Old school John Woo? Not quite! But enough for me to have enjoyed it fully!
When I received the news that John Woo was going to direct a modern action thriller I must admit I did get excited a little. But I composed myself since it's been a while and there was a slight possibility he has outgrown the genre. However after just having watched Manhunt I can safely say that John Woo still hasn't lost his touch.
But before you jump with joy Manhunt is nowhere near any of his older titles. Perhaps on par with his American ones although one could argue that it's slightly better than those since for one thing it doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact it almost seems like John Woo is mocking or parodying himself. For almost an hour Manhunt plays out like a comedy. Zhang Hanyu as Du Qiu and Masaharu Fukuyama as Yamura play each other's adversaries who become friends. Their interactions are downright hilarious since none of these characters behave like they normally do in action thrillers not even in John Woo's own films. Manhunt also presents us with a mystery that barely is one and certainly lacks the gravity you would expect in a serious film. Woo skips very crucial scenes leading to the actual manhunt which made the film seem amateurish and clumsy. Then I realized that he did it on purpose. And I must admit that definitely was an element that made Manhunt a lot of fun. I mean the story itself was hardly compelling or surprising.
In the second hour though things get a little more serious and you get served some real good action in two big action sequences. For the first time ever in a John Woo film two female assassins are featured who play an important role in these action sequences. One of these assassins is named Dawn who is played by Angeles Woo, yes, the daughter of John Woo. I have never seen her before but she clearly was having fun and Woo has made sure she shines. In the final part though things do tend to go completely over the top. Up until this moment the film had been fairly realistic and plausible. Then a science fiction element slips in and things get too crazy for words. In a fun and exciting way. But still I can imagine that especially the people hoping to see a serious action thriller might feel duped.
I was bracing myself for the worst but overall I can't complain. Even when John Woo probably was mocking himself he has shown he can make good action films. Question is does he still have the desire to make them? For my sake I really hope so. He should make at least one more with Chow Yun-Fat. In any case I fully enjoyed this one and I can recommend it if you are a John Woo fan.
Not as wild as it could have been but it was solid!
Wild 7 is the live action adaptation of a Japanese manga series (1969 - 1979). The series is about a special Counter-terrorist Motorcycle unit consisting of reformed convicts who are to combat the rising criminal and terrorist activities. What makes them so effective is that they basically have been given a licence to kill. Let me put it to you straight. They are a death squad.
The film starts off with the Wild 7 dealing with a group of armed robbers. It certainly made me look forward of what was to come. But very soon after this introduction one of the main flaws of this film gets exposed. The weak and generic plot. When it comes to action films I usually am very forgiving when it comes to storytelling as long as the action itself is good and enough motivation is given for that action to be extra exciting. The problem is that there is not that much action to begin with. For some reason Wild 7 wants to preach about this kind of law enforcement and how it's inhumane. There is nothing wrong with that of course. Except Wild 7 never gives you that substance to chew on. Apart from a couple of conversations the audience is never shown why this death squad was deemed necessary. Had they shown or explained that crime was rampant and that people's lives were being threatened to a point that life was impossible then at least that would have given some context. Instead the film distracts us with a subplot concerning a mysterious stranger and a mostly unremarkable criminal mastermind who does his best to be menacing but fails to impress. You would think that they at least would tell us more about these reformed convicts and what makes them so special. Although at times seems like the whole purpose of the film is to point out that these team members aren't that special and can be replaced at any time with someone else. Naturally the Wild 7 members are special. Unfortunately we are only told what makes them unique instead of actually showing us. For me who is not familiar with this manga that is a real mistake since I truly wanted to learn more about them. Despite the characters lacking depth you do root for them. But that is because the actors do their best to make their characters likeable. Plus there are scenes where the members are shown to be noble and honourable. It wouldn't surprise me if the original manga was inspired by The Dirty Dozen. But I can't make that claim since I couldn't find facts to collaborate that. Although I assume that the original manga went deeper into describing who the characters are and what the dynamics were since usually that is what makes most anime so loved.
Wild 7 was a little underwhelming for me since I was definitely expecting more action and violence. However I can't deny that I did enjoy the film since the action that was present did deliver. It's now been almost 7 years and no sequel or follow up has been announced or made. I wished they did already since the premise (while simple) is an effective one and could lead to real great things.
(Note: Just in case you got it in your head that it's similar to Suicide Squad. Don't go there. You can't compare the two since this is far superior.)
Glad to see the gang back again but I can't deny that I was a little disappointed with the overall result!
Psych was a very creative and funny spin on the crime genre that was built on the great chemistry between James Roday and Dulé Hill. The two together made the show what it was. But like a lot of successful shows they lost their way and forgot about that and made other elements more prominent. So when the show ended I wasn't particularly sad to see it go like I normally am when shows finish. Still the idea of Psych coming back as a TV movie made me happy because that could become a regular thing especially if it would bring the magic that once was.
Unfortunately this isn't the case. The whole movie was disappointing. It was fun to see most characters from the show return. And the banter between Shawn and Gus easily was the best the movie had to offer. But other than that it wasn't that good. In the later seasons of the show they made the mystery element more important which sometimes really worked well since it added genuine thrills and suspense next to the comedy. However more than I would like to it detracted from the comedy. I didn't mind the more dramatic episodes since they only made you love the characters more. What I did find annoying was the fact that it got in the way of how Shawn and Gus interacted. The focus was on the mystery and the dynamics between Shawn and Gus seemed like an afterthought. Actually a lot of the interactions between Shawn, Gus and other characters was what gave the show it's edge. In this movie these interactions are only present for the sake of nostalgia without giving us the wit and clever jokes that usually were part of these interactions. This becomes apparent in the way Shawn's father is treated. In the early seasons Shawn and his father (Corbin Bernsen) also had some interesting dynamics. They emphasized Shawn's unique crime solving skills compared to that of a veteran cop. Plus I liked the relationship they had. The father always acted like Shawn was a pain while in truth he was very proud. Now you didn't get anything that came close to it. All you got was how the father had mellowed out and that he is not the same guy we knew. I don't know it just felt that the writers couldn't be bothered to give us the characters we learned to love. But then the mystery itself was hardly compelling or one that you could take seriously. Psych always was a comedy but it did have moments where things could get real. In this movie this never happens. Almost like you are never supposed to like it's one big joke.
