The Raid 2 is one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen.… MoreThe Raid 2 is one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen. Gareth Evans has stepped up his already impressive game and with this 2 hours 30 minute action epic, he has proven himself to be a true visionary behind the camera. Where The Raid: Redemption was a kinetic, fight-a-minute thrill ride, its sequel is built around a story. You won't feel its run time because you will be too engulfed in its gritty tale about family, loyalty, betrayal, and identity. Three crime families ultimately end up at war with each other with Rama being caught in the middle as an undercover cop exposing corruption.
Amidst the drama are incredibly choreographed, expertly staged, and graphically violent fight scenes. Weapons, hand-to-hand, gunfights, car chases, The Raid 2 has it all and it doesn't let up! There are at least two action scenes that I would rank among the best in recent memory. On a filmmaking standpoint, the film is beautifully framed, edited with skill and precision - it's so nice to see the actors doing their own stunts - and the sound mixing adds entire new dimensions to what an action film can do. The Raid 2 is a masterpiece!
Only Lovers Left Alive presents its vampires like ordinary people.… MoreOnly Lovers Left Alive presents its vampires like ordinary people. They simply exist like normal human beings, adapting with the times, mastering the art of moving around the world before sunrise, and have their own ways of obtaining blood, which does not involve killing or turning humans into their kind. Vampires have never been depicted this way.
You really get absorbed in their lifestyle. There's no violence at all in the film. Sure, there's blood and people die (off-screen), but the film is more about how the vampires feel about their lives. Adam and Eve frequently refer to humans as "zombies" because they perceive the race is entering into a phase where all inspiration or innovation is gone and human beings just exist for the sake of existing. This makes the two of them question whether they even want to stay alive for the next hundred to thousand years because what would there be to look forward to? This is a totally engrossing film that blends music, romance and drama to create a unique mythology in which vampires exist in a human world. It uses the art of film as a language to influence its audience to think.
Oculus is freaky. That's all you need to know. Now go see it.
If you… MoreOculus is freaky. That's all you need to know. Now go see it.
If you want me to go in more detail, I won't. The narrative progression explains everything you need to know and there's nary a plot hole in sight. The performances are solid and the story is unique. Jumping through different time periods, Oculus chronicles the story of a mirror that siblings Kaylie and Tim think is haunted and is responsible for the murder of their parents. Tim spent eleven years in prison undergoing psychiatric evaluation for being convicted of this murder. But Kaylie knows the truth, or at least she thinks she does. This mirror has a crazy defense mechanism in that it can possess you, make you do things or transport you to places without you being aware. The jumping through different time periods goes a little into excessive hyperdrive in the third act but it's still intense. There is some predictability, but overall, this is a well made horror film. Mike Flanagan shows great control over the visual style and the story, and the actors completely sell the story.
This film is just as scary and as enjoyably effective as The Conjuring.
One problem that Dracula Untold faces with its portrayal of vampires… MoreOne problem that Dracula Untold faces with its portrayal of vampires is that it doesn't really create an interesting mythology for these creatures. Terrified that the Turkish army will conquer his small village, Vlad strikes a deal to be turned into a vampire creature and thus, present the strength to single handedly destroy his opponents. But the audience doesn't get a sense of where vampires come from, why they exist in the first place, and most importantly, why does the thirst for blood turn them into senseless killing machines.
Dracula Untold is a PG-13 film that is really just about staging fun action and cool special effects. Sadly, it does neither. Thousands of people die in Dracula Untold but the fight scenes are badly staged and cut too quickly so you don't see any blood or anyone actually dying from a wound. The special effects aren't atrocious but nothing special. Every time the sun shines down on a vampire, the skin burning effect looks silly. The vampires also look heavily computer generated, bringing to mind Van Helsing as opposed to Interview with the Vampire.
Whatever The Raid: Redemption lacks in story, it makes up for with the… MoreWhatever The Raid: Redemption lacks in story, it makes up for with the coolest fight scenes I have seen all year. A SWAT team in Jakarta raids an apartment that is run by a drug lord. We follow Rama, an officer whose brother happens to be one of the drug lord's henchmen. Unfortunately for the SWAT team, the drug lord knows they're coming and is ready for battle.
Writer, director, editor, and choreographer Garreth Evans could be the next best action film director. He has surrounded himself with actors/stuntmen who know what they're doing. He frames the action in many long takes so you can follow it and be blown away by the incredible martial arts on display.
Most films like this do not need a story to work if the action is good, but The Raid develops its characters enough so we care about their survival. There are unexpected plot twists that keep the story from being too predictable. And last but not least, Mike Shinoda's music score could not have been better utilized. The Raid is a great action picture.
