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Hunter Killer

Not a Comedy, but Funny Anyway
Wow, so bad... The storyline and character behavior defies human logic and viewers with knowledge of submarines will experience what teenagers refer to as "cringe" at several points through the movie. Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman and Linda Cardellini act with conviction, but there is only so much they can do with the absurd screenplay. The film goes from one cliche to another, and as usual in Hollywood thrillers, (almost) all Russians are depicted as physically repulsive and morally corrupt, or (at the very least) bearded alcoholics and weaklings, inferior to their American counterparts in every way imaginable. Russian soldiers run around in some WWII-style green helmets and have black uniforms that must have been inspired by the Wehrmacht. I do enjoy watching Gerard Butler movies, but I must say that his ability to select quality projects leaves much to be desired. The sheer number of propaganda pieces he has helmed in recent years is surprising, to say the least.


Why does Keanu keep making these movies?
A nondescript run-of-the-mill (action?) thriller with stereotyped characters and a non-existent storyline. As always, Russia is presented as the cold and bleak land of slutty women and cruel gangsters. Everyone is morally corrupt and physically repulsive, even women. Does anyone really believe that the nation that gave us Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Turgenev, Pushkin and Lermontov consists of such degenerates? Hollywood keeps spinning out these propaganda pieces that are so badly made that fail on each and every level: visual, artistic, narrative, etc. It is now a well-known fact that CIA pitches scripts to Hollywood, but why would Keanu Reeves agree to breathe life into a still-born project like this one is beyond me.


I thought this film was about Armstrong and how he cheated. This was the premise of the documentary. However, at one point it turned into a smear campaign against Russia and later against the head of IOC, Thomas Bach, who had refused to put a blanket ban on Russian athletes. We are treated to a large number of beautiful (and I am sure – costly) computer graphics, which independent directors cannot typically afford, and a selected readings from Orwell's 1984, while cleverly shown still photographs of Vladimir Putin.

It is all a disgrace and as a filmmaker and someone who loves and respects truth, this documentary really made me angry. Shame on its creators and the people paying them.

Kong Curling

Hilarious story, solid film making
I saw this on one of the paid cable movie channels late at night (or rather early in the morning), and my guess is they only showed it, because they thought no one would be watching.

But what a great movie it is! The story is hilarious, the acting is good, costumes, light – everything just falls into place perfectly.

I was sitting on the couch and laughing out loud, it was so smart and funny. That said, I can clearly see that this is not everyone's cup of tea: there are no 'normal' human relations here, there is almost no 'action' – the storytelling technique and the subject matter require an intelligent viewer, a lover of unhurried movies.

Tarkovsky's 'Stalker' (a very different movie from this one) made me fall in love with cinema many years ago, but I have recently read in a film encyclopedia that its story was 'going nowhere, slowly'. This comes to prove that even masterpieces are sometimes misunderstood and underestimated or even ridiculed, so I am sure the Curling King will be slept through or hated by many.

But that has never been the point.

Let's concentrate on a real problem: there seem to be no English subtitles for it (unless you see it at a film festival somewhere), and Norwegian is... well... Norwegian.

I hope the movie will soon be released into the unsuspecting English- speaking world – there are many people out there who will fall in love with the Curling King.

Taken 2

A Solid Sequel
Every now and then an engaging and well made film comes along that is either misunderstood or falls victim of a general negative trait in reviews that do not make it justice.

I had read some negative opinions before going to see the film, so I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised.

Not sure why people did not like it. The first 'Taken' was not 'perfect' or 'best in its genre', but it was fun, and Liam's character was interesting, well acted and recognizable, so these are the exact traits 'Taken 2' builds upon.

The story kept me interested and the solutions, devices, information seemed believable and were quite engaging. On several occasions I was at the edge of my seat, so the story-telling technique was good.

What I did not like was the acting of Rade Serbedzija. Don't get me wrong: I like the guy, but I believe he has been continually given the wrong parts. He is simply not menacing enough to play the bad guy. For some reason any time a Russian, Turkish, Serbian, etc. mobster character is scripted, they turn to him to play it and he simply cannot cope with it. It is easy to see that Rade is good natured and has an agreeable character in real life, and this aura of 'goodness' carries on to the movies.

