hypersonic8999

IMDb member since January 2010
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    9 years

Reviews

Downsizing
(2017)

A rare gem in a sea of rubbish
I was surprised at the negative reviews and low scores this movie has garnered. I found it to be a very good piece of film-making and entertainment.

Do not be deceived by its sci-fi nature. The premise is just background to a greater story. It is a question asked "What if people could shrink themselves to the size of a pen?" and the answer is given in a low-key and grounded manner. We are exploring this question alongside the protagonist.

However, the movie quickly strides into territory where it explores a variety of social issues: Debt, increasing poverty, environmental catastrophes, materialistic way of life, how technology can be used to both help and harm us, love, failure in life, commitment to others, etc. And it does what it does quite while, albeit not subtly at all.

You won't find crazy action scenes, fast-paced car chases, evil robots or grimness. You will find a well-acted, well-filmed soft-toned drama/comedy.

Highly recommended 8/10

Jean-Claude Van Johnson
(2016)

Funny, satyrical and action-packed
I've just finished watching this and I must say I'm blown away. I did not expect it to be this amazing. I was anticipating something mediocre, but instead I was served a great action/comedy and I couldn't help but watch all 6 parts in one sitting.

The series is both a homage and a satyrism of 80s action films , the film industry and modern audiences. It manages to pull off a great combination of the three, managing to keep it at just the right level, while deliberately sprinkling the viewer with well-done action scenes. It brims with over-the-top ideas, bold humor and unexpected turns in the story. There were many scenes that caught me completely unaware with the direction they went. I couldn't keep myself from bursting laughing out loud, which is a rarity these days.

JCVD gives a fine performance as well. It mustn't have been easy playing 3 different roles at once: The famous but depressed movie star, the secret agent and the action hero/bad actor. Not to mention the many other faces he puts throughout. The rest of the cast is doing OK. I can't say anyone shined in particular, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The thing is that elements that would otherwise would be downsides work in favor for the series, because they blend in nicely with the effort to make a light satyre.

There is an interesting plot going in the background as well. It's simple, it's well-paced and well-executed and doesn't detract from the main focus, which is the characters. Rather it builds alongside.

My only gripe is that fight scenes that didn't involve JCVD weren't done very well. They were executed too slowly and were shouting "fake" from a mile away. Still they were extremely rare, so I can't say I can complain about it much.

If you are a fan of old action flicks, I highly recommend you get the gang together for the weekend, order some food, sit down and enjoy Jean Claude Van Johnson.

The House
(2017)

Pretty funny
I don't know what people expected. This movie was actually very funny. It's definitely not Old School, but it scratches that itch. It's actually been a while since I've laughed during a Will Ferrel film. I went in without expecting much and was very pleasantly surprised.

The humour isn't so much about them saying things. It's the whole situation they set up and how quickly they devolve into a pit of madness.

Revolt
(2017)

While not a waste of time, still a very average sci-fi
* This review might contain very minor spoilers in the fourth paragraph *

Earth has been invaded by alien robots. Humanity has largely been defeated. The film follows a soldier who lost his memory and a doctor as they try to survive and find the remnants of humanity, in the closing days of the invasion.

Considering its budget, the film is a technical masterpiece. The camera work is good. The settings and atmosphere of the film is really great. They manage to pull off the post-apocalypse pretty well. There's some really solid special effects, which is surprising for a film of this calibre. The sound effects are satisfying. The acting isn't lacking and the direction is all in all OK. The plot is simple and to the point, but we need to talk about the writing a bit.

This film didn't work for me for two reasons: There's a big chunk around the beginning and middle of the film where essentially nothing is happening. It's just two people walking the savanna. I guess it gives us exposition on the destruction the aliens have wrought, but it's not that impressive. There's a couple action sequences in this part that kinda break the monotony but they are over quick. There's some really cringe montage shots spread throughout, that I didn't like at all, didn't achieve anything to connect me with the protagonists, and broke the immersion to an extent.