I never watched Psych for the mysteries. For me it was about Shawn and Gus and how they solved those crimes. So any time when you shift away the focus from that you shoot yourself in the foot. I like it that through these TV movies these beloved characters can live on but then they should go back to what made the show great in the first place.
Decent and entertaining origin story where familiar superheroes from Arrowverse make an appearance!
Originally Vixen was an animated web series that spun off from Arrow. It consisted of two seasons. Warner Brothers decided to combine these two seasons and add an extra fifteen minutes of story resulting in Vixen: The Movie. Basically it's the origin story of Vixen set in Arrowverse. (So don't be surprised to see some familiar superheroes make their appearance.) It was stated that if the series was successful it could lead a new live action series. Vixen (voiced and played by Megalyn Echikunwoke) was also intended to be featured in the second season of Legends of Tomorrow but due to previous commitments this never happened. They opted for Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe. the grandmother of Mari McCabe (Megalyn Echikunwoke) who also is named Vixen. Seeing how Amaya's storyline is quite essential in the third season of Legends of Tomorrow this animated movie got my interest.
So what do I think of it? I liked it. Sure it's a little rough around the edges and the animation might not always be top notch but the story came across just fine and in the end isn't that what it's about? This animated movie really felt like a special event in Arrowverse where a lot of familiar characters like The Flash and The Green Arrow have their parts to play. But what made this even more special was the fact that they were actually voiced by the actors of the live action shows. You can tell that for some actors this was something they had to get used to still the voice acting was adequate enough.
As one would expect this animated DC movie set in Arrowverse like the shows is action packed. I am not entirely sure if they actually would have the budget to recreate all the powers displayed in a live action show but it was nice to see what Vixen is capable of. She is far more powerful than previously shown. More important Vixen does real superhero things like rescuing people from robbers and thieves. An element I find incredibly important. It makes her instantly likable and why you will root for her throughout her adventures. They probably could have gone a little deeper into her roots although I have the suspicion we will eventually in future episodes of Legends of Tomorrow.
If it were up to me the live action Vixen would already be a reality. At this point I am fully embracing the expansion of the already quite huge Arrowverse. So bring it on!
Non stop Hong Kong type of action not from Hong Kong!
There was a time you got overwhelmed with all kinds of B action flicks from Hong Kong and Hollywood and you were desperately trying to catch up to them. Simple, brainless films that were fun and nothing else. Every weekend you got your action fix so that you could last a whole week of boredom or stress in school or at work. Now those B action flicks are hardly being made. And the ones that have been produced usually are immensely bad. I am excluding TV Shows since not all of us have time to watch and follow all of those.)
But then Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski gave us John Wick to satisfy the action aficionado's needs. How glorious it was. It is therefore not surprising to me that they decided to make a sequel. Everything about John Wick clicked. The characters, the no nonsense plot and the action. It was one of those movies you actually never wanted to end. All you wanted was more of it. And by God that is what you get. More of the marvellous action and ludicrous world where most assassins have to follow certain rules and codes and more blood. Like the original most events are relative and mixed with a big sense of humour while never sacrificing the tension and thrills. It always feels like there is a lot at stake. That is not as easy at they have made it seem so kudos to Chad for accomplishing this. And what a thrill ride! John Wick: Chapter 2 doesn't a waste a single second and immediately starts with the action which rarely lets up so that you and John (Keanu Reeves) get a chance to breathe. The gun fu is very strong in this film. It's pure joy to see John kill his enemies with his guns like they are his fists. Especially since this time around the number of his opponents has increased and they are far more qualified and skilled than in the first John Wick. A little tough for John but a delight for the viewer.
One thing you have to keep in mind that the John Wick films are made for mostly action film aficionados. It's not that big on story or mythology although it has created an interesting world with equally interesting characters to make everything more compelling. That and style. Yes, it is style over substance. Sometimes that is a good thing. A must watch!
Bullet for Hire is not a film you watch for it's story or characterization. The people who made this film were very aware of this and therefore did not even attempt. Whatever there is story wise it's a downright mess. First it is asked of you to sympathize with main character Han (Simon Yam) and his friend Ngok (Lieh Lo) who are assassins for hire. They are absolutely ruthless and have very little to no conscience at all. All they care is about themselves and each other. At least that is what it seems like the majority of the film until a plot twist later in the film puts a spin on that. But before that they don't have qualms about killing people or showing mercy to women and children. There isn't a single trade about Han that is likable. It is pure the charisma of Simon Yam alone that make you accept that despicable character.
For some reason Jacky Cheung is thrown into the mix as the rookie Shan who is entrusted as Han's pupil by big boss Dick Wei. Naturally Shan fumbles and stumbles at first but becomes as good and efficient as Han. Shan is more fleshed out character and has more likable characteristics but despite these I hardly cared about him. There are two scenes with him that stood out for me. One that is a blatant rip off from Scarface. The other is a scene where Shan and his girlfriend are having dinner in a restaurant. They are sitting at a very large table where a big vase of flowers is put in the middle blocking Shan's view. He tries to communicate with her but obviously that is hard to do with that big vase in the way. I am not sure but it reminded me of the dinner scene in Batman. But it could very well be that it's lifted from another film. This last scene is one of the many comedic scenes in the film that don't mix well with the action and the brutal violence.
Tonally the film is all over the place and it's best to shut of your brain since it is rather pointless to make sense of it. A lot of the events in the film are illogical and don't flow right. Could be that scenes were cut or they simply didn't care that much to make work of it. I guess it's the latter. The main focus is the action and while not that stylish it was decent and enjoyable. Most of the choreography was done well. The action is fast and exciting while it lasts. Typical bullet ballet shootouts and some fighting.
Bullet for Hire is one of those dime in a dozen films that can be very enjoyable late at night and in quiet weekends. Other than that is has very little to offer.
Viral starts out interesting and compelling. Forget that it follows every cliché in the book concerning viral outbreak / zombie / infected films. Even the main character was likable. Until the events started to cause uproar and chaos.