At any rate – watch the movie and make up your own mind.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

This is what happens when you hire a cartoon director to make an action flick
I only give this movie 5/10 since it is supposed to be so high class and a lot of money was spent making it.

Apart from that it is the worst installment in the Mission Impossible saga. It has by far the worst script so far, the worst dialogue, the least believable action scenes, etc.

I had a bad feeling about the movie the moment I saw the director's name. The guy is amazing when he makes cartoons, but MI:4 proves that cartoons and films with live actors are two different things. Everything here feels fake and typical cartoonish dialogue and "funny" moments simply do not work.

It is also the first time when Tom has gone wrong when green-lighting a project, and I hope this does not turn into a trait of his.

It is very regrettable that a script so full of stereotypes (like the ages-old stereotype of Russia and Russians that Hollywood has been feeding us with), the stereotype of the Arab world, etc. have been so easily and readily adopted by a director as smart as this one.

I am really sorry they made this film, and really sorry I watched it.


This Movie is a Joke
This is easily the worst high-profile movie I saw in 2009.

Here is what you get:

(1) a lethargic action thriller riddled with dialog exchanges that could put an insomniac to sleep, (2) some dark and psychotic scenes full of perverted violence, (3) a pathetic sex scene with latex-clad superheroes, and (4) an absurd ending which the director and screen writer may have considered quite wise, but is in fact complete and utter nonsense.

The whole movie is a joke, so stupid at times, that I laughed helplessly at my own misfortune, having paid to watch it.

By the time it ended most other people had left the cinema.

It seems that even if one makes a meaningless, long, overly violent (at times) and otherwise profoundly boring movie with an absurd ending, there will still be people out there who would feel passionate about it.

For an artist this should be a depressing thought.


Narrow is the Path of the Righteous Man
What a film! I have watched it two times: I liked it very much the first time round, but the second time it made me cry.

There is nothing excessive here - everything fits into place: the story, the music, the characters. Isn't that the shortest definition of perfection?

And here is the moral: narrow is the path of the righteous man, but he has an obligation to his own conscience - the very fabric of this world - to uphold what is good. No matter what the cost. Laying your own life down may sometimes be a fair price.

"Redbelt" is by far Mamet's best film to date. By all means - watch it!

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Great effects, mediocre script
I paid 50% on top of the usual price to be one of the lucky few to see the movie before its official opening. I don't think it was worth the extra money.

That said, 2/3 of the movie were not actually bad and if you can switch off the sound when there is dialogue, you should be fine. The special effects are outstanding and the fantastic creatures are interesting to watch and look real even on a big screen.

Where this movie does not succeed is the scripting. The story progresses in the most uninteresting and predictable way, people think and act like puppets on strings. The worst parts are the scenes when there is no action - you may need to pinch yourself not to fall asleep.

The introduction of Maria Bello as a substitute for Rachel Weisz's character can hardly be called a success: she lacks the youth and passion required for this role. Luke Ford (playing the son Alex O'Connell), is believable, but he looks just as old as his father on screen! Annoying inconsistencies of this kind ruin the effect this story could have had.

When will film producers finally figure out that even in a summer blockbuster the reality of human emotions and the integrity of the story are the most important ingredients?

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Would you sacrifice the world to give life to your loved one?
I am a fan of part one and therefore could not wait to lay my eyes on the sequel. Finally, it did "come to a cinema near me" - in the form of a preview shown at an awkward time. I did not think twice - even if I had to pay extra and stay late.

The movie started slow. First, they showed us - in a couple of dated stills - the history of the prequel: how Hellboy was originally found - and then jumped a few years into the future to tell us how he first learned about the Golden Army. This first scene - with the little red horned boy brushing his teeth - left me with mixed feelings, it looked so odd and out of context.

However, the film starts to pick up speed and really gets better by the minute. Prince Nuada is introduced with his swift martial arts moves that - I dare say - put to shame some of the scenes in the Matrix. But most importantly - the story is well thought through and when you think about it after leaving the cinema, it still "holds water" so nothing of the beautiful imagery is spilled.

