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Transporter: The Series (2012–2014)
8/10
Go for the ride
10 November 2018
Frank Martin( vance) is the Transporter. that means you can hire him to get from point a to b, even if that includes going into another country, with a " package". That's Something that fits in his sleek Audi S8. and he prefers not to know The contents of it. "Never open it". Also? never alter the deal, and no names. Compared to Statham's Version, he smiles a lot more, and is in general friendlier, more approachable. he talks to a lot of people, So if he comes off as antisocial and wanting to be by himself all the time, it's going to get annoying. He remains a perfectionist, who doesn't want to get involved beyond these superficial, often criminal, types of assignments. After all, why would anyone need Him rather than merely a chauffeur or bodyguard? This takes a crack at answering that question.

I've always thought that this concept makes more sense for a TV show than movies. don't get me wrong. I love the first three. And, well, refueled... exists. meanwhile, here you can have a long line of missions, without it feeling repetitive. many different things will be moved, crime bosses will be worked for or against, cutting edge technology will be fought over, and A truly endless stream of Goons will be defeated. sometimes there's a trap or a set up. hostages are taken. All 24 episodes are separate one-off plots, and nearly all have at least one "job". they explore a number of different " worlds", including art, military, dictators, prostitution, politics, etc. The main villain will often be very evil. this tends to side with progressive politics, although right wingers on this aren't one note .

This adds main characters that would have cluttered the films. Carla(Osvárt) Is a former intelligence operative. She vets and assists, from her office, using her computer( and yes those are in fact *pure magic* in this) and extensive contacts. Ultimately she rarely directly, physically interacts, with our lead and doesn't have a lot of Personality. Maybe that's why she Eventually( however not to late for this to remain fresh) becomes replaced by Caterina(Placido), Who does similar work Whilst Not remaining static. She doesn't call you or find out stuff through a monitor: She tracks you down and shows up at your job. and she leaves only when she has the result she came for. Dieter(Hübner) Is an expert mechanic who cleans and fixes the cars so that there's always at least one that's in excellent condition. after all, it's important to make a good impression. He's shy, eager to please Others, gives the vehicle names and considers them unique individuals. At one time, he needs to be convinced not to show up to his sister's wedding wearing snakeskin pants. He also serves as info dumps, and is otherwise Comic Relief.

Taking over once he left is Julian, or "Jules". He is despised by many reviewers, even blamed for this being cancelled. Although I understand why, I don't agree . yes, his chatty, anxious, nerdy self easily could become obnoxious to where you give up on this. Which is why I am so impressed that they managed to give us just ( little) enough that that never happened for me. like Cat, he has, and develops, personal relationships with supporting players. He's not only there for us to laugh at, to add quirk. his main tool is his laptop. he can accomplish miracles on that thing. also, he has access to a few James Bond style gadgets. a tracking device, eyeglasses that contain tiny cameras, etc. He's a typical hacker, for this sort of thing. You ( well, I) end up wondering how they ever got along without one. Tarconi(Berléand) Is a French Cop Who Is willing to look the other way. Juliette(Chanéac), Is a mysterious young woman who appears to be looking into our protagonist.

The two seasons are different in important ways. I think the change was necessary to prevent this from growing stale. if they make a third one, they should change it again. S1 is very focused on action, which is bigger and more Frequent, and keeping things moving fast. S2 Goes for tension and making you care about the human beings involved. several times I found myself wishing for spin-offs of this that focused on One or two members of the cast of a single story of this. There are organised rescues, playing detective end even a heist. some (not me) say it moved too far away from the core appeal. I see why. "He's an ex Navy SEAL here. just helping those in need. that wasn't who he was Up to now". he definitely does do things that you wouldn't see him do before. I find that it's credible. he's not quite the same person. I've heard that the budget was cut, which would explain a lot. Sometimes good things come from limitations. I'd say that's the case here.

As you'd expect, there is a lot of precision Driving( not always chases, and sometimes involving trucks), martial arts and disarming over the course of this. This often presents gender in a very stable typical way. men are masculine and either help or hurt girls, they know "guy stuff", they're tough. women are feminine and either manipulative or in need of being saved, whether they know it or not. Of course, some will manage to be so " Manly" that they're "almost as good" as them. this does occasionally Mock the LGBTQ community. HBO and Skin-e-max were involved originally, Which may be why there is as much cheesecake as there is in this. While It's often gratuitous, there are times where they didn't try to fit it in when it wouldn't make sense. "The girl" ( a new one each time) will be beautiful, and maybe one of the sexualized ones. This doesn't feel the need to make everyone a model, nor are the ones who aren't " unpleasant".

I recommend this to fans of the franchise. 8/10
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7/10
Get stuck
3 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The NSA have a program that can control all nuclear missile launches around the globe. Balder(Merchant, determined), the man who created the program, has decided that it's too much power for any player, regardless of who it is. Of course, stealing it means being hunted down. So he needs a pro. Lisbeth(Foy, not quite up to Rooney Mara's performance but better than Noomi Rapace's excellent one) has been on a real vigilante kick since we last saw her, and agrees to take the job. Blomkvist(Gudnason, making the most of the material which does not do much with the relationship between the two leads, when that has been a strength of both language versions) helps out by doing research. A group of dangerous criminals try to get it from her. Who are they? And what is the real identity of their mysterious leader?

As confusing as it is, this is an adaptation of the fourth book, which was picked by the studio in 2015 when it came out, to be adapted before(or even instead of?) novels two and three. It's also a soft reboot. Basically, the continuity does appear to place this after the events of those, despite many Americans not having watched the Swedish originals, since subtitled foreign films are not for everyone. You are told just enough in this that you can go in without knowing them - heck, this can be the first you watch of the whole franchise. You'll be able to follow it fine. This has interesting elements. Chief among them are the personal history between hero and villain, Salander having to take care of a child who, like her, also has a form(but not the same one) of autism, and the memorable action(I do wish that these scenes were not facilitated by the bad guys making stupid, out of character mistakes) and settings. It does feel more like James Bond or Mission Impossible than "Millennium"(the magazine that this series is named after. I maintain that it should be called "Men Who Hate Women", since that theme is more important to these than that publication). It keeps to a fast pace and is admirably restrained in how little the US plays a role in it.

