Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Expendables 3 (2014)

I wasn't expecting much from "The Expendables 3". The reviews were average. And despite having a pleasant surprise for the 2nd part, I couldn't erase the junk that episode 1 was from my memory. But it didn't take long to see that the 3rd part is different ...

Not long = just the beginning of the movie when a new "expendable" (re-)joins the team. And I don't care what people say, but Wesley Snipes (because he's the one) has very underrated acting skills. He proves it here again, as well as he did in a couple other movies (well, especially were he didn't play the tough guy type = e.g., "Liberty Stands Still"). Actually, I think I can say that this movie is carried on by him, Antonio Banderas (I'll leave the details as suprise) and Mel Gibson as main villain. The subject is too simple to unravel, but anyway, as in the 2nd part - this movie is not about the subject. It's for the acting, funny punch-lines, and some old-school action feeling.

All in all is not as good as "Expendables 2". We don't have the Chuck Norris epic scene. We don't have Bruce Willis, but we have a Harrison Ford mocking his absence (Google search "Bruce Willis" and "Expendables 3" and you'll get it) and also piloting a chopper in a dogfight. And like I said, better acting. To conclude, still fun ;)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Contraband (2012)

I've been postponing since one month the entry for "Contraband", so I told myself better write it on a hurry than not at all. Because I would regret skipping this ...

The movie is somewhere between thriller and action, featuring an apparently overused subject. Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is a guy with a wife and kids, earning an honest living from his small camera surveillance enterprise. Well ... that's after he retired from successful career in contraband on cargo boats. On which he obviously has to return after his wife's younger brother tries his own skills in smuggling, but not that successfully. And like this we get to the classic story: do just one more bad thing to save the dumb guy who screwed up. However, unlike "the classic story", where after the "one more bad thing" everything goes bad and still somehow also everything turns out ok in the end, here ... the "one more bad thing" generates another "one more bad thing", after which you discover "some more bad things", and accidentally yet another "one more bad thing" happens. And these things keep going like this :) At such a rate, that you start losing hope that you'll get a happy end. But, let's not spoil the ending ;)

The movie is actually a remake of an Icelandic production. Even so, the screenwriter is the same guy who wrote "Prisoners". And this was the first reason to see this movie. I can say it was a good call. The second reason, well ... Kate Beckinsale :) Besides these two aspects, I don't know if there's anything to note. On the other hand, I also don't have anything on the minus side. In the end it's just one of the cases where the story + the way it unrolls is what steals the show, completely ( even with Kate there :) ).

Rating: 4 out of 5

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kill the Messenger (2014)

"Kill the Messenger" is not a bad movie, but neither a masterpiece. It's just sad. As life, since that's where the subject comes from anyway ...

It seems that at some point in the '80s CIA decided to finance a war in Nicaragua through the sell of crack cocaine in the States. Sounds legit, right ? A bit hard to get an official budget for such needs. Well, the story was of course "classified" until of course somebody uncovered it (after more than 10 years). The subject of the movie is that somebody, Gary Webb, investigation journalist at a remote newspaper, and his inquiry on the case. Which let's say ends successfully, but a bit sad for the author. Well, enough with the spoilers, more in the movie ...

Like I said, the movie is ok, but it doesn't shine. With some luck Jeremy Renner might catch and Oscar nod next year, his acting being by far better than what I've seen in "The Hurt Locker" or "The Town". Something else on the plus side would be the cinematography (Sean Bobbitt). Aside these ... A bit too cliche for a real-life story. And a bit too non-filmic for a real-life story. Not that the subject isn't fit for a movie, but it seems to me that there are too many threads covered too fast, or left hanging (I assume because there's no data about their end). Like ephemeral confessions of former CIA agents in the middle of the night, kidnapped bankers with a fate that you can only suspect, and others. Maybe I'm a bit tired and a bit too picky, but I think that what I've watched fits better a documentary than a feature film. And to justify that more, if you want a real-life story transposed on screen well enough to catch you, there are better options: "The Insider" for a "messenger" under pressure, "Blow" for cocaine traffic in US, or even "The Informant" despite the fact that instead cocaine we have nutrients for animals, but at least might manage to get a smile from you from time to time :).

