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Entries Tagged 'Action' ↓

2012

There isn’t anyone working in Hollywood that has more experience at destroying the world than Director, Roland Emmerich.  In fact, I can’t think of anyone who does it better either.  The man seems to have a sick fascination with it.  He’s done “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Godzilla.”  His latest apocalyptic orgy is “2012” which is the movie adaptation of the crazy Mayan Calendar theory that the world will end on 12/21/12 because…um…well, we don’t really know.  The movie attempts to explain why the world would end on that day with talk of solar flares from the sun, magnetic reversal of the poles and the shifting of the Earth’s crust but none of that really makes any sense and let’s face it…it doesn’t have too.  It stars John Cusack (who’s slumming it in this movie only because he needs the money, I’m guessing), Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt (“Year One”) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (who was awesome in “American Gangster” and “Children of Men”).  Danny Glover also shows up as The President, but if Obama looks that old and weathered before his next term, I feel bad for him.  Let’s get right down to it, this movie is awful.  It might be the most expensive B-Movie ever made.  Usually these FX-laden eye parties are reserved for the mindless quagmire of the Summer, but the fact that the studio released it during Oscar season just makes it more laughable.  In fact laughing is what I did for most of the movie and I wasn’t alone.  Sections of the theater were laughing at the screen during sequences that were clearly meant to be thrilling or sad.  I think the reason why is because the movie lives in such a stereotypical “disaster movie” world that even your most casual of theater-goers will recognize the cliches.  The unlikely hero who’s still in love with an ex-wife he must save.  The characters with the ability to outrun earthquakes, out drive volcanic, nuclear clouds and out fly a crumbling city even in the face of no flying experience.  The plucky characters that are there for comic relief.  The cute kids that either have to overcome a physical malady or learn to respect their father again (in this movie it’s both).  And who could forget the illogical explanations of scientific “facts” that are there just to move the plot forward.  It’s all there wrapped up in a slick, expensive, CG wonderland of death and destruction that sits at a running time of over 2 and a half hours long.  Worth the price of admission?  Only if you’re drunk with some friends and want to have a blast making fun of a bad movie; and let’s face it, that could be some of the most fun you’ll ever have at the movies.
2012 (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D+

Public Enemies

Director Michael Mann has had his slip-ups in the past.  I mean, come on…what was with “Ali” and “Miami Vice?”  But overall, I would consider him one of the dark horses in the world of great directors contest.  “Collateral,” “Last of the Mohicans,” and “The Insider” are all incredible films.  However, “Heat” has to be one of the best gangster movies of all time and without a doubt I can say that “Public Enemies” holds up just fine with those.  One of my favorite things about “Public Enemies” was the attention to detail they put into it.  The movie is based on John Dillinger, who was one of the most infamous gangsters of all time.  Johnny Depp plays this charismatic character from American History with his token swagger and suave mumble.  His nemesis is Christian Bale (who won’t seem to stop making movies!) who portrays Melvin Purvis who was hired by J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) to hunt him down; dead or alive.  Besides the excitement of watching Dillinger scheme and dream his way to infamy, is the sub-plot of the FBI’s early days and their use of scientific detecting for the first time.  They also got the true life story extremely accurate, all the way down to the colors some characters were wearing at significant moments.  But I only know that because I happened to see a special on Dillinger before seeing the movie.  If you weren’t that lucky, not only will you not notice those details but you also might be a little lost through the sluggish first half.  There’s no backstory other than a few sentences at the opening, so make sure you prepare for a saga that starts right away.  Characters you may or may not recognize from history pop up in the story which might amuse you if you do actually recognize them.  One of my favorite moments from “Heat” is the HUGE shootout that takes place in the center of a city.  If you can imagine that scene in the 1930s you’re well on your way to picturing some of the most exciting gun fights in this movie and in any other movie recnetly too.  Michael Mann knows how to do a shootout!  He also takes his stab at romance by focusing on the story of Dillinger’s real life girlfriend, Billie (who’s played wonderfully by Oscar winner Marion Cotillard.) Does he do that well?  Eh.  Just like Mann’s action sequences, he likes to jump right to the good stuff.  That sums up this movie as a whole.  It doesn’t spend too much time developing the story because that’s not nearly as exciting as the drama and violence that’s coming.
Public Enemies (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B+

