Elektra (2005) – Review

2 Stars

Before Marvel reinvented itself with Ironman in 2008, the high-water mark was X2, Elektra has long been thought of as the low-point for the company. I would argue that Ghost Rider or Blade:Trinity holds this unremarkable title, but there is no mistaking that this spin-off of the so-so Daredevil big-screen adventure is a silly romp with little on the agenda outside of the most basic plot elements.
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Point Break (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Katherine Bigelow’s classic 1991 action film Point Break has been remade nearly 25 years later. This update on the original plays like a cliff notes version for the younger attention deficit crowd. To be fair, The Fast and Furious copied the formula long ago and to better effect than this in name re-telling. Featuring a cast of unremarkable actors that are only modestly invested in the material, Point Break (2015) has to rely on its stunning stunt footage to carry the film. The photography by director/director of photography Ericson Core is top-notch and often distracts from the mundane procedural.
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Spy Game (2001) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Spy Game is a carefully plotted and rather ingenious story set over the course of one day. The action takes place inside CIA headquarters located in Langley, Virginia, while also flashing to a Chinese prison where former shadow agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) is awaiting execution in twenty-four hours. When Bishop’s rogue mission goes awry, he’s captured and sentenced to death. With a short deadline, Bishop’s former boss Nathan Muir (Redford) must navigate the political sharks inside the agency while battling enemies abroad in saving his protegĂ©’s life.
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Creed (2015) – Review

4 Stars

Earlier this year there was much pre-release Oscar buzz for the boxing flick Southpaw. That film and its lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal were being mentioned as possible heavyweights on Academy Awards night, all sight unseen. Then the movie came out and despite a remarkable physique change for Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw was instantly forgettable. Now, comes the most unlikeliest of Oscar contenders in Creed. Resurrecting a franchise that has spawned nearly 40 years, writer/director Ryan Coogler (a Bay Area native) does a remarkably nimble job of sculpting a love-letter to the series and for long-time fans of Balboa.
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Soldier (1998) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Soldier is never quite able to successfully build a believable world for its characters and story. Sci-Fi classics such as Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Alien have all been able to establish a functioning universe or society that deepens (even if it’s subconsciously) the overall effect of the film. Soldier looks like it was shot on big sound stages with all of the craftsmen doing dutiful but uninspired work.
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Tomb Raider (2001) – Review

1 Star

Tomb Raider presents Angelina Jolie in full ‘movie star’ mode. Never mind that she had won an OSCAR for Girl, Interrupted, this was the picture that served as her breakout vehicle in the Hollywood machine. The buzz surrounding this mysterious and beautiful actress was in full swing when Tomb Raider premiered. The substantial opening weekend propelled Jolie to the A-list in terms of profitability. So, you’d expect the actual movie to be something special, or at least goofy fun. It is neither.
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Freejack (1992) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Raymond Chandler often describe a snub nosed .38 revolver as a ‘Saturday Night Special’. It was meant as a reference to a junk gun, to be used on a troubled night then easily discarded. Freejack is the ‘Saturday Night Special’ of movies. It provides modest entertainment on a slow weekend night, then is instantly forgettable. Taking its visual design (to no avail) from (the superior) Blade Runner and mixing in humor with futuristic action (less successfully than Demolition Man), Freejack is often ludicrous and under-plotted, but never boring.
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Hudson Hawk (1991) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Hudson Hawk wears the title ‘madcap comedy’ with pride. That’s about the only successful element in this frantic, unfocused, and forced romp that never finds its rhythm. I’m not sure there could have been a good picture made out of this story. A lurking feeling is that the behind-the-scenes stuff was a lot more intriguing than anything that made it on-screen.
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Flashpoint (1984) – Review

3 Stars

Long before Cormack McCarthy and the Coen Brothers collaborated on the Oscar-winning classic, No Country for Old Men, a similarly plotted thriller Flashpoint, dealt with the same themes. Released in 1984 to little fanfare both critically and commercially, it now waits to be rediscovered by audiences that may appreciate it’s offbeat script and electronic score from 1980’s staple Tangerine Dream.
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Top Dog (1995) – Review

1 Star

Chuck Norris teams with a canine in the redundant buddy-cop action picture, Top Dog. Taking its cues from Turner & Hooch, K-9, and Beethoven, this wanna-be family friendly action flick just doesn’t work. The cheap looking production resembles an episode of Norris’ long-running television series Walker, Texas Ranger. Directed by his brother, Arron Norris, Top Dog lacks well-staged action sequences, comedic beats, or any chemistry between actors and animals.
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The Maze Runner (2014) – Review

3 Stars

The best of the Hunger Games clones so far, The Maze Runner, give us appealing characters, an intriguing premise and some fine special effects work. Director Wes Ball has moved from helming intimate independent films to crafting this modestly budgeted, but polished production, based on a YA book series. Dylan O’ Brien announces himself as a fresh new face on the scene, who is capable of sustaining a lead role in a blockbuster film.
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Dangerous Ground (1997) – Review

1 Star

I remember reading an interview with actor Ice Cube in which he declared Ghosts of Mars as the worst film of his screen career. Well, Mr. Cube you must have forgotten that you appeared in this terrible action thriller from the late nineties, four years before Mars. The aforementioned plays Vusi, a young man who is exiled from his homeland of Africa for revolutionary acts toward the ruling regime. Already the movie revels its preposterous, to think a twelve-year-old boy is causing such trouble that he is sent abroad rather than killed is pure fantasy in today’s harsh reality.
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Chain of Command (2015) – Review

1 Star

Chain of Command is shockingly amateurish, especially considering it stars Michael Jai White and Steve Austin, two B-Movie action icons typically associated with above-par genre fare. For an advertised action/revenge flick there is a shortage of action, the few sequences that abound in the film’s first thirty minutes are so poorly executed that it drains the picture any shot at achieving guilty pleasure status.
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Guardian (2001) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

I’ve long been a fan of Mario Van Peebles. He has a captivating screen presence and a natural talent as a director. So it is a let down when he appears in incoherent genre garbage like, Guardian. Obviously inspired by Schwarzenegger’s End of Days, this direct-to-dvd thriller can’t compete with the big boys of the genre.
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