There is a moderate amount of violence and strong language, as well as a little sexuality and nudity in this. I recommend this to anyone willing to go along with the shift this takes from the other entries. For what it's worth, it seems like the book is closer to those than this is. 7/10
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Halloween (I) (2018)
8/10
Worth celebrating
28 October 2018
On the 40-year-anniversary of "The Babysitter Murders", The Shape(Jude Courtney, nailing the walk and other movements, adding to it cat-like, predatory elements) escapes the asylum he's been kept in ever since. Laurie(Lee Curtis, sympathetic as the PTSD-ridden survivor, and badass in having gone full Sarah Connor), has spent all that time preparing. She's modified her home to ensure she'll never again be the victim of a physical assault, as she was over 30 years prior. Flood lights, an isolated location where she can see someone coming from far away, bolts and locks on her doors, and last but not least, guns and the training that go with. However, will she be able to protect her estranged daughter(Greer, who's long since decided not to fear the attacker) and granddaughter(who tries to balance having positive relationships with both, something that seems impossible)?

No other sequel to the original, before this, has felt like it deserves to be considered one(since Season of the Witch is a spin-off). This has it(not "him") stalk, as it should. We see increases to the body count, and the level and detail of violence, without feeling like a Friday the 13th clone(which is part of the problem with other entries in this series). More of the time, corpses are discovered, rather than us seeing a lot of kills on screen(something that can easily have a numbing effect on the viewer). It was a wise decision to ignore all but the 1978 film. Others have said that too much time is spent away from the Strode family, especially its deeply compelling matriarch. I found those scenes draining(as they should be, and were meant to), and we cannot have the confrontation before the climax. "Too much time devoted to teenagers and their mundane problems"? That's true to form. It may just have bothered you less when you first met Michael Myers. Where do I stand on "the majority of the characters in this are there to be taken out, and they're bland and unlikeable"? I empathised with 90% of them, and found them interesting enough... your mileage may vary.

In addition to what I've already mentioned, there is a moderate amount of strong language, some sexuality, and brief nudity in this. I recommend this to any fan of Carpenter's iconic movie. I welcome this getting followed up on. I am ecstatic to report, Halloween is terrifying. The Boogeyman has finally returned. 8/10
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8/10
Never boring
22 October 2018
Harry(Caine, charming with an edge), described as "insubordinate, with possible criminal tendencies", is moved to a new department, when the guy he's replacing is found dead. By breaking the rules, he is to find out: why are scientists disappearing?

When it comes to spycraft, depictions in fiction range in subtlety(where this earns high marks), relationship with allies(can they be trusted? How easy is it to tell them apart from enemies?), and tech(realistic, as here, or science fiction gadgets?). This is very far from James Bond. Shots are fired and people are killed, but not in a Hollywood style. At one point, the way the audience is shown that someone was shot from afar whilst driving their car, is first that the guy doesn't move even though the light is green. Then it cuts to his bloody forehead. Then to the windshield with a hole in it. Almost as if the audience is made up of civilians. Walking up to the guy to find out why he is holding up traffic. We don't hear or even see the gun itself. Similarly, a fight scene in public is captured from afar. The camera will often be very close to an object that is then taking up part of the frame. Filming the events of a room through the holes or window in a door. This is very tense. There is a real sense of danger throughout.

There is a little bloody violence, and disturbing content, in this. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys this kind of movie. 8/10
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Venom (2018)
7/10
Not as poisonous as it's been made out to be
21 October 2018
Eddie Brock(Hardy, managing both the "regular guy" and the physicality of the dual role) is a reporter who fights for the little guy(well, that's how he's introduced. Later on that doesn't impact much of anything). However, he gets overeager and ends up getting fired. Offscreen? Shown? First one, then the other. It's one of several things where it feels like the script was first written to be one way, and then later rewritten, but they left in a lot of the old stuff. Another is that an astronaut whose body is temporarily taken over is named Jameson(yes, must in fact be the son of the Daily Bugle publisher and/or editor-in-chief). Why is that in a movie that doesn't have Peter Parker? It feels like something that was in an original draft for Sam raimi's Spider-man 3, before Topher Grace(I don't hate him in... hmm... Traffic. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy. I just don't want him in my action blockbuster sequels. He was wrong for Predators, too) was brought in to ruin the titular character of this. Anyway. He ends up being bonded with a symbiote(that's "-ee-", not "-eye-"), and discovering... a fiendish plot that could destroy the world(*dramatic music cue*).

As many(seemingly most) other audience members, I enjoyed this a lot. With that said, it could be better. Venom(Tom, with a modulated voice, with personality, not one-note) himself, always a voice(at first, that's all he is) in our lead's head, will frequently argue with him, occasionally answer his questions to other people, etc. And ultimately go from acting like he's in a flesh taxi, into agreeing to a coexistence that both are happy with(not necessarily credibly depicted). It's an unusual trait for this kind of picture, and is genuinely memorable. I mean that in a good way. Except for what you'll remember for the wrong reasons, such as the sitcom level humor of scenes like the one where he ends up taking a bath in the lobster tank of a restaurant, to the confusion of everyone eating there. The action, while cool, could have been unique. We get a motorcycle chase(with kamikaze drones that make you wonder why they don't use a single drone firing rockets) that's at least several minutes too long, some straightforward fighting(yes, it's unusual that he's "not doing it himself". That's also in The Tuxedo. It's funnier there), and an indecipherable climax(with very nifty weapons). It's badass. What it also is, unfortunately, is far below average for the subgenre, today. Yes, this does feel like it was made 10 to 15 years ago(other than the pretty good special effects), when expectations were lower, and they made mistakes rarely seen today(even in the DCEU). With that said, this is far superior to the likes of Catwoman, any live-action Fantastic 4 released so far, and the first Ghost Rider. It's also quite reminiscent of The Mask, and it doesn't top it.