The first X-Men gave us promise. X2 made us proud to be comic book… MoreThe first X-Men gave us promise. X2 made us proud to be comic book fans. X3 makes us want to cower down and cry. It's crap from the opening shot right to its cliffhanger ending, which is quite ironic since the film is titled "The Last Stand." There's no excuse for such sloppy, mismanaged execution especially when the budget is a whopping $210 million. It's really tough for me to explain how bad this film is because I could pretty much pick apart every scene and explain what is wrong with it.
Too many characters, poorly written dialogue, clumsily staged and edited fight scenes, and awful CGI are just some of the many problems with X-Men: The Last Stand. I swear I have seen better use of green screen in student films. I hated X3. It's a slap in the face to fans of the source material and a complete nose dive off the cliff in comparison to the previous films in the series. Not since The Godfather Part III has the concluding act in a well-received trilogy been so monumentally awful.
X2: X-Men United not only improves on its predecessor in every way, it… MoreX2: X-Men United not only improves on its predecessor in every way, it creates a stunning universe populated with incredible characters. Everything I loved about the original is here while its missteps have been corrected. This is truly a great film and one of the best sequels in recent memory. It begins with an incredible effects display as Nightcrawler takes out a whole security team. Then it builds on its story, tying in Wolverine's past with a psychotic military general set to eradicate mutants off the planet with an ingenious and diabolical scheme.
The action has been kicked up a few notches, complete with plane chases, sieges, and a Wolvering vs Lady Deathstrike fight that is just outstanding. With so many characters to follow it would have been easy to stumble with development. But every character has his or her own conflict to deal with, and it is resolved by the end. The film juggles its side plots incredibly well, even giving the villain a moment for us to sympathize. Expertly crafted to a fault, X2 is the X-Men franchise at its peak, in hopes that future installments will continue to amaze me the way this one has.
The success of X-Men was so great that it seemed to pave the way for… MoreThe success of X-Men was so great that it seemed to pave the way for Spider-Man, Hulk, Batman Begins, and a slew of other successful movies based on comic books. So in a way, one could probably make an argument that director Bryan Singer is responsible for the superhero movie craze that is now the staple of the summer season.
You can't deny the significance of X-Men in the evolution of blockbuster cinema. As a movie though, it unfortunately does feel like the obligatory pilot episode to a great series. It puts all the pieces into place, sets up the themes, and introduces some great characters. But the lame fight choreography, wonky dialogue, and vaguely explored social issues keep it from being a great stand alone film. It's nice to look back at a time when movies didn't resort to blowing up cities at the climax or forcing epic action sequences to entertain, but the film hasn't quite aged all that well. On the plus side, Hugh Jackman and Anna Paquin steal the show. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan show great chemistry. And the story sets the stage for its sequels very well.
Fourteen months to conceive, write, develop, shoot, edit, and release… MoreFourteen months to conceive, write, develop, shoot, edit, and release a film is not a lot of time and Annabelle is proof of that. It's a rushed, underdeveloped, and completely ineffective attempt to cash in on a new prospect. It takes one aspect from The Conjuring that was effectively creepy for the ten minutes it appeared and tries to develop it into an entire feature to which it fails epically. And there's a lot more wrong than that. The acting feels is low quality porn caliber. The scares are pretty much lame jump scares that are predictable as all hell. The story makes no sense and the dialogue is horrendous. This is an actual line from a cop trying to console Mia when she tells him she's seeing strange things: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." What the hell does that mean? Believe me when I say I don't even think Daniel Day Lewis could have made the film's lines believable. And just in case you don't believe me, the director is John R. Leonetti who also made Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2. Annabelle is equally as atrocious.
The Conjuring is a testament to all non-believers that creaking doors,… MoreThe Conjuring is a testament to all non-believers that creaking doors, dead silences, noises coming from other rooms, and dark cellars can still be creepy when done well. Director James Wan has always been very technically proficient, especially with creating tension. Here he's been given a great script that explores its characters, and exceptionally strong actors who not only have great chemistry together, they actually look terrified (this goes a long way for the audience).
This well told little horror film does not do anything particularly new. It's got ghost elements, a doll, and even an exorcism, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in being the most effectively scary film in recent memory. I had a blast watching it. There are images so expertly crafted, I actually gripped my theatre chair a few times. Plus, that Annabelle doll.....freaky! Great job all around. Finally a studio horror film that shows real ingenuity, craft, and respect for the horror genre.