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Dar vs. Ninja Turtle
Old Lord Agon (David Warner) desires an object of power, the Eye of Braxus, which would provide him with new energy. Dar (Marc Singer) owns one half of the amulet, young king Tal (Casper Van Dien, with a ridiculous wig) the other half. Tal is caught by Lord Agon. Dar starts a rescue mission across the jungle and meets Shada (Sandra Hess, "Mortal Kombat 2"). He makes the mistake to trust her, but then she tries to steal the amulet. And on who's side is the witch Morgana (Lesley-Anne Down)?
It looks like a cheap TV production, not a movie, because it is a cheap TV production. The demon Braxus could be one of the Ninja Turtles on a Monday morning. Gabrielle Beaumont, an experienced TV director ("Dynasty", "Star Trek: Next Generation") does a good job within the budget limitation. The story is solid, the characters have a certain charm, thus 'Beastmaster 3' is neither a contribution as important to the genre as the first installment, nor trash as bizarre as the second part, but simply average entertainment to pass the time.
Dar goes to LA
Dar (Marc Singer) fights against the villain Arklon (Wings Hauser) who can shoot laser beams and uses his devilish laugh frequently to prove how evil he really is. A witch (Sarah Douglas) offers him access to a strange world, the so-called LA, where Arklon can obtain a weapon of ultimate power, the neutron bomb. Quicker than you can say 'transdimensional gate', Arklon, Dar and the witch jump through the gate and confuse people in Los Angeles by their outlandish garb. Dar meets a senator's rich daughter (young Kari Wuhrer) who introduces him to cars and other miracles of this world.
The sequel is nowhere near the qualities of the first movie, and it suffers from some scenes where the contrast between barbarians and modern age is just not as funny as the makers expected it to be. Still an entertaining little trash flick with a couple of good moments - I don't think I have seen another movie where policemen are trying to catch a guy with a pet tiger.
Raw Edge (1956)
The pack is lurking everywhere
Kirby (Rory Calhoun) comes to town and finds that his brother was hanged for a crime he didn't commit. There is a lot of tension between the men everywhere because too many of them are after two beautiful women, Mrs Montgomery (Yvonne De Carlo) and Paca (Mara Corday). Everyone who dies will mean less competition in the chase for them...
'Raw Edge' was shown in my country under a title that means 'The Pack Is Lurking Everywhere', and indeed it feels as if men behave like a pack of hounds here, no character is entirely sympathetic. The makers did not bother much about historical accuracy, because several pieces of clothing and weaponry look way too modern for Oregon in 1842. But surely the aim of the movie was to tell a story about the dark side of human nature, and it fully succeeded at that. A sinister and unusual western ahead of its time.
Masters of Horror: Jenifer (2005)
It's a pet, not your lunch
A detective shoots a man who is drunk, mad and armed, and trying to kill a blond woman. Jenifer has a hideously deformed face, but a stunning body, and although she is unable to speak, the detective will find out more from her about the man he killed than he wanted to know...
I remember reading somewhere in the press during the 1980s that Argento was attacked by serious movie critics for being misogynistic, for the way that women were victimized in his movies. They should have waited for this one! Jenifer is reduced to an animal with desires to have intercourse and eat lots of raw meat. Please don't eat the cat, dear - it's a pet, not your lunch.
'Jenifer' sticks to my memory as a rather gory contribution to season 1 of 'Masters of Horror', but not one of the best entries. John Landis' 'Deer Woman' for example was clearly more original on a similar story line of 'don't trust strange women'.
Easy Rider, 50 years on
'Guy on a motorbike comes to town. Nobody likes him, especially not the police. He takes various drugs to have a more interesting time, but instead, this leads to violence and killing.' You could summarize 'Easy Rider' with these words, but 'Adrenochrome' just as well, 50 years later. This low budget movie took a lot of effort with the visual effects. Computer painting in comic book style and such kind of graphic tools are omnipresent. But apart from the occasionally impressive exercise in style, it has little actual content to offer. I was hoping to dream in the following night about the skull face girl at least, but it didn't happen, so the makers didn't impress my subconscious as much as they wanted to. And they tried hard. You can give this a shot if you like weird movies - did I mention the surfer cannibals? - or just run out of drugs but want to feel like you didn't. I voted an undecided 5 of 10.