The other reason is that the film doesn't explain anything. Who are the aliens? Why are they here? Why are they gathering up people? What are those fighter jets flying overhead every couple days that don't seem to do anything? In my opinion this is the mark of an extremely poor sci-fi film. Particularly this film whose characters never really connected with me. I didn't care if they lived or died frankly. The only thing keeping me interested were the questions about the aliens. And then the film just ended without explaining anything. This is a cop-out by action "sci-fi" films that try to avoid plot-holes by not having an actual sci-fi plot. Just stuff that looks like sci-fi.

So while it's a competently-made film, it is not an enticing film. It's enjoyable to watch, even entertaining in a lot of moments, but for the most part it's either boring or barely engaging. I would recommend watching it if you like films of this kind. You'll like it. It's just not for me. And if you are like me, then it's likely you'll be far less forgiving than I was.

Security
(2017)

Meh
This was a waste of time for the most part. The only redeeming factor was the action, which honestly was above average. Also Banderas gives a pretty solid performance. Everything else sucked.

Screenplay and dialogue are idiotic and check every cliché. I think they were intentionally trying to imitate cheesy dialogue from the 80s, but it didn't fit with the tone of the film. Tired hurting veteran who just wants to be a normal guy while everything around him is despair and darkness. Whereas the 80s action hero is the exact opposite of this. A happy go lucky guy who kicks bad guy ass daily and it's what fulfils him as a person. He might have a few problems but he never lets it affect his flamboyance and humor. The result is something really weird that just perpetually keeps you out of place.

It's a shame really, because the premise was interesting, and they could have worked a lot more with it. The mall and all the resources it contains are barely used beyond a couple scenes. Ben Kingsley performs a ruthless villain, but he's never given the chance to shine. Everyone along the ride with Banderas could have done a better job if they were coordinated better by the director. Most egregious is that most of the bad guys aren't killed by clever traps or the unexpected tactical skills of the good guys. It's just Banderas sliding and pirhouetting around who kills most of them, and he does it so easily it's almost supernatural.

There's a lot of issues with the pacing. It's clockwork really. 5 minute build-up, 5 minutes action, 5 minutes slow exposition and here we start again. Most of the time the characters aren't doing anything. They are just sitting around not being prepared. Then just before the action starts they start running around like headless chickens. The exposition part is really lame. Most of the time they were talking I was just cringing.

All in all, it's not the worst film ever. It's a B-movie after all. But it's not a very enjoyable one. There's far better things to do with your time, than to watch this.

Life
(2017)

As horror it's good, as sci-fi it's very bad
As a movie, it's enjoyable. The horror elements are well set and the story moves along nicely. The characters don't much matter, but they are good actors doing a decent job. It's the script that hasn't given them much to go on. The camera work is stunning at places and I applaud the director for making a technically competent film as far as visuals and acting goes.

The problems start when we enter the sci-fi part of the film, and more generally when we start talking about the script. As an idea it has potential. It's certainly not an original premise, but hey, I'm not gonna hold that against anything in human culture. Everything is ripping off something else.

However, the script suffers from a lot of "this improbable and stupid thing just happened so the next improbable and stupid thing can happen". After a while the whole movie degenerates into a series of these blunders and can start pulling you out of it. That's a big no no for any movie, and especially for a horror film where you rely on... well, horror.

**FROM HERE ON IT'S SPOILERS**

I wouldn't nitpick something like Alien, which has several issues as well. But Alien was made nearly 40 years ago. And its issues aren't so many to be a problem. This film just keeps piling from the beginning and they become so many that there's no longer cohesion. Without these, I would rate the film as anything between 8-10 out of 10.

The astronauts are incompetent. Just simply incompetent. Right at the point where the alien kills its first victim I have thought of a very simple and clear solution. Wear space suits and vent the station. Stick together and arm yourselves. Nope, doesn't even cross their minds until it's too late.

At this point I should mention I'm a biologist, and I've done a lot of work with relatively harmless pathogenic bacteria. My lab has miles ahead better precautions than their lab. And they have a CDC "Doctor" aboard whose basically there to make sure no one opens the door and nothing else. Their whole protection is a plastic incubator that is equipped with latex glass. Not even leather gloves. There's no emergency venting of atmosphere. There's no secondary shield to seal the incubator. The room's ventilation and sprinkler system is connected to the rest of the station. It's just plain stupid, and it's there to fail.