Then suddenly cautious Emma Drakeford (Sofia Black-D'Elia) becomes a total idiot. What is the point of a mask if you keep removing it? I swear she keeps taking that damn thing off at moments where it was needed the most. That kind of stupidity is just infuriating. Her big sister Stacey Drakeford (Analeigh Tipton) is even worse who for some reason can't be bothered to care what is happening around her outside her little world. She gets bored by breaking news reports,warnings and presidential speeches about health care and safety measures. Instead she chooses to ignore what is happening not so far from her home and party instead. She even suggests her little sister shouldn't take things so seriously. Yeah, real good advice Stacey! Still I was fine with that since I was hoping that the film at least would give us something nice on the side to chew on. Like some real hair rising thrilling scenes or some bloody and gruesome action. But no, the jump scares are predictable to a tee. And the few scary or creepy moments that could have been terrifying are ruined by the severe lack of tension or dread. The whole movie suffers from not making it clear how dire the situation is. It relies too much on the imagination of the audience and in this case I find that unacceptable. The clicker zombies or infected sounded too much like the ones in video game Last of Us. I am not sure what to think of that. If directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have borrowed or were heavily inspired by the fungal zombies of that game would it have hurt them to take it to next level and come with some of their own ideas thrown into the mix to make it more interesting? Predictable monsters are boring. So all you have to do is make them unpredictable to make it fun. These clickers were as scary as fluffy bunnies and cuddly bears.
I already wasted too many words on this since I can't tell you how disappointed I was. Viral had real potential. But nothing creative has been done to make this film stand out from the rest. If you have seen a million zombie / infected films like I have you expect more. This is a complete waste of your time. So do not watch this!
Honestly I wasn't expecting much but nothing prepared me for this. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is easily one of the worst films I have seen in my life. And for those who don't know me that is saying something since I am quite old and have seen a lot.
I had hoped it would at least be on par with Zoolander 2 but sadly it's far worse. The biggest problem of the film is that it simply is not funny. Too many jokes that miss their mark even when I was trying to be as open and receptive as possible. I really tried hard to get into this film and let the silliness overwhelm me which was one of the strongest elements of the original show. However here the craziness is toned down considerably. Even the crudest jokes weren't of the same level as in the show. I get that the majority of the cast have gotten older and that perhaps they felt that they should act more their age although that would go directly against the premise of the show and defeating it's purpose. Whatever the reason or motivation it destroyed most of the fun. Then there are the cameos. I don't even know where to begin with those. None of them made an impact. Sure it's always nice to recognize famous faces but if you would have them left out you would not have missed them. Nothing remarkable has been done with these names and that is a big shame if you ask me.
The acting was acceptable and for the most part Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders played out the characters as we know them. Little less energetic and kinetic maybe but that is understandable they have gotten older of course. Although it has to be said that Joanna Lumley still looks great. I wished the same could be said about Saunders. She messed up her face so much with I presume botox that it looked like she had some mask on or something similar. Very weird and super distracting.
Absolutely Fabulous the show was witty and sharp. This movie is the opposite. It's a total waste of time and I can't think of a single excuse to warrant a view. So don't. AVOID!
Make no mistake. This might be an indie production but it is easily among the best of horror films I have seen. It's effective in the places it should be and therefore makes you overlook the few flaws it has.
Is it worth mentioning what these flaws are? Well, for me they are very minor as it has more to do with some of the special effects used. Obviously a low budget indie production will come across a few limitations. However for the most part the film never sacrifices to a point that you can tell they had to cut corners. Besides the direction and acting made most horrors seem real and true and that is what counts the most, don't you agree? If you are a horror fan you will very easily recognize the references and tributes to some horror classics like The Thing and works of Stuart Gordon. For me that adds to the joy but The Void makes sure you get more treats throughout.
The Void has a considerable fast pace overall but never wavers to halt the film to build up tension and suspense. But when things start happening they come at you in full force with all the blood and gore that you would expect from a cosmic horror. This film is yet another proof how less can be more and that you really should be strategic when to use certain effects or not. It easily can be overkill and if that happens it usually becomes tedious and boring. The Void avoids these trappings and as a result stays compelling throughout. Also because it tries real hard to add other elements to maintain a dark and creepy atmosphere to keep you on your toes. Even if the story itself might be too abstract it will never feel as a bad one. Being abstract is fine as long as you keep pretension in check. Directors Jeremy Gillespie Steven Kostanski are very much on top to not go overboard with being serious and consequence is that The Void mostly is simple fun.
So glad that there are still film makers out there who just want their audience to have fun and actually make it worth their time. Go watch this as soon as you can, you won't regret it!
Mr. Pig is a road movie about an old man called Ambrose (played by Danny Glover) and his friend Howard the pig. Ambrose is not well. In fact he is dying. Last thing on his agenda seems to be the task to deliver Howard to someone he trusts who will take good care of him.
This premise appealed to me quite a bit. A tale about a dying man spending his last hours with a good friend has feelgood written all over it. And I can't resist feelgood films. However Diego Luna (who you might know from Star Wars: Rogue where he plays as Cassian Andor) doesn't deliver on this. Or at least not the extent I had hoped. Biggest problem is that while most of the acting is done competently it is far from memorable or impressive. Not enough is happening on a dramatic level to make me feel or care for the characters. I did care about the pig though. He easily tops every human character in the film acting wise. He is the only one to be expressing real emotions at some pivotal moments, Maya Rudolph barely has any chemistry with Danny Glover and for the most part she is rather annoying than compelling. If she would have not been in this film it would not have mattered a single thing. To me this is quite astonishing since you would think much more would be happening between a father and daughter in the father's last moments. Especially since it is made clear that he wasn't a particularly good father and never around when he needed her. I had expected some fireworks or at least some interesting dynamics. None of that. I guess there was something of a reveal that perhaps could explain Ambrose being so very passive. Although I think Luna should us have given us more on Ambrose and how he was before we get to meet him. Maybe then I would have been more invested. But like I said I only cared about Howard and what would happen to him.
I think Diego Luna has duped Howard into thinking he was going to be a part of something special instead of this generic film. Not bad but not good by any means. I hope this film will give Howard the exposure he needs to be noticed for better productions. He truly deserves it.