Coartada en disco rojo (1972)
Doctor Carli (George Hilton) is a heart surgeon at a clinic owned by his wife Elena (Luciana Paluzzi). Now imagine: if she should die an untimely death, her husband would inherit the clinic and become very rich. Inspector Nardi (Fernando Rey), while initially investigating a different case, realizes that Mrs Carli may be in great danger and starts to watch over her.
The movie boasts with footage from an actual heart surgery (not that I ever wanted to see that so closely), but doesn't manage to provide as many surprising twists and turns as other classic giallo movies. Thus it becomes only an average contribution to the genre, although with a great cast also including Eduardo Fajardo and Anita Strindberg.
They call him Sacramento
Jack Thompson aka Sacramento (Ty Hardin) could live happily on his farm with his son (Christian Hay) and daughter (Jenny Atkins - in real life Hardin's 5th wife) if it wasn't for his enemy Murdock (Giacomo Rossi Stuart). Murdock tries to kill Sacramento several times, each time he fails, and thus somehow the running time passes. I wouldn't really call this a 'story', it's too fragmentary.
One idea of the script is remarkable, though: Sacramento usually beats up his enemies in the same saloon. The saloon owner afterwards has a serious argument with him about the damage - and he can't pay her. I have watched so many westerns where tables and mirrors are broken in a saloon brawl, but how often they discussed the invoice afterwards? And even if the hero is asked to pay for the damage, he usually drops a banknote casually and leaves, but I've never seen him stand there and say: oops, sorry... There are a few funny moments along the way, but all in all it is a poor flick shot towards the end of the Italian western wave. Ty Hardin, who shot 4 of these Italian westerns in a row 1971/72, was only 42 when he made this movie, the grey hair is a bit misleading.
Zwei tolle Käfer räumen auf (1979)
Dudu V: Unceremoniously replaced by a robot
The last of five movies director Rudolf Zehetgruber made about a yellow Volkswagen beetle with many gadgets. However, the famous Dudu is trashed after only a few minutes at the beginning of this movie. It's a shame! A kind of spider robot with an annoying beepy voice becomes the new companion of El Guancho (played by Zehetgruber himself), obviously in the wake of the 'Star Wars' mania of the late seventies. Guancho and his robot are fighting various gangsters including Hidalgo (Brad Harris) and Alfonso (veteran western actor Fernando Sancho).
Even if the last sequel is a total disappointment, they managed again to find great locations: shot on the Canary Islands (mostly Lanzarote, partly Gran Canaria, I would guess from my own visits there). Anyhow, it would have been nice to get an actual story beyond a couple of standard chases around a (yawn) gold treasure. In opposite to the previous movies, they didn't even manage to install interesting female characters. I voted 4-7-6-5-3 for the five movies.
Dudu IV: The Swiss adventure
The fourth of five movies director Rudolf Zehetgruber made about a yellow Volkswagen beetle with many gadgets. He played the driver Jimmy Bondi himself under the stage name Robert Mark. Aldo Regozzani returns from the previous episode as a race driver. Walter Giller is back as well, but in a totally different part (last time a gangster, this time a hotel employee). Part 4 is a race movie again like the first movie, but instead of Africa set in Switzerland against a beautiful scenery of snowy mountains and castles. The screenplay writing, in opposite to the photography, leaves a lot to be desired. It is the usual race routine with accidents, tricks and rivalries. The only new ability of Dudu is that he can talk now, but that leads only to a few cheap jokes. Again he can fly, which helps to win the race, but also means he can quickly leave his driver behind if he's angry with him... Mildly entertaining, but the series gets tired at this point. I voted 4-7-6-5-3 for the five movies.
Ein Käfer auf Extratour (1973)
Dudu III: Running faster
The third of five movies director Rudolf Zehetgruber made about a yellow Volkswagen beetle with many gadgets. He played the driver Jimmy Bondi himself under the stage name Robert Mark. It is a common misunderstanding that the series is a kind of promotional tool of the Volkswagen company, but in an interview on the DVD of this movie, Zehetgruber confirms that they had no support at all from the car producers in Wolfsburg to make these movies.
Dudu's powers have grown again since the second movie. He can now fly, crawl up between two walls and Bondi has a more sophisticated remote control. Bondi's new partner in this movie is Aldo Regozzani as a stunt driver. The story revolves around a chase for the gangster Leskovich, featuring two ladies in danger and several bad men who volunteer to get kicked by Dudu several times. "Dudu will make it" is repeatedly uttered by Bondi as a running joke. And he does! I voted 4-7-6-5-3 for the five movies.
