Chappie (2015) – Review

2 Stars

Chappie is South African director Neill Blomkamp’s third film. It is the most technically impressive work of his young career, but the story, which blatantly borrows from classics of the genre, fails him and renders the movie into a series of redundant scenes and predictable outcomes. By the mid-way point, I was ready for Chappie and his outcast cohorts to go away.
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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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Interstellar (2014) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Christopher Nolan’s ambitious sci-fi project is a visually beautiful experience. The often stunning effects work and set designs are among the most striking committed to screen. Obviously inspired by 2001, Solaris, and a host of other ‘high-minded’ space parables, Interstellar is at its most appealing before its main character launches into orbit on a mission to save humanity. The thespian pyrotechnics are laid on thick as each of the film’s three major stars is given numerous close-ups while shedding tears. The hoped for emotional impact on audience members is virtually non-existent, the final scene in Armageddon pulled more tears, although this is admittedly Nolan’s most heartfelt work to date.
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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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Star Trek: First Contact (1996) – Review

4 Stars

The eighth film in the Star Trek series, the second to feature the TNG crew, is a smashing space adventure that exhibits all the finest qualities from the venerable franchise. Slickly produced, tightly directed, and written with maximum efficiency, First Contact is superior to all other Trek movies that have come before. Setting the Enterprise crew as the last line of defense between the Borg-a half-organic, half machine collective, and the Federation.
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Lucy (2014) – Review

2 Stars

Luc Besson’s prolific mind has concocted another genre bender with Lucy, a glossy action pic with human evolution on the mind. Lean, violent, sporadically entertaining, and often ridiculous the action comes fast with few breaks for logic, gravity or common reasoning. Even though star Scarlet Johansson doesn’t don a superhero outfit, she might as well be playing one. This is Besson doing the superhero genre in his uniquely off-center way. Morgan Freeman is on hand to continue adding his special brand of quality to B-movies (Transcendence, Chain Reaction, etc.).
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The Fly (1986) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The Fly won an Academy Award for its make-up effects back in 1986, and the work still holds up today. That is true of the film itself, this retelling of the 1958 movie has been given a modern update but retains its combination of science fiction and horror film elements. Directed and co-written by David Cronenberg, and cast to perfection, The Fly is one of the best and smartest genre films of the 1980s.
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Night of the Creeps (1986) – Review

4 Stars

Here is a clever B-movie that was all but overlooked in its theatrical run, resurrected from the annals of box-office bomb infamy and given new life as a cult favorite on the burgeoning home-video format. I must admit it has taken me 18 years to catch up with this terrific genre send-up, that plays like a mix between Brian DePalma’s work and the lunacy of Jerry Zucker’s spoof flicks. From the opening shot of nasty little space creatures engaged in a laser rifle battle to the closing shot of a walking burnt corpse smoking a cigarette, Night of the Creeps expertly straddles the line between satire and stylish in a graphic low-budget way. Director/writer Fred Dekker has the proper comic touch for effective tongue-in-cheek humor that blends well with his horror fantasy.
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I, Frankenstein (2014) – Review

1 Star

I, Frankenstein has aspirations of reaching the franchise potential of Underworld or the Blade series, but it more closely resembles a bad television pilot. Maybe it would have worked better on that format, on the big-screen it seems small-scale and oddly vacant. There is a lot of visual activity as the hero slays demons to their fiery demise, but nothing strikes a cord and the entire movie plays out without generating neither interest nor affection from the audience.
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The Purge: Anarchy (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

The Purge: Anarchy is a spooky follow-up to the surprise hit of summer 2013. This time out the story is broader, darker, and deeper. The film is an intense nightmarish vision of surviving one-night in a society gone mad. Beautifully shot and crisply edited, this sequel bests the original in terms of story, production values and acting. Through plot development, sound design, costumes, and dialogue a remarkable amount of dread is summoned and sustained throughout the brief running time.
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Babylon A.D. (2008) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Babylon A.D. is ideal fodder for the cinematic dumping ground of late August, or more specifically labor day weekend. Traditionally know for it’s less than par offerings, this misbegotten low-key sci-fi tale is oddly void of impact, interest and plot structure. Starting off in a narrative blur and never leveling out, the movie is a wasted effort at almost every turn. Vin Diesel is up for the task but is saddled with a thankless role and a dour facial expression throughout.
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X-Men (2000) – Review

3 Stars

Marvel’s current cinema domination can be traced back to X-Men, the Bryan Singer directed film that started off the longest running franchise in superhero history. This serious-minded film is ripe with good actors delivering intelligent dialogue, surrounded by captivating production design all while slyly referencing racial,sexual and other forms of discrimination. This inaugural entry into the X-Men cannon is flawed and feels overly expository, but remains entertaining and full of compelling characters to warrant a positive recommendation.
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