delivers and as a viewer you can live with the end result. But if the leads weren't played by actors who had a famous movie boxing history like Stallone and DeNiro have, this movie would probably have been quite unwatchable.

Oh yeah, there is a sort of after credits scene in Grudge Match and sadly this one is the funniest scene in the whole movie. I guess that says enough...

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The best Marvel movie since Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2
23 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If you've been watching the internet the last few weeks you may know that most journalists raved about Captain America : The Winter Soldier. And they were all right: the latest Captain America outing isn't only far better than part 1; I even dare to say that it's in the same league as Spider-Man 2 (2004) and X-Men 2 (2003). The Winter Soldier is spectacular in its action scenes and the chemistry between the hero (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is undeniable.

One of the strengths of Captain America part 1 was the atmosphere: I loved the fact that it took place during World War II and therefor had some historical and nostalgic flavor. However, after the events of The Avengers it was clear that the second movie would take place in modern day America. How could the makers maintain the same mood and spirit of The First Avenger?

Well, directors John and Anthony Russo both succeed in that. Without giving away too many spoilers you can say that The Winter Soldier uses a lot of the elements that was presented to us in the first movie. Hydra returns for example - and does that in a very big way. Another important character from part 1 comes back to haunt Steve Rogers. There are actually so many things from the first movie that I would recommend you'd watch that one first before you see this new movie.

The story of The Winter Soldier centers on SHIELD. Steve Rogers and Nick Fury discover that the organization is compromised and must find out who's behind all this. In the meantime Rogers meets the mysterious and powerful Winter Soldier, who not only kills one of his colleagues but also seems to have a familiar face. But who is he? Looks like the only one he can trust is Natasha Romanoff. Luckily he also befriends an ex-soldier called Sam Wilson (The Falcon), who turns out to be a big help.

From the first action scene involving a big ship to the last battle between Captain America and the Winter Soldier this movie will hold you in a tight grip. Some of the fight scenes even reminded me of The Raid – and yes, that's meant as a compliment. Can I give away one small spoiler or two? Two of the best scenes in the movie are Steve Rogers visiting an exhibition of himself (both funny and moving) and his meeting with his old love, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell with lots of make-up). These scenes give this great action flick a true heart.

I can't wait to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier again! And oh yeah, this time there isn't just one but two after-credits scenes!

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Planes (2013)
Sadly, it's an exact and uninspired copy of Cars
6 August 2013
In the past Pixar was known for its great and challenging stories. That reputation will definitely be scarred with Planes, a film that takes place in the Cars world but focuses on... well... planes. The idea is so cheap and uninspired that you have every right to accuse Pixar/Disney of selling out and just wanting to enhance the Cars/Planes merchandise possibilities.

The story is identical to Cars. Like Lightning McQueen our hero Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) wants to be a racer. He dreams of taking part in the greatest race around the world. With the help of his friends and oldtimer-once-warhero Skipper (Stacey Keach in the Paul Newman role) he even achieves that and soon joins the group of likely winners. But to go all the way he has to beat his greatest inner demon: his fear of heights.

In 2006 I saw Cars and actually didn't like it. But at least you could say there were several layers in the story and the characters, maybe too many. Cars looked like a movie for 4-7 year olds but had a story that could only be fully appreciated by adults. Planes is different: what you see is what you get. The adventures of Dusty are so flat and predictable that as an adult you must take a lot of effort not to fall asleep. That doesn't mean Planes is a bad movie, it's "just a kid's film", nothing more. Your 4-8 year old son will probably have a blast with it.

The 3D scenes didn't do it for me, either. And that was strange, because usually 3D + flying is a great combination. I did like the Top Gun scenes that take place in the middle of the movie, though.

To me Planes was not a big disappointment because frankly, my expectations were pretty low anyway. But if you expect another Pixar like Monsters University, Toy Story or even Cars, then you'd better save this one for DVD, blu-ray, VOD or even your local TV channel. Officially this movie is 'only' a Disney film and it doesn't have a Pixar stamp. Maybe that's the thing that makes a big difference.

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Actually quite good - if you're a genre fan
3 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A deserted city, running zombies and a lonesome soldier with a mission. Those are the ingredients of a very cleverly made budget movie that even has more than decent photography and okay special effects. Battle of the Damned is the story of an ex-soldier (Lundgren) who has to save a girl from a quarantined city filled with zombies. Getting out they encounter a bunch of robots that should help them achieving their goal.

I thought Battle of the Damned was a nice movie. I don't know what the budget was, but the deserted city looked very well and convincing. Dolph Lundgren can still carry an action movie like this, although he runs around as if he carries a big turd in his pants. Was he injured during filming?

The story itself is good enough to keep you interested. A lot of action and suspense was achieved by audio and that really works. Nice example of this is the helicopter scene in the beginning. First you see a small model of a helicopter and after that you only hear the sound of one flying away. Clever. I suspect that they didn't have the money to rent one so they did it this way. I really applaud that.

Battle of the Damned is no Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later. But if you like the genre and keep in mind that the movie was made with a micro budget then you'll have a pleasant night. It's still way better than your average SyFy movie.
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Man of Steel (2013)
I guess even Superman IV was better than this one
28 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There are 1400+ reviews of this movie already, so there's no point in writing one extra, really. But I'm doing it anyway because I'm mad as hell. This movie is so bad, I felt robbed and deceived at the same time when I left the cinema.

Superman is my hero. I loved what Richard Donner did with the first two movies. Superman III was corny but great fun, Superman IV was a terrible mistake mainly caused by minimizing the budget. Superman Returns had its flaws but at least was a movie with a heart. And it used the original John Williams music (theme) of course. Man of Steel has none of the mentioned things above.

Zack Snyder's movie relies pretty much on the special effects and has an ordinary rumble as a finale. What is this? Rocky in space? In Superman II our hero at least tricked general Zod into a trap and then defeated him.

There's a lot not to be liked in Man of Steel. Krypton looks like it was stolen from Chronicles of Riddick, there's no spark between Clark Kent and Lois Lane and what kind of hologram is the dead Jor-El (Russel Crowe) anyway when Clark meets him? One with all his memories restored and one capable of properly responding to all the actions of Clark Kent? Not realistic. And if this was the only way for Clark to meet his real parents why was his real mother not resurrected like that? Well, at least Russel Crowe doesn't sing in this movie.

People praise Man of Steel for its visuals. The movie costed about 225+ million dollars but somehow they couldn't afford to use a tripod, because most scenes were shot as if they were meant for a documentary. In The Hunger Games the shaky cam at least had a purpose (to suggest violence and avoid a R rating).

The movie ends with a lot of action. These scenes look great, but why are there so many of them? Once you've seen one of them you've seen them all. Ever heard of the expression Less is more? Or did Michael Bay second unit these sequences?

I guess a Christopher Reeve-like new Superman movie would have failed at the box office. So maybe director Zack Snyder did it right by choosing for this dark but realistic approach. The box office success of Man of Steel proves him right. But this is not my Superman. I miss the nerd Clark Kent. I miss the laughs. Why does Superman take itself so seriously? But overall I miss a heart. Watching the movie I didn't care about Clark Kent, Lois Lane or Superman anymore. It made me even long for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, by far the worst Superman movie ever made.

But let us end on a positive note. Man of Steel was humourless and bad, but it's still way better than a turkey Green Lantern. And I must confess that Henry Cavill's body was really super. But wouldn't it be nice if Zack Snyder skipped Man of Steel 2 and focused on Dawn of the Dead part 2? Because that's a movie I would really like to see!

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Finally and thankfully… Pixar does it again!
9 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Of all the Pixar movies Monsters Inc. has always been my absolute favorite. The incredible story of the remarkable friendship between Sully, Mike and Boo made me watch the movie more than 10-15 times already. When it was released on blu-ray I was the first one to buy it. So when Pixar announced another Monsters movie I got concerned. How could Pixar make a better movie than the original? Or even one that equalled it? But having seen the movie last week I can ensure you all: Pixar is back on top. Monsters University is great fun and it's Pixar best since Up!.

Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters Inc., begins with a young and very little Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) still in primary school. After a field trip to Monsters Inc. he has only one dream: to become a scarer. Years later he arrives at Monsters University but soon learns he still has a long way to go. His main problem? Mike isn't scary at all. He befriends his roommate young Randall (Steve Buscemi), who at that time is an unimportant loser (and later gets seduced by the dark side). The first night he makes an enemy out of Sully (John Goodman), a freshman who thinks that his family name (of legendary scarers) is enough to get him through school. A personal vendetta is born.

Things go wrong when Mike and Sully accidentally destroy a sacred item that belongs to the devilish Dean Hardscrabble (a brilliant Helen Mirren). They get expelled from all Scare Classes and will not graduate as a real Scarer. Luckily Mike comes up with a plan, a bet with the dean. If he finds a team to compete in the Scare Games and if he indeed wins, he's allowed to follow the Scare Classes until the end. Dean Hardscrabble approves. Now it's up to Mike, Sully and his team of losers to work as a team and go the distance…

In Monsters University the Scare Games are very well done. I can see both kids and adults laughing their socks off when Mike and Sully, in the same team but still enemies, are doing their first race and try not to step on the items that make their body grow. Bizarre, but hilarious! Their next assignment, when they have to steal something in the library, is also a winner. But what really works in Monsters University is that the story is mainly about friendship. We not only see how Mike and Sully turn from big enemies into big friends; they become soul mates for life. To join the Scare Games Mike must find five extra members to form a team and the only ones left are a bunch of nerds that no one pays attention to and a big blue monster that he absolutely hates (Sully). Still Mike succeeds in making it work.

Even when you know that Mike and Sully will win the Scare Games (that isn't a spoiler, is it?), this film isn't predictable at all. It doesn't end with Sully holding up the Scare cup but it takes one more great scene to bring Mike and Sully definitely together. I will not spoil it for you, but it involves a door to the human world and a little green monster that's depressed.

Monsters University is a great film. It's both funny and sentimental in all the right places. Fans of the first movie will see a lot of cameos in this one (Yeti!). The story ends when Monsters Inc. begins. I will even advise the next generation to see Monsters University first and then go on to Monsters Inc.

Yeah, my faith in Pixar is restored. Although I must confess that with Planes coming up, things can change very fast in the wrong direction. But maybe that's because I have never liked the Cars movie.

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Entertaining, but don't expect more than that
21 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ever since I saw the first trailers I was dying to see Iron Man 3. And that's where it all went wrong, I guess. If you expect too much from this film – like me - you'll be disappointed for sure. Well, at least a little. Not that Iron Man 3 is a bad movie. It's entertaining alright. But especially the beginning is rather shaky. The motives of both the hero (Tony Stark) and the villain to join the party are not that strong. It's also a 'been there, done that' kinda thing. Except for Iron Man 'using the Force', his panic attacks and his love for Pepper not much has changed. But let's start at the beginning.

After the events of The Avengers in New York Tony Stark is restless. He can't sleep and he gets panic attacks whenever the subject comes up. Enter The Mandarin. In good Middle Eastern terrorist fashion this villain with-the-rather-strange-non-Middle-Eastern accent threatens America with attacks and other misery. This does not affect Tony until The Mandarin puts a dear friend of our billionaire hero in the hospital. And no, the victim is not Pepper (thank god!). Tony wants revenge but makes the mistake of mentioning his home address on national television. The result: the helicopter attack on his estate that can be seen in the trailer (which is pretty spectacular). Of course Tony escapes. Without his lab and with only one Iron Man prototype suit that he could save, Tony begins a quest to find the Mandarin. But very soon he finds out that all tracks lead to someone else, a person he led down several years ago and now wants to get even.

Although The Mandarin shows some serious terrorist actions, the tone of Iron Man 3 is much lighter and more humorous than part 2. Tony has to do some hero stuff without his Iron Man armor and this forces him to work together with 'normal' people (and one crazy fan). At the end he and James Rhodes form a nice team and they ultimately save the day. Overall there's more charm in Iron Man 3. At times part 2 took itself too seriously, I think.

I liked the fact that Tony had to work outside the safety of his lab and use his wits to come up with a plan to defeat the bad guy(s). I liked the character of The Mandarin, very well played by Ben Kingsley. The twist in his story was a nice one. I'm not familiar with the comics, but this one came as a complete surprise.