And beautiful it is! It is breathtakingly hauntingly beautiful... There are so many fantastic characters, real and unreal blend perfectly - both the work of the CGI experts and the writers of the script. Most if not all characters are designed and executed with such perfect attention to detail on both levels - philosophical and visual - that it must really take a lot of thinking to find a weak spot.

But trust me when I tell you, that you will not have a lot of time left for thinking. The visual storytelling talents of Del Toro have always been praised, but here the strength of their expression truly reaches a peak! Elves, Trolls, Gods of the forest and Giants of stone - one might think that he has seen it all in the LODR trilogy, however this director's vision is something else. Elves are white and ethereal but there is also something wicked in their chalky faces and cat-like eyes. Trolls are ugly, menacing and at the same time - comic. There is a plethora of cunning gadgets and a universe of seamless magic co-existing in an uneasy equilibrium in Hellboy 2.

There are also some laughs - well thought through and perfectly timed - that were maybe missing from part one. But the most interesting of it all lies not in the visual stunts or clever tricks - it is in the simple fact that this film tells a moving story that touches the heart. It is a story about love and what it can make us do: betray and kill those closest to us, or lay our life down to save them - and be ready to destroy the world in the process...

Remember I told you that the film gradually picks up speed? This masterful dance gets almost hectic towards the end - both visually, philosophically and emotionally. The mechanics of the Golden Army are deadly and perfect in their own way. Our hero saves the day, but we are told that he lives for the world to get destroyed. "Would you sacrifice everything you know to give life to your loved one?" It seems that there is no correct answer to this question. And if that is so, then we are all going down in flames - just like Guillermo del Toro predicts in this second installment of his Hellboy saga.

Go watch this movie. It is better than the polished and hollow 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull', because it has heart. It is much better than 'Wanted', because it is visually stunning, but not showy and it has moral integrity. It is even better than 'The Hulk' - which is the best of the three mentioned but still looks one-dimensional and shallow when compared to del Toro's masterpiece. I would not say it is perfect... but for its kind it is not just engaging - it is captivating, and it is a lesson in philosophical storytelling, given by a Master.


One of Sean Connery's best
This is not a truly great film (greatness being something that differentiates God from man), but it boasts rock solid storytelling and is the only American science fiction movie to date which has actually managed to play with the notion and visions of foreign planets without sacrificing the material reality of its characters, dialog and plot. In that respect "Outland" is more than just blameless - I believe it should be taught at film universities.

The story takes place on a planet in space, but they have managed to shift the interest elsewhere - or rather - keep it where it was originally supposed to be: at the center of the human heart. Do not expect fancy special effects (although this movie does not try to shy away from them), but it all seems so real, dirty and worn, so down-to-earth, that the viewer is not distracted by looks and can concentrate on the important questions the story raises.

Will people in the not-so-distant future think up a new moral code? When it comes to hard work and people loosing their sanity over it, isn't it just a question of greediness before profitability turns into exploitation and murder? This story takes place in space, but it is really set on Earth and its ethical scope of interest is in the realm of the eternal collision between right and wrong, evil and good.

I do believe that with time "Outland" will be reassessed as on of Sean Connery's finest. It deserves so.

Reservoir Dogs

As effective a vehicle as a baby-walker
I do not believe "Reservoir Dogs" is a great film. It is worth seeing, yes, but mostly because of all the hype that has been created around it.

If one tries to think with his own head, he is sure to agree that Tarantino's first movie is too pretentious and uninteresting, its space design is claustrophobic, and there is way too much blood that serves no purpose. It cannot keep the viewer's attention like "Pulp Fiction" and it is far from the flamboyant directing of "Kill Bill".

Jing wu men

Intriguing, but flawed...
The most important reason why one should watch this film is Bruce Lee's presence in it. I have long wanted to see more of his work - and get beyond the now famous "Enter the Dragon".

That said, "Fist of Fury" is almost impossible to perceive objectively. Is this a real movie: can it boast with impeccable cinematography, innovative storytelling techniques, inspirational acting? In all ways mentioned, "Fist of Fury" is a third-rate treat.