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Remember that feeling you had when you were leaving the theater after seeing “Star Wars: Episode 1?”  Remember how sad you were and how it felt like someone took something that you loved and turned it into crap?  That’s what happened with the sequel to what I consider one of the most fun and awesome summer blockbusters ever made.  I honestly couldn’t have been more excited for this!  And the movie starts off great too!  There’s an action sequence right off the bat, followed by funny interactions with star Shia LaBeouf and his parents, who are still played by the hilarious Julie White and Kevin Dunn.  But as soon as he goes off to college, this movie takes a sad and pathetic turn for the worse.  It’s remorsefully expected that through the warped eyes of director Michael Bay college would seem more like a beer commercial or music video.  But what’s even worse than sitting through those horrible and mind-bogglingly stupid scenes is that we still have another 110 minutes to go before the end of the movie.  We get one robot fistfight to hold us over through the rest of the excruciating movie until we get anymore action.  Thank God that scene is a good one.  But the plot gets downright ridiculous and bogged down in innate rabbit trails.  It runs into the same problem that lots of sequels to successful action movies have – the plot is too complex, it introduces too many new characters and it forgets what made the first one so good.  This may have been one of the biggest movie letdowns I’ve ever had.  The first one was such a fun movie that I went and saw it several times in the theaters.  But “Revenge of the Fallen” had me actually bored for long stretches of the 147 minute runtime.  The line “this isn’t over” is uttered by someone at the end of the movie…I hope to hell it is.
Transformers 2  (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D+

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to seeing this movie.  It might be because I wasn’t super excited to see it.  I’m a fan of the Terminator movies, but I think the third one sucked the fun out of it for me.  I only saw it once and didn’t really remember much about it.  But the good news is that you don’t have to see the third one to know what’s going on in the story.  You do, however, need to know the first two pretty damn well.  If you’re gonna try to relaunch a franchise your go-to guy in Hollywood right now is Christian Bale, who plays the hero of the series John Connor.  The problem is that he didn’t have a whole lot to contribute to this other than inexplicably screaming most of his lines and yawning through the rest.  The good news is, he’s not the star…well, not really.  The star is a new character (as far as I can remember) named Marcus, who’s introduced to help The Resistance (or is he?).  He’s played by unknown actor Sam Worthington, who you better get used to seeing since he’s the star of three major Hollywood blockbusters coming out in the next year.  I thought he was great and thank God he was because you needed someone to carry this movie.  It was almost like the film was working with an unfinished script; the story was almost there.  It was a neat concept but not thought through all the way.  Of course that wasn’t helped by director, McG (“Charlie’s Angels” movies) either, who has mostly done music videos.  He likes to make movies as if the celluloid itself is on drugs.  But I liked his choice to deplete the movie of color, which is very different for him.  It aided the post apocalyptic look and helped the special effects seem more real.  There were some cheesy retro lines of dialogue and even a cameo by a rediculous-looking Arnold, that really didn’t seem necessary.  But you’re willing to forget most of that and sit back with your snack and enjoy the action for what it is.  But what it’s not is a jumpstart to the franchise to get me excited about the innevitable fifth one.

Star Trek

Star Trek (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-

Usually the way the big Summer Movies go is that they’re big, flashy, expensive and fun.  “Wolverine” was the first Summer Movie and wasn’t really any of those things except expensive.  So let’s say that “Star Trek” is the REAL start of the Summer Blockbusters.  For the record, I’m not a Star Trek fan.  In fact I think I’ve only seen one Star Trek movie all the way through and that was when I was like 10.  But Director, J.J. Abrams (Cloverfield, Fringe, Lost) said in an interview that he really hasn’t either.  I wonder if that’s why I liked it so much.  It’s a Star Trek movie that’s made for EVERYONE…not just the Trekkies.  The entire movie is well-written, well-performed and just looks incredibly sleek and sexy.  I enjoy prequels even when they’re for franchises that I don’t have much interest in.  I knew enough about Star Trek though to get by.  My girlfriend, Stacy, however knew nothing about Star Trek outside of the fact that there is a character named Kirk in it.  She still enjoyed the movie as much as me.  But there’s moments that Trekkies will love as well.  The woman sitting next to me was CLEARLY a Trekkie.  She was jumping up and down in her seats like she was being electrocuted for the action scenes and crying like someone who just met their father for the first time at other scenes.  In short, you don’t need to know anything about it to enjoy it, but you’ll enjoy it more the more you know.  All the actors were great and perfectly cast (including several cameos), but Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, has etched his future as a successful actor in stone.  I’ve been a fan of his since seeing “Bottle Shock,” but this was the mainstream audience he needed to win over; the female fans with his looks and male fans with his charisma…just like Shatner did back in the day.  My only complaints with the film is that it does drag at some parts.  Maybe 10 or so minutes could’ve been cut from its 126 minute run time.  The other thing is that the plot gets a little confusing.  I’m usually an alert movie watcher that can follow most plots, but I don’t like to be mentally challenged too much by my Summer Action Movies.  My advice to you is to not try to figure out what’s going on and just enjoy the Warp Speed ride.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C