Is it a spoiler to say that the real villain in this movie is Guy Pearce? Maybe. Fact is that I did not understand his real motives to take a swing at Tony in this movie. Does he want his help? Does he want to destroy Iron Man? Or is he just after the president? Money? Something else? Guy Pearce's character, an inventor/businessman/scientist called Killian, is experimenting with altering DNA in the brain. Somehow he has created this invincible glow-in-the-dark army that can absorb energy, much like Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. Come to think of it, there's more Marvel déjà vu in Iron Man 3. Lessons from Curt Connors from The Amazing Spider-Man movie for instance. Mutants. And in the end a female character even does a little 'Femke Janssen Phoenix' trick.

One last big letdown: the Air Force One scene, which was destined to be one of the highlights of the movie. In the trailer we learn that there was a hole in the aircraft and several people were sucked outside. Iron Man wants to rescue them but he can only carry four or five persons in the air. And there are at least ten victims out there! Holy macaroni, what will he do? Tony Stark's solution is pretty dumb and unrealistic. It reminded me of the space parts from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Embarrassing, really. The 3D effects also didn't do it for me. But maybe that was because I saw the movie on a rather small screen. If you see it in IMAX it probably is much better.

No, Iron Man 3 did not live up to my expectations – and I was really hoping that it would. But that does not mean that I did not enjoy myself. Robert Downey is almost on automatic with his wisecracking one- liners, but his joking around still works. All the actors do well, except maybe Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan. I think what happens to him is a weak motive for Tony Stark to take on The Mandarin. Therefore, his "This is old fashioned revenge!"-line sounds a bit exaggerated.

Watching the end credits with footage from not only Iron Man 3, but parts 1 and 2 as well you can conclude that even the makers of the saga realize that this should be the final Iron Man movie. What's more to tell? Although I love Robert Downey as Tony Stark I think it's a good idea to call it quits. Let's go for some other Marvel meat and let Tony rest… for a while. Maybe there's one more big fight in him in ten or fifteen years' time, when he's passed sixty or so, like The Dark Knight who once returned. Or that boxer from Philadelphia who made one last comeback. But for now I would say that three is enough… for now.

7,5 / 10
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Too serious, too realistic... too bad
14 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A few years back Ben Sombogaart directed the film version of my favourite kids book Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek (Crusade in Jeans). He did an excellent job by not only following the events in the book but also adding elements that would make the story stronger and more realistic. My hopes for the movie adoption of my second best kids book, Koning van Katoren (King of Katoren) were therefore very high. Too bad the film disappoints on most levels.

The story is about 17 year old Stach. He wants to be the new king of Katoren and has to complete five missions in order to do so. Along the way he's followed by a beautiful young journalist, Kim, who turns out of having a hidden agenda. Jan Terlouw's original book is a fantasy story with some of little nods to the political climate of the seventies. Director Ben Sombogaart updated the story with the use of smartphones, Wikipedia, big televisions and that is all fine. His use of landscapes and locations is thrilling: Koning van Katoren looks like it costed 40 million euros. The casting of Mingus Dagelet (Stach) and Abbey Hoes as Kim is well done.

It all goes wrong with the storytelling. To break with the (boring?) chronological way of telling the story in the book, director Sombogaart uses short confusing flash forwards and flash backs. The thread of a looming war is illustrated by documentary- like images of war planes, tanks and big war ships that pretty seem out of place in the overall atmosphere of the movie. To make the movie more realistic in some parts of Kartoren other languages are spoken (Italian and German). A European may respect that, but for kids and people who haven't read the book it slows down the action.

Ben Sombogaart is one of the most respected filmmakers of the Netherlands. His desire to also tackle kids literature can be applauded, but in this case it works out the wrong way. Perhaps a more fun and less serious tone would have been a better choice.

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Kill Zombie! (2012)
Nice attempt, but...
18 May 2012
The Dutch making a zombie movie... That's like Americans making a movie about cheese. Still there's a lot to enjoy in Zombibi. First of all, with a very modest budget of about € 500.000 the picture looks great. The actors do what they can to entertain and although you cannot always understand what they're saying, you never get bored. To see Amsterdam turn into a zombie zone is also very nice for a change. Actress Gigi Ravelli, known in Holland for her role in the soap GTST, is very funny as a kick-ass cop.

Overall it's the story that lets you down. A man wants to rescue a girl and must travel across Amsterdam to do so. The finale is in a skyscraper in Amsterdam Zuidoost, the place where also an alien spaceship crashed that caused this zombie outbreak anyway. Our heroes must fight themselves into the building and save the day.