The only element that makes a difference is Bruce himself. He acts with aplomb, overdoing it most of the time, but still - making a great impression, being as agile and energetic as humanly possible. Unfortunately, this film's unnecessary aggressiveness, misplaced eroticism and biased hatred for all Japanese, do not reinforce the impression of his charismatic presence.

I do believe that "Fist of Fury" is worth watching - if you have seen Taranatino's "Kill Bill" or Jet Li's "Jing wu ying xiong" (aka "Fist of Legend"), you are bound to find an abundance of visual and plot parallels.

Imperfect as it is, "Fist of Fury" has established itself as a source of inspiration for both directors and actors of later time.

911 Mysteries Part 1: Demolitions

Bold and objective
I do not know whether the facts - or the interpretations of facts - in this movie represent the reality or not. It is a convincing piece of documentary but then again - so were the Discovery Channel films in which the same facts were interpreted differently.

Is it possible that a certain very rich man staged the whole 9.11 affair in order to make profit? Quite plausible in my opinion. ...that the Mayor of New York and the President may have known something in advance and even be part of a common plot to shuffle world politics at the expense of a few thousand domestic casualties? Well, that stretches it, but we've seen worse.

Is it true that steel cannot burn like paper bringing down a skyscraper in less than 10 seconds? As solid as rocks.

What really makes this movie stand out though is its tone: the authors manage to talk about tragic events and hint on cruel deeds without ever starting to preach (thus turning an impartial narrative into cheap propaganda).

In this they succeed immensely.


Black and white is full of color
L'ECLISSE is not everybody's cup of tea. It is so slow that to continue watching it may sometimes require a conscious strain of will. But it is a rewarding experience: L'ECLISSE is probably the best of all unhurried movies. It is so desperately tender; Alain Delon and Monica Vitti are so young and beautiful, and at the same time - so precise in their naiveté; the camera shots are so long and ambiguous, so empty of words. If there ever was a movie that truthfully represents the playful and sad uncertainty of being in love, then this must be it.

L'ECLISSE is sure to break your heart... or mend it.

The ending is as mysterious as God's ways and if it wasn't for the music to bring me down to earth I may have thought that I had died.


Poetic and Philosophical Magic
Tarkovsky's 'Stalker' is the film that made me fall in love with cinema; write tens of pages on movies I have watched; go to America, following a crazy dream of becoming a film director - and thus influencing my later life immensely. I had read the book by Brothers Strugatski before seeing the movie and I think those two narratives are quite different. The book supplies us with the necessary background as Tarkovski never bothers to give any explanations in his film. I will not try to persuade anyone in 'Stalker's virtues - this film is way beyond that. I am sure it will be hated by many, but - with no intention of sounding rude - I couldn't care less. There have only been a handful of movies that, in the process of me watching them, have given me the intense feeling of penetrating to the essence of things - and God at its heart - thus bringing tears to my eyes. 'Stalker' - in its tender and humane ways - is probably the best of them.

Mission: Impossible III

Can't want more from an action movie
I don't really think one should expect more from a movie in this genre - it is fast, well shot, played expertly by Cruise, Fishburne and Hoffman (who go well beyond the usual portraying of support characters) and some of the action scenes are truly breath-taking. Although the first two installments in the M:I saga were nothing short of excellent, I do believe the third one to be the best in the series. Maybe one could find some minor discrepancies and drawbacks if he were to dig really hard into the story and its visual representation but I don't feel that would make justice to MI:3.

