One Night in Istanbul (2014) – Review

2 Stars

One Night in Istanbul is a sly sports comedy, masquerading as British farce with an overdose of sentimentality and violence mixed in. I thought America had cornered the market on sports themed dopey comedy-drama crime capers but it appears that the foreign market is just as ripe with these duds. It’s somewhat mystifying that this messy script was concocted from a well-regarded screenplay from playwright Nicky Allt. This is an innocuous movie, which is about the last thing you’d expect when dealing with sports fanaticism, and the mafia. Other movies have covered similar material with a higher energy level and sharper sense of wit than what is presented on-screen here.
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The Timber (2015) – Review

3 Stars

The Timber is a slow burn western that substitutes story and character over supercharged shoot-’em-up action. Laced with a downbeat and ominous tone and led by a good cast, this offbeat genre piece is enhanced by fine photography and rich plotting. Two brothers are faced with the bank foreclosing on their property unless they bring in a wanted felon. The man on the run is their father, forced with an awkward decision the men set out with a fellow bounty hunter to capture the fugitive. This is an intelligent western/drama that boasts some great moments and a rousing score.
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Grizzly (2015) – Review

3 Stars

Grizzly, originally titled Red Machine, which made it sound like a political thriller from the 1980s, is actually a horror/survival thriller in the vein of Jaws, Anaconda, and The Edge. This isn’t exactly a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, but they share a few qualities, namely an attacking 18 foot grizzly bear that is protecting his environment from the ‘bad’ humans breaking the laws of nature. Even with its cheap thrills, on-the-nose dialogue and unoriginal narrative situations, the movie has an earnestness that sneaks up on you to be a surprisingly entertaining time.
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Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse (2015) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

A dragon pairs up with a disgraced solider, and a band of outlaws to recover his stolen eggs from an evil sorcerer in Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse. The second sequel to the original is a busy little adventure film with about twice as much plot than is necessary, which is a good thing since it only makes sense half of the time anyway. This is one of the goofiest movies I’ve seen so far this year.
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Airplane vs Volcano (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

In the same year that gave us Asteroid vs. Earth, the Asylum, producers of mash-up disaster films of all manner, now births Airplane vs. Volcano. This isn’t an entirely apt tittle since the volcanos are hardly seen and the real villain is a jittery, sweaty fellow passenger on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Since the film only uses the volcanos as a reason to keep the plane in the air it loses the ‘camp’ factor right off the bat, and the lack of an antagonist with reasonable motivation makes it a useless exercise in redundant recycling of footage from their stock library. Plus, any movie that saddles its hero, Dean Cain in this case, with the unenviable and visually unappealing task of simply pushing/pulling the control sticks from a preset auto-pilot is wasting talent.
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The Island (2005) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Michael Bay’s overlooked 2005 sci-fi actioneer is an enormously entertaining spectacle, that weaves in fantastical elements dealing with human cloning alongside an exemplary chase picture. Bay and his craftsmen have created a stunning action picture that resonates because of its imaginative story and the arresting visual beauty of nearly every frame.
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Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Historical inaccuracies be damned, Ridley Scott’s biblical epic is a rousing achievement. Anchored by two solid leading men in stars Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, Exodus manages to get the pulse pounding even if the details are a bit shaky. Scott has dedicated this tale of warring brothers to his late brother, Tony Scott. Perhaps, this explains why the director has chosen to adapt the tale of Moses’ exile and eventual return to Memphis as an action film mixed with a disaster epic. Purist and fans of Cecile B. Demille’s work have cried foul, but Scott’s take can’t be dismissed so easily.
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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) – Review

2 Stars

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For hits screens nine years after the release of the groundbreaking original. The use of green-screen and a monochromatic color scheme served as a revolutionary new process that accurately managed to translate the visuals of Frank Miller’s graphic novel onto film. Now, nearly a decade later we have the follow-up which is just as stylized but not nearly as good as the original. A Dame to Kill For is a prequel and a sequel with interlinking stories that transpire both before and after the first film. Got that? To make matters more confusing actors have been replaced and the new additions are not up to the task.
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John Wick (2014) – Review