In terms of zombies we have seen it all before and the fact that this one takes place in Holland is a novelty that soon wears off. Yes, this movie goes over the top, or it least tries to. But in the end the film remains pretty safe and ends in standard mode. Makes you wonder what kind of movie somelone like Paul Verhoeven would've made out of it.

I think Zombibi was a nice attempt to make a zombie comedy and it's clear that making it was pure fun. But with more black humour and sick jokes it could have been something special.

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Am I nitpicking? Probably...
18 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
With The Hunger Games being one of my favorite (young adult) books ever, I pretty much hesitated to go to the first screening of the movie. In the end curiosity won and I did go… and regretted it.

It's not that The Hunger Games is a bad movie. It isn't. It's actually a good, exciting and very entertaining one. But the ending let me down in a big way. And that puts a big (negative) mark on the overall experience.

I think Lionsgate did almost everything right with this movie adaptation. I love Gary Ross as a filmmaker. He wrote Big, Pleasantville and Dave and directed two of them. I love Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and especially Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. When I read the book I even had Hutcherson in mind for that role, so casting director: well done! To avoid an inconvenient rating Ross uses a lot of shaky camera-work. This gives you some headache in the beginning of the film but once the action moves to the arena it works out fine. You hardly see any violence but you know it's there. Smart move. Ross also makes more use of presenter Caesar Flickerman (than in the book). He watches the action in the arena and gives his comments. He also explains (to the viewer) why certain situations are dangerous for the Tributes, making the stakes more understandable. Unfortunately Ross uses this trick one or two times too many. Great use of music and the singing of the Mockingjay birds is also very well done.

Ross also uses some elements of books 2 and 3 to give the viewer a hint at what lays ahead. For instance there is more president Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the film than in the book. He sees that Katniss can be a thread. The reason why suddenly two Tributes are allowed to win The Hunger Games is even better explained in the movie than in the book. And we also see the first uprisings in district 12 after the death of one of Katniss's friends. That's a moving scene. For all this Ross uses a lot of screen time, more than two hours and twenty minutes, paying much respect to the book. Thanks for that!

So what really let me down is the ending. That could have been more dramatic. The way Katniss survives The Hunger Games could use a lot more suspense ("What the hell is she doing? What is she doing?!") and the consequents that follow should have been more dark and menacing. That's a big miss.

With The Hunger Games Gary Ross delivered a solid, well made and very entertaining movie that hopefully rockets both Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson into stardom. But if you're a very very very big fan of the incredible first book – like me – you really should think twice before going. Because usually the best movie adaptations are made in your own mind.

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Nice movie, but surely not the next Indiana Jones
11 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
After Mars needs moms I thought that making computer movies with 'realistic' humans in it, was a bad idea. But here is another attempt, this time by movie legend Steven Spielberg and the Lord of the Rings himself, Peter Jackson.

As we all know The adventures of Tintin was a billion years in the making. After Raiders of the Lost Ark someone told Spielberg that there were a lot of similarities between Indiana Jones and a European comic hero called Tintin. So the filmmaker bought the movierights, lost them and eventually obtained them again to make this first Tintin movie.

In the comics Tintin is a young reporter who travels all around the world to chase after a good story. He has visited Russia, Tibet, Africa, the Middle-East and even Nazi-Germany. The first comic was published in 1930. And although the kids don't read the comics anymore, almost all European grownups know this hero. Tintin's best friends are a white dog named Snowy and a noisy sailor called Captain Haddock. And he gets a lot of help from two rather clumsy Interpol agents, Thomson and Thomson. In the Spielberg movie these characters also appear. In fact, the director stays pretty true to the comics.

After the first trailer I wasn't anxious to see The adventures of Tintin on the big screen. But after the German TV-commercial which showed a lot of action, my hopes for an unforgettable movie event began to rise. Does Spielberg still have the magic to make something incredible and make full use of the computer effects?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is no. The adventures of Tintin is good fun, that's true. But I don't think it will live up to the big hype. The story begins when Tintin buys a model ship, the Unicorn,on a market. Turns out it contains a secret message that will lead to the search of a lost treasure. Tintin gets kidnapped, gets acquainted with captain Haddock, travels to Morocco and finds out what villain is behind all this and why he wants to have his revenge on the Maddock family.

