The final chapter of the series, Taken 3 is full of thrills and… MoreThe final chapter of the series, Taken 3 is full of thrills and excitement. This time ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills is framed for the death of his ex-wife and must go on the run in order to evade the police long enough to discover who killed her and get revenge. The change from being a foreign espionage thriller to a domestic one is refreshing, and the law enforcement pursuit is also a nice inclusion. Additionally, the murder mystery and investigation are done fairly well, and is quite engaging. However, the characters are poorly written, giving the actors little to work with. But despite its problems, overall Taken 3 is a solid conclusion to the series.
"That's a lot of dead whores." Salma Hayek stars as Everly in this… More"That's a lot of dead whores." Salma Hayek stars as Everly in this gritty and ultraviolent action film. A quaint little Christmas story, Everly, a prostitute who's been enslaved for four years, tries to escape from the apartment complex that she's been held captive in and reunite with her estranged mother and child, but first she'll have to fight her way through dozens of henchman and assassins. The action scenes and fight choreography are well-done, and bring a lot of energy to the film. Yet the tone stays rather light by using black comedy to alleviate the violence. However, limiting the scope to a single apartment and a hallway gives a rather cheap, B-movies feel to the film. And aside from Hayek, the performances aren't that good. Everly has its moments, but mostly it's just mindless action and gratuitous violence.
Atmospheric and suspenseful, Breaking the Girls is a B-grade version… MoreAtmospheric and suspenseful, Breaking the Girls is a B-grade version of a Hitchcockian thriller. After being fired from her job law student Sara Ryan is befriended by a rich socialite, but the friendship soon turns dark when the two begin to talk about forming a murder pact. Both Agnes Bruckner and Madeline Zima give strong performances; particularly Zima, whose role is quite demanding. And there's some mystery and intrigue to the murder plots (even though they're rather formulaic). Yet overall, Breaking the Girls is a mediocre crime drama that's pretty by-the-numbers.
Exploring the hardships of adolescence, Cracks is a provocative period… MoreExploring the hardships of adolescence, Cracks is a provocative period drama. When a new student at an English all-girls boarding school begins questioning her instructor's integrity, she finds that the other students start to resent and ostracize her. Starring Eva Green, Juno Temple, and Imogen Poots, the film has a solid cast, and they give some good performances. However, they're playing pretty stereotypical characters, and the plot is formulaic. Still, there are some hints of intrigue and suspense; but it's not developed very well. Yet despite its lack of originality, Cracks is an engaging film that's atmosphere and beautifully shot.
The indie film Bloomington is an interesting character drama that… MoreThe indie film Bloomington is an interesting character drama that follows a young woman's journey of self-discovery and search for independence. Former child star Jackie Kirk goes away to college and becomes involved with one of the instructors, but when she gets a chance to revive her Hollywood career it puts a strain on her relationship. Newcomer Sarah Stouffer gives an impressive performance and has a magnetic screen presence. Also, the writing does a good job at preventing the film from getting overly melodramatic and clichéd. In fact, the story and character development are rather minimalistic. Yet despite been a bit toned down, Bloomington is an entertaining coming-of-age film.
Anatomy of a Love Seen is a provocative and stylistic film that looks… MoreAnatomy of a Love Seen is a provocative and stylistic film that looks at the dichotomy of art and realism. The story follows two actresses who fell in love on a film set as they return for a re-shoot after a tumultuous breakup, and must work through their issues in order to complete the project; but unknown to them all is not as it seems. Marina Rice Bader's directing is especially good and creates an authentic feel to the film set motif. And both Sharon Hinnendael and Jill Evyn give fairly strong performances. However, the script is rather weak; as the audience is thrust into the middle of things without a clear idea of what's going on. Still, despite some poor storytelling, Anatomy of a Love Seen provides an interesting exploration of the nature of love.
An eye-opening documentary about the sex trade, Tricked is provocative… MoreAn eye-opening documentary about the sex trade, Tricked is provocative and daring. The film interviews several former prostitutes, pimps, and law enforcement agents as they share their experiences; with a focus on how women are lured and trapped into the lifestyle. The stories have a real earnestness to them that's quite compelling, and at times shocking. However, there's not much follow-through on a lot of the disturbing issues that are brought-up in these discussions. Yet even if it doesn't get remarkably in-depth, Tricked is a captivating and hard-hitting look at the growing problem of sex trafficking in America.
From Paul Thomas Anderson comes the noir-ish dark comedy Inherent… MoreFrom Paul Thomas Anderson comes the noir-ish dark comedy Inherent Vice. Set in California during the '70s, a private eye named Doc Sportello goes looking for an ex-girlfriend when she disappears after coming to him for help. Unfortunately the script is terrible, and is full of convoluted subplots that go nowhere and that don't make any sense. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Joanna Newsom, and Owen Wilson all give good performances, and the costumes and set designs are remarkably well done. But the storytelling is so poor that everything gets lost in the monotony. A poorly made film, Inherent Vice is a chaotic mess that ends up being pointless.
Do the Hustle....the Kung Fu Hustle. A hilarious satire of kung fu… MoreDo the Hustle....the Kung Fu Hustle. A hilarious satire of kung fu films, Kung Fu Hustle is entertaining and full of laughs. When the Axe gang tries to muscle in on a low-rent housing complex called Pig Sty Alley they get more than they bargain for, as three martial arts masters living there in seclusion step up to defend their homes. The fight scenes are choreographed quite well, as are the dance scenes. And the comedy is pretty funny, though it gets overly cartoonish and silly at times. Yet despite some weakness, Kung Fu Hustle is a lot of fun.
"Always bet on Blart!" Even worse than the original, Paul Blart: Mall… More"Always bet on Blart!" Even worse than the original, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is a clichéd and formulaic screwball comedy that doesn't deliver any laughs. Starting with an immediately reversal of the happy ending from the last film by having his wife divorce him in the prolog (which is a horrible way to begin), Paul Blart is now a has been whose 15 minutes of fame has past; but he's forced to taken on a gang of thieves once again, while attending a security convention in Las Vegas, when his daughter is taken hostage. The writing is incredibly awful; featuring cheesy character stereotypes and horrendous dialog. And Kevin James seems to be phoning in his performance, and doesn't have any charm. In fact, none of the performances are any good. Also, the sketch comedy and slapstick comes off as extremely lame. Paul Bart: Mall Cop 2 is an atrocious film, and what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas.