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The Crew (2008)
4/10
This might be a good movie for some
24 January 2009
Typical Brit Gangster Movie Plot: Someone has a job they need done so they can get out of the game, they hire a crew to do it, some hijinx ensue, and it's a rockin good time.

This movie: A crew boss has a big job he needs done so he can get out of the game, since he has a crew they can do it, things go wrong, people get killed, no one really has fun.

This movie was well made. The acting was spot on. The plot was fairly creative. I just didn't care.

I know intellectually this was a good movie. All the pieces were there for me to actually enjoy myself, I just couldn't like any of the characters. They're all really bad individuals, and really don't have any redeeming qualities about them. I also know this movie is probably more what it's like to be a gangster than Rocknrolla, or any of Guy Ritchie's fair, it's just that in Guy's movies you have a couple characters that are fun to watch. They may be bad guys, but they're naturally funny. They make you care about what happens to them. There just wasn't anyone in this film that did that.

I also liken this to "The Bank Job" in the sense that there wasn't really any genuinely good characters, yet Jason Statham carries the entire film because of his charisma. You can't really pin your hat on anyone in the crew, and it's unfortunate because this could have been a good film.

If you're into brutal violence, and people lying, stealing, and cheating just for fun, then you'll probably enjoy this. I just wanted a little more to keep my attention.
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Homeworld (2008)
3/10
The Outer Limits......only longer....and a happy ending
5 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The outer limits was a tremendous sci fi, TV show that explored this very concept many times over. Are we really helping or hurting our society with what we're doing?? The only problem with this movie is that the production quality wasn't nearly as good as the TV show's was, and that's saying something. This movie was shot on such a low budget that there really wasn't much "sci fi" about it.

The aliens looked like something out of the old version of Doctor Who, you know the one that your older brother watched on PBS in the late 80's early 90's. The CGI graphics are sci fi channel bad. The explanation of why the crew's ship crash landed was not very realistic, let alone the video showing the crash was just terrible. The human colony was never seen up close.

I was also amazed at how in the end the bad guy switched to the good guy so quickly, and then everything was OK. Like the whole struggle throughout the entire movie wasn't worth any of the pay off.

The pacing of the movie was also very slow, which is strange because there wasn't much to explain. Normally when things are slow, you get a lot of explanation or character development, but that never happens.

There were also two deaths of characters in the film, yet neither really felt natural or real. One character was just introduced, not given much to do, then killed off.

The one thing that really upset me, was the acting of Kenneth Sears as the doctor. He was awful. I just didn't understand what in the world he was doing at any point, and his accent. I couldn't figure out if he was doing it on purpose, or it was just how he spoke, but it was annoying and distracting.

The one redeeming performance was from Beau Ballinger as Lt. Gray. Even though I would never believe in his character's choices, that has more to do with the script and the writing than it does his acting. He was actually believable as a young, yet inexperienced soldier.

Still, this is not a good film, and I can't recommend you take the time to watch it.
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9/10
This is what filmaking should be
26 December 2008
The movie opens with a simple premise. Outlaws are given a task to find a map. They have no idea what it's for or where it leads to, they're just asked to get it, and are offered a tremendous reward.

What unfolds is much more complex, and way more fun than anyone should be having in a western.

Yes, this is a Korean/Chinese western, and it's amazing. You get to see some tremendous cinematography, some outstanding locales, some incredible action sequences, great choreography, and some brilliant writing that somehow seamlessly includes Korea's fight for independence, a spaghetti western revenge story & serial killer chase all wrapped into a stylish package that will keep your interest the entire time.

Not once did I ever think, "when is this going to end??" and that's done all with a pretty long (I saw the 139 minute version) film. It's a testament to the director and the screen writer.

I really haven't had this much fun with a movie in a long time. Beware that the movie can be pretty violent at times, although a lot of the violence tends on the cartoonish side. Much like Kill Bill. I wish American directors could incorporate this much style into movies. Unfortunately it seems every time they try it just ends up in a jumbled mess, as they forget the story. This movie did not.

Lastly, the reveal at the end was perfect. It was just the right amount of misdirection, and foreshadowing.

If you get the chance, see this movie, it won't disappoint.
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Eagle Eye (2008)
7/10
Totally Unbelievable, But Who Cares!!
26 December 2008
You have to take this movie at what it is. It's a simple chase movie. The characters are running for their lives. They're in mortal peril, and every which way they turn, they could be killed. It's totally unbelievable, and there's no way this movie could ever be real. But when it's this much fun, I don't care.

