Fantastic. Glorious. Gruesome. The Raid 2 does everything the first… MoreFantastic. Glorious. Gruesome. The Raid 2 does everything the first film got right and enhances hit tenfold. Sure, a film like this will only hit hard with martial arts, action, foreign film and violence aficionados, but by god if it doesn't just hit that right chord inside you I don't know what will.
Iko Uwais returns as Rama, the cop turned undercover cop in the second coming to weed out his brother's killer and ultimately, a rat infested underground full of dirty cops and gangsters. The plot is certainly over-the-top and pretty familiar with the certain tropes you'd expect from a gangster flick, but what Gareth Evans does correctly is he doesn't go too far outside the box. He's not trying to rewrite any rules here. You've got the son who wants to take over the business from a father who won't give it up. Two warring factions. One man stuck in the middle. Clean. Classic. Bloody.
The action is top notch. Granted, I will point out there were a few cuts that didn't quite gel as seamlessly during some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes toward the end of the flick and I'm almost sure some of the dialogue wasn't perfect on the subtitles, but let's forgive these small nuances.
What Evans did with the first film and continues with the second is the authenticity of the sound and gruesome disfigurement of limbs during the fights. Everything pops. It was longer than the first. I wouldn't go as far to say better than the first even though my rating is half a star better the second time around. The video game mentality of having 'bosses' and 'mini bosses' that Rama has to go through just compounds the nerd inside me until I'm giddy in my seat with glee as body parts are broken and blood is spilled.
Although I was hoping the Raid would be my monumental… MoreReview 300!
Although I was hoping the Raid would be my monumental 300th review, I could not pass up the opportunity to add yet ANOTHER Statham flick to the list. His movies must make up a good 1% of my collection. While we may not have the best Statham movie, we certainly don't have the worst. It has been a while since he made something above average, and in this Stallone-screenplay, he comes in just below the bar. The cast does a great job. Kate Bosworth and Wynona Ryder were viable female participants and James Franco was pretty at home as the bad guy. I wish he was a little darker even. Toward the end they tried to humanize him in the final minute of the movie, which felt like a forced turn. We also get the introduction of Izabela Vidovic as Statham's daughter. It's tough to tell with kids like this, but she appears to have a bright future in the business.
The combat and action is well done. The plot is easy to follow. However, you won't find anything out of the ordinary or improved upon with this generic storyline.
David Gordon Green follows up his acclaimed 'Prince Avalanche' with… MoreDavid Gordon Green follows up his acclaimed 'Prince Avalanche' with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch with 'Joe'. Another great one/two tandem in Nicolas Cage who returns to the screen with yet another role that feels specifically carved out for his craziness and Tye Sheridan who is gaining more mature roles as you continues to act.
Looking back at Green's movie list, many of them involve a friendship no matter how odd or deformed they may seem. His last two are his best. There's a great portrayal here of a hard life in the South. It's none descriptive on location, but you get the feeling you work or you suffer. Sometimes the bare minimum is enough.
While this film seems critically above average, and I'll agree, it's nothing that will win Cage an award, but it's nice to see in a role that fit only for him. It's really the first since 2010 he's been so compelling on the silver screen. Flashes like this show why he's one of the better actors of our time.
The Cap is back! Marvel keeps moving right along with their 'phases'… MoreThe Cap is back! Marvel keeps moving right along with their 'phases' with Captain America the winter Soldier. A much more serious, superior entry to the series than the first, it feels every movie builds on what worked and adds even more to the table the 2nd time around than the first.
Chris Evans gives the most American performance you can wrap your head around as the steadfast Steve Rodgers. However, this time, we get to see more of the relationship between him and Scar Jo as Black Widow. Anthony Mackey was a great casting addition as Falcon, and I'm happy (hopefully) he'll stick around for a few more films. Sam Jackson as Fury is one of his better characters he's played (and he should probably stick with it for the foreseeable future) and Robert Redford was just sinister enough to play the role of Hydra henchman.
Where does this fall on the Marvel movie scale? Well if Avengers is still the best entry of the entire series, Thor 2, Iron Man 1 & 3, and the Amazing Spiderman (new one) rank higher, it's behind all those but above Iron Man 2, Thor 1, and its predecessor.
I liked the seriousness and torn themes this movie added to the fold. Finally we get someone who questions the all mighty SHIELD. Relationships were strengthened and it easily sets up for the 3rd film. The few things that didn't quite work were forced dialogue humor (it's better when it flows freely) and the lack of threats outside of the Winter Soldier. Hydra actually played second fiddle even though they were still considered top baddie.
The action was awesome. The hand to hand combat was precise. Cap kicks ass. Stay after the credits.
Nothing better than a well acted, slightly cheesy, American hero… MoreNothing better than a well acted, slightly cheesy, American hero action movie. Chris Evans is endearing as Steve Rodgers. I know many people thought him being cast in two roles for Marvel (Torch/Capt.) was a wrong move. I can tell you he's excellent as both, but Steve Rodgers is Chris Evans. Great action, hand-to-hand combat, gun play and shield throwing all add to the excellent 1940's futuristic retro vibe.
Hugo Weaving plays a sinister Red Skull as the leader of misfits. Hayley Atwell is super pretty and Tommy Lee provides more laughs than you'd think he's capable of as the General.
This movie is a goldmine of comic book lore with Howard Stark making an appearance and how he obtains the power to put Stark Industries on the map from what we saw in Iron Man.
The effects throughout the movie, from Evan's appearance as a scrawny little man to buffed out super hero, really add to the realism that the actors provided. My only gripe was some of the scenes looked a tad too CGI and the explanation of the cube everyone's after wasn't really expressed, which may confuse some viewers not familiar with the story-line.
In the end, we have a solid, emotionally well directed movie full of action with some solidly cast characters who bring life into their roles.
Stay for the end credits and post credits. A very nice prelude to what's to come in the marvel universe!
It sure has been a while since I've seen the charm and steel of Kurt… MoreIt sure has been a while since I've seen the charm and steel of Kurt Russell on camera, but with 'The Art of the Steal', we get a perfect balance of both with some pretty good humor thrown in for good measure. This movie has a terrific cast and some smart dialogue for the characters. Unfortunately, even with those two being integral to a film's success, this one suffers from lack of originality.
You'll get the feeling it pulled from a few other heist films, especially Ocean's Eleven, with the whole looking ahead while someone explains the actual process of the heist technique.
Please sit through it though. Not too much out of Jonathan Sobol's camp, but with a fast pace and likeable cast, even if they aren't fleshed out outside Russell and maybe Dillon, it's a good ride.