If you liked this review then please check out my website (chrichtonsworld) for more.
Special opening comment for IDMB.com: Honestly I just wanted to leave my thoughts on the film itself but then I saw the overwhelming amount of positive reviews on this film and praising it like there is no tomorrow. "Love letter to Hollywood" Really? In what way is La La Land a love letter? All it does is refer to some classics and then completely botches up the elements that makes us love the classics in the first place. If anything this is making a mockery out of everyone involved in those high quality old school musicals that were made with love and passion. La La Land is made out of greed. You better remember this.
Now I have this out of my system my original review (which you can read on my website Chrichton's World:
La La Land is a tribute to the old school musicals where actors like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and many others impressed us with their acting, singing and dancing. They were top notch in whatever they did on the screen and truly were stars all around. However La La Land is not a particularly good tribute as it lacks a lot that made films like Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris classics.
So what went wrong? First and foremost the musical numbers are far from memorable. When I first heard the song City of Stars I liked it instantly. It easily is the best song but at the same time a very flawed one. Why? Ryan Gosling is not a good singer. I am sure he tried his best but you can hear that he can't sing that well. In another version of the song Emma Stone chimes in and I don't like that version at all because she is even a worse singer than he is. Both also can't dance and it's so bad that it was ruining the enjoyment. You can tell that they are struggling and their movements were far too slow. In the opening musical number you have a bunch of unknown people singing and dancing and they obviously know what they are doing as they move very swiftly and gracefully. They also do a lot of impressive stunt work very reminiscent of what was shown in the older musicals. And while this scene was good it exposed the flaws of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as leads. Especially in the first dance scene featuring Emma Stone it becomes painfully obvious she is not a match for anyone in the opening scene.
Another huge problem is the story. Or lack of. Nothing in the story was remotely interesting and pretty by the numbers and the one supposed conflict was so predictable and forced that destroyed all the hope that was left. What hope? For this film to redeem itself. And it never does. Instead it gives us an ending opposite of what is expected since director Damien Chazelle is pretentious and very full of himself. I guess the fame and success he achieved with Whiplash has gotten to his head. And Whiplash wasn't that good in the first place. And no I don't need predictable endings. What I do need are endings that are logical and are written well. It has to make sense why characters behave and act a certain way. You have to give the viewer reasons to make their actions believable. Chazelle never even attempts this. He only gives a motivation out of convenience. Also I am failing to see how anything in this film could be seen as comedic. There maybe were one or two moments that were genuinely funny but enough for this film to be advertised as a comedy? Not in the slightest.
Also just referring to the classics is not enough. You need to add something of your own to make it unique or entertaining. I mean these songs were the best they could do? At points they showed L.A. in the background and it looked like more was going to be done with the scenery like Michael Mann did in Heat. I think more beautiful shots of L.A. at night would have surely made some impact. But of course that would have required real effort.
I don't feel like writing anymore. Truth be told I was very looking forward to this film since I really was in the mood for some old school fun and all I got in return is anger and disappointment since this film is nothing like the classics.
I do think I have been very fair as this film is advertised as one of the greatest musicals / films in a long time. And this simply is not true. Even with all the good will this film has no redeeming elements whatsoever.
The second film in a short while where M. Night Shyamalan successfully has managed to scare the living hell out of us. The previous being The Visit of course.
Now I know that there have been quite a few thrillers that make use of the Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder (MPD) and that at this point there is very little that can be done to truly surprise you. But by god M. Night has succeeded in a way that will put you on the edge of your seat multiple times. Not all the time mind you since the film dials down a few notches a couple of times. And this could make it seem the film drags here and there. In hindsight though it was M. Night teaching us what a master of horror he truly can be since he plays around with the tension to keep your interest peaked. Trust me on this that even when some of the plot developments may appear predictable it goes into different directions entirely. Especially at the very end of the film since it gives us a twist that is so meta that it will make your head spin. Very daring and incredibly effective. It is like he is saying, I told you that I am still very much on top of my game. But aside from this, the film in itself is incredible brilliant. James McAvoy was having a blast and he shows us what an amazing actor he is by switching up personalities like it's nothing. Still I do have to remark that Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke made a good impression as well. I did not even recognize her as she also was in The Witch.
Split is one of those movies that does a lot of things really good and has you singing praise right after. But of course there will always be people hating on this film just because Shyamalan is involved. He does tend to make films that require you to suspend disbelief and have somewhat of an imagination. Doesn't always mean you have to like or agree with his vision because I am pretty aware he can make terrible films as well. Still Split is certainly is one of his better ones and deserves to be watched by many. So go forth ladies and gentlemen and enjoy yourselves. I certainly did!
Way to go Abrams. Just when I thought you couldn't do worse.
You don't fool me. You might have put Justin Lin at the helm it is so obvious you were pulling the strings. Because everything in this film has your hand print on it. Star Trek Beyond even starts with a freaking lens flare.
At this point I had made peace with the new Star Trek and just wanted to enjoy myself. Bring on the spectacle and eye candy. Give me the super slick action and your edge of your seat thrills. All I wanted was to have fun. But no, that would actually require some effort and you could not be bothered huh Abrams? So yes let me be one of those guys complaining that this is not my Star Trek. I have been a fan of the original franchise for a long time. I actually embraced the reboot until Star Trek Into Darkness. Although that did not stop me from enjoying for what they were. Fun popcorn movies but so far removed from what Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek should be about that it simply is not funny anymore. But would you believe it that Beyond even fails as a fun popcorn flick? All the spectacle and eye candy was unimaginative, uninspired and ultimately boring. Yes, you heard me say it. Star Trek Beyond is boring. It had me going for the first ten minutes and then I lost interest completely. There is nothing in this adventure that drew me into these events. I could overlook the minimal story and lack of genuine twist and turns. Although the big one at the end was decent enough if it weren't for the fact that I already had stopped caring about this film entirely. All the characters in this film could have died and I would not have given a damn. Maybe except for Bones. Karl Urban can do no wrong with me. Even if he tried to. But all the other characters got on my nerve. Anton Yelchin's Chekov was a parody of the original. Worse of all though he is not in the film as much as I would have liked to. There isn't a single scene that serves has a proper send off and farewell to the magnificent actor he was. And that pisses me off to be frank. Actually a lot of characters including Chris Pine as Kirk lack the charm and wit from previous films. Spock was more human than Vulcan. Let me remind you people that it was his Vulcan half that made him an interesting character. It was like no one in this production cared about this film at all. Then why should I? Why should I give in and accept this mess of a film?