Ein Käfer gibt Vollgas (1972)
Dudu II: Growing special powers
The second of five movies director Rudolf Zehetgruber made about a yellow Volkswagen beetle with many gadgets. He played the driver Jimmy Bondi himself under the stage name Robert Mark, but the real star of this movie is Joachim Fuchsberger. Fuchsberger plays Plato, a police agent who is investigating in disguise against gangsters, while Jimmy Bondi just happens to be around and decides to support a bit with Dudu's special powers - which have grown enormously since the first movie. Dudu can now kick enemies unconscious with his movable front lights, for example, or let intruders rotate in his seat. Everything is done in a comedy vein with a memorable running joke: one of the gangsters saying "You think I'm stupid, but I'm not!" while regularly falling into the trap, nevertheless. To me it's the funniest of the 5 movies. I voted 4-7-6-5-3 for the series.
Ein Käfer geht aufs Ganze (1971)
Dudu I: Across Africa
The first of five movies director Rudolf Zehetgruber made about a yellow Volkswagen beetle with many gadgets. He played the driver himself, called Ben in this movie, but Jimmy Bondi in the sequels. Another difference is that there are considerably less gadgets in this first movie yet. This is a rather simple story about a race in Africa, entirely shot on location in Tanzania, where film-making was an adventure in itself almost 50 years ago. A hovercraft shall race against several racing cars, although it is obviously slower, but it is allowed to short cut the racing track across water to even the chances. Dudu, the yellow VW beetle, is only permitted as a support car, not as a full participant in the race, but the little car bravely faces the challenges of the African wilderness. This is a nice little race movie with some comedy elements, clumsily narrated and except for the Tanzanian locations, offering little to remember. Most of the sequels improved the concept a lot, I voted 4-7-6-5-3 for the five movies.
Tongue in cheek horror experience
A bunch of tourists are in Chile to party, but when an earthquake hits the city, they need to fight for survival, not only against the natural disaster, but also against criminals who seized the opportunity to escape from prison.
I would have rated 'Aftershock' higher than 6 of 10 if it wasn't for the boring first 30 minutes. We get introduced to characters who are so dumb that we really wouldn't care if they all get buried by the earthquake. This lengthy introduction turns out to be a waste of time, anyway, because some of them are killed off early, while other characters who are more important for the movie get 3 seconds of back story ('Trust me, I'm a firefighter').
However, after the quake it gets thrilling, violent, suspenseful with a lot of action, which made the movie worth watching after all. I was not surprised to learn in the making of (watched on DVD) that several of the makers of 'Aftershock' have previous experience in comedy rather than horror, it's the timing of some scenes that tells it. For example the lady who shows the tunnel and then makes the mistake to stick her head first - that's the 'oops' timing of a comedy, not a horror movie. But it works and makes the movie more original. Also the background with a catastrophe that destroys the usual human behaviour so quickly is believable. Not too bad after all, but I recommend to press fast forward at the beginning.
What Happened to Monday (2017)
Welcome to the Future
'What Happened To Monday' is a remarkable movie. I would almost love it, if it wasn't for a couple of stupid things that damaged it for me. Sorry I can't explain that without SPOILERS.
First, the unnecessary finger cut-off scene. Why unnecessary? Because they are living in a future where medical science has progressed so that for example Tuesday's missing eye can be replaced. But they can't repair a finger with a small artificial limb and prefer to cut off 6 more fingers instead? Second, the logistics behind the freezing operation. We are told siblings all over the world are frozen, so hundred of thousands of them must be stored somewhere. This requires huge facilities with thousands of staff members, doesn't anyone notice they don't exist anywhere? Third, the company in charge wants to pretend everything they do is legal and perfectly okay. And then they shoot passers-by who happen to stand in the way when they are chasing Wednesday? Warfare on their own citizens, does it go unnoticed or what?
Regrettably this movie is far from perfect with quite a lot of holes in it, but still it is very interesting and worth watching for the amazing performance of Noomi Rapace who talks to herself in various roles, from the shy computer nerd to the lazy party girl or the sporty chick. She even has a death scene with herself, how unique is this? I can hardly imagine the workload when you are constantly on the set in one of your 7 roles, shooting and reshooting the same scene from a different perspective. Give it a try - one more reason to watch is that the subject of overpopulation is so serious that you can't think enough about it.