LaBeouf and Monaghan are good in their rolls, and their quasi romance isn't built up to annoying levels, which sometimes happen in these movies. I'm glad they didn't play up that relationship, as it would have killed the movie, as there's just enough emotional tension to really enjoy this film.

Suspend disbelief for a little while, and get swept up on the ride. You'll have a good time.
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Alien Raiders (2008)
8/10
Sci Fi Channel Should Take Notes
26 December 2008
This movie is definitely not going to win any awards. It's also not going to make any top 10 lists at the end of the year. It won't even make cult status.

What it will do is entertain you & keep you on the edge of your seat.

The premise is simple. A group of independent "alien hunters" have descended on a small town, and specifically a grocery store where they seem to have found the original infection. Do they do the best job securing the location?? No. Do they seem dis organized, and nervous?? Yes. But I think that adds to the plot. These are not trained police officers, or ex military men. They are regular Joe's that have found something that needs to be stopped.

What's most impressive is the way the tension is built throughout the film. You feel the same claustrophobic tension that you get in Splinter, and there's a similar feeling to the great Spanish film "rec" This movie isn't quite as good in quality as those two movies, but there's a good mix of "what the heck is going on" and "how is this whole thing going to end."

There are very limited special effects in this movie, and when used they add to the story, they don't take away. There's almost no CGI, and that's a good thing. The Sci Fi channel could really learn something about creating movies like this, where you have alien invasions without using incredibly cheap and campy CGI, just a little make up, and some cool camera tricks and hold back the pay off till the last minute. It's an easy formula that's been missing from science fiction films for quite some time. Directors have fallen in love with being able to create big creatures, but don't know how to build tension.

Now, the movie does have plot wholes, and relies on some clichés. The one cop that happens to be a hostage negotiator from "the big city." The ending isn't as surprising as they want it to be. Still, for a direct to DVD movie, this is about as good as it gets.

It's science fiction, so suspend disbelief a bit, and imagine how you would react if you were in the characters shoes. It's an enjoyable little trip.
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5/10
A typical TV mini-series
23 December 2008
The quality of this should be expected. For a TV mini-series, it's not terrible, but it's not that great either.

The Jason Bourne comparisons are warranted, as we open with an event, and then a trained assassin is found with no knowledge of who he is, or how he got to where he was dumped.

Then follows a bunch of action, a lot of discovery, and some pretty unbelievable set ups & sequences.

I'm just amazed at how bad Stephen Dorff is as an actor. I really enjoyed him in Blade, and I liked him in a few other movies that I saw after that. In this, he's just plain bad. He says all of his lines in a strained manner, as if he's trying to show that he's just a general bad ass. I couldn't grasp why he was trying so hard to prove that he's a tough guy. If you want to compare Bourne to this, Damon plays Bourne with restraint. He doesn't need to prove he's a bad ass by speaking. His actions do that. Dorff shows no remorse for anything he does. In this type of movie, we have to believe that Dorff's character wants to really find out what happened to him, but because of the way he delivers his lines, it's almost as if he doesn't really care, he just wants to kill anyone involved in putting him in these situations.

I had to remind myself continually that this is a made for TV mini-series, which is credit to the cinematographer, and the director. Most of the action sequences are pretty intense, and not campy. The hand to hand combat scenes are especially crisp, and were a highlight for me.

There were still many sequences of events that were just terrible, and didn't fit any sort of realistic time line, Dorff recovers from major injuries in record time, people travel massive distances in 30 minutes as if they were telaported there. Again, it's TV so I can suspend my disbelief a little for these types of things.

One major plus is Catrina Murino as Sam. She is GORGEOUS and worth watching. I couldn't take my eyes off her every time she was on the screen. I wish they would have done more with her character, and I really hope to see more of her in upcoming movies. Her acting was also very believable, even though there's no way someone that good looking just lives in New York as a resident, and isn't a model or celebrity. I remember her from Casino Royale, and she did well there also.

Val Kilmer also does a pretty good job in his role. He's more of a complimentary player in this movie. He's generally ominous as the bad commander, and it's a pretty believable turn.

If you have nothing better to do but watch a fun little mini-series, I would say go for it, but I can't recommend you go out of your way to find this thing, as there's nothing special to report.
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4/10
I want to be surprised by a film
23 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I keep telling myself that I'm never going to watch another Nicholas Cage movie. I keep saying, I don't really like him as an actor, and his last few vehicles have been awful. Next was bad on so many levels, it felt like I could see the future of how much it was going to bomb. Ghost Rider was one of the worst comic book movies of the last decade, and really could have set the entire genre back 10 years. Luckily that didn't happen. The National Treasure series is so campy that it actually redeems itself by not taking itself too seriously. I'm not going to comment on the Wicker Man.