There is a lot of moderate violence, a little strong language, and a little implied gruesome gore in this. I recommend this to fans, provided they are fine with this being less than ideal. 7/10
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Peppermint (2018)
7/10
Go for the Garner, stay for the satisfaction
1 October 2018
Jennifer truly delivers, as she always does when playing badasses. From what I've seen she does when playing family friendly roles, as well. But I'm not that interested in those. Anyway. Given the reception this has gotten, which it somewhat deserves, perhaps this won't mark a return to this genre of film for her. That is really too bad as her performance is the best thing about this. She portrays Riley North, who, after tragically losing her family, finds the legal system refusing to help her. In fact, it goes so far as to punish her. One of the few places that the supposed "feminist girl-power" overtones of this are actually present. A man showing passion is seen as strong whilst a woman doing the same is considered hysterical.

Despite being a half-hearted effort pretty much across the board, other than stuff like the bewildering decision to have 2 of the 3 drive-by-shooters die offscreen, this does mostly give you what you came for. Dozens are killed before our eyes, in cool and occasionally memorable ways. It's sufficiently entertaining, though it doesn't go above and beyond. It's not going to surprise you. Not everything needs to.

Throughout this, there is strong language, as well as bloody, brutal, sometimes gory, violence. I recommend it to anyone who every so often indulges in the guilty pleasure of the Conservative fantasy of "cleaning up the streets" by covering it with the bodies of evildoers. 7/10
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The Predator (2018)
7/10
A little new DNA, still has a spine, goes right for the kill
23 September 2018
Once again, a Predator comes to Earth. but this one is behaving a little strangely. And this one may not be alone. Rory, an Autistic kid(Tremblay, giving a nuanced performance), Casey, a high school biology teacher(Munn, who I've yet to find convincing. She seemed more confident when she was on G4), and Traeger, one of the higher ups(K. Brown, who we love to hate) who wants to learn about the "bass fisherman"(rather than destroy it before it starts its rampage), join the familiar players: a team of military badasses who have the skill and weaponry to fight back as they're being hunted down, one by one(if that *is* what it's interested in this time...). The twist? That last one? Every member is suffering from some mental issue as a result of their service(this very clearly has respect for those, and wants the audience to as well. Despite the jokes at their expense arguably going too far). Except of course for Quinn(Holbrook, charming, albeit not to the extent he was in Logan), who is being hidden from public view since he saw the extraterrestrial. He doesn't have a disorder. He just wants to keep his (already mentioned) 11-year-old son safe(and it's due to this point that I don't understand why people say there is no one to cheer on in this, that you can't get emotionally invested. I'm not judging, I'm just confused).

This is not perfect, it has definite flaws, but it does have a lot going for it. It feels like a proper sequel to the first movie, which none of the other sequels do. It knows how to still have action scenes(which are fairly varied and always exciting. I never felt like I was just sitting watching special effects, stunts and "noise") as frequent and as big as we expect today, since everybody watching this knows the titular creature. We are not going to sit through the equivalent of the '87 flick, that can only work with a new franchise, where we don't know. Here we see it very early, and so do the protagonists, in some cases few minutes in. So they can approach it in a way that makes sense from that perspective, rather than frustrating us with having to wait until they get there. There are a lot of quick short scenes and you can tell that this has been reshot, sometimes by the demands of executives. That's not going to bother everyone, I didn't think it hurt the film very much. I understand why some say that the humour is tone deaf, belongs to another decade, and makes us dislike the heroes - I guess all I can say is that that's ultimately a matter of perspective and I disagree with them on that. I don't think this ever slips into self parody: rather, it manages to be satirical and yet deliver. Just like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3.

There is a lot of bloody violence, sexual references and strong language throughout. I recommend this to any fan of Shane Black and the series. 7/10
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Transporter 3 (2008)
8/10
It gets there
1 September 2018
Frank Martin(Statham, deadpan) is yet again driving a package from one place to another. The two big differences are that it's a long drive(taking up a chunk of the film), and that he has a passenger in Valentina(Rudakova, a Ukrainian party girl). That first thing lowers the amount of action, especially martial arts, even though those are the main draw - after all, anything other than a chase requires them to stop, halting the plot rather than forwarding it. And that second thing, yes, that's a major one: she's meant to be annoying(and unfortunately is), she has a lot of lines(that most people seem to hate), and, you guessed it, there's romance(perhaps this was always meant to be the last starring Jason). Because of these a lot of people say this is the worst of these. Personally, I'd say this is one of the best of these despite of those.

This has some fun with the tropes of the first two. "The rules", the structure, the relationships, etc. Yes, the ridiculous physics are pushed to a new extreme. It's glorious. This has the coolest villain death(and Knepper is so much fun) and most awesome location for climax. Hands down. The change in director is inescapable. The editing is frenetic, which partially hides the choreography and competent fighting. It's the same style as with the Taken trilogy. There, the stakes are personal and we want to see Neeson going through encounters quickly: his family is in great danger! This series, on the other hand, is driven by several-minutes-long displays of incredible skill. We still get those but the presentation is awkward due to this. The ending is frustrating for many.

The DVD has a 16 minute making of, and for short featurettes which are visuals(storyboard comparisons, special effects, production design and car stunts) with commentary by megaton. I recommend this to fans of the franchise. 8/10
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9/10
The franchise crossover you didn't know you wanted
5 August 2018
Following a botched mission, the potential catastrophic loss of life leads to the CIA forcing one of their own upon IMF. Walker(Cavill, using his massive frame to be highly intimidating, letting loose as his Superman never does) is sent to keep an eye on, and if necessary take action against, Ethan(Cruise, not showing his age, ably diving deeper into the character's mind, which we haven't seen before), Benji(still amusing, vital) and Luther(Rhames, bringing up the past). Ilsa(Ferguson, remaining an enigma, as she should. if they make a 7th film, what they could do with her would be one of the main reasons I'd be excited about it. Not the only one, mind you) resurfaces. What is her goal? Who is she working for? Can she be trusted? Lane(Harris, even more sinister) may not be a free man(for now...), but his cause lives on in his followers, The Apostles. The only way to stop them is to find out the secret identity of their leader: John Lark.

This keeps to an incredibly high pace. It does so with many extended, though not too long, action scenes(with several new incredible stunts, performed by Tom), and major plot twists, sometimes in short succession. I've seen the argument presented that by the end it doesn't make sense, and is overly difficult to follow, and I'm not sure I disagree. That's the only thing that takes away a point from my otherwise perfect rating for this. This is the first real sequel of this series, and it uses the history really well. A big retcon adds to the significant development of Hunt as a person. Meanwhile, you can watch this without knowing the other entries, it just won't have the same impact. This touches upon very real and serious concerns. Does the physics-defying, " survive what you couldn't" events diminish that? I don't think so, others do. Max(Kirby, imitating Redgrave beautifully) is the daughter of her namesake from the first movie, and is even more compelling than her(no easy feat), as well as given more to do.

There is very moderate violence and brief strong language in this. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys spy fiction. 9/10
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9mm of Love (2000)
8/10
Well shot, and of a short(but effective) length
24 July 2018
Michael(O'Bryan, anxious yet determined) feels he has only one path to take. So he finds a phone booth, and makes the most important call of his life. Now he has to meet up with Mr... sorry... he doesn't go by that... he doesn't look like a Mister, anyway... Cue(Lumbly, pre-Alias, already a badass). Together, they have to get to Julia(Vassey, making an impression), and carry it out. And I'd be remiss not to mention Guy(Phillips, talking fast and not realising whether or not the person he's speaking to is necessarily completely following what he's saying... so a couple of the key aspects of Neelix. Clearly, Robert Duncan McNeill, here acting as writer and director, does not share his Voyager character's frustration with the ship's chef).

I intentionally kept the plot synopsis vague, and I implore you, please do not look up what this is about. You'll realise over the course of watching. As for where and how to do that, it's currently free on YouTube. This is listed as comedy and crime. I'd argue you could add "action" as a genre, albeit note that that's on a more personal level, not a big blowout. It's funny without trying too hard. This is 10 minutes long.

I recommend this to anyone who feels what I wrote here piqued their interest. 8/10
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8/10
Good things come in small packages
8 July 2018
The quantum realm is of interest to many people. A way to find Janet(Pfeiffer, making the most of very little screen time, great chemistry with her family) to Hank(Douglas, his temper toned down... for the better) and Hope(Lilly, an equal co-star, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that women do deserve representation(as if it wasn't already obvious...) here. Finally the MCU makes one a lead, and half the title of a movie. Badass, with a heart, and a great partner). Lang(Rudd, the everyman, a great father) wants to help them out, but is worried about his house arrest following the events of Civil War. So they have to hide him from the FBI. At least his ex and her fiance now love him like his daughter does. I guess they're passionately Team Cap? I mean, last we saw them, they were like, "just don't break the law and lose time with your little girl again". If they asked "did you even think about Cassie when called to Germany?", they can't have been very happy with the answer that he said "I'd be working outside the law? A wanted man? what else is new?". I figure it was considered a funny contrast to the first one. I agree, and I'd add heart-warming. I get if some hate it, though. It is inconsistent. Anyway. To Ghost(John-Kamen, compelling, with a tragic backstory, dangerous, willing to go to extreme lengths to save herself from pain and dying soon), it's a way to stabilize her from the phasing that she can barely control, and continues to take a toll on her, physically and emotionally. And to Sonny(Goggins, always worth watching), it's a way to get rich by having access to something a lot would love to use, and no one else can control. His presence means there are several groups of armed men for the heroes to defeat. That's an element that almost always improves these flicks. These are more antagonists than villains. Basically, all three(well, the feds just want to catch them in the act) of these individuals and groups try to get, from the good guys, the vehicle and tunnel that allows accessing this mysterious dimension.

While most of the action, including the best of it, is in the trailers and TV spots, it's fun, creative and exciting, in how it uses the shrinking and growing. There is now no less than 3 people who can do it, and it's done to buildings, cars, at least a dozen man-sized ants(at least one of whom is seeing casually engaging in human activities. Bet you thought that drumming one you've seen the marketing was a dream sequence), and the occasional everyday object, all to memorable effect. This keeps to a fast pace, and the jokes(less messy than you'd expect from 5 writers) tend to land, which helps distract from the straightforward plot.

This earns the PG-13 rating. The parents guide on this site has details. I recommend this to those who agree that, after Infinity War, we needed something more light. If you don't think so, I can understand - and honestly, this can essentially be skipped. just look up what the mid- and post-credit scenes are. It's a fluffy dessert after the gourmet meal that film was. And hey, Avengers 4 is less than a year away. 8/10
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Machete Kills (2013)
8/10
It's what he does. But here he does it differently
23 June 2018
Machete(Trejo, badass) is offered US citizenship in return for taking out a serious threat to the country: Mendes(Bichir, charming), who'll send a nuclear missile at the States. Meanwhile, is there something more going on? And what role does weapons developer Voz(Gibson, as charismatic when not in real life) play?

This is really not about the lead. Still, among the supporting characters(including the ones that are back) there are numerous that are very memorable and fun. Tonally this is a lot closer to parody than homage(which the original was), which is unexpected, and I can understand, if not agree with, the many who thought this was a bad idea. While I love both, I hugely prefer this. It just feels like it fits more, to me. Both are over the top. This isn't constrained by an originally fake trailer(never meant to be adapted to full length), and so has a lot of freedom in its creativity(one of Robert Rodriguez' strengths). There are a ton of cool ideas here, and, hey, if you don't like this or that thing, there is a chance(note that I did *not* say certainty, some things do stay around) it'll be gone within minutes. The pace never slows down. the effects are distractingly CG rather than practical. The preaching is essentially entirely gone, thankfully.

There is a ton of bloody violence, sexuality and strong language. I recommend this to fans of the writer/director. 8/10
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Deadpool 2 (2018)
8/10
Second verse, same as the first... for better, and occasionally, for worse
20 May 2018
Deadpool(Reynolds, in the party was born to play) continues to struggle with the idea of him being a hero. Will he try to be there for Firefist(Dennison, struggling with his powers and temper), or not? Things come to a head when the kid is targeted by the time travelling Cable(Brolin, badass and motivated). What reason does he have to kill a teenager?

Other than ditching the flashback aspect of the structure(the rest remains in place), and obviously the origin story, since that's out of the way, this is the same movie as we got the first time. Except it's bigger, and somewhat different in a few other necessary ways. As much as I love the 2016 film, in most ways, this is an improvement. Obviously the action and scope are increased, since the budget is. But in other areas, more is a good, not bad, thing. This time around, quipping isn't limited to the title character and Weasel(Miller, admittedly funny, despite, as we now know, being a scumbag), rather, basically every major character gets to(adding to the overall world having that flavor, which it already did to some extent). And they all get to be memorable in other ways as well. While I'll admit that the larger cast worried me, they gave everyone the right amount of screen time. With nearly all major scenes and jokes revisited or redone in some way(since they worked the first time), it's noteworthy and impressive that they're greater here. With few exceptions. The franchise building, though the marketing can make it seem obtrusive and excessive, is handled well. I can't wait to see more of Domino(Beetz, an inspired choice).

This has a lot of strong language and bloody, gory violence. It's also frequently offensive, crossing the lines of what's politically correct. I recommend this to any fan of DP. 8/10
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10/10
Perfectly balanced
27 April 2018
Thanos(Brolin, giving us a layered villain, the best in recent years) has...*finally*... started to gather the Infinity Gems. If he gets all six he can wipe out half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. Will our heroes be able to stop him and his "Children"?

The hype for this was unreal. Many say that it couldn't live up to it. And I realise that a lot don't, and won't(as it premieres around the world), think it did. For my money(and they'll keep getting them as long as they keep making them this good), it delivered, and then some. Obviously, with so many major characters, they cannot possibly all get a lot of screentime. You could criticise their decision to include so many. Honestly, you're free to think so, but this is not a movie for you. Which is fine. I don't doubt that you love flicks that aren't for me. This is a cinematic version of an event comic, not decreased in scope as most of the adaptations of those stories are, something I've been waiting for for 20 years to be done right. So rather than complain about something that couldn't be helped, let's look at whether it's satisfying. Personally, I absolutely think so. I've loved most of these since I first saw these versions of them, and I felt that they were all featured to the right extent. Every single one of them makes an impact, most get arcs, not a single one feels like they're just in the background(as is the case with every single X-Men film).

This wastes no time starting the plot, moves quickly, and introduces us to all the groups quite early on, and yet never feels overpowering. I realised the following is an old example, however, recently rewatching Revenge of the Sith, the difference is incredible. Both were built up to for years(at least 6 in both cases), and where that one is massively overcrowded, and quite tiring and tedious, this one isn't, even a little. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. It delivers on emotion, interaction between individuals, growth, in addition to action scenes(which, ultimately, is the bread and butter of a Summer blockbuster). Does it, outside of the bad guy's depiction, including personality and motivation, reach a level of depth akin to the solo adventures? No. It would be unrealistic to expect it to. It's not going for that. Finally, there has been a lot of reasonable concern, for how they would handle the supposed killing off of fan favorites. I'm not giving away whether or not they do, or if it's only for bit parts. What I will say is that everyone who kicks the bucket in this, on either side of the conflict, gets to be memorable and important before they do. They were very smart and how they handled that. Like everything else in this.

I recommend this to anyone who finds it to be appealing. Do note that the ending is very much a setup for the next one, and doesn't feel conclusive. It used to be called part 1 for a reason. And yes, that will disappoint many - and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm just incredibly excited for Avengers 4. 10/10
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8/10
Not, in fact, just friends you haven't met
1 April 2018
One final fun trip together, as a family. Before Kinsey(Madison, what at first appears to be a rote "teen girls be bratty y'all" revealing a credible and compelling portrait of youth) goes off to boarding school. It's kept vague, but she and two other girls did something that was very against the rules. Cindy(Hendricks, who feels she's in the right), her mother, genuinely believes it will help and that it's necessary. she wishes it had been done for her when she was that age. Mike(Henderson, mostly a typical doofy dad type. He cracks us up) agrees. Luke(Pullman, mostly on the parents' side, still not without empathy. Really, no one in this is. 'cept the titular characters obviously), her brother, tries to cheer her up. They're going to a small resort. Golf. A pool. That sort of thing. However, contrary to what they expect, they won't be by themselves.

You know the drill by now. A few people, close to each other, are alone in a vacation type area, and three people in barebones cosplay stalk, terrify, and murder them. There's not a lot of plot, albeit this time, it isn't merely a reason for them to be where they are. And while this cranks up the volume on a lot of different things, most of them being sequel-based(though I would argue make it a lot more enjoyable), one that I'm not sure many people expected, is the psychological depth. Don't get me wrong. With more characters, and more interpersonal relationships, this has more room for that. Still, a lot of people wouldn't have bothered. I'm glad they did.

Where the first one was very much a 70s horror movie, this one is an 80s slasher flick. Higher body count, more areas, less ding-dong-ditch and more oh hi stab...albeit the sadistic toying with the victims does remain. Seriously, I'm sure you'll find Tamara eventually. Just calm down already. The girl don't live here! then again, have they been looking for her for 10 years straight? I guess that would make anyone impatient. The kills are shown not implied. Much more chasing and fighting back. Less obviously stupid ideas and actions by the good guys, and the use of classics, now pop not Country, is more playful. The ending can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. One is pure nonsense. Another does make sense, though I would say they should have played it slightly differently if that was the interpretation that was intended. On the off chance anyone that can make it happen will ever read this review: as long as you keep making these I will keep going to the theatre and watching them. While you should probably keep changing what subgenre of movie you're emulating each time, I think that's entirely doable.

There is a lot of gory and bloody violence in this, as well as a little swearing. This is one of the most fun of its kind that I've watched in a long time. Just don't go in expecting it to be like the 2008 original. 8/10
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Lost: Via Domus (2008 Video Game)
8/10
Some strengths
4 March 2018
You wake up, confused. you don't know where you are. Or what's going on. You're having trouble remembering. Something nearby is on fire. You're seeing things. People are screaming for help. But enough about the morning after the last time you went drinking. All that happens in this, too.