Then there's all those small information that make no sense: * The fuel runs out immediately after the film starts. Apparently, not one of at least 15 space agencies (today's numbers) have thought to resupply the International Space Station before the most critical and important mission undertook by humanity. And one that would place the whole station in quarantine until the mission was over (presumably).\ * I can see the alien being immune to fire and maybe withstanding limited times without oxygen, but it's also completely immune to toxic and poisonous substances and can withstand the vacuum, cold and radioactivity of space for hours.

* Also, the first 20 minutes it can't withstand the absence of atmosphere, afterwards it can withstand it forever, then towards the end it can't survive without oxygen for prolonged times.

* The humans fail to rescue one other human when they know where he is, they know he's probably alive and they know the alien is sealed away somewhere where it can't reach any of them. Then said non-rescued human proceeds to mess up everything.

* No one ever thinks of wearing a space suit so they can have that much extra protection from something that seems intent on drinking them.

* We have a flamethrower aboard the station, which goes against every single safety rule that has existed for space travel since Yuri Gagarin.

* No one ever thinks of trying to poison the organism, or even just mess up with its atmosphere when it's destroying the arm of one of the astronauts. They just sit there and watch.

* They just find the organism and revive it 5 minutes after putting it under the microscope. Seriously, WTF scientists? What happened to safety and precautions? Study what you have first. Then see about reviving it. Not only is it completely reckless and dangerous, even if the organism turned benign, they've just introduced a bunch of ethical complications to the study, when there were none.

* The ending is beyond stupid. The alien acts out of completely out of character, there's a twist that can be seen from miles away. The alien is stupidly intelligent. I mean it's so intelligent it beggars belief. Just because it has brain power doesn't mean it instantly can learn everything about piloting space shuttles, orbital mechanics, human psychology/behavior and dramatic irony.

* The humans mess up badly at the end. Not only do they execute a reckless plan, they don't make sure they maximize their odds of succeeding. They split up, when they know that the alien has only ever tried dealing with one of them at a time. They perform a plan that hinges on the alien not overpowering them (which it can totally do). Part of their plan is that one of them returns to Earth. Why? You are breaking your own quarantine rules in the most extreme manner. What if that thing can multiply and one of its offspring comes back to Earth? * Most heroic sacrifices are not only wasted. They are unnecessary and stupid.

Once Upon a Time in Venice
(2017)

Distinctly average
It's not a bad film. It's not a good one either. For me it's always a bad sign when the film changes titles to escape the bad publicity it got just for a little bit and make that extra sale (L.A. Rush AKA Once Upon A Time In Venice).

They scored the recognizable names to put in the film, but as far as everything else goes it's average at best. You get some really amateurish scenes here and there. The dialogue in parts is horrendous. The characters aren't bad. They are just wacky and always not what you expect. It makes you expect the unexpected.

It's not unenjoyable either. There are some scenes that are genuinely funny. The whole film is characterized by a very chill and relaxed attitude. If you have 90 minutes to kill and you don't go in expecting anything great, maybe you'll like it. For me it was a waste of time, and I'd personally suggest you just watch anything else.

In Dubious Battle
(2016)

Which side are you on?
One of the best novels by Steinbeck is translated to a powerful film. The struggle of workers to gain labour rights and the birth of unions in the USA.

James Franco has the right credentials to become an amazing director. The film portrays brilliantly the kaleidoscope of feelings of a group of people asking nothing more than to be treated fairly from the people who own everything. This is something the book focuses on, and this adaptation doesn't just present a story, but it carries accurately what Steinbeck tried to portray: The initial fears and hesitations that hold people back from coming together, then the anger and hope that brings them together, the self-doubt as the fight reveals to be a protracted one, and the final push through the desperation and dread to overcome the obstacles.

It's time people remembered that in this life, unfortunately, nothing is given. It is earned with hard-fought battles and sacrifice.

This film is a real gem, not just because it's executed well, but more importantly because it has something important to say, something that all should stop, listen and give it some thought.

Bravo James Franco and everyone else involved in this. You have the guts to stand up and take on a beast that few film-makers ever try to wrestle with.

A Monster Calls
(2016)

Watch this
This is an amazing fantasy drama. It's one of the best films I've seen in a while. Definitely go watch it.

This is not a children's film and this is not a horror film. This is a drama about coping with loss of loved ones. Children will probably be scared by some scenes and the rest of it they'll probably not understand.

From a technical standpoint, it's a triumph. The cinematography is not just mere background. Everything plays its role. I am very keen to see what this director will offer us next.

You will weep, you will smile. This film will touch you in ways you never thought possible. It's a masterpiece.

Cargo
(2009)

Could have been a masterpiece
Cargo presents a very familiar premise: A dystopian future with a desolate Earth is the backdrop for a thriller set in the confines of a cargo ship.

And while it starts off as what seems to be the usual Alien clone, it quickly evolves into a very complex mystery, with a far-reaching story arc. If I were to rate the first hour of the film it would be a solid 8/10 suspenseful hard sci-fi mystery/thriller.

However, after the first hour problems begin to arise. The plot starts having cracks. Characters start doing irrational things with hardly any explanation, simply so that their actions can act as a vehicle for the next scene. The mystery reveals itself but the implications it presents are mishandled. The movie starts dropping speed and stretches itself without any real need to do so. (And I have to say this but I hate it when characters are told they have X minutes left to do something important, but they take their time to walk slowly from point A to point B as if they have no cares in the world).

I think the creators could have done a far better job and it's a shame that they didn't because the film excels in most other sectors. Aside from the flaws I mentioned above, the characters are not explored much, but what we do see of them is consistent and believable. The art direction really nailed it, and with a better CGI budget they could have blown minds. And although the direction aboard the ship was discreet, it nevertheless impresses.

I'll give more chances to the people who made this, they certainly deserve it. If you enjoy space sci-fi thrillers, with an emphasis on hard sci-fi, you will probably enjoy this.

Spectral
(2016)

Stuck between good and awful
Another film with good potential but wasted on bad decisions.

It has good ideas, but a bad screen writing.

It has a good basic story, but some scenes make you scratch your head on why they are shooting themselves in the foot with bad details.

It has good actors, but a bad script.

It has good special effects, but very mediocre cinematography. When they are supposed to shine the film won't let you enjoy them. (4/10 director).

Particularly I didn't like how the movie tried to explore some philosophical points on science, but it contradicted itself throughout the film. At first they try to show how science can be applied for bad purposes. Then they try to show us how the world is taken up in conflict and that's bad on the civilians (?). Then they turn around and show us how the soldiers will follow whatever orders they are given and that's a good thing (?). Then we are shown that science can explain everything. Then we are shown that science can't explain everything. Then we are shown that science can be used for good. But then we are shown that you can't put science and good in the same sentence.

It contradicts itself on every turn and comes off as very badly written. Even though now that I write it I realise it might be coherent on paper, the execution was so bad, it made me doubt the whole thing in the first place.

HOWEVER, if you switch off, sit back and just enjoy it as the action/horror it's supposed to be, you will enjoy it immensely. Despite my criticism at the direction, there are many scenes where they do manage to pull it off well enough. I liked all the ideas the film tried to do, and with a little bit of work they could have been achieved to great success. As is, they fall just short of that, and it's a bit disappointing. I think it's worth watching if you are an action fan.

The Whole Truth
(2016)

Good combination of courtroom drama and mystery
I've thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. Keanu, Zwellinger and Gugu all give solid performances. Especially Gugu, I'll be keeping an eye out for her next performance. There's a very good plot unfolding at a slow but steady pace, and I feel that the raw approach taken by the script and direction had kept me interested even more.

Almost the entirety of the film takes place in the courtroom or in the memories of those involved. And this is the brilliant part about the film. I feel that it managed to convey a very good representation of how the human mind works and has given us a courtroom drama without all the flowery bits in one stroke.

For example, the witness says something and then you see how they lied when they recall the memory. The mantra that "everybody lies" is prevalent through the whole film, and while things seem simple enough to the viewer, they do manage to surprise you at the end.

I think this film doesn't deserve the relatively bad reviews it gets. It's a good example of keeping things fresh. It engages its audience, it manages to keep you interested in the plot, it makes you identify and feel for the protagonists.