Lord of War

Good Message - Wrong Words
Given the presence of high-quality actors like Cage and the importance of the theme, I would say that this movie falls short of expectations, because of the uninteresting way it chooses to tell you "truths about life". Although there is a clear and distinct storyline in "Lord of War", I would not say that this is a story-driven movie, since there is hardly anything out-of-the-ordinary in it. What "Lord of War" really is - is a "slogan-driven" narrative. There is a short film-within-the film in the opening sequence that tells the story of the making and firing of a bullet. It starts at the factory where the bullet is made, then follows the route of the box full of bullets, and finally a black man shoots his Kalashnikov rifle, loaded with this same bullet, which zips through the air and bursts someone's head open. That's the whole message, told with the immaculate perfection of shortness. The moment it was finished I just knew that the rest of the story would just drag on and on, because, really, there is nothing more to it than that: dealing in bullets is dealing in death. Though true, it is totally unoriginal - we all know it and there is no reason to make another film saying the same words. Cage plays well, but there is something profoundly wrong about his character: he has no remorse, no second thoughts, no conscience. Where, then, is the drama? Nothing seems to touch him and, frankly, that's exactly the way how I feel about this film. Secondly, Cage's character is confronted with no real antagonists and therefore - no real challenges - in the movie. The CIA officer is completely lost against Cage and the African warlords all like him, so what is supposed to create suspense here? All in all it's an average achievement with some instances of particularly uninspiring thinking and the characters' words are as slogan-like and lifeless as they can be.

Sin City

As Bad as It Gets
I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but I will say it anyway. 'Sin City' is probably the worst high-profile movie I have ever seen.

I wasn't too happy with Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' and Rodriguez's 'Dusk Till Dawn' can hardly be called a masterpiece, but their flaws seem almost negligible when compared to 'Sin City''s total lapse of reason.

It is a film without a heart, made by people who have drifted so far away in their extreme vision of cinema art that the resulting product could not be saved by the impeccable acting, solid direction and innovative looks.

'Sin City' is so full of pointless violence that there is hardly anything else in it.

Do I need to be a fan of the original comics to appreciate how 'true to the original' the film managed to stay? Is that such a virtue? The story lacks any coherence, the dialog is so flat, they could have omitted it altogether.

The fact that the film's overall rating on this site is way above 8.0 comes to illustrate the sad truth that no matter how bad a work of art is, there will still be people who admire it.

For an Artist that should be a depressing thought.

25th Hour

Nothing short of excellent
"The 25th Hour" is one of my favorites, so do not expect me to be objective. It is excellent by all means - I wouldn't call it "truly great", because it never steps over the line of common sense realism, venturing into the higher spheres.

WHAT'S GOOD I like the story, the inspired acting (some of the actors giving their best performances yet); the movie has just the right pace. Somehow it manages to have a happy ending without really having one. The idea of someone wishing he had another hour on top of the usual 24 - to get things right - appeals to me.

WHAT'S WRONG 1. The first scene with the finding of the dog does not really work. There is too much dialog, and this "Russian mafia" guy (so highly praised by the director in his commentary) is not that great after all. It is a bit too obvious why the scene should be there and it is a touch too long, dragging the lines as if this were a Woody Allen movie. 2. For some reason Spike Lee included lots of "patriotic" scenes with flags waving, 9/11 scenery, firemen "heroes", etc. All this has nothing to do with the story and is just not right. Even if someone should argue that this film portrays a personal tragedy against the background of a national tragedy, it still does not make sense. Was he just trying to be polite, sympathetic, patriotic, nationalistic? He shouldn't have bothered, really. Maybe they thought the film would sell better in America, because of this "patriotic" streak, but they injured the film, artistically.

The Limey

Not everybody's cup of tea
It is not the story, but the story-telling that sets this film apart. There is a certain distance between viewer and viewed, which in 'Limey' is too self-conscious for most audiences to bear. The broken line of time and the difference between dialogue and on-screen action will make you uneasy at first, but in the process of getting the story told, all pieces of the jigsaw fit together perfectly. 'Limey' is not a fast-food product, it is more like a French-cuisine specialty. Some may find it delicious, others - not to their taste.

Kozijat rog

Visual poetry at its best
"Kozijat Rog" is by far the best Bulgarian film ever made.

It has all the characteristics of greatness: a story that lacks nothing of the dramatic depths of classical tragedy; a frugal style of visual narrative that is both monumental and subtle; acting that is as good as real-life; and last but not least - music that is impossible to forget.

"Kozijat Rog" is conducted in the ways of old - with the power and gentleness of a true master. And although color loses its saturation with the passing of time, this film will not, for it is shot in black-and-white.

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