Whether or not you like this movie will depend on how geeky you are, but not in the way that you think.  As I was getting up to leave the theater, an entire legion of nerds were behind me BLASTING this movie for being “horrible” and “ridiculous” and “pathetic.”  In reality, it’s not that bad.  My theory is that these virgin losers read online all the fanboy sites before seeing it, where those exact words were used and they wanted to feel “cool” by being part of that club.  “Wolverine” is not a great movie, it’s not even a good movie, but it should not be vilified the way that it is by the comic book gestapo.  I think the problem may have lied in a rushed production, poor casting and a terrible script.  It can’t be the fault of director Gavin Hood because if you ever saw his earlier Oscar-nominated movie “Tsotsi,” you know he’s capable of making a great film.  But maybe not a high-budget summer action.  We all knew that Hugh Jackman is the quintessential Wolverine, but I thought Liev Schreiber did a great job as well.  However some of the choices in secondary casting like Will.I.Am as Wraith were pretty awful.  (I really wish someone would tell these musicians that not all of you can make it as actors.)  Those things could be overlooked, but really it was the script and special effects that kept this film from reaching its full potential.  The script had some of the worst dialogue I’ve seen in a movie in a long time and a page-count that I’m sure was slashed by studio executives that wanted to make it 100 minutes.  So it ends up feeling rushed, watered down and stilted.  But the special effects hold hands with the script in partnership.  There are some scenes in the movie that look like a kid on YouTube could’ve animated it better.  I’m not kidding and everyone in the theater seemed to agree with the laughter at some of the scenes.  I wonder if we’ve been spoiled by films like “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” or if those films have just raised the bar on what comic book action could be, but either way, this film failed to reach it.  However, my girlfriend Stacy thought it was a “B” but I think it’s because it’s a movie full of hot guys and not one hot girl.

Watchmen

Watchmen (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B

This is a tough one to write.  I read the graphic novel, for which this movie is adapted (almost shot for shot), when I was in college 9 years ago.  I remember loving this book!  I ripped through it in two days, which is rare for me.  But the frenzied pace that I read it was lost on a movie that almost enjoys testing the audience’s patience.  At a running time of two and a half hours, it moves more like it’s four.  There were definitely scenes that could’ve been cut…and that’s coming from a fan!  That is not the book that I remember reading.  But that’s the unfortunate part of giving the narration to someone else, which in this case is director Zack Snyder.  The original story is practically drenched in symbolism; from Dr. Manhatten representing God to Ozymandias taking his name from a famous poem about the destruction of a kingdom.  But I feel like those are things that need to be taught as you enjoy the story.  Instead it just comes across like a splatter of blood, sex and swearing.  Oh yeah, there’s lots of that.  LEAVE YOUR KIDS AT HOME!  That’s why the damn thing is rated R, you dumb parents.  But besides the pace of the film, a few disappointing moments and loads of blue penis; it still stands up as a good film…just not great.  The big question everyone has is, “If I never read the book and know nothing about this, will I still enjoy it?”  I’d say that you will, but don’t miss the amazing opening credit sequence!  Even still, this movie isn’t for everyone.  If you’re looking for the fun of “Iron Man,” this isn’t for you.  If you’re looking for the all-star cast of “The Dark Knight,” you need to keep moving.  But if you’re looking for a superhero movie that delivers great action, lots of gore, steamy sex and a story that goes above and beyond anything like it before…then this is for you (just make sure you go to the bathroom and get something to eat first).