Still, I found myself talked into seeing this movie. It's not as bad as Next or the Wicker Man. It's still not a good film.

The cinematography has a washed out, and digital look, and it tries really hard to have a stylized look. I just kept thinking it looks like a cheapened version of the Bourne movies. I did like how it reminded me of the look of the original Hong Kong version of the Eye.

I was also pretty engaged at the beginning of the film. The first few sequences are well done. Cage plays an assassin who has had a long career. You're not given too much back story, and that's a good thing. It starts with an assassination of someone in custody in Prague, and the set up for the kill is well done. Cage also does a good job of selling the character at first, even though his Tom Hanks wannabe Da Vinci Code haircut is pretty distracting.

Cage even has a pretty chilling piece when he kills his errand boy because he "leaves no traces behind." Unfortunately the originality leaves the movie at this point, and what replaces it is a movie we've seen a thousand times about a bad guy having a change of morality and helping the good guys.

The film has some gorgeous shots of Bangkok, and there really are some nice parts of the film that show just how amazing that part of the world is. To see elephants walk through the middle of the city, and in a scene where one is drinking in a canal that has a park was truly a great back drop. They even had a pretty realistic shot of a club. You hardly ever see clubs done right, as in a typical night club, you can barely hear yourself think. That doesn't make a good locale for most movies, as they need to have dialog, but in this movie, that's not the case.

I can even commend Shahkrit Yamnarm, who plays Cage's errand boy in Bangkok. He was believable, even though he didn't have much to do.

What I cannot fathom, is how in the world, an American man who speaks no Thai, can have a real relationship with a deaf Thai girl!! It made me cringe to watch that relationship try to form. Cage was SO over the top, I saw no way that any woman would want to be around him. He would be blown off as some creepy tourist, and the fact that the girls mother doesn't throw him and his ridiculous hair out on the street, blows my mind. Let alone the fact that she looked half his age. It was just creepy all the way around.

The other issue I had, was that in the end Cage decides to impart his knowledge on Kong. They train together, and I know for cinematic effect they have to condense everything, but you just can't teach someone how to fight at that level in 1 month. It just doesn't happen. Even training for several hours a day, it takes months & months to learn hand to hand combat skills.

Lastly, the ending. I won't say exactly what happens, but it's impossible to believe. I don't mind moral filled endings, but this just didn't fit the character. There's no way that Cage's character would have made those decisions in that situation. I'm sorry, but it makes no sense.

So in the end, if you want to see a better assassin grows a moral compass and does good instead of evil, I have to recommend the higher action, more fun Hit-man.

Next time I'll stick to my guns and avoid all 2086 movies that are in pre-production with Nicholas Cage attached to them.
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The Chaser (2008)
6/10
Tough movie to watch
18 December 2008
This movie was particularly hard for me to watch, as realistic violence tends to make me more squeamish than cartoon violence that you see in Hollywood these days.

This movie was especially realistic in it's fight scene's, especially at the climax of the film. It also has a very brutal scene where we actually get to witness the serial killer's MO.

I've seen several of the saw movies, and even that violence was nowhere near as realistic as what's shown here.

This movie did keep my attention, although there is a section where you just want it to be over. You're a little emotionally spent by about 3/4 of the way through, and there's a point where you believe it's going to be over, and it continues.

There were a few times where I thought to myself, there's really no one to truly root for in this movie. The hero is an ex cop turned Pimp, the heroin is a hooker with an illegitimate child, the police are completely incompetent, and really have no moral compass.

There was also some small reference to Christianity in this movie that I really didn't understand at all.

Still, it's not a bad movie, just be warned that you will squirm in your seat.
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Circulation (I) (2008)
3/10
Not even a good independent film
17 December 2008
I got fooled by a couple of reviews here on IMDb stating that this was a good movie. It also had a pretty good rating of 7+ stars when I decided to watch it and since the rating has dropped to 4, where it should be.

I now know I need to read a little further into the comments. This was a bad movie. The plot wholes were so big you could drive a giant semi truck through them. The main characters were not like able. Nor could you relate to them in any way.

There were no real redeeming values I could say this film holds. It doesn't really tell a story, in the sense of beginning, middle & end. It also doesn't leave you feeling like you need to watch more of this supposed plot, and the characters are so flat that you can't say they were doing a character study.

All I can say is stay away from this one. It's not good.
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