And trust me I tried shutting of my brain and simply enjoy it but I couldn't. Because nothing about this adventure is memorable or exciting. Most important reason is that the spectacle is predictable as hell. Even the Beastie Boys scene you could have seen coming miles ahead. Now I must admit that that scene did put a smile on my face. But one brief moment of joy like that is not enough. Not by a long shot. In order to remain fair I have judged this film solely on what it did offer and not of what it could or should have been. Still I do have to point out that this latest part in the reboot franchise is proof that this is not Star Trek. The older films and TV Shows next to spectacle always offered good drama and thought provoking concepts about many essential things that matter in life. Star Trek made science and philosophy accessible and fun for people who otherwise might not have been interested. Star Trek Beyond however dismisses all of this and treats it's audience like they are idiots. The people behind this new franchise assume current audience only want action and spectacle and nothing more. And maybe this is true which makes me sad. Very sad. I like to be challenged. I like to be provoked about political and social issues when done right. However like I first stated that I was willing and able to overlook the lack of this in favour of fun. But that's just it. Beyond rarely is fun. The very few moments that were could not make me forget the agony I experienced while watching this film. I stared at the screen in such detached manner that I think I would have gotten more enjoyment watching noise.
I for one am hoping that they are done with this and that they will go back to what Star Trek should be about. But if they don't the fans will. So many wonderful fan made Star Trek projects out there that are made with love and passion that surpass these crappy movies in every way. Simon Pegg claims to be a huge Star Trek fan. Then it is so puzzling to me that he could have written this script. Almost everything about it is a downright insult to the real fans and legacy of Gene Roddenberry. I never realized this until now but Simon Pegg is kind of a douche. Overall don't bother people. Star Trek Beyond is a giant waste of your time.
Disclaimer: This review doesn't contain real spoilers but could be seen as such if you have not seen the trailer or read what the film is about.
I.T. is what you call a stalker film or thriller. Think Fatal Attraction and Cape Fear. This basically should give you an idea what the film is going to be about. (Although to be fair this film never reaches the level of those superior films.) So don't expect any surprises on that front. The I.T. angle however was interesting and compelling though. We now live in a world where we have become dependent on technology so much that we can't live without it and also have implemented it everywhere possible. For the most part these advances are positive and useful. However there is also a negative and darker side that often gets overlooked. In a way this film points out possible dangers you should be aware of. Because believe it or not some of the events in this film are technically possible. Now of course Hollywood wouldn't be Hollywood if they didn't dramatize and exaggerate things a little too much. I mean like many other films this film is not afraid of using the typical stereotypes regarding I.T. guys and hackers. Especially after the Michael Mann film Blackhat that is lazy and insulting. Hackers are just people like you and me. You won't be able to tell who they are or what they look like. They come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. So please do make a mental note of that. In the film however it is very obvious that Ed Porter has mental issues. Although I do think that had Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) been less of a prick towards him he might not have been triggered. On the other hand the guy was very unstable and it could have happened any moment. In general though I think that sometimes people should be nicer to others. Or at least be civil. No reason to be nasty and impolite to someone else unless of course that person deserves to. Mike Regan does represent those rich guys who are very thankful at the moments when they need your help. But the minute they don't and you happen to meet them they pretend they don't know you anymore or rather want to forget about you. Why? There is no reason to do that. We are all people. We all bleed red don't we? Anyway this is when Ed starts the stalking. He is very effective and therefore terrifying. I liked how his abuse mainly was subtle and psychological. Because that is what makes stalking so difficult and scary to deal with. Stalkers too often are far too clever to get caught and even when you know who the culprit is you won't always be able to proof that they are the ones terrorizing you. Unfortunately this film then goes on automatic pilot and plays out how you imagine it would with very little to no surprises. However this is not a big problem since Pierce Brosnan and James Frecheville (Ed Porter) make you overlook that with their performances. Through them you buy everything including the predictable events. Michael Nyqvist (the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) also has a small role and I wished he would have been in it more. He definitely was one of the highlights in the film.
Overall I.T. is a solid and entertaining thriller. Very ideal to watch in weekends in the comfort of your own home. Apart from learning how to adapt a healthy dose of paranoia you won't learn or see anything new or substantial. Meaning the film is totally forgettable. But since I had not big expectations that is OK with me.
Sammo Hung coming to terms with old age and dementia.
Let me start this review with a translated quote used in the film: The old man is like Kung Fu Panda I have no clue if they truly said that originally. Despite, this quote does sum up the abilities of Sammo Hung's character Ding. Ding is a retired Central Security Bureau officer from Beijing who is in the early stages of dementia. He is a man full of regret and remorse but chooses to seclude himself rather than confront the issues that are plaguing him. One big strain on him is the fact that his granddaughter got missing while he was watching over her. But then at one point in time Cherry Li , a little girl from next door sneaks into his apartment to hide there after fighting with her father. Which is the start of an unique friendship.
One thing you will have to understand that this Sammo Hung vehicle isn't the typical martial arts film he used to make. Sammo has gotten old and apparently he wanted to address this. So most of the focus is on Ding being an old man. He receives some backup from old friends to make this statement. People like Yuen Baio, Dean Shek, Yuen Wah, and Tsui Hark to name but a few. These are nothing but glorified cameo's. But since I had not read anything about the film in advance I was pleasantly surprised to see them. For me it wasn't a disappointment like some reviewers have stated. More so because they had been given the impression to come into action as well. Now that would have been something I must admit so I do understand the criticism. Although it did not hurt what they were going for in the film. At it's core this film is about Ding coming to terms with old age, dementia and guilt. The action is just in service of this.