The good things first. The visuals of The adventures of Tintin are truly stunning. The story takes place in the 1930s and has an old European city (Brussels? Paris?) with old pittoresque streets, a boat, airplane, desert, palaces and exotic Middle Eastern alleys in it. But even better: the computer animated characters look very convincing. I even think it's the best I've ever seen, although I guess they're not meant to be very realistic. All of them have a caricaturistic face, usually with a big nose or extra wrinkles. Contrary to the comics there's a lot of action in this movie. The best one was already seen in the German TV-commercial, that's when Tintin rides a motorcycle. Well done. There's also a great seabattle with pirates.

Okay, then the rest. What I didn't like about The adventures of Tintin was the hero itself. Actually he's quite dull. Unlike Indiana Jones he doesn't have any rough edges. He can fight alright, but you know he will never play it dirty. Tintin has an angelic face that tells you he will never be harmed or injured. There goes the suspense! Thanks to framed newspaper clips on the wall of his living room we get to know that Tintin is a very successful reporter who has written several important stories. But why couldn't Spielberg tells us that with some pre-story scene like in Raiders of the Lost Arc? That would have worked much better.

Captain Haddock is much more interesting though. He starts out as a alcohol addict and even stays that way. But he's funny as hell. Great voice performance by Andy Serkis. Even Tintin's dog Snowy is more exciting than Tintin.

The story doesn't work either. It keeps being pushed forward by Tintin saying: "Wait a minute, now I understand" after he has decrypted another clue. The audience can't think along with the characters. They must accept that what they're saying is true and hope that something interesting or entertaining comes out of it. Although the story takes place around the same time as Indiana Jones and also has old motorcycles, planes and Middle Eastern streets in it, Tintin has little to do with our favourite adventurer. And that's bad, because I really was hoping that Spielberg had found a new kind of hero. The movie doesn't end with a bang but instead has some sort of cliffhanger. That didn't satisfy me at all.

The Adventures of Tintin is good fun. It has some nice scenes and especially captain Haddock and Tintin's dog Snowy are very funny. But both Spielberg and Jackson are talented enough to give us more than just 'good fun', aren't they?

I hope they'll do much better in the already planned sequel.

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It's okay family fun
9 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Robert Rodriguez is an interesting director. Not only is he the maker of violent films like Sin City and El Mariachi, from time to time he also directs kid's movies. He really loves films and that counts for him. Unfortunately the next installment (or should I say: reboot) of Spy Kids is a little bit disappointing. And that comes from a fan who loves the first trilogy.

Spy Kids 4 is more a reboot than a sequel. We get new kids, but the story is the same as in part 1. Charming Jessica Alba is the stepmother of young Rebecca and Cecil but doesn't do a good job because her spy past gets in the way. Just when things turn out for the better Jessica gets called back into OSS duty when the criminal she once arrested has a plan to steal all the time in the world. The two kids discover that stepmum is a spy and of course they follow in her footsteps. A new generation of Spy Kids is born.

The opening scene, in which a very pregnant Jessica Alba does her last mission and arrests the bad guy, is actually pretty hilarious. But then it all goes downhill. The two kids aren't as charming as the original kids and for the rest, well, we have all seen it before. Crazy gadgets, crazy special effects... The ending has something to do with timetravel and the one who can explain it to me deserves a medal.

Luckily the movie has its moments. Jessica Alba looks pretty hot and proofs she can do both action and comedy. When the old Spy Kids enter the movie, some of the magic returns. Alexa Vega (Carmen Cortez) has grown into a pretty lady. Her nostalgic tour of the old Spy Kids department becomes a very strong scene. Too bad Daryl Sabara (the original Juni Cortez) is so different from his boy-self that we can hardly recognize him.

In the end the message that it's important to support your family gets smacked in your voice too many times. Yes, we understand what you're saying. What's also bad, is that because the two new Spy Kids are much younger than the kids from part 2 and 3, the action and (slapstick) comedy is mainly meant for kids 6-9. That makes Spy Kids 4 a real kiddy movie. That's bad news for the parents.

I really wished that this movie would be good, because I loved the humour in the first three Spy Kids movies. But even the 3D is bad and the Smell-O-Rama cards don't work. So I'm afraid this could well be the definitive end of the Spy Kids series.

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