Killing Salazar (2016) – Review

3 Stars

The long fall from grace for action icon Steven Seagal has been a burden to his many fans. Since 2003, Seagal has appeared in almost 30 straight-to-DVD movies. That’s two dozen more than the 10 pictures from 1988-2002 that were global box-office sensations. In the last decade things have grown even more dire as Seagal has become a supporting player in his own movies. That’s the case, once again, in Killing Salazar. Even though Seagal and UFC legend Georges St-Pierre are featured prominently on the cover art, neither man has more than 3 minutes combined screen-time in the film’s first 30 minutes. This type of bait-and-switch is usually the kiss of doom for Seagal enthusiasts. However, Killing Salazar stands on its own quirky merits and distances itself from the rest of the pack (Seagal has 6 movies coming in the next 12 months).
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Hard Target 2 (2016) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

For all wall-to-wall action and martial arts mayhem you’d be hard pressed to beat Hard Target 2. Once again reinvigorating a discarded franchise is director Roel Reiné, the Paul Greengrass of the straight-to-DVD world. Like Greengrass, Reiné should be off crafting important works of cinema instead of toiling away in the action genre, but as a fan I appreciate him for lending his skills and craftsmanship to silly tales of ‘one-man army’ heroics. Twenty-three years after Van Damme tore through the Bayou with Lance Henriksen in pursuit, B-movie action icon Scott Adkins headlines the Van Damme-less sequel that supplants the action from the swamps of Louisiana to the jungles of Miramar.
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Suicide Squad (2016) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Summer 2016 will go down as a season of cinematic mediocrity. Just a decade ago the span from May 2nd – August 31st produced memorable if not classic films, this year’s offerings have been so forgettable that movie-going has turned into a semi-chore for this reviewer. Promising to inject life into the dreary hot weathered months is Suicide Squad, the latest building block in the DC universe. Arriving with a vibrant neon advertising campaign and featuring (arguably) the king of summer blockbusters Will Smith, Suicide Squad is not the masterpiece fanboys are stumping for nor is it the vile incompetent trash that the nation’s critics have implied. Frankly, the film sits right in the middle of both arguments.
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Eraser (1996) – Review

3 Stars

Eraser is a latter-day entry into the Schwarzenegger summer box-office blockbuster bonanzas. It lacks the style, charm, and sophistication of predecessors like True Lies or Total Recall, but Eraser has small pleasures that add up to an entertaining experience with the big man totting bigger guns and throwing-out outrageous one-liners.
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Central Intelligence (2016) – Review

3 Stars

Box office Heavyweights Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make an amusing screen coupling in the light-weight action-comedy Central Intelligence. This is a comedy that’s more ‘fun’ than funny. The appeal of each headliner individually and as a screen duo is rare these days. Both men have already shown themselves to be fond of appearing in sequels, and if I have to choose between another Ride Along, G.I. Joe or a follow-up to this–I’d choose this pairing again.
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Barb Wire (1996) – Review

2 Stars

It was inevitable that starlet Pamela Anderson would eventually top line a studio-backed big-screen feature film. Anderson’s international fame from the television show Baywatch made her one of the most famous actresses on the planet, even if she wasn’t much of an actress. The public’s focus was squarely on her ‘assets’ and not her acting. Anderson’s ample bosom is on display early and often in Barb Wire, a sci-fi comic-book adaptation that is aimed directly at pre-teen boys and their fathers’.
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Independence Day (1996) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The mother of all Alien invasion movies and a star making vehicle for Will Smith, Independence Day is still the best movie from German director Roland Emmerich and his producing partner/co-writer Dean Devlin. Riding in on a wave of ingenious marketing, ID-4 would become a cultural phenomenon. It was the biggest hit of 1996, and the highest grossing science-fiction film since Return of the Jedi.
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Sheena (1984) – Review

1 Star

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle reminds me a lot of another blonde comics hero that also made its way to the screen in 1984, Supergirl. Tonya Roberts and Helen Slater each had their opportunity to start a female driven action franchise and both of the resulting films are laughably bad. Roberts is the big-screen incarnation of Will Eisner’s comic-strip heroine Sheena. Aiming for a target audience of Conan, Beastmaster, and Indiana Jones fans–Sheena is perhaps the most sexually explicit PG rated film I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder that 1984 was the year the MPAA invented the PG-13 rating.
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The Shallows (2016) – Review

3 Stars

Oceanic adventure films have always possessed a voyeuristic under-current. Going back to the opening shot of Jaws, to Jacqueline Bisset’s wet t-shirt in The Deep, Jessica Alba’s closely observed rear in Into the Blue, and now Blake Lively’s bikini-clad beach body. It’s an unspoken appeal of the genre, it is undoubtably used to market and sell the film to young men, while providing visual pleasure even if the films aren’t quite as marvelous as their semi-nude stars.
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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – Review

2 Stars

X-Men: Apocalypse is neither the best nor the worst in the franchise, It’s simply the newest. After eight movies in sixteen years, this series is notable for retaining its creative forces, but everything has become one episodic tale that would be impenetrable for newbies. At this point X-Men is the longest running of the superhero tales invading theaters. Sure, Superman and Batman have been matinée idols since their reinvention in the 70’s and 80’s, but those roles been recast numerous times, different directors have given their take, and audience reaction has varied drastically from film-to-film. At least the X-Men series gets credit for rebooting whiling also finding ways to still integrate the original stars.
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Broken Arrow (1996) – Review

2 Stars

I’ve always wanted to like Broken Arrow. I’m a fan of Woo’s earlier and later films, I enjoy Travolta and Slater in nearly everything they appear, but Broken Arrow has always been D.O.A for me. Sure, it has some nice camera moves, a cool score that recalls Carpenter’s work, and Travolta at the height of his ‘comeback’ era, but it’s all so hallow and uncompelling that over the years it has been a chore to revisit the film.
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Assassination (1987) – Review

1 Star

Assassination is a particularly shoddy, but relatively tame by Bronson standards, vehicle that looks, sounds and behaves as if it knows it’s a second-tier production. Listless pacing, absurd plotting, and baffling editing choices are made more confounding considering that director Peter R. Hunt crafted the most under-rated Bond film of all time, Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
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Independent’s Day (2016) – Review

3 Stars

Its summer-time, which means blockbuster season is in full swing at multiplexes throughout the nation. It also means that The Asylum will produce a handful of ‘mockbusters’ designed to win a time-slot during primetime on channels like USA or SYFY. Once upon a time, these low-level rip-offs were meant to trick unsuspecting renters at local video stores. In the age of streaming, The Asylum has been forced to up its product and reduce its output, all for the betterment of each individual movie. It seems that more time and money have been dedicated to the special effects departments.
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