This explains the fact that there is not that much action. And while I also was expecting more I understand that somehow this would not be fitting regarding the theme. Or even would destroy the message that Sammo Hung wants to make clear to the audience. But don't despair the little action that is present is more than satisfying. Especially in the finale where Sammo goes Steven Seagal on the bad guys. Mainly using his arms and where he is using his opponents power against them. It makes sense to me that on old man would be limited in his move set so that was a nice touch.
Andy Lau also is involved in this film as an actor and producer. He plays the low life father of Cherry and basically is the reason why trouble starts in the first place. His role while significant is small and just right as he manages to evoke enough emotions. Another thing you have to understand is that this film doesn't go that deep into issues like dementia or bad parenting. Instead it tries to appeal to your emotions about these issues. And this is something that Sammo Hung does real well.
So for me this film was well worth the watch and while I was expecting a more action packed adventure I got something just as good in return. We all become old one day and then we can't do the things we used to do. You have to be prepared for that.
Legendary Assassin is the directorial debut of both Wu Jing and Nicky Li. Nicky Li is a former fight choreography and stunt member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, who has had collaborated with Wu Jing in several projects like Fatal Contact and Invisible Target. And as debuts go this one is very solid to good.
What I like about this film the most that it moves along in a nice pace where not a minute is wasted with redundant sub plots or other distractions. Every event or character interaction is functional. Through the non action scenes we get to know the main character and kind of what makes him tick. I say kind of since not much background is given on Bo Tong Lam (Wu Jing). But he is not your typical good guy as he is capable of cold blooded murder if the title didn't gave away this already. After assassinating a big crime boss (who was hiding out on a small island) he is forced to stay on the island since there are no ferries coming in because of a typhoon alert. It is this moment where he makes a connection with Hiu Wor (Celina Jade who you might recognize from Arrow where she played Shado). He gets to spend some nice moments with her and her colleagues and this was very pleasant to see because they make you care about the characters despite them just having met.
And since you care it does intensify the action. It's such a simple device to do this and yet many similar films fail to do this. So I am glad that Wu Jing understood this. Now he does make some mistakes by making the film a little too serious and dramatic but I guess that you can't escape from tragedy in Asian films. But first and foremost it's done in service of the action and that is a good thing. It makes you involved and will make the action have more impact. The action on it's own is what you can expect from Wu Jing or Jacky Wu and is hard hitting and stylish. Sometimes wireworks are used but very sparingly.
Overall this film delivers on the action and makes me want Wu Jing to do more projects. Wolf Warrior was excellent, let's hope the sequel to that will be too.
Tiger on the Beat is an unrelated sequel to Tiger on the Beat. But predominantly features the same cast as the original. Only Chow Yun-Fat is missing and is substituted by Danny Lee who surprisingly enough is capable of almost the same charming goofiness he was.
Like it's predecessor the focus is on comedy that is blended with the typical crime elements you often see in films like these. Main baddie Gordon Liu wants a ring back that is stolen from him by thief Ellen Chan. Well, technically it's not his since he ordered one of his goons (Roy Cheung) to kill the owner and take the ring. She witnesses this and tries to flee from the scene where she then bumps into Conan Lee (named Buffalo for some reason). This is not their first encounter but seeing how Conan is a little gullible and very ready to get into action he gets involved. Ellen Chan named Sweet Dream is more like a nightmare for everybody who gets tangled up in her affairs. Fortunately for us these antics are mostly funny. Maybe it was the fact that I had seen the awful The Cyprus Tigers before this that I could appreciate the comedy in this one a little better. Or simply that it is genuinely more funny. But of course you don't watch movies like these solely for the comedy so what about the action There is not much of it (action spread out in short sequences) but whatever is present is adequate to good although none of it is as spectacular as the chainsaw sequence in the original. To be fair that is kind of hard to top. However like in the original they saved the best for last and it does feel rewarding enough.
I had zero expectations for this sequel but perhaps that is why it managed to surprise me. It's my guess that director Lau Kar-leung was more hands on in this one than he was in the original. In case you don't know, he is a real kung fu legend who sadly passed away in 2013. He even let Ellen Chan do her own stunts. If Ellen seemed like an ordinary actress to you then think again. In one scene she is hanging on a pipe from a tall building and in one of the final scenes she gets kicked through a window with her face first. And I am not sure if this was some kind of running gag but Gordon Liu's wig from the original makes a return. At times it almost fooled me in being real hair but of course we know better. The Wig deserves an award for it's performance.
Believe it or not Tiger on the Beat is well worth your time. Although you do have to keep your expectations in check.
Conan Lee was quit skilled as a martial artist but for some reason has not been in that many movies. On Hong Kong Cinemagic it is stated that this was due to an enormous ego. Wikipedia however mentions he stopped acting so that he could take care of his ailing mother. Whether these claims are true or not fact is that Conan Lee is not the big name he could or should have been. Fortunately for us he is featured in some gems that are well worth your time.
The Cyprus Tigers however is not one of them. In fact it is one of those rare movies so appallingly bad you should stay clear from at all costs. I watched this since it's one of those titles I knew existed but never could get my hands on. Not uncommon for HK action films so it never really occurred to me that there might be other reasons why this one is hard to find. Now I know. It's atrocious. There are no redeeming factors whatsoever. The few action scenes that are present are incredibly short and over before you realize. And whatever there is action wise it's just average. Director Phillip Ko an actor and action director of many Shaw Brother films surely could do better? What about Simon Yam? And Robin Shou? Why were they part of this fiasco? It doesn't really look they wanted to be in this or took it seriously. If I had to guess they tricked some poor investors to shoot the film in Cyprus because they wanted to celebrate their holiday there instead of doing something meaningful with the locale. Since there is nothing in this film that could not have been made in Hong Kong. I would be shocked if it took them more than two or three days to film this. Don't even bother to get into the story. There is none. It's just one goofy moment after another. That typical HK comedy stuff you only can tolerate if it is interchanged with some phenomenal action. Well, this is like it is the other way around. You have some action interchanged with ninety percent goofiness. And not the fun kind in case you were wondering.
How to describe Gridlocked? It's a mix of Die Hard, Assault on Precinct 13 and The Hard Way. Now before you get all excited and happy you need to know one thing. It's bad. Real bad. And not the Michael Jackson or the so bad it becomes good kind.
