Archive for the ‘FILM review’ Category

film review – SHAOLIN

September 13, 2011

Hong Kong filmmaker Benny Chan has earned a name for himself by directing a string of solid action films including New Police Story, Gen-X Cops and the overlooked Connected. Always a solid director, Chan has come into his own with what is easily his best film—an incredible mix of action, drama, and a showcase of powerhouse acting by his cast. Shaolin stars Andy Lau as General Huo, a cold-blooded, power-hungry military leader with no compassion. When Hou attempts to assassinate his oldest friend and comrade-in-arms, he finds that himself fighting for his own life as his second-in-command (Nicholas Tse) stages a coup. With his dying daughter in his arms, Hou seeks refuge in a Shaolin temple, where he undergoes a spiritual transformation. Under the guidance of the other monks, including Jackie Chan in a show-stealing supporting role, Hou becomes a new man, but the man he was is still threatened by his enemies, who will stop at nothing to destroy him. (more…)

film review – THE INTERRUPTERS

August 22, 2011

With his earlier documentary Hoop Dreams, director Steven James crafted one of the most compelling and emotionally resonant docs of all time. James returns to the inner-city streets of Chicago with The Interrupters, a documentary no less emotionally or intellectually compelling than Hoop Dreams, yet infinitely more urgent in what it has to say. Profiling a group of conflict mediators known as “Violence Interrupters,” the film spends a year in the life of ex-cons turned counselors determined to end the heartbreaking cycle of violence in Chicago. The film’s refreshing candor is balanced by the bleak brutality of violence in Chicago, making for an emotional tempest that humanizes the people often portrayed by the media as savages. Employed by the non-profit organization Cease Fire, Violence Interrupters are like missionaries dispatched to plague-ridden neighborhoods infected with the deadly disease of unchecked rage that leads to beatings, stabbings, shootings and murder. James’s portrait of the men and women who jump into volatile environments moments before the eruption of violence is harrowing and inspiring. The Interrupters can be difficult at times to watch, because it offers a glimpse at a grim reality that exists in this country. At the same time, this is a film that serves as a reminder that redemption is possible, that each of us can overcome the worst of our deeds and emerge as better human beings. It is a film that proves that when hope is merged with action, things can change.


July 8, 2010

The classic 1987 sci-fi action flick Predator gave us more than its share of memorable lines, most notably what would eventually become the title of future-governor Jess Ventura’s book, I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed. Sadly, this sequel, while entertaining enough to offer an escape from whatever summer heat wave may be plaguing you, doesn’t have any moments comparable to “I ain’t got time to bleed” or even “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” But considering how disappointing Predator 2 was—not to mention the extremely excretable Aliens vs. Predators movies—this latest installment comes as something of refreshing surprise. And by “refreshing” I mean that when it’s really hot out, and you want to see a movie that requires almost no thought, while providing plenty of action and special effects, all within the confines of an air-conditioned movie theater, a film like Predators is exactly what you need. Plus, it co-stars Walton Goggins and Danny Trejo, which provide more than enough reason to watch it.

film review: KICK-ASS (and DEFENDOR)

April 15, 2010

When I stop and think about it, I never actually thought the day would come when there would be a movie called Kick-Ass that would be opened in wide release, with advertising campaigns across multiple media platforms flashing the words “kick” and “ass” for the entire world to see. And along those same lines, I never thought I would live to see a movie quite like Kick-Ass, a balls-out violent epic about a teenager who dresses up like a superhero to fight crime. Seriously, you need to keep in mind that when I was a kid, we were constantly inundated with those urban legends about other kids who broke their necks jumping off roofs so they could fly like Superman or setting themselves on fire like the Human Torch. Hell, rumor had it that the animated Fantastic Four series in the 1970s replaced the Human Torch with H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot because of fear more impressionable kids would try to flame on. Even though this wasn’t true, the very notion that Human Torch was left out of the animated Fantastic Four series because some idiot kid might douse himself with lighter fluid and then flick a Bic was insulting, because me and my friends weren’t that stupid, and shouldn’t have been made to suffer. We didn’t want a wisecracking robot, we wanted superheroes that kicked ass. We wanted something like Kick-Ass. (more…)

