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Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987) – Review

1/2 Star

The second film in the wistfully intended series from Cannon film’s featuring H. Rider Haggard’s literary hero Allan Quartermain is a dreary and virtually unwatchable affair. None of the zany energy, humor, stunts, or overall filmmaking work in this cinematic wasteland. Shot concurrently with King Solomon’s Mines, this follow-up is among the worst titles in the not particularly distinguished Cannon filmography. Sharing the same ineptitude as the similarly goofy, boring and weak Firewalker, City of Gold does nothing but guarantee a quick ending to the series.
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Hercules (2014) – Review

3 Stars

Directed with reckless indifference by Brett Ratner from a playful script accredited to a four writers,Hercules is sleek and empty as well as funny and pointless. It feels manufactured, touched by many different hands. A movie made by committee. The pleasant surprise is that both the script, and supporting cast, are funny; the film blends big-budget action and tongue-in-cheek humor in the way that nearly lampoons the entire genre. Johnson, looking both more muscular and younger than he did in his Scorpion King era, and evil Lord John Hurt go after each other amid lots of sword fighting, battles and fire effects. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Expendables 3 (2014) – Review

3 Stars

The third trip to the well, proves the most fruitful for this group of aging mesomorphs, led by the perpetually pumped Sylvester Stallone. Those worn-out from the ongoing bombardment of superhero tales, will most likely be re-energized by this manically frenzied shoot ‘em up, that has been trimmed to PG-13 and now resembles a saturday morning live action-cartoon. Assembling the biggest cast of ‘names’ yet, The Expendables 3 struggles in giving each of it’s members adequate screen-time.
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Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The same day I saw Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses, I saw another movie about a group of geriatric tough-guys laying waste to bad-guys. The double bill with The Expendables 3 was a further opportunity to settle back and know that for 90 minutes I might possibly be entertained, and would most assuredly would not be forced to think about artistic value.
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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Tom Cruise’s remarkable career resiliency over the course of three decades is a staggering achievement, that fortitude and gung-ho temperament are best utilized (as of late) in this darkly funny, and spectacular looking sci-fi action thriller. The most obvious reference point is Groundhog’s Day, but Edge of Tomorrow borrows from Starship Troopers, Aliens, and a number of other well-regarded genre titles to create its tale of a solider reliving his last day, over and over. Edge of Tomorrow sports slick effects, solid acting and a great screenplay from novice scribes John-Henry Butterworth, Jez Butterrworth, with an unmistakable polish from Cruise stalwart Christopher McQuarrie.
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10 to Midnight (1983) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

10 to Midnight might be more infamous than memorable, this due to a rather scathing review that noted film critic Roger Ebert spew on his widely seen program and in print. Ebert wrote, “This is a scummy little sewer of a movie, a cesspool.. The people who made 10 to Midnight have every right to be ashamed of themselves — and that includes Charles Bronson, whose name on the marquee is the only reason anybody would come to see it.” Wow.
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The Crow (1994) – Review

4 Stars

The Crow is a landmark achievement in many regards but the film carries a morose weight given the tragic underpinnings of the behind the scenes death of the late Brandon Lee. However the look, style and energy are so sensational that the film leaps off the screen at times, engulfing the viewer in the filmmaker’s vision of a semi-futuristic and hellish society of psychopaths, impotent authority figures and the stunning charisma of its star.
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The Crow: City of Angels (1996) – Review

1 Star

Simply stated at the top, The Crow: City of Angels is one of the worst sequels ever produced and shown theatrically in this country. This is a stunning fall from the creative heights of the first film, almost nothing works in this limp follow-up, which apparently was slashed down from 160 minutes to its current length of 84 minutes. Not that a nearly three-hour long version of this depressing (although beautifully shot) sludge would benefit anyone, but it would most likely be more coherent than what is present here.
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Hercules Reborn (2014) – Review

3 Stars

It’s summertime blockbuster season at the multiplexes, so of course it is also time for the seasonal mock-busters from The Asylum. July sees the forthcoming release of Hercules starring former WWE sensation and now full-blown movies star Dwayne Johnson inhabiting a role previously outfitted to the likes of Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. The accompanying knockoff titled Hercules Reborn is actually quite good, enough so that with a few more solidly watchable outings like this, Asylum may be able to graduate from their messy rep as the house of low-budget guilty pleasure regurgitations into Lionsgate territory.
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) – Review

4 Stars

The fifth Spiderman movie in the last 12 years is actually the best since that original back in the summer of 2002. This absolutely smashing sequel does the seemingly impossible (or at least improbable) feat of besting all the other superhero movies of the year, rendering the previous film irrelevant, and creating genuine excitement for the oncoming third installment of this reboot trilogy. Excellent casting and unusually strong writing along with er…amazing direction from one-time indie darling Marc Webb, who has fully established himself as an exciting big budget helmer.
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Predators (2010) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

This reboot/sequel has been 23 years in the waiting and at times the lengthy window between movies helps the film feel fresher, but before too long redundancy and low-brow thinking nearly sink the project. The construction of this admittedly B-Movie is solid and the addition of Alan Silvestri’s original score helps the film tremendously. However, second and third act plotting run the story into the ground making the film alternately confusing and dull.
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Pure Danger (1996) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

C. Thomas Howell isn’t a name that is commonly referred to any more, but back in his heyday (the mid 1980s) the teen idol was a fairly large player on the scene. He wasn’t a full-fledged member of the Brat Pack but he was in The Outsiders, a film that featured a number of future movie stars. Yet while his brethren Cruise and Swayze went on to headline hits like Top Gun and Dirty Dancing, Howell made a series of forgettable films that started with the ill-fated Soul Man (which astonishingly grossed $59 million in adjusted dollars). Things went the way of Judd Nelson from that point on, which is not indicative of talent, just bad management.
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Brick Mansions (2014) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

I can’t really recommend Brick Mansions, but I must confess that it plastered a silly grin on my face for the duration of its brief running-time. This is a supremely simple action flick that serves as popcorn theater, with virtually zero plot and loads of well choreographed physical stunts. The ambition is so low for this American remake of Luc Besson’s District B-13 that the fact it is watchable is a victory in its own right.
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Non-Stop (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The very first shot in Non-Stop is a close-up of Liam Neeson’s grizzled face. The scene is captured in slow-motion, as he looks down at a bottle of whiskey, contemplates, then pours its contents into his morning coffee. His creased face winces with the pungent taste of the brew, the camera lingers on his unshaven face for another second before breaking to the desolate parking lot of an International Airport. In trying to decipher why Neeson has become the Steven Seagal of the new millennium, I can see now that the appeal may be in part because the actor isn’t a superhuman do goodie, a vitamin chomping, mystical preaching martial artist. Rather, he is an alcoholic withdrawn man of regret and missed opportunity awoken by the chance to prove himself worthy for perhaps the final time in his life.
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Unstoppable (2004) – Review

2 Stars

Wesley Snipes’ first foray into the world of straight-to-DVD is an un-magnanimous affair. It’s not fair to say this is Snipes’ first B-movie, most of his filmography could be considered such, but those movies had a style and technical proficiency that is for the most part missing. Nicely lensed by veteran cinematographer Ward Russell, Unstoppable looks great but is overly plodding for a movie with such a simple plot-line. The headliner looks bored and goes through the motions delivering a few kicks and punches while phoning-in the more dramatic parts of the anemic script.
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