Black Water (2018)
Shoot to thrill
'Black Water' really surprised me. It's easily one of the best entries in the filmography of its two stars in this decade. Comparisons to the old days are quite useless, because I wouldn' expect someone who is almost 60 to put his foot in other people's faces a lot - apparently some fans do, and that's the bunch with the low ratings. The movie does not feature any kicks, look elsewhere for that. Instead, 'Black Water' is an intense thriller with psychological tension (okay, and a lot of ammo used as well). Agents from different sides are locked in a submarine with their enemies, some may be double agents, most of them don't tell the truth, so the captain and many others have a hard time guessing who is on who's side - and then, in the extremely narrow space, chases and deadly shoot-outs take place.
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Wheeler is the hero here, while Dolph Lundgren as Marco is a prisoner whom Wheeler releases although he doesn't know anything about him, believing "my enemies' enemy is my friend - probably" which is a good example of how the movie never lets his characters walk on safe ground. Small grudges like the embarassing love scene aside, a good movie that did not need a big budget due to its confined location (almost completely taking place inside the submarine) and a clever script.
The Barbarians (1987)
The quest of the very slow rescue team
Queen Canary (Virginia Bryant) is captured by Kadar (Richard Lynch), who wears black so everybody can see he's the vilain. Two little boys from her people become slaves and later grow to become very strong men. Kutchek (Peter Paul) and Gore (David Paul) decide they'll rescue the queen better late than never, so about 20 years after her capture, the rescue team is on the way! Canary instructs the twins to get a certain magic stone first, and the quest for the ruby involves the usual challenges, from a tavern brawl to fighting a dragon in the swamp. Fortunately, they also meet a girl who does the brain work for them (Eve LaRue)...
I watched most Italian barbarian movies of the 1980s, from "Ator" to "Conquest", but this one I missed somehow which is a shame because with a bigger budget than those, it looks fairly good, and since it fortunately doesn't take itself seriously, it is an entertaining entry in the genre. Realising the limited acting skills of the muscular twins in the lead roles, director Deodato changed the direction of the movie from violent action flick to comedy which was a wise move. Except for a few small gory bits (e.g. cutting off a finger to get a ring), you wouldn't think this is from the same director who shot 'Cannibal Holocaust'.
Noir comme le souvenir (1995)
Black like a 'giallo'
17 years ago, a little girl was murdered. The killer was never found. But now he returns, kills again, leaves the girl's doll or flowers with a card saying "black for the memory" to mark his next victims, and he even decapitates the stone angel on the girl's tombstone. The girl's mother, played by Jane Birkin, is understandably terrified. But what is the murderer trying to tell her?
Interesting, suspenseful thriller much in the vein of Italian giallo with its subject of a serial killer with bizarre and macabre habits, sneaking around in the dark. Much in line with that genre is the musical leitmotif, too: a girl innocently singing "la, la, la, la..." which brings back memories of the unsolved first murder case. The comparatively small production is enhanced by the strong performance of Jane Birkin ("Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye", "Evil Under the Sun").
Jurassic Shark (2012)
No mud, no fun
Illegal drilling releases a prehistoric shark into a lake. Three girls make it to an island in that lake, realising they can't get back into the water and they're stuck on that island. A couple of criminals led by an evil lady in black are also on that island, facing the same problem. While the people on the island are fighting each other rather than working together against the common threat, the shark gets hungry...
The story isn't all bad, and some camera work with the underwater shots, or hovering just above the water surface, shows some basic skills. The four main problems of this amateur movie are: 1) sound. Repetitive dramatic music tries to hide that many noises of the action and the surrounding nature are simply missing. 2) acting. The guys and girls are sympathetic, but inexperienced. 3) location. This "island" is obviously the coast of a rather small lake, it destroys the credibility of the story. 4) sloppy continuity. People fall into the water, swim to the island and arrive with clean, dry clothes. I mean, it is pointless to accuse a low budget production of cheap effects, because they can't afford the million dollar computer tricks and that's life. But if you don't bother to pour some water and mud over the actors to make it look more real, which doesn't cost you a penny, then you just don't care about the movie you are making, and this is annoying.
2307: Winter's Dream (2016)
300 years in the future, after the whole planet is frozen over, Bishop (Paul Sidhu) is asked to hunt the renegade android ASH 393 (Branden Coles). The high intelligence and supeerhuman strength of his opponent makes that an extremely hard task in a hostile environment. Besides, Bishop's general hasn't told him the whole story before he sent him on that mission...