film review: THE BOOK OF ELI

January 14, 2010


It’s been nine years since the last narrative film from twin directors Allen and Albert Hughes, and while the trailers for The Book of Eli looked promising—if not a bit grim—I would have hoped that after nearly a decade, the brothers could have delivered a better film. That’s not to say that The Book of Eli is bad, because it’s not. But with a script that is an under-developed mix of ideas and imagery cobbled together from other movies, an uneven pace, and characters that lack dimension as much as they lack charisma, it’s not exactly of good movie either. (more…)

film review: AVATAR

December 18, 2009


There’s not much point in reviewing Avatar. People are going to see it and the movie is going to make a ton of money no matter what any critics say, including myself. That said, I guess I should share a few brief thoughts on the film, if for no other reason than I watched it and that’s what I’m supposed to do after I watch any movie. (more…)

film review: ZOMBIELAND

October 1, 2009


There will no doubt be those who disagree with me on this one, and I’m hoping that by addressing it right here and now they won’t bother emailing me, telling me what a jackass I am. These are the people who will come out of Zombieland loving the film, telling their friends how great it was, and raving about it as if it were some miracle of cinematic achievement—the second coming of Night of the Living Dead, or some nonsense like that. The fact of the matter is that while you are watching it, a decent percentage of Zombieland is entertaining, in much the same way masturbating in the shower is sexually fulfilling. But when the movie is over, it is little more than empty experience lacking any sort of real depth or social commentary. (more…)


August 21, 2009


My initial reaction after watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, the World War II action drama Inglourious Basterds, was that I would need to watch the movie again to fully process it before deciding if I liked it or not. The problem was that I didn’t want to watch it again. Not never ever again. Just not any time in the foreseeable future. And perhaps not any time in the unforeseeable future. (more…)

film review: DISTRICT 9

August 16, 2009


Much of the hype surrounding director Neill Blomkamp’s politicized science fiction/action thriller is well deserved. It may not be as great as some people are making it out to be, but District 9 is really, really good—to the point it is bordering on “fucking awesome.” It is also one of the most balls-out entertaining movies of the last few years, and the perfect film to end an exceptionally disappointing summer season (Star Trek being the one exception of the craptacular summer blockbusters, of course). District 9 is an incredibly well-crafted film that offers a near perfect blend of action, humor, special effects and political commentary that manages to not be too heavy-handed. It is what the original Alien Nation wanted to be, but failed miserably at (although the subsequent television series was good). I’m not going to get into a long-winded review of the film, primarily because I’m too lazy to write that much, but also because sometimes you just want to enjoy a film as an audience member and not scrutinize it as a critic. If you want a more in depth review, check out this piece by Fatboy Roberts over at Geek in the City (he pretty much echoes my feelings). Or, you can just go with this rather abbreviated recommendation and believe me when I say that you truly enjoy genre films—and by that I mean science fiction, horror, action and all the other shit that makes watching movies fun (minus the gratuitous sex and nudity)—then District 9 is well worth checking out.

film review: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3

June 11, 2009


The word “classic” is thrown around a bit too carelessly these day when it comes to films, making it some sort of magical adjective used to describe movies that by some arbitrary set of sensibilities have been deemed worthy of being classical. Unfortunately, not every film that is called a classic really is a classic, as some films, while being great are simply just that, great. For any film to truly be a classic, it needs to reach a level of excellence that all movies strive for, but few ever achieve. And then decades later, if the film in question still holds up—if the writing is still finely crafted, the acting still solid and capable, and the direction still effectively evokes the sort of emotional response it was intended to evoke—then and only then can it be considered as possibly being a classic. Understanding this is crucial to understanding why the original 1974 version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a classic. (more…)