Not only are you one of the survivors of the crash of oceanic 815. But, because, like its "parent", this is a soap opera, you have amnesia. a lot of bad has been said about that idea. Personally, I find it clever, and honestly, entirely necessary. This, of course, has flashbacks. As expected, they inform who you are, relate to what's going on in present-day, and, they let you do a little detective work. And here, you're actually recalling this as you see it. On TV, that isn't the case. They're for the viewer. This was the only way to properly incorporate that. in each of them, you first have to snap a pic. it has to be exactly right. Framing, focus, zoom. You're given hints. It sounds a lot more difficult than it is. Once you have the shot, you can move freely. Well. Perhaps that word implies too much. This is linear as they come. You gradually realise what you were doing before you got on the plane. And you have to hurry. because someone you don't know is trying to kill you. Huh. Maybe you were paparazzi. The camera is definitely familiar. the still one, I mean. The TPP one can be a real pain. Especially when you tilt up or down. To whoever decided it should immediately go back when you let go? I see your trolling, and I can't help but be impressed. As everyone else... who gets a line... in this franchise, you're given a fresh start on the island. You gradually realise who you were. name and personality. And the question is, will you embrace that, and keep going in that direction? Or reject it? By which I mean, what will the writing decide. You get few choices in this.

As with other licensed games, the effort put into recreating what we saw in its source is one of the main draws. I'd say this gets it right two thirds of the time. I can't say a single negative thing about the locations, the general audio, the music(of course by Michael Giacchino) they're spot on. So let's move on to what I can call out. While the overall graphics are fine, when it comes to the characters, it's very hit and miss. Same for the voices. I do understand that the original cast may have been busy. You don't get to go to many places you don't already know. On the other hand, you get to go to almost every really cool place that you've seen. Of course, you don't necessarily get to do anything interesting there. and certainly too much of this is just you reenacting what you've seen others do. There's not enough tension in this. Rarely are you facing a time limit, when really, they could(and in this, should) be everywhere. Some things that are meant to be challenging are mere nuisances. Keeping a lightsource going as you are going through caves is just about lighting it again after it goes out. And putting it out before going under waterfalls. Navigating the jungle is just about going from one point to another. You can get lost because everything looks the same, and you have no compass. Well, you can drop a trail of "breadcrumbs". Unfortunately, sometimes, many times, too often, you have to find your way while being shot at(by The Others... and one tooltip actually said to fire back at them! Which I presume was removed at some point. And they kind of forgot that it would be annoying without that), or chased by The Black Smoke. Fortunately, if you hide in the easily recognisable Banyan trees, it will forget about you. You will automatically go into those if you go near them. This can't be toggled. That gets irritating.

A lot of this is essentially a walking simulator. There are almost no " chase" segments. They are among the more memorable portions. I do wish that it told you the first time, while paused, how to jump, how to dive. Given that it's the only times you can do either. It is fun. And yes, one of the reasons you're hurrying is, in fact, the Man In Black. There are branches, logs, rocks and the like to hop over. Duck under fallen trees. You can always tell when you should be avoiding touching something. Timing it all right does take a little getting used to. Turning is awkward. Sometimes you have to balance on a beam over a lethal drop. You can seldom use the gun. So don't bother gathering a lot of ammo for it. I kid you not, there is one part where you pick up two whole clips, use a single bullet, and then they take it all away from you! That segues nicely into the trading system. It's underused, and decent. You aren't given actual prices, so you have to figure out yourself how much you want to let go for what you're trying to get. You aren't told what you will(only what you might) need. The episodic nature paces this well. You get "previously on Lost" at the start of all but the first, then a cutscene placing you chronologically and geographically in the show, and giving an idea of what you will deal with this time. If you photograph iconic landmarks and the like, you can unlock extras in the menu. You will often be told when these are. Oh, Spoony? Fire up the fuse box counter.

There is a lot of disturbing content, some violence(albeit little gore and blood), and a little moderate to strong language in this. I recommend this to any fan of the series. 8/10
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Black Panther (2018)
10/10
Sleek, fierce claws and bite, you can't take your eyes off it... and yes, gloriously black all over
16 February 2018
T'Challa(Boseman, charismatic, not mistaking considering issues for being indecisive) returns to his homeland of Wakanda to succeed his late father as king after the latter's sudden murder. Will he continue the way things have worked for centuries, or go down a different path? How does one best aid one's own people? And does that extend beyond your nation's borders? Can he stop Killmonger(B. Jordan, passionate, wrong only in how far he goes and not in what he seeks to solve), before he tears the country apart from within?

This shares a lot of traits with The Wonder Woman solo movie. It's about time that they are made. but being filmed now, they can use recent events, and the franchise they belong to, to great effect. They celebrate, not excuse, not mock, not downplay, the traits typically thought of as natural, or even culturally, historically, geographically, important to the minority that they're about. They're telling a story important to that group. Exploring themes specific to them. Presenting a fictional, powerful country, where they are in charge, they are the rule rather than the exception, and govern by their strengths. And now to get into what separates this from the Gal Gadot-led picture, and I'm not saying that movie could have, or should have, done this, as it is, intentionally, a different story. That is about a woman on her own, in a world dominated by men. This is fully immersed in African culture. It is relevant to black people in the US, and all over the world. But it's not about immigrants, or their descendants. Which is not to say that it's snobby. Free of the pressures of the majority of the population who are distinct from them, never made to be ashamed of who they are, The Five Tribes do have all the power that their kin continue to fight for as they have for hundreds of years. In fact, far more than that. And so, it asks, how do you use that? What makes a great leader?

All the visuals are dazzling. Costumes, sets, designs, cinematography, etc. The acting is great. Shuri(Wright, infectious smile, casual, a brilliant engineer) steals every scene she's in. Coogler, known for drama, of course handles that aspect with a deft hand. And unusually for a first-time Blockbuster director, also the action, scope and massive budget. A little of the coverage and editing is awkward, showing his inexperience. but that is barely noticeable. The James Bond meets The Godfather feel blends the classic with the ultra-modern perfectly. The ancestral plane seems made for going into father son relationships. The War rhinos(!) Are an inspired touch. This is full of black women. They aren't looked down on, or angry side-kicks. Several are serious bad-asses. They give the protagonist advice, from their different perspectives, and he considers all of it. My only real complaint is that this did not take the final step in making this completely accessible for those unfamiliar with the MCU. If you did not watch the film that introduces the Black Panther, you will not understand, as this does not retell, what happened after the explosion that hits the UN. And since going blind into that film is even more confusing(If you watch Age of Ultron before it, you can follow it no problems... but not everybody knows that), that means this can't be watched by everyone. So I urge you. If you didn't already, catch those two films first, then go see this . Obviously, not everyone has, or will, see all 17 leading up to this.