Jin ling shi san chai
(2011)

Great touching film
It's been a long while since I've watched such a good film. The story is a tragedy and triumph of humanity. It's so rare to find a war film that can deliver with such elegance and straightforwardness the extreme opposites of mankind. The good and the horrible.

Despite its length, it doesn't drag on. The actors do stellar performances. The film combines the trademarks of Chinese direction, but without its excesses and out-of-place clichés. It's more down-to-earth and after the initial scenes you will never find yourself doubting that these are real people and real events.

The soundtrack is moving and subtle. There are many dramatic scenes where there is no music in the background. And that's when the gravity of the situation really hits you.

This is a must-see. I highly recommend it. I caught myself crying a few times, which is rare to happen in films for me. Yet I wasn't crying because it's sad, as much as it is awe-inspiring.

ARQ
(2016)

I expected more, but a fun film nonetheless
A rogue scientist develops a perpetual motion machine that generates limitless energy and is also a time machine.

I'll be honest, I expected more from this film. Netflix has a good track record with quality. Well, this film isn't up to that level, although it's a lot better than many other sci-fi that has recently hit the theaters.

The acting is mediocre to decent for the most part. I didn't enjoy the girl's acting at all though. When the moment calls for emotion, she is either overacting it or underacting it.

Although this story has been done to death, from Groundhog Day to Edge of Tomorrow, they manage to keep it fresh and interesting. But the plot does suffer from certain plot-holes. Some are just nitpicky, others are more serious. A lot of it comes down to stupid decisions the characters are making. Particularly towards the end, where they know what's going on, yet they do a lot of counter-intuitive things that come back to bite almost immediately.

Nonetheless, I believe you'll enjoy yourself if you lower your expectations before going in. It's a slightly above average film. I hope Netflix produces more films and I hope they learn from the mistakes of this one, because it does have a lot of moments where you can see the missed potential. With a bit of polish it would have made for a far better film.

The Expanse
(2015)

A true sci-fi
Wow, this series blew me away. It's been such a long time since a true sci-fi series came on TV. What do I mean by true sci-fi? Well most sci-fi series out there released in the past 15 years are all about flashy action set in a dystopian future, which is left bare and with very little exploration done, relying on silly snappy dialogue and lame comedic relief to keep retention. Meanwhile sci-fi is only kept in appearance, by placing the plot in the future, throwing some characters in a spaceship and giving them imaginary tools that look futuristic.

The Expanse is the exact opposite of that. It's set in a rich world with poly-faceted characters. It doesn't use futuristic technology as a prop to impress audiences. It fleshes the technology out, bases it on legitimate science and believable extrapolation and then starts asking questions about it. What would it be like if people lived in 0 gravity? What kind of work would we have to do to terraform a planet? How do we mine an asteroid and what are the implications for the workers? This is how series like Star Trek and Babylon 5 used to do it, and this is why we loved them. Because they create consistent worlds. This is what a true sci-fi is, and the Expanse is filling that glove perfectly.

The production value is just an added bonus. The actors are mediocre (but well above acceptable levels), but their characters are so well-written you wouldn't mind. The plot has many layers, but it doesn't confuse you or bore you. There are real present and urgent political and economic issues presented and examined. The direction and the effects are top level.

You should definitely watch the Expanse. It's well worth your time.

Apocalypse: La 2ème guerre mondiale
(2009)

Good documentary but biased and very French-centric
This documentary series' strong point is the use of only WWII footage, often colorized. A lot of it is rarely seen in other documentaries, some of it none at all. So it's very interesting in that perspective.

However, it's a French documentary and it's very French-centric and usually very biased. On several occasions I've caught it omitting important information/context or bringing up wrong information. For a documentary claiming to cover the whole of WW2 (which it does claim to do so), it's not a very good effort. It will mention several side-topics that are important for France (e.g. the politics of France before the war), but doesn't bother with important parts of WW2 that France had nothing to do with, e.g. the war in the Balkans.

