Sunday, June 29, 2014

Taken 2 2012 8 out of 10

Taken 2   2012  8  out of 10

Taken 2 was an extremely simplistic sequel to the superior original which featured Liam Nesson channeling his inner Mel Gibson and rescuing his daughter from sex slave traders,  after she is kidnapped in Paris.   Simple isn't necessarily bad in this case.  In the sequel he and his wife are taken by the man whose son he killed in the original while they are visiting him in Istanbul.  Once again they are messing with the wrong guy.  Liam escapes with the help of his daughter, after she eludes the bad guys back at the hotel.  There are a lot of tense and exciting action sequences and car chases and Liam once again proves that he can play a kick ass action star.  The original Taken is a better film with a more fully fleshed out script, but Taken 2 delivers as a great companion piece.  I hope if they do a planned Taken 3 that they don't put his family in jeopardy in the third adventure and just give him a great adventure/spy/assassin story to go along with the top notch action.
This is my type of action movie....I love when the good guy is willing to do whatever it takes to save the people that he cares about,  even if that means getting ruthless.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Veronica Mars 2014 7+ out of 10

Veronica Mars 2014   7+  out of 10

The Veronica Mars movie was basically a love letter or thank you note to the fans of the TV show.

Funded by a kickstarter program it delivered pretty much exactly what you would hope for as a fan of the show.  It featured tons of characters from the show and it centered on bad boy Logan Echolls getting in trouble again and calling Veronica .  Veronica  has moved on with her life back and is a big city lawyer, but gets sucked back into everything she left behind again.   Veronica  returns to her hometown of Neptune during her reunion weekend to try and solve a murder that Logan is being blamed for.   The plot works excellently for fans of the show as it brings everyone back into familiar territory.   The mystery is decent,  although not as good as some from the show itself .  Those mysteries could last for an entire season and with a movie you have to solve it a lot quicker than that.    I enjoyed the movie being a fan of the show, but  could see how someone that didn’t know the entire history of the show would be totally lost.  It caters to its fans and not a wide audience, since it relays on knowledge of the shows history throughout the movie.   I’m glad I got to take this journey down memory lane with Veronica and the gang---but it probably would have been more suited as a TV movie reunion than trying to put it out in theaters.  It definitely made me miss the TV show and wish there were more episodes.

If you were a fan of the show---you will like it.
If you aren’t a fan of the show---rent the show on Netflix to see if you like it first –because otherwise you will be lost trying to watch or care about the movie.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chronicle 2012 9 out of 10 (Directed by Josh Trank - Star Wars Spin-off director)

Chronicle 2012   9 out of 10

Star Wars news has been coming fast and furious lately.  It is hard to keep track of all the breaking news.  When it was announced that Josh Trank would be directing one of the new Star Wars Spin offs ----all I could think was " Who the hell is Josh Trank?"   I wanted to to hear names like Joss Whedon  or Spielberg...not Josh Trank.    I immediately looked him up and noticed that he had directed Chronicle a sci-fi movie in the lost footage genre that focused on a story about three high school students that make a discovery in an underground cave while attending a barn party.  The three kids end up with mysterious super hero like powers.  I had put this 2012 movie in my Netflix queue awhile back, but hadn't gotten around to watching it yet so the Star Wars connection moved it to the top of my queue.

The lost footage style of the film seemed forced as usually, but the story of these three friends discovering and learning how to use their new found powers was excellent.  I had thought several years ago that if I ever wrote an invisible man story it would be based on how having these powers could break down a persons o mortality and this film did exactly that with super powers.  We get to see the main characters at first having fun with their new powers in childish ways that most teenagers in reality probably would. They test their powers in the backyard and then play pranks on people at the grocery store as their powers grow.   Of course their goofing off leads to someone getting hurt and they then must discuss that they need to establish rules for how they can use their powers.  It was a strange film that really got into how having these powers would effect someone in the real world.  I absolutely loved the story and how it went down.  Definitely one of the better lost footage films I've seen so far.

The Star Wars Spin off connection:
I now know who Josh Trank is and if his handling of the Jedi like abilities of the characters in this film are any indication of what he may be capable of with a Star Wars spin-off then I'm all in.  The movie was excellent and really got into how a person could become in touch with his darker side with just a little nudge here and there.   A normal person could keep his morality --but someone with super powers may have a harder time walking in the light side of the force.   I would have liked to see Josh Trank's take on the fall of Anakin after seeing this film.    So well I still hold out hope that Whedon will one day get his hands on a Star Wars film.....for now ..I'm excited to see what Trank brings to the table

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Lockout 2012 7 out of 10

The Lockout  2012   7 out of 10

Lockout is basically Escape from New York on a space station.  The story is pretty much a rip-off of the famous John Carpenter movie with Guy Pearce in the lead role previously played so well by Kurt Russell.    The movie is an effective and interesting attempt at remaking Escape to New York and Guy Pearce does an excellent job as the guy sent into the prison to rescue the President's daughter.   Maggie Grace does a good job in the role of the daughter as well.   The film has some good action sequences and was a fun ride and only suffers when compared to John Carpenter's film,  which had such a great soundtrack.    This film is missing that quality soundtrack.  If you are up to a fun new look on the themes from Escape From New York ---check this out,  or skip it and just watch John Carpenter's superior version.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2012 5 out of 10 (The Less than Amazing Spider-Man)

The Less Than Amazing Spider-Man  2012   5 out of 10

    I don't mind sequels in fact there are many sequels that I'm exited for inculding the upcoming Jurassic World and Star Wars films. What I can't stand are unnecessary Reboots.   Reboot to me is like a bad word and is probably the reason I skipped this movie in the theaters.    Spider- Man starring the underwhelming Tobey Maguire came out in 2002 and had sequels in 2004 and 2007.    Then in 2012 they decide to reboot the series?    We already know how Spider-Man became Spider- Man,  just like we already know how Superman became Superman.   Rebooting a franchise that was only 5 years ago is a stupid waste of time.  Just tell a new and interesting story without rehashing things we already know.  