There is some violence and strong language in this. I recommend this to everyone. I give this a perfect rating not to even out the overall score, a practice I do not believe in, but because it deserves it. I reserve that for only the best. I give it rarely. And I am thrilled to award it to this. 10/10
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Sabotage (2014)
6/10
Excess
13 January 2018
After a raid on a cartel safehouse, members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being picked off one at a time.

It's so much stupider than that, but I want you to find out for yourself if you choose to watch this. This is the only thing Ayer has directed that I don't love. Yes, even with all the issues Suicide Squad has. And I can't hate this. What works is actually really good. Still, ultimately, this is done in by its very foundation. The concept is based on something so dumb, there are three different entries for it in the Goofs section. Two people read what others had written about it already, and still felt the need to explain how baffling it is in their own words. And I applaud them for it.

That's not all. The "locker room" talk that is applied perfectly in Street Kings is here overpowering. Characters are obnoxious to the point of it becoming white noise, which drowns out even all their definition, development and the, sometimes out-there, things that happen to them. Arnie and others act their hearts out. The tone is simply mean-spirited. Sadism, blood and gore is lingered on where before this director limited it, made it disturbing not celebrated, to much greater effect. The action is too spread out, and once you get past the opening set-piece, it never gets that big again. Most of the slasher murder mystery is boring. The resolution is absurd and unsatisfying, both what ended up in the film and the Trivia's original versions.

There's a ton of swearing and sex for its own sake(frequently immediately followed by violence, or soured by other nastiness) in addition to what I've already mentioned. I recommend this solely to those who, like me, take in everything they can of David's work. 6/10
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7/10
"You even look at her funny, I'll stick an umbrella up your ass and open it."
22 November 2017
Football is ravaged by scandals. "No heroes left". Can Sarcastaball be far off? Disgraced player Jimmy(Wayans, funny, and charming if not as easy-going as other roles of his) is insulted that "outside protection" is hired by his girlfriend Cory(Berry, sultry, sweet). As such, he gets off on the wrong foot with former Secret Serviceman Joe(Willis, washed-up). Well, most people do. He gets no respect. Not from his ex-colleagues, his wife, daughter, etc. Both leads are down-on-their-luck losers who are still tough, bad-ass guys. And they're going to have to start trusting each other, even if they don't want to. For the woman they are to keep safe.

This is a classic, an excellent buddy comedy. I don't think Robert Rodriguez watched very much of this before he decided Bruce should play Hartigan. Heck, maybe Miller watched this before he wrote it. Not sure why he didn't go with Halle for Nancy. Then again, nobody knows why he went with Jessica Alba. But I digress. This has 102 f-words, that's an average of 1 per minute of this 1 hour, 41 minute movie. Or 37 if you don't count the end credits. And I loved every second. There is a ton of machismo in this. Several shootouts and explosions. Dozens of deaths, including stand-out ones for a select few. Tons of violence inflicted and/or threatened. It's very clearly directed by Tony Scott(with his inimitable style, its visual flair), and written by Shane Black(countless quotable quips. Memorable pairs of goons). This is realistic on drugs, football and gambling.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys action flicks. 7/10
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6/10
Leagues of justice done to icons?
19 November 2017
With Superman dead, crime is rampant, hope is deteriorating, and Batman(Affleck, sad to be here, no longer brooding because it polled poorly) feels a need to redeem himself for his role in Big Blue biting the... spear. Paranoia apparently washes right off. He puts together a team(who will occasionally even work together when they face off against enemies) of people with powers, as evidence mounts of an alien invasion.

This is essentially a series of well-done if repetitive(if Steppenwolf(Hinds, who voices a full CGI character brought to life with bad effects) is in a place, he's probably there to get a MacGuffin Box, and most likely, he'll get it. You wonder why these people even pretend to be keeping them from him, and if they couldn't have done more to make them hard to get to) action scenes, with materials connecting them – basically, you need to get the people from point A to point B, so every single fight isn't set in the same location. It is deeply forgettable. Meanwhile, I'm not going to pretend I didn't enjoy myself. For many, that will be enough. It's very clear what is done by Snyder and what by Whedon, and both do some things right, other things wrong.

Barry(Miller, funny, socially awkward) isn't annoying. Aquaman(Momoa, really going for that Wolverine status) comes off as a whiny adopted kid in an adult's body, and you don't buy him joining the rest. Cyborg(Fisher, going for RoboCop) goes back and forth between "I can't control the unpredictable tech growing in me" and "here's how we're gonna do this because I now know what I can do and no problems accomplishing it". The introduction of these three is rushed and underwhelming. It feels as though we're expected to have watched the three solo movies that have yet to come out yet. Wonder Woman(Gadot, who does raise a lot of the meh material she's given) is given little to do, and it's clear that those behind this don't love her character like Patty Jenkins, Gal, and 90% of everyone who watched her own film. Atlantis and Themiscyra feel like footnotes.

I recommend you go in with adjusted expectations, rather than not at all. 6/10
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8/10
Destruction and creation, building up and undermining
29 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When the long-banished, not-known-to-exist first-born of Odin(Hopkins, whose parody of himself, as well as his somber take, are both great), his daughter Hela(Blanchett, delicious, loving every moment, and making for another one of the few and far between deeply memorable villains of the franchise) returns to Asgard, her tremendous powers and thirst for conquest mean Thor(Hemsworth going for dry, sarcastic wit, and it works) and Loki(yet again in a new personal situation with his family, albeit overall, he does little to affect what happens) have to stop her. However, they're stuck in Sakaar, prisoners of the dictator The Grandmaster(Goldblum, with his charm turning threatening from one second to the next). And then our titular hero is made to fight the gladiatorial champion – The Hulk(Ruffalo getting to expand the role's vocabulary, personality, and tragedy/pathos – albeit not far enough. It doesn't extend to properly exploring what he's been doing, fighting beings no match for him, previously invariably to the death, despite him leaving Earth was literally specifically to flee this exact thing. They stopped short of where the comic went with it, sadly. The supporting players are appreciated, though).