Produced for less than a million dollars, the movie is quite ambitious for its low budget. Its frozen future world reminds me a little bit of Robert Altman's 'Quintet', but unfortunately '2307' enjoys its gun battles in trash movie style too much and has only actors with limited capabilities while suffering a bit from pretentiousness. The best supporting actors are Timothy Lee DePriest as Ishmael, whose harmonica playing is another reference to western movies, and Arielle Holmes as Kix, the most fanatical member of Bishop's team. What we finally get is a movie that fits into the 'Cyborg' subgenre of the 80s/90s Terminator rip-offs, but with a modern design and a better story that most of them.
Horror Safari (1982)
In 1945, Japanese soldiers hid 2 heavy cases of gold in a cave before they had to leave the Philippines. 36 years later, Jefferson (David De Martyn) finances an expedition to find the gold. Tobachi (Harold Sakata, 'Goldfinger') is the only survivor from 1945 and is needed to show the hiding-place. Forrest (Stuart Whitman) and Larson (Edmund Purdom) shall lead the expedition together although they are deadly enemies – they simply can't resist the wages. Cal (Woody Strode), Forrest's girlfriend Maria (Laura Gemser) and Jefferson's daughter Janice (Glynis Barber) join the crew. The expedition seems to run as scheduled, but when they get deeper into the jungle, members of the expedition begin to disappear one by one when mysterious accidents happen...
'Invaders of the Lost Gold' aka 'Horror Safari', in my country 'Söldner Des Todes' ('Mercenaries of Death'), is a low budget adventure flick that has no outstanding qualities despite the good cast. Mostly filmed in a 'jungle' where the natives apparently use a lawnmower and plant palm trees neatly in rows to make it look like a park, poor action scenes, long dialogues in tents and clumsy editing do not result in a thrilling picture. The DVD distributor obviously didn't even bother to watch it before they created a tag line saying something about 'the green hell of Malaysia (!)'. Can we really blame them?
Dead Again in Tombstone (2017)
Actually, undead again
Colonel Boomer (Jake Busey) suspects that Guerrero (Danny Trejo) knows where a book about black magic rituals is hidden. He threatens to kill his family, consisting of daughter Alicia (Elysia Rotaru) and grandma (Michelle Rios, much too young for the role and therefore covered with ridiculous make-up) if Guerrero doesn't tell him the hiding place. Now Guerrero is undead since his pact with the devil in part 1 and comes back several times from the dead. How can Boomer deal with a man he cannot kill, how can Guerrero save his family, and what does the magic book really do?
The first movie was a horror movie in the disguise of a western, but the sequel - apart from the MacGuffin, the magic book - is a much more traditional western about protecting your family against gunfighters (even if some of them are zombies). The technical qualities are good. For example the scene when Boomer blows up a stagecoach and at the same time, Guerrero is caught in an explosive trap in the town, the two explosions are cut parallel to each other, really elegant editing you hardly ever see in cheap movies. If I voted one notch below for the sequel (6 of 10 after 7 of 10 for the first movie) it's because 'Dead Again' lacks a villain of Mickey Rourke's caliber. Otherwise it is a satisfactory variation of the 'Undead Gunman' theme.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
This movie has actually little in common in style with the predecessor. There is much more Tarkovsky ('Stalker', 'Solaris') in it than Ridley Scott. Many people wrote about the picture's deliberate slowness, but hardly anyone about the unusual soundtrack which I thought was truly remarkable. At the beginning of the movie, there are some synthetic space sounds obviously quoting Vangelis, but that's about it regarding similarities to the first movie. Most of the sound consists of noises with extensive echoes, thus the sound very often evokes a feeling of huge empty spaces. This underlines very well how the Replicants have an emptiness in their lives, not owning actual memories. The whole psychology of the movie works very well. Still I'm surprised they got 150 mega bucks for an art movie that denies action scenes to the blockbuster audience almost entirely.
Now for the actors. Apart from Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, I liked Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis and the killer chick Sylvia Hoeks best. From Denis Villeneuve's excellent, but more traditional looking sci-fi film 'Arrival' I had not expected that the style of this movie would be so extreme. I wonder why they made me wear 3D glasses at the cinema. There is so much dust, fog and darkness that you hardly notice any 3D effects. When 'Blade Runner 2049' is released on Blu-ray, I'll be satisfied with the 2D standard version. Yes, I'd like to watch it again, and the only thing I'd like to skip is the horribly clichéd scene when the good old times are celebrated by unearthing Elvis and Frank Sinatra. At that point, I was worried Harrison would start teaching Ryan how to play saxophone next, but they spared us the embarrassment.