Rating: 3 out of 5

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dracula Untold (2014)

For "Dracula Untold" I'll do an exception from the "classic" review format. Let's go for a list:

  • The advertising for this thing says it's "the most historical accurate Dracula movie" (quote from what I heard).
  • Vlad the Impaler was sent to the Turks when he was a kid. True fact, it's in the movie (sort of = 1 minute intro).
  • The "historical accurate" part pretty much stops after Vlad the Impaler was sent to the Turks when he was a kid.
  • Vlad ruled in Transylvania (can be excused ... Wallachia sounds worse for marketing, and anyway nobody across the ocean has any idea about the difference).
  • All the Transylvanian population (let's respect the chosen location) could be gathered around "the Dracula castle", or sheltered in the Cozia Monastery (we're gettin' a bit out of Transylvania; let's hope the ruler in the neighboring region, whoever might be - take a wild guess, won't be mad about the trespassing).
  • This population count explains why Vlad the Impaler didn't have an army. Zero. Null. Void. Only bodyguards.
  • This population count does not explain where are the 1000 children the Turk sultan asks for and the reason for the war to start.
  • The lack of army explains why the Impaler visits "the vampire", somewhere in a remote cave, in order to get powers that will allow him to beat to death the Turkish army.
  • The Impaler beats to death the Turkish army. Alone. Well, in the 2nd kick-ass phase takes a couple vampires with him. But in the 1st kick-ass phase does it solo. Literally - all alone (the 300 of Sparta will turn in their graves of envy if they hear).
  • In this version vampires have an issue with silver. I can forgive the rest, but this ... Man, really ?!!! Such a lack of consistency ! Vampires are chased away with garlic, the werewolves are sensitive to silver. What the hell ? ...
  • The Impaler proves climbing skills (before obtaining the vampire flying powers).
  • There are tarantulas in Transylvania.
  • This movie is too long for the 92 minutes it lasts.
  • "Dracula Untold" is the reason why "Equalizer" got last time (hardly) 3 out of 5.

Rating: 2 out of 5 (very hard, guess because was sort of funny ... sort of ..)

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Equalizer (2014)

Denzel strikes back ... aka "The Equalizer" ... aka the movie that competes with "How to Train Your Dragon 2" for 2014's title of "top eye-strain generator" caused by the number of eye-rolls/minute ...

I don't know if and what should I write about the subject. The trailer should be enough. The movie is a cliche from the beginning to the end. We have the lonely guy, about who nobody knows nothing, and who proves to be an ex-ultra/super/extra skilled secret agent (retired, of course). And one day the lonely guy decides to get back into action as the superhero mentioned in the title (without a mask, just with a black shirt, doesn't matter when and where .. even on different continents, the same black shirt - you should check that out if you see the movie). To be even more convinced of his super-skills, he seems to have something against real weapons, and is using anything else he can before taking a gun on his hand (the devices-of-death including stuff that ranges from a corkscrew to a drilling pistol). Or I don't know ... maybe it's hard to get out of his perfect cover as a shop employee in a home depot chain. The bad guys are obviously Russians tattooed from head to toes (honestly, if somebody ever forces me to watch this again my target will be to see if I'm able to spot a non-tattooed Russian thug). The most villain of the villains is a Russian with a British accent wearing a suit (main villains should look classy). Doesn't matter if it's a business dinner or he has a shotgun in his hands - he still has to wear the suit. Between the perfectly synced explosions (which of course, come with a dazzling slow-motion camera work), removed eyes, broken necks and other traumatic events, we also have mixed some educational morals that tells us to eat healthy and read classic literature (preferably American). I think I covered enough. What's left to say ...

If Denzel wouldn't have the main role in this, and if the production team wouldn't have bothered that much to get out something that should look like a box-office contender, I think I could consider this a B movie. I was hoping for a sort of "Man on Fire", but unfortunately Antoine Fuqua is not what Tony Scott was. He's not even the same Antoine Fuqua who impressed with "Training Day" and even with his first movie, "Replacement Killers". The point he got to and where unfortunately seems to be stuck is at the same level of cheap consumerism as for "Olympus has Fallen".

Rating: 3 out of 5 (really hard ... the start quote convinced me, barely: "The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." by Mark Twain - probably the best part of the movie)