    The Amazing Spider-Man failed to entertain me because the first half of the movie is just a retelling of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man  (been there and done that already).  Seeing his origin story again left me disengaged and uninterested in the rest of the movie.   If the previous Spider Man hadn't existed I may have felt differently, but it was just too much of the same thing all over again, like watching the Psycho remake.

     My favorite movie of all-time  Raiders of the Lost Ark never even bother to establish an origin for the character.  We just joined Indiana Jones in the middle of one of his adventures and that alone set up who the character was.  James Bond is another great example of this--- in fact they can even change the lead actor and just jump right into an adventure.    I just can't understand why some of these well known and already established franchises feel the need to reboot and tell the same origins story all over again.   Ok....we get it.... (non spoiler)  he was bite by a Spider and got powers and  his uncle dies and he is wants justice for him ....move along.   Stop wasting my time telling me how Superman came to Earth or Spider-man got bite and just tell me a good story already.

   The movie itself was alright --I've just seen it already.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

World Without End 1956 6 out of 10

World Without End 1956  6 out of  10

The movie plays out like many Twilight Zone and several Star Trek episodes I've seen before .  Four Astronauts are returning from Mars and are propelled through space and crash land on a planet.  After exploring a bit they discover that they have crash landed on Earth  (but not Earth as they knew it).  Instead it is an Earth with some mutants in bad makeup on the surface and some meek dorky dudes in colored head gear living below the surface.  It is a very typical movie of the era that follows a similar theme to many lost civilization movies.  The main characters don't just assimilate to their new circumstances, but instead insist on rebuilding the society they once knew.   If I were them I would have just been content living in the underground city with the hottie futuristic space babes that seemed to like the astronauts over their own meek  men, but no they had to go and fight off the mutants in bad Sci-fi makeup.    It was a decent sci-fi film with a good yet often seen sci-fi elements.   A time travel precursor to what would be Rod Taylor's big break out role The Time Machine, which has similiar themes several years later.

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After Dusk They Come 2009 5 out of 10

After Dusk They Come  2009  5 out of 10

While watching this movie the other day on Chiller TV I had the feeling that I'd  seen this movie already.   And I was right....Apparently the theme of a small group of people going out on a Gilligan's island excursion and getting lost on an island with cannibals is intriguing enough to me to watch it again.....But it has a completely different cast.  The last time I saw this movie it was called The Lost Tribe.  See my brief review of that version of the movie below.

The Story behind this movie existing twice with a completely  cast is simple.   The movie was made starring Jewel Staite of Firefly fame which is this version.  The filmmakers finished the entire movie --didn't like it and decided to completely remake the entire film.   The movies are pretty much exactly the same.   It is LOST meets Predator.  I liked the original version that they scrapped slightly better and that may just be a result of Jewel Staite that I already have a connection with from loving Firefly as the main character.  
 Both movies were underwhelming Predator rip-offs where the girl in the Arnold role spend more time hiding than actually fighting back.   This version was really slow at getting going for the first 40 minutes or so and finally gets decent within the last 10 minutes when Jewel's character is basically stripped down to her underwear.

Pick one of these to watch based on which cast you like better---there is no need to watch it twice like I did.


P.S.  Is every movie involving water filmed partially in Long Beach?   There trip leaves from Long Beach , The Queen Mary is clearly seen in the background just like in Megashark vs Mechashark   (which was supposedly in Australia) ...  This time they leave Long Beach and in two days end up in the Antilles???   Go Figure.

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 2013 7 out of 10

Anchorman 2  2013   7 out of 10

The Movie
Anchorman 2 was an a really mixed bag of a movie.   As a full movie is was a little underwhelming and typical of a comedy sequel that doesn't live up to the expectations of the original.  It was a very silly film with a plot that was really unimportant to the experience or enjoyment of the film.   Some moments in the film were just plain dumb,  other moments were laugh out loud brilliant (like the Cruise control RV crash).  So despite it flaws any comedy in this day and age that can make me laugh out loud has done something right.  Too many modern day comedies feel like a bunch of unconnected sketches and Anchorman 2 suffers from that as well. The only recent movie that succeeds for me in having a fully functional 1980's era comedy plot was We Are the Millers. 

How to rate this film?
 It is really hard for me to rate it.....I remember the first time I watched the original Anchorman and gave it a 6 out of 10, but like many other Will Ferrell movies.... it grew on me to eventually be a 9 out of 10 and a comedy classic.   Will Ferrell just makes me laugh for some reason  (unlike say Jack Black).   Even in a bad SNL sketch--he found ways to shine and as a result this film will probably grow on me as well,  despite its not having a quality plot  and re threading on much of what it had already done in the original.  The star studded newscaster battle was great in the original and just fell flat for me the second time around.  It was a very inconsistent film and yet its high moments help to wash away some of its really dumb moments when reflecting on it a day later.
So for now it gets a 7 out of 10 for me.....

 The DVD definitely enhances the movie.  The menu screen is super funny ---watching the stars doing bad disco dancing (Carrell kills it with his lackluster dance moves.)   The gag reel is almost more enjoyable than the movie itself.  Watching the extras it definitely looks like the actors truly enjoyed making the movie.  I haven't even dug into half of the extras yet---but with all the different improv lines and behind the scenes features, it is definitely on its way to being a great DVD and definitely worth buying for any Will Ferrell fan.

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