Most egregious is that it tries very heavily to paint the Soviets as bad or worse than the Nazis. It tries to paint Britain as the major obstacle to Germany and their main opponent. Just to be clear, ideally it shouldn't be biased at all for either side. It should be presenting history and commentary on the footage. Instead it sometimes uses footage to present a version of history that is favorable to the makers.

Still, in the parts that concern Western Europe, it does a very good job on educating its viewers on important details that are not known by many. It gives a very good perspective of the civilian population. The footage taking a primary role, instead of a tool to transition between interview scenes (this documentary doesn't have any such scenes) keeps things interesting.

I'd recommend watching it, but bearing in mind that it only does the rudimentary minimum for anything else aside from French and British affairs. As far as the Eastern Front goes and the War in the Pacific, you can find many better documentaries.

Kill Command
(2016)

A good film held back by its script
This film had the potential to be one of the best sci fi this year. It's low-budget, yet the actors, the scenery, the CGI, the costumes, the effects, the music, the sound they are all top quality.

The direction could have been a bit less cliché at times, in how it handled scenes with "he's watching you" tension. But action/battle scenes manage to deliver a hardcore experience while keeping the atmosphere claustrophobic. I love especially that the battles make sense tactically (except one detail on one scene).

The film manages to pull off its universe. It keeps things believable and consistent. It takes care to explain to the viewer what is happening in terms of technology, without detracting from the action and the suspense.

BUT, the script is horrible. Just when the film manages to pull you in, there comes a bad line or a glaring plot hole to wrench you out again. The actors are great, but they can't shine because their lines are too unrealistic or non-sensical. It made things awkward. On one hand the actors do their job well, on the other hand, you know they are actors because no one in real-life would talk like that in any situation. It's like the script writers made a list of topics to include, but they never filled them out. Dialogues jump wildly from one point to another. Emotions and characters are given the spotlight in one scene only to be abruptly shut down the next.

The plot holes create too many questions. I found myself too often thinking "but that's not how it works" or "isn't this supposed to be different?" or "what happened between here and there". If it wasn't for the bad script I think this film would have easily been an 8/10 for me. Maybe even better.

The Trust
(2016)

Solid movie but will not be liked by all
This movie is great. It's entertaining, it's funny, the plot flows nicely, the characters are well-written and consistent. You will have a fun time watching this.

However, a lot of people are saying this movie is not very good. It's hard to explain this without talking about the end. I'll try to talk about it without giving too much, but you've been WARNED.

The ending is very bitter and tragic. It's exactly the kind of ending you'd expect of a Greek tragedy. And when you look back on it, this movie checks all of the points for a Greek tragedy. It revolves a lot around Hubris, Nemesis and Catharsis. This is why I found it so good. It's refreshing to see a film staying away from the traditional Hollywood streamlined experience and succeed on so many levels. Unfortunately, many people feel unsatisfied if the ending does not bring a happy conclusion to the protagonist's quest. So a lot of people disliked it.

To go a bit more into depth, this is a pure character study. The characters are flawed, and that's what the film is about. It's not about showing you a heist. It's about showing how the characters react to whatever is thrown at them. This is where the film shines, it's an observation of two very different people trying to do something they'd ordinarily never do.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop
(2006)

Below average, doesn't deserve a 7/10
This film is such an amateurish attempt at film-making. The acting is bad, and not because of the actors but because of the script and the direction. The editing is shoddy at best. The film keeps going off to tangents that end up being irrelevant. The script is filled with clichés, but instead of making an exploitation out of them, they are just presented dried and predictable. There's too many pointless fist fights and not enough plot. It's a flick centering on catching a serial killer. We are never shown clearly what the serial killer wants, beyond a generic "he just hates this people". It's supposed to be a comedy but it rarely makes any sort of joke beyond some childish slapstick or ironic twist (e.g. this character only swears in french, but at then end he swears in English).

It's like the people who made this agreed on an idea, but never agreed on what kind of film it was supposed to be. Or they sat around a table writing down what they thought would be cool scenes and just mixed them all together in a mess. It's disjointed and without hardly any satisfying conclusions to all the story lines it's trying to follow.

You'll have some fun, it's not the worst thing ever made, but you'll likely get bored halfway. If you do get bored but want to stick through to the end, my advice is don't. Just forget you ever saw it and go watch something more worthwhile.

