Let’s Be Cops (2014) – Review

2 Stars

I have grown tired of the repeated pairing of a wise-cracking over-grown adolescent, with his responsible straight-man partner in comedies, This was the outline established long-ago in Stripes and continued through the dreary Vince Vaughn movies of late. Now we have Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans,Jr. getting in on the Murray/Ramis, Vaughn/Wilson schtick, and its like the tracing of a Xeroxed copy. Outside of a gross-out gaga and a prolonged drug sequence the movie is devoid of laughs for long stretches and slips into gooey sentimentality and over-blown violence too often.
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Absolution (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Nowadays, Steven Seagal movies are judged not on any sort of artistic merit but rather, if there is any cohesion in the story line. In that respect, Absolution is a notch above some of the recent dreary output from the heavily goateed action icon. Re-teaming with director Keoni Waxman and co-star Byron Mann, Seagal plays yet another mercenary with moral fortitude who gets caught in political webs that will eventually threaten his life.
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Furious 7 (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Furious 7 is so preposterously overblown that you cant help but sit back and grin at the sheer lunacy of it all. These characters who once started out as street racers who stole dvd players to finance their tricked out cars, are now full-blown superheroes, capable of defying gravity, surviving horrendous accidents, and vicious beatings. After scaling new heights in the previous outing, this latest installment is a step backwards. The plot meanders too much and the Statham character isn’t given much to do outside of two fight scenes. This could all be the reactionary effect of having the production halted in November 2013 due to the tragic death of series’ star Paul Walker. Body Doubles and CGI have been expertly used to cover for the late actor, but he is noticeably absent from many scenes, presumably due to a script that was reworked midway through shooting. Still, with all the production difficulties Furious 7 is good popcorn entertainment with a touching send-off to Walker’s character Brian O’Conner.
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Hours (2013) – Review

3 Stars

He paces anxiously back and forth in the waiting room. Outside the torrential rains from Hurricane Katrina beat on the building, threatening to break through the Hospital’s windows. Soon a doctor appears to inform Alex (Paul Walker) that his wife has passed away during childbirth. His newborn daughter is weeks premature and being kept alive in an incubator, with assistance to her breathing. The infants precious life hangs in the balance until she cries for the first time, a clear sign her lungs and respiratory system are functioning. Before long the storm has caused an emergency evacuation of all hospital employees, leaving Alex behind to care for his vulnerable offspring.
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Last Knights (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Last Knight isn’t half bad, but its also half the movie it probably could have been. Commander Raiden (Clive Owen) leader of the seventh battalion was once a man prone to drink and the violence that comes with such a darkened state. Now, years removed from his wayward years Raiden is a first knight, and has been appointed heir to the throne of Bartok (Morgan Freeman).”A man should be praised for his rehabilitation, not judged for it.” says the youngest member of Raiden’s ranks. Little does the young man know that darkness is about to descend on Raiden once again.
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The Man with the Iron Fists 2 (2015) – Review

2 Stars

I must (once again) recount that in college, I had a roommate who watched Bruce Lee movies with the sound turned off while blaring hip-hop music at the same time. Through a haze of bong smoke he had convinced himself that the music was timed perfectly to the on-screen action and emotion. The Man with the Iron Fists perfectly encapsulated that experience, now three years later the follow-up has arrived, and it is a lesser film from a more established director.
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Eight Men Out (1988) – Review

4 Stars

What is it about the sport of Baseball that so easily translates to the screen? If you were to make a list of the best sports movies of all-time, I’m positive movies about baseball would comprise the majority of the spots. On that proverbial list, would surely be John Sayles’ excellent film Eight Men Out. This is a picture as concerned with organized crime, greed, workers unions, and sports writers as much as it has to do with the game itself. From the opening shot of a young boy running through the crowed streets of Chicago circa 1919 on his way to the ballpark to catch the White Sox, Sayles establishes an authoritative tone on the story, which is told with clarity, and a level of sympathy towards the outcast players.
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Run All Night (2015) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Liam Neeson continues his late career resurgence as an action hero in the glossy, and violent thriller, Run All Night. We are now seven years removed from the first Taken picture, had this movie been release just a few years ago, instead of on the heels of nearly a dozen similar Neeson outings, maybe then it would seem less like a genre retread. Even the estimable work from venerable screen legend Ed Harris as an unusually thoughtful crime boss, is lost in the heavy-handed and frantic narrative.
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The Factory (2012) – Review

3 Stars

John Cusack has recently found himself stranded in the wasteland of direct-to-DVD fare, and it may be faint praise, but he has consistently chosen the top project in the second tier realm of filmmaking. The Factory has been released as part of the Dark Castle/Warner Bros pact, specializing in genre pictures with recognizable cast members and violent story lines. This is an implausible, yet entertaining police procedural that packs a well-deserved surprise ending.
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Starship Troopers (1997) – Review

4 Stars

Starship Troopers’ middling performance at the box-office in the winter of 1997, is one of the more puzzling failures in the modern era of sci-fi blockbusters. This is a film made with intelligence, wit, a sardonic sense of humor, laced with homage and satire, and equipped with astounding special effects. That is to say there is something for everyone in this extremely engaging futuristic war tale. Rebounding from the debacle of Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven delivers another classic to the genre, which would also serve as the last good film in a career of varying degrees of success.
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