Here we go again, part 5 of the most successful pirate series ever. The best moment was the confrontation of the old captains, when Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa) is trying to make a deal with Javier Bardem (Salazar). Every look they give each other is a statement, here are two captains of the same caliber, don't ever turn your back on either of us... Johnny Depp, well, has he been better than in the first part in any of the sequels? He does his usual routine. Brenton Thwaites as Henry and Kaya Scodelario as the astronomer (!) Carina really keep the action going, frankly I didn't miss Bloom and Knightley that much. The movie has a few weaknesses, from the fight at the bottom of the ocean (just to show off where the money for the effects went, but the audience never believes it is real) to silly jokes (I just say 'horologist', ouch!).
But all in all, 'Salazar's Revenge' aka 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' is a good movie to finish the series. They brought some fresh blood in front of the camera (the two young main actors) as well as behind it (two new directors), so you never get a feeling of watching someone flogging a dead horse. I voted 9-8-6-7-7 for the 5 movies of the series.
Back to start
This movie must have managed to annoy almost everyone. I'm surprised that it got any good reviews at all, because don't you all belong to at least one of the groups I'll try and describe in the following lines? First, the SF fans will be annoyed that the makers obviously don't take SF seriously. Whether you have a broken leg or suffer from leukemia - one touch with a ray of light and you're healed by the magical medical device on Elysium. There is not even a weak attempt to convince us a machine like that may exist. Even several centuries later on star ship Enterprise, a cure needed some time. Need more examples? How about the Exo-skeleton, some pieces of plastic glued on a guy's T shirt? This looked terribly cheap for a 100+ million dollar production. And it sometimes provides him with additional power, but sometimes not, depending on how long the fight scene should last. Or the ships that can fly to Elysium in a straight line with continuous speed, no matter whether they fly through the atmosphere at high gravity or empty space with no gravity. They have a year or two to prepare such a movie and don't research some basic physics?
Second, the right wing audience is obviously annoyed (see some other reviews below) that a social message is shoved down their throats. Evil rich Americans in space versus nice poor Mexicans on Earth - the social painting in black and white is such a shame that the makers tried to hush it up at least a bit, letting Jodie Foster speak French in one scene for no reason, a PC kind of apology meaning: we didn't say they are all Americans. Still the message is so clumsy and plain that no-one missed it.
Third, the left wing audience will be upset that the economic idea how everything will improve is ridiculous. Why should the supplies for a couple of thousand people on Elysium - every resource is hard to keep or produce in space - be sent to Earth for distribution among billions of people? That's one blade of grass for each person at best. And to heal every sickness with the magical device will take a million years, imagine the queue. Practically, you'd have to select again and pick some privileged people to get treatment and food... Back to start.
Fourth, movie fans will remember many better movies on similar subjects, from 'Terminator' to 'Silent Running', and dismiss 'Elysium' as a mediocre attempt. In Hollywood blockbuster style, action won over the contents. The leading mercenary wears a samurai sword on his back although he normally doesn't need it; he prefers to shoot with rockets from long distance. He must have thought a sword looks cool. And that's what the movie achieved, it certainly looks cool with that huge space station and the many fights with explosive ammunition. But if you look for intelligent SF with some food for thought, better look elsewhere.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Vin and the motley crew
The third installment of Triple xXx. Xander Cage assembled a big team this time. Some characters are great: the nerd girl as a comedy sidekick works well, and I loved the sniper woman who hunts the hunters, not the lions, what a unique introduction. But others are completely useless, like the music kid or the weird bearded bloke. They were invited to the team because they look and behave different from the soldiers - and that's about the only reason, it appears.
The action also has its ups and downs. The opening scene with the skiing and skateboarding is brilliantly filmed and edited. But towards the end, there is an explosion every 5 seconds instead of interesting fights, up to the point that you just wish the noise was over and you could go to sleep. Ice Cube is not needed for the story, but seems to have been written in to apologize they preferred Vin Diesel this time and to link all parts of the trilogy at least shoddily, with a faked death. The movie is altogether disappointing, but for some good moments was worth seeing once.