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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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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Game of Death (2010) – Review

1 Star

Game of Death is ideal fodder for those Redbox rental kiosks sprouting up everywhere. It features a former action-star, it barely runs 85 minutes in length, and once the realization sets in that Death is a bomb; you don’t feel bad about wasting a buck on the nightly rental. Game of Death is a ponderous so-called action-thriller with little of either, the film’s only real distinction is that it was the final project completed before star Snipes’ prison term.
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Chico & Rita (2010) – Review

4 Stars

Chico & Rita is a dazzling adult animated film; filled with such rich detail of character, time, place and music that it transcends the genre. This isn’t the twisted work of Ralph Bakshi or Anime pandering to fanboys, but a full-blooded love-story set inside the frame-work of a musical that transpires over the course of five harsh decades. This a fantastic film that deserves adulation for its endless visual creativity and intelligent writing, to the exceptional music performed by Cuban legend Bebo Valdés.

Chico is a womanizing piano player, looking for the right female vocalist to front a duo. One night in a club in Havana he meets Rita, a beautiful woman with the right look and sound. Chico is infatuated and relentlessly purses Rita, eventually romancing her and thus convincing the talented singer to partner up in the quest of getting from Cuba to New York, with the likes of Tito Puente and Chano Pozo. Before long the love affair goes south and threatens the newly formed union on a personal and professional level.

In a moment of weakness Rita is signed by a rival talent agency that sends her to America and leaves Chico without an act. In the States, Rita rises to the top of the musical world and is even headlining movies, something that is not lost on Chico, who catches a screening while touring with Dizzy Gillespie in Europe. The competing success of both parties and years of hardened emotions leads to a number of bitter and serendipitous encounters.

Would this story have the same impact if it had been filmed live-action? I don’t believe so. Firstly, the period production detail would have been far too costly to recreate, whereas the animation allows the artists to imagine virtually any environment or landscape to accommodate the evolving story. Chico & Rita is a nearly flawless movie with only a few lapses in narrative momentum, but the startling weight of the story and splendor of the visual style add aesthetic beauty to a heart-breaking show-biz love story.

Director:Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal

Max Schmeling: Fist of the Reich (2010) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Max Schemling: Fist of the Reich is the astonishingly entertaining, surefooted and mature production from much maligned genre director Uwe Boll, who attempts to bring cinematic due to one of his country’s biggest sporting icons. Starring the immensely charismatic and likable Henry Maske, a former professional boxer who is ideally cast in the title role. Maske looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Nixon’s imposing offspring. While Schmeling’s peers like James J. Braddock and Jake La Mota have been given the big-screen treatment from OSCAR winning filmmakers, Fist of the Reich is not in the same class but it does tell a memorable tale of a remarkable man living in turbulent times abroad.
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Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Tucker and Dale are two rednecks on vacation at their remote cabin. They run into a group of college kids along the way. When Dale approaches the beautiful Allison the kids only see the backwoods stereotype and leave in a frightened huff. Soon the two arrive at their newly bought cabin though, and their spirits are lifted. They own their own vacation home, even if it is just a dilapidated old cabin that may have once been home to a voodoo priest. Not far off the college kids stop to camp. They decide to go skinny dipping in a nearby lake where Tucker and Dale happen to be fishing. Allison climbs up on a rock and notices Tucker and Dale out on the lake in their boat. It spooks her and she falls, cracking her head against the rock and knocking herself out. The duo race to Allison’s rescue, but once again accidentally scare off the rest of the kids. They now believe that Tucker and Dale are after them, and formulate a plan to save their friend and rid the world of the redneck evil that lurks in the cabin. Of course Tucker and Dale are anything but evil, and Allison soon realizes that. But the other kids won’t listen, and soon the cabin is surrounded in a bloodbath of comedy as the kids accidentally off themselves instead of their intended targets. Who will survive? Will Tucker and Dale be heroes? Can a city girl like Allison fall for a country bumpkin like Dale? All these questions and more are answered in Tucker and Dale vs Evil.
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The Striking Truth (2010) – Review

3 Stars

The Striking Truth is somewhere between HBO’s 24/7 series and MTV Cribs. It is a handsomely shot film with aspirations to showcase two of the most popular Canadian MMA fighters of all time, Ultimate Fighting Champion Georges St-Pierre and dynamic MMA fighter David “The Crow” Loiseau. Those unfamiliar with the background story of these two warriors will find a lot of insightful moments, mixed with footage of ST-Pierre’s early fights on the local circuit. The legions of rapid fans that support these fighters and the sport in general, may find themselves bored. Particularly because the documentary was not authorized to include footage of UFC bouts. Leaving the curious viewer wondering what exactly went wrong (in some cases) or yearning to see the moment of victory.
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