Swap
(2016)

Even if I was mind-controlled I wouldn't agree to watch this film again
This is one of the crappiest crap I've ever watched in my life. Don't watch this. The only entertaining elements in this film are:

1) Sizmore's acting, while over the top, remains the best part about this film.

2) The stupidity of whoever wrote, directed, edited and produced this piece of crap is some of the best comedy I've had the pleasure of observing.

When a film is so bad, it makes you laugh it's ridiculous. There is no plot. It's just a bunch of amateurish scenes thrown together, with some duct-tape to hold the whole thing. These people must have had quite a party while filming this, because only drunk teenagers with a cell-phone could be filming this kind of "quality". I've played Call of Duty games that had a better story that this waste of time.

And I have to warn you (spoiler alert, as if it matters): You are thinking "Mickey Rourke is playing in this. How bad can it be?" Mickey Rourke has total screen time of 10 minutes, 9 of which he keeps begging everyone in the movie to "leave me alone" while he's stuck on a wheelchair. Then he dies. While his tiny dog watches. And cries. For Mickey Rourke's career.

Don't watch this, don't even think about watching this. Have a nap, your dream will be a lot better than this sorry mistake that passes for a film.

Racing Extinction
(2015)

Good message but not that great as a documentary.
The message contained in this documentary is a very important one and it should be watched and understood by as many people as possible. The problem is that the direction of it is kind of dull. It jumps from point to point without much cohesion. It doesn't contain anything you haven't heard before. I found the editing to be a little choppy, cutting off interviews mid-sentence to show us an image then continuing half a minute later. Nitpicky stuff, I know, but they can become distracting.

The more serious issue, for me, is that we have a very good presentation of the problem, but we have very little talk about solutions to the problem other than "don't give in and be hopeful and come help us protest". Which is a good reaction, but not a good solution.

It's more of a sensationalist presentation that will try to sensitize you into action, rather than break down the problem and possible solutions to it. It brings a breath of naive hopefulness with it, accompanied with profound sadness, which make for a good combination.

If you are interested in the more in-depth aspects of environmental dangers we face today, then I suggest you find another documentary to watch, such as The Corporation, Earth, Crude Awakening and others.

Tian jiang xiong shi
(2015)

Good action, bad film
In every area, this is an extremely bad film, except when it comes to the action and the battles. This is the only good thing about the film. Without Jackie Chan, this film wouldn't get 4/10 from me. So if you want to kill some time, by watching some good fight choreography, as well as excellent combat scenes involving Romans, Huns, Indians and Chinese (which I should note: some details and tactics were well-researched), then go ahead and watch this film. I'd advise to skip ahead when it starts getting boring. You won't miss much.

The story is not too bad as others say, but the way the plot progresses through the film really ruins it. It could have been a much more compelling film, were it not for the poor storytelling and all the unnecessary fluff scenes. It's clear that the director lacked any sort of vision on what kind of film he wanted to make. At times it has a childish and naive attitude, almost as if they wanted to show a fairy tale, and at other times it's brutal and vicious, as if they wanted to shock their audience. Other movies like Hero (2002) can strike a good balance between the two tones, but the director here is too incompetent to manage it.

This is also evident in the editing, which is extremely amateurish to say the least. Youtube videos have better editing than this film. I caught myself wondering if the DVD was scratched or if the choppy movements were put there on purpose. It's certainly annoying. Not to mention the poorly-put together CGI. Especially when it comes to weather, it's like watching a cutscene from a 2000s video game.

The non-combat scenes also lack any sort of directional skill. The extras rush in the scene as if they are school children participating in a musical. The main actors try to salvage the film, and then the plot jumps ahead with no cohesion, ruining everything. Scenes don't transition smoothly. It's like reading a book, where each chapter was written by a different author, who never read what the other authors wrote. The screenplay doesn't help either. Most lines seem very artificial and the way characters react to them makes them appear too simple-minded and one-dimensional.