3 Stars

If esteemed director Michael Mann dropped his high fluent act and decided to make a pumped up action picture the result would look a lot like John Wick. Keanu Reeves is back in Matrix fighting shape, he doesn’t look a day aged and appears to be as nimble as before. Instead of the jumbled mythology and long-winded story developments of that earlier franchise, Wick is a straightforward action flick that sets out with a goal and single-mindedness to completely entertain at all costs. This is a story about a dislikable man avenging the murder of his dog, and cleansing himself of the grief over his wife’s untimely death.
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The Book of Eli (2010) – Review

4 Stars

The Book of Eli is the best apocalyptic, futuristic western throwback that I’ve ever seen. Who would have thought Denzel Washington, an Oscar winner and star of ‘important’ movies could conquer the wasteland wander role, too? Directed with loving homage to a variety of films, by one of our countries’ most underrated talents’,Allen & Albert Hughes. The visual aesthetic takes it’s cue’s from George Miller’s Road Warrior mixed with the airy vistas of Eastwood’s Unforgiven. For further proof look for the scene in which Deborah’s theme from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America is whistled.
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Wild Bill (1995) – Review

2 Stars

Walter Hill is a director who has shown a deep seeded fascinated with the western genre throughout his career. By his own admission, he approaches all of his films as if they were part of this almost forgotten genre. Working hard to deliver a Tombstone type experience, Hill is up against a wall with his revisionist take on the legendary gunfighter/lawman ‘Wild’ Bill Hickok. Anchored by an off-beat performance from Jeff Bridges, Hickok never comes off as anything other than a grumpy killer. The movie is slow-paced and the final shootout is poorly executed. However, this is not a total failure, there are enough interesting scenes that I began to grow frustrated that the screenplay moved in episodic segments with undefined linear continuity.
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Goldeneye (1995) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Pierce Brosnan takes the lead after the franchise was dormant for a record six years, bringing our venerable hero into the modern-age of computer warfare, and shaky post cold-war alliances. Goldeneye the 17th Bond film, is an unwieldy beast that sparkles with touches of spectacular filmmaking, but also lumbers through an unworthy third act. John Barry’s iconic theme has been interpreted by David Arnold, the musical score and title track are both duds. Many aficionados site this entry as the best of the Brosnan bond films, I can’t count myself among that opinion.
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Metro (1997) – Review

3 Stars

Motor mouthed Eddie Murphy is ideally cast as a SFPD hostage negotiator in the action thriller Metro. The typically loquacious movie star plays Scott Roper, a variation on his fast-talking, wise-cracking screen persona. But, instead of being a distraction the energy from Murphy is put to good use by director Thomas Carter. The Bay Area setting and the white/black partnership are purposefully reminiscent of Murphy’s early hit 48hrs.. Metro isn’t in that league, but it is an entertaining picture with a great action set-piece involving a vintage Cadillac and a runaway trolly-car.
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Runaway Train (1985) – Review

4 Stars

Runaway Train is undoubtedly the best ‘film’ ever produced and released under the Cannon Films banner. Directed with remarkable precision by Russian helmer Andrei Konchalovsky, based on a screenplay that originated from the mind of Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, this is truly an action-thriller that delivers. Jon Voight and Eric Roberts earned Oscar nominations for their portrayals of two escaped convicts who find themselves in an even worse predicament.
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Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) – Review

3 Stars

Bryan Singer, who most notably helmed The Usual Suspects and X-Men: Days of Future Past, engages his inner Spielberg and has fashioned a new-age fairy tale from an old school story. This visually splendid update comes complete with all the bells and whistles associated with big-budget blockbuster filmmaking, but it also has a whimsical humor, and its entertaining as all get out. The ads suggest a The Lord of the Rings type of adventure, but in actuality the product is more akin to The Princess Bride or Pirates of the Caribbean.
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