Gridlocked strips down the movies it's inspired by removing all the elements that make it fun to watch in the first place. It's incredibly basic and minimal and it makes you wonder what they were going for. There is not even that much action until very late into the film. But chances are you will be bored to death long before that. It is quite sad that Dominic Purcell has been reduced to B stardom like this since he is capable of doing more. If you don't believe me then go track down a little show called John Doe and then come back to me. But for what it's worth his no nonsense hard boiled cop suits the movie just fine. It's even more tragic for Stephen Lang and Danny Glover since they are completely wasted in their roles and they obviously are only there to collect a pay check. I would have appreciated it if they had hammed up their performances like Nicolas Cage or offered something nice to chew on. Yes I got the "I am too old for this..." joke. It only reminded me of a vastly superior franchise that once was. Speaking of comedy. I read some comments and reviews where they kept saying how funny the film was. Take my word for it that above Lethal Weapon reference / joke was the funniest bit in the whole damn movie. Well, maybe another one in a scene during the credits. Most of the time every event is taken and played out very seriously and most characters are uninteresting and lifeless. All that is left is the action which is adequately choreographed but nothing else. No attempt has been made to make the action intense and enjoyable. It just action for the sake of action without thrills, excitement and style. Then what is the point? I have given this a fair shot and believe me that was quite tasking since I had to fight sleep throughout the film. But there are no redeeming factors whatsoever making this action flick a giant waste of your time. So stay clear!
Adequate Dutch parody on American cop / buddy movie!
The original Popoz is a Dutch sketch show on Comedy Central (Dutch). It's basically a parody on American cop shows and movies. I for one like this show very much because it does these parodies brilliantly and still gives it a little Dutch flavour without it becoming a mess. Maybe the International audience won't always get the jokes although most of them are pretty universal so I don't see any reason why they would not like it. Main characters Randy and Ivo both have some great chemistry and even when they are not speaking they are fascinating to look at. They easily could star in real serious cop films.
I don't know who came with the idea but they decided to make a full movie based on the show and unfortunately it is not as sharp as the show is. You can tell that the jokes from the sketches lose their impact when stretched out. Especially since not many fresh jokes have been added. But there are a few redeeming factors. Apart from the main characters there is self appointed sidekick Coco. The guys aren't particularly fond of him and one of the running jokes of the show is that they almost always manage to kill him off in each episode. In the film there is a fun play on this since we expect him to die and then he simply won't. Another running joke is the very sexy and attractive Ancilla Tilia as Leo and how Randy and Ivo view her. She is a pathologist and very serious about her job and doesn't do anything remotely sexy yet in their mind they only have very naughty thoughts of her. Too bad though that this time around they toned down their usual response. Actually a lot of the jokes have been made less offensive and rude. And that is killing the general vibe of the show a little.
I enjoyed this film but especially the fans of the show will have to deal with the fact it's less sharp and witty as usual.
The Return of John Constantine and it is glorious! (MILD spoilers)
Once upon a time there was a TV Show called Constantine on the NBC. In their infinite stupidity they cancelled the show and it was the end of the Hellblazer.
Enter Arrow the show on CW that manages to keep surprising it's audience every time you think it's getting predictable or repetitive. Arrow manages to wrap up one story arch in a satisfying way but also do something that as far as I can tell has not been done before. To bring back a character from a show that has been cancelled. I for one was sad that it did because it promised to be a good show had it given been a chance. Now I am going to spare you the rant about the dated Nielsen ratings and the treatment NBC gave the show. However I do think that the show really was heading in the right direction and maybe just maybe CW doing this crossover could mean a revival of the show. But never mind that for now. Just let the awesomeness of this sink in. Seriously even if this episode would just show us Constantine and Oliver playing cards it would be magnificent. Obviously Constantine is made better use off and Arrow becomes so much cooler because of that.
With all of this one would almost overlook the cliffhanger Haunted ends with. One that probably most of us knew was coming but were waiting for since his disappearance. It almost is astonishing how Arrow keeps things interesting and fun. If you weren't convinced before then you seriously have to reconsider and start watching the show. Yes it is that good.
More like a C version of Speed with many low moments. However there are a few high points that could make it worth your while!
You would think that a film with the title Heist in it would be all about that. Instead we get a simple robbery that does not go as planned and where three gang members end up on a bus. And where they are forced to keep the passengers hostage.
As intriguing as this sounds it gets downhill from here. Most events are predictable to a tee apart from a few surprises that do help redeem this flick somewhat. But seriously with a cast like this I can't but help to be disappointed. With names like Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dave Bautista, Gina Carano, Morris Chestnut, D. B. Sweeney, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kate Bosworth I expected a little more. Not much but come one what we got from this film is almost unacceptable. The only reason why I kept watching is because of the sincerity of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character. He only is involved since he needs the money for his daughter's surgery who has cancer. I am a sucker for that kind of melodrama especially if some of the main characters sell it well. I am not entirely sold on Gina Carano yet but I liked her part in this. For me it was far better than her role in breakthrough film Haywire. All the other actors are wasted. What happened to Robert De Niro? Why is he still acting? It does not seem like he is enjoying himself. He hasn't brought his A game in a long while now and it does not look he is going to very soon. It's almost embarrassing to see him like this. At least we were spared that 50 Cent was not involved.
Most of the film plays out as you expect and the action is decent enough but nothing really special. For a film with a duration of 90 minutes it feels like it takes forever. This is due to lack of real tension and build up of suspense. How can it be if director Scott Mann plays it safe and goes for the ending everyone can live with.
This is one of those movies that is decent enough when it is on television. I don't think this is worth seeing in theaters or watching on DVD or bluray.
Skyfall was the film in the reboot film series to bring it back to the old franchise we all love. Spectre should have been the perfect mix of updated Bond and the classic one. Sadly Spectre suffers from real identity problems.
Spectre opens spectacularly in Mexico City where they are celebrating Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos). I really loved it. Then the title sequence starts and I hear the song for the second time and it sounded even worse on the big screen. I fail to understand what this song has to do with Bond and the film. I literally sat in agony waiting for it to be over. If only I was prepared for what was coming next.