I don't usually talk about sound, other than music, but holy crap sound is bad in this film. The music is extremely annoying and over-the-top dramatic (during combat it's not so bad, but it doesn't even reach average when it comes to putting the audience in the right mood). Then you come at stuff like rocks falling, wind blowing, swords clashing or flesh ripping and it's incredibly bad sound design. It feels like the sound editor's last job was in the 70s. Sometimes it's not synced properly to what is happening on screen, other times it just sounds completely fake.

Finally, let's talk about what this has to offer as art: Very little. It's message is not subtle at all. Every 2 seconds it hammers it at you: "Let's live in peace, we can all co-exist". It's not a bad message, but come on, what happened to making your audience think? Is that too advanced stuff for you Dragon Blade? Meanwhile, there's a sort of subplot going on in the current era (not a spoiler). The film starts in 2015, where some archaeologists (?), who work for a corporation (?) find a Roman city in China and then use a satellite to make a 3D holographic 1:1 scale model on site within seconds. Then stare at it for a while, and then decide not to tell anyone about it, because it's a beautiful story and they don't want the people they work for to sell it to museums. I have no idea where that thing was going, but I'm guessing it was trying to give us the feeling that it was a true story, which failed the moment a satellite in orbit send laser beams down to Earth and made a hologram of a whole city on the ruins of said city within seconds, including inscriptions on buildings, but somehow no one will be able to find out.

Daniel Lee, please don't make any more films, until you actually learn how to make films.

Toonstone
(2014)

Alright then
A western adventure with good comedy. Almost as good as reading a Lucky Luke comic book. I didn't expect any less from the people that created Doraleous & Associates. It's well done, and even if the drawing and animation looks a bit clumsy, it quickly grows on you. The dialogue is the best part. The plot mostly looks like a series of episodes that were cut together, but it's nevertheless enjoyable to watch.

Dalton is an aspiring musician, who accidentally kills a couple dangerous outlaws. The people see in him a hero and he is elected sheriff of Toonstone. He picks up a few friends along the way who teach him how to become the best sheriff he can be, and soon he grows into a legend.

The Water Diviner
(2014)

Good movie, very shaky on its historicity
This is a good movie to watch. The direction is good, especially in the battle scenes and the acting is very emotional and spot on. The plot, though predictable, flows in a nice pace. The music is also very well-chosen. The ending is a little weird perhaps, but it's not completely out of place, albeit when someone tries to kill Russel Crowe and someone else.

However, I am dismayed by two things regarding the historicity of the film. Firstly, at the beginning it says "Based on historical events". That should read "loosely based" because after a while of searching I found zero evidence that the story in the film actually happened, besides an anecdotal story about an Australian father who went to Gallipoli to search for his son, found in an officer's letter. Everything else is up to the film-maker's imagination. Putting the film in a historical period does not mean the film is based on historical events. This is the minor of the two points though.

The more important gripe with historicity, that I have, is the background story that is going on. The Greco-Turkish War was a continuation of the conflicts that Greeks and Turks had during the late years of WW1. The film portrays the Turks as the innocent victims and the Greeks as the invading barbarians who came to slaughter everyone. The Greeks did indeed commit atrocities during that war, and their own government admits it, but the atrocities were hardly contained on one side. In fact, the atrocities first began by the Turks, who carried out the Armenian genocide a few years earlier (and the film was released on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide), and then moved on to other Christian denominations, primarily the Greeks (who were consisting a very large portion of Turkey's population on the west coasts, where the film takes place). Which in contrast to the Greek government, the Turkish government completely denies, despite numerous condemnations from other nations about this. That camp they mention in Afyon, was a concentration camp used for mass murder, from which several ANZAC survivors say they only survived because of the local Greeks who were with them in the camp who helped them survive.

I liked the movie, but these issues annoyed me so much, that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd like to in the end.

Seventh Son
(2014)

Underrated
This is a pretty good movie and I wasn't expecting it at all, based on the scores it received. It's story stays true to the atmosphere the film creates. It brings back the feel of 80's fantasy movies. It's cheesy, epic and fun. It manages to stay away from the current clichés that teenage vampire movies have created. Instead it delivers fantasy for all ages.

The acting is not bad at all, the visuals are well-made, the scenery is immersive and the director isn't bad either. The plot starts going a little fast towards the end and there are a couple scenes that don't stick with the rest of the film.

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