This trilogy has gotten a lot of criticism from the onset, some of it deserved, a lot of it borne out of the natural difficulties with making this kind of world work, especially within the gritty, realistic one Iron Man set up. In this entry, Earth is nearly completely absent, and certainly the only human who has screen-time is Dr. Strange, who is also "beyond". Yes, Jane Foster, Darcy and Erik Selvig are gone. Broken up off-screen. I hate that. However, with this newfound freedom, this goes full cosmic. The tone approaches Guardians of the Galaxy. It's superior to Vol. 2, but not up to the level of the original. Honestly, a few minor things seem to be there specifically to redo that, and they'd be better left on the cutting room floor. The jokey subversion/drama mix is not as strong as that, nor of the third Robert Downey Jr. solo picture. With that said, relatively little of the actual weight is lost to laughs. This still has gravity and tension. The action is fast, frequent and enjoyable, if also by far the most MCU aspect of this. Many will find this to be bland, not fun, a corporate product. Certainly, there's still a lot of room for diversity and flavor. Fingers crossed that Black Panther will push the envelope there.

I recommend this to anyone who finds the trailers appealing. You can go into this completely blind. Stay through the credits. 8/10
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7/10
There they are
11 October 2017
This is the only featurette, in fact the only extra at all, on my library's DVD copy of, well, Terminator: Genisys. It's 15 minutes long, and consists of interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. There are subtitles for it, in multiple languages.

They go into the many different nationalities represented(and no, you can't see them the same after you hear their real accents and dialects! Of course, this is hardly the first time you can hear them, they've been famous for a number of years now), Arnie being back and everyone's reaction to that(he talks about how in the 1984 original, he barely ever had to strip, and did not have to flex his muscles. His first villain role. Then he says "kind of heroic", which I think must be him accidentally jumping to the second entry. Or maybe he is getting obsolete), Emilia(they don't mention that she looks so much like Linda Hamilton. I mean, yes, she's an incredible actor, and a bad-ass. And that's necessary too. However, with that pick, they got the look just right), why this Kyle Reese looks(, sounds, behaves...) nothing like Michael Biehn, why Simmons joined this(why he's not among the listed on this site, I do not know) and what he brought to this, how good Jason is, the character of John, Lee(who actually had the nickname Terminator as a teenager!), Smith(wait. Who?). Everyone has something to add, and it's edited and paced well.

There is a little moderate to strong swearing in this. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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10/10
30 years later, aged like fine wine
9 October 2017
LAPD officer K(Gosling, cynical on the surface) investigates an unusual case. No, sorry, that's all you're getting for plot. If you see someone getting into a lot of detail, avert your eyes. Go into this as blind as Niander(Leto, driven by his cause). Thank me later.

This is 2 hours and 33 minutes long, which is not excessive considering how it uses its time. The pacing allows some scenes to go on for a while, however, it's always appropriate. Major props to whoever thought Denis Villeneuve would be right for this. He couldn't be more perfectly chosen. His use of symbolism, exploration of philosophy and compelling themes fit as a companion to the film Ridley Scott created, without merely redoing it(the hints are neat, if perhaps a tad too numerous). This expands upon the issues about Replicants in truly inspired ways(albeit I acknowledge that not all of them were thought up purely for this movie). The acting is sublime. If Joi(Armas, expressing so much with so much forced restraint, for reasons I won't reveal) doesn't break your heart, get an EKG stat, it's stopped beating already. This is not driven by action, rather, the gripping mystery.

There is some bloody, even brutal, violence, nudity and disturbing material in this, used well. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys speculative sci-fi. 10/10
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7/10
Progress, not simply a dystopia
4 October 2017
This is one of the only two featurettes on my library's copy of Total Recall 2012, the other being Designing The Fall. The running time is 9 minutes.

It consists of an interview(not with the director and two stars. I can only imagine there is more than one version, or that whoever submitted them didn't actually watch it), no behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. Discussed is the realism of the science seeng in the picture. The memory implantation(with experiments in rats setting up what might happen), the robot guards(including the singularity, the possibility of them making us their slaves rather than the other way around which might be how it starts out), holograms(there are already working models. Currently it's, potentially prohibitively, expensive with all the lasers. But there might be a time where the technology can be used to create a disguise), flying cars(again, extremely high cost at this time. Using a magnetic cushion, these can float in the air), an elevator a la The Fall(theoretically could be built, however, there are, for now, substantial problems with accomplishing it).

Note that this spoils a lot of what happens in the flick, in going over the things that are in use in the setting, speaking about how much of it are, or will become, entirely doable. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. 7/10
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7/10
Future uncertain
1 October 2017
This is not one of the 3 featurettes(The 'Next' Grand Idea, Making The Best Next Thing and Visualizing The Next Thing, all of which I've reviewed on their separate pages on this site) on the DVD of Next. Instead, it is a sitdown interview with the female star of the film. Intercut with some clips that help illustrate points made. 2 minutes(and a half, if you count the end credits). Like, you know. That's just as far as Cris can see in the picture, itself. See? It's clever.

She talks about what it would be like to see into the future, two minutes or otherwise. "It would be cool in one respect, because you can relax about what your career is gonna be like". "Or maybe not relax", she realizes. "It doesn't make life very fun", she says, speaking about preferring the spontaneity. She would rather be able to make the mistakes, even if they're painful. If you skip them all, you haven't learned anything, she remarks, perhaps having recently rewatched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(it holds up, trust me, go back and see). She does admit she might go to Vegas and make some money, but she wouldn't stay too long.

I recommend this to any fan of her, or, *sighs* the movie. It spoils a little of what happens. 7/10
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