First the good stuff. Daniel Craig is excellent as James Bond. He really blended the modern Bond with the classic one quite well. It almost looked like he was having fun. But maybe that was because this might be his last and wanted to end on a good note. Or he just tried to fool us and still is up for playing Bond since it is rumoured he will do one more.
There is More Q. Ben Wishaw got to do more and it was very welcome. The action from what was present was nice too. There is a nice take on the classic Bond chase including the gadgets. It made me smile since it was a nice funny reference to old times. Spectre is filled with easter eggs and little references like that but honestly I did not catch them all since I was still in utter confusion about my viewing experience.
Because while I can't deny that there are some good things in this film there are equally or even more so bad ones. Spectre as an organization and the man heading it are underwhelming. Since Casino Royale we have been teased about a secret and dangerous criminal organization and when we finally get to meet the big chief and it's minions I can honestly say that it did not intrigue me in the slightest. Christoph Waltz as Blofeld is an incredible boring villain. He is only interesting because of his return into this franchise and who shares the same trades as the Blofeld from the older movies. It is said that he is everywhere hinting the fact that like the old Blofeld he has made several clones of himself. Plus his pet the white cat is back. Waltz did not add anything to his character. One of his henchman called Mr. Hinx played by Dave Bautista only is a fraction of what Jaws and Oddjob were. I had high hopes of him coming in at the most inconvenient times and making Bond's life so much more difficult. Instead he is out of the movie before you know it and almost seems like he was being mocked. (Would it not have been great if Jaws would barge into one of the scenes and starting hassling Mr. Hinx for stealing his thunder again siding with Bond since ultimately he is his own man?) Then you have the Bond girls. Monica Belluci gets like two minutes of screen time and it's one of the many moments we could have done without. It is almost astonishing to find out how underused she is. Are people aware that apart from her looks she actually can act? Madeleine Swann as Bond's new love interest fails to impress. Actress Léa Seydoux who plays Madeleine even insults the previous Bond girls by saying she is not cliché but a real person. Yeah right and I am Santa Clause. There is nothing real about her. She is only interesting because the plot tells she is. Otherwise she is incredibly forgettable. Spectre has a duration time of 148 minutes which is noticeable when it comes the pacing. It is completely off. It feels like the film takes forever in the quiet moments. It would not have felt like that if these moments were filled in with substance but unfortunately with such a poor script that would take a miracle. And what is even worse the cinema where I went to watch this film made me pay extra because of it's length.
Which brings me to my overall opinion of Spectre. It is forgettable, underwhelming and very disappointing. There are hardly any iconic or special Bond moments that stick. Skyfall might have been flawed but it was full of memorable moments and characters. Spectre does not even come close to the vibe Skyfall had but at the same time we have a Bond that is much more like his previous versions and therefore remarkable again. Maybe now you understand my confusion. I think I will come back to this review after I have viewed this a second time in the near future to see if my opinion changed.
Again an epic adventure that puts you on the edge of your seat!
Now with some mysteries solved Thomas and his gang adjust to their new environment only to find out they have been tricked again.
It takes only a few minutes for Thomas to figure out something is really wrong and from that point he rolls from one event to another. Where in the original the location for the most part was fixed and constrained now we get to see a glimpse of the real world out there and it is not pretty. Part of the enjoyment is not knowing what comes next so I will not reveal too much. What I do want to mention is that more and more Thomas seems to be embracing his leader qualities and a lot of people gladly want to follow him. I personally love these kinds of things since it makes it interesting for me. Like in the original this film is filled with great action sequences and thrills. If you were thinking that it would be hard to top the original in that department think again. Maze Runner: Scorch Trials is bigger and better throughout. While the overall tone is still quite serious more humour is added to the mix providing some welcome laughs. However some of the quieter moments do feel a little forced and I wished they would have made better use of them to deepen the characters a little more. Not that it is needed much since you do learn enough about them to know where they stand. The ending of this film sets up the third one quite nicely and again it makes me look forward to what it has to offer.
One remark I have to add. I read some reviews where book fans are outraged. Apparently the films don't follow the books as they should have. Now I understand that this can be very infuriating and frustrating. But as someone who has not read the books I have found myself enjoying these films since whether they are poor adaptations or not they are incredible enjoyable movies in their own right. Well made blockbuster action adventure films like these are very rare these days so I will embrace them wholeheartedly if they come along. Trust me on this if such a movie is crap then I will be among the first to critique the hell out of them.
But main point is that Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials like the original is immensely fun. And that ladies and gentlemen is important too. A must watch!
Usually it's a good thing if you can't define a movie by just one genre since that often gives the viewer more than they bargained for. Unfortunately Crimson Peak does not do anything convincing no matter the genre you favour, it just disappoints.
Crimson Peak starts real well. It does not waste any time to draw the viewer in. Right from the start we are served one creepy scene that serves as bait and basically tricks you into believing that at least the film will be compelling. And the haunting setting and other visuals back this feeling up. However at one point it feels like details about the supposed mystery are prolonged and avoided so strongly that very soon I suspected that there is not that much of a mystery. Here I was waiting to be dazzled by some awesome twist only to be let down by the incredible poor storytelling. Whatever was build up suspense wise (mostly by visuals) was immediately gone and turned Crimson Peak into a real bore fest. Mind you it's never super bad but it's not good either. Seeing how Guillermo del Toro normally is a reliable director I can't help but feel that he is slipping. His show The Strain also is filled with incredible poor plot developments. Crimson Peak is so much worse since none of the characters are remotely interesting or compelling. I did not care about any of them. Much emphasis is put on the romantic relationship between Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska). And I did not buy any second of it. Not that their acting was that bad but the plot failed to show us the sexual tension and love between them. Both Thomas and Edit act like idiots since there were many opportunities to take action. Nothing prevented them to do so. If the plot had given us some real reasons I could have accepted that. Surprise surprise the plot even fails to do such a simple task. Seriously at one point I just wanted Crimson Peak to be over with cause everything was so pointless and all for the sake of romance that was barely there.
By the time things get revealed to you it does not really matter since you will have figured out what is going on long before that. It's safe to say that Crimson Peak is incredibly underwhelming and a total disappointment. I can't recommend this. Only good enough to watch very late at night or a rainy Sunday afternoon.