Posts tagged ‘Action’

03/30/2013

A month’s worth of movie reviews

by wfgodbold

In reverse chronological order:

GI Joe: Retaliation was pretty good, if a bit light on plot (but hey, it’s GI Joe; just be glad the last half of the movie doesn’t teach you a moral lesson), and a bit ham-fisted with how it deals with characters from the first movie. Overall, though, I’d say it was better than the first movie, and should make enough money for Hasbro to keep the series going (whether that’s good or bad I leave up to you, gentle reader).

Olympus Has Fallen is a rah-rah kill ‘em all kind of movie, and Gerard Butler takes a turn as a Secret Service agent who has to save the president from an army of terrorists. He does so, of course, with much violence and more headshots than seems probable (look, if you’re fighting an army of mooks, it makes zero sense to shoot them all with a handgun when you’ve got a perfectly serviceable carbine SLUNG ACROSS YOUR BACK). *ahem* Anyway, aside from one scene (where I think the director was trying to hard to give us an American version of Fabrizio Quattrocchi‘s “I will show you how an Italian dies!”), it’s a good action movie. Even if the president kept making terrible decisions (I suppose they needed realism there to make up for the headshots).

Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining . . .

No. Just no. I can’t do this. It’s terrible. Not even Ian McShane, Ewan MacGregor, and Bill Nighy are enough to salvage this monstrosity. This does not fill me with hope for Bryan Singer’s return to the helm of the X-Men franchise.

A Good Day to Die Hard, on the other hand, is everything we’ve come to expect from a Die Hard movie. Gunfights, explosions, duplicity, John McClane complaining about absolutely everything, and general mayhem. Would definitely see again.

I had meant to write these up individually, but I kept finding some reason to procrastinate. I shall endeavor to do better, gentle reader. Until next time, enjoy the trailers for RED 2 and The Wolverine:

02/13/2013

Jack Reacher, or the exception to the rule that adaptations are worse than the novel source material

by wfgodbold

The Jack Reacher novels suck.

The action is okay, but the plots are predictable, and Lee Child’s ignorance of firearms is staggering.

If you’re reading a Reacher novel, prepare to be lectured about shotgun cones of death, how a .22 to the back of the head will take a person’s face off, and how FBI special agents are issued long-barreled revolvers.

You can’t escape the ignorance–Reacher was an Army MP, and any time someone is shot or he handles a gun, he inflicts on the reader his munificent experience (as distorted by the British author). Especially glaring is the constant reference to 12 bore shotguns (here in the US, we say gauge, not bore).

The Jack Reacher movie, on the other hand, focuses on the action and plot, and Tom Cruise does not narrate incorrect firearm information.

I wouldn’t have read the first Reacher book if I hadn’t seen the movie first; if I had read the book first, I wouldn’t have seen the movie, and it wouldn’t have been because Cruise doesn’t match Child’s description of Reacher.

It would have been because no book that bad could have been adapted into a movie of any worth at all.

As it is, the Jack Reacher film is a solid action movie, and the books are suitable for leveling that table that has one uneven length leg.

12/22/2012

No one expects the unexpected journey!

by wfgodbold

The first of the Hobbit movies is good–far better than the reviews make it out to be, and on par with Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

That said, it does drag on a bit, and Jackson inserted some scenes to better dovetail the Hobbit with the LOTR movies. Mostly, they work. Radagast particularly seemed forced.

Other additions were welcome–the flashbacks detailing the fall of Erebor and how Thorin Oakenshield got his epithet (which, as a title, seems like it should have been written by Kipling) fit in with the story far better than Radagast’s bumbling.

And though the movie is a bit slow in parts, it does a good job of keeping those slow parts to a minimum and moving the story along. I look forward to the second film, whatever its title may be (I was hoping they would take a page from the 007 movies and follow the credits with “Bilbo Baggins will return in The Desolation of Smaug,” but no such luck).

10/17/2012

If you liked Taken…

by wfgodbold

You’ll probably like Taken 2.*

It’s the same style of movie – Liam Neeson is the implacable, righteously angry man on a mission to protect his family, and nothing is going to stop him.

Not even an entire Albanian town.

Though I liked it, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first movie.

I still recommend it, though. It’s worth it just to see how Liam Neeson’s character MacGyvers his way out of captivity.

*I know I said I’d post this last weekend, but I have been incredibly busy. It turns out that those people who said moot court and law review at the same time was too much might have been right.

09/29/2012

When time travel is outlawed …

by wfgodbold

Only outlaws will have time travel!

That’s the premise of Looper, at least – a dystopian near future, where crime syndicates from the less near future send people they want killed. It’s all fun and games until you screw up and let a guy escape.*

The movie is pretty entertaining: it’s got good action scenes and an interesting use of time travel. I suppose I should have seen the ending coming, but I didn’t.

I will say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bruce Willis impression was better than Bruce Willis’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt impression. It’s like he wasn’t even trying!

Seriously, though, it’s not a bad movie.

*Why the geniuses in the future don’t just mortally wound the guys and send them back through time bleeding out is never explained. Maybe they have to be able to truthfully say they didn’t kill anyone?

09/25/2012

Before I forget

by wfgodbold

Dredd was good.

It was darker and edgier than the campy Stallone version, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless you’ve an aversion to ultraviolence or gore, I suppose). One reason I think it worked a little better than the previous film* is that aside from the shorter in medias res intro, the whole thing takes place in a much smaller area (than the first film did). You see the world in the intro and outro, but instead of taking you into the Cursed Earth, and then all over the city, you really drill down into the seedy underbelly of Mega-City One.

And besides, any movie that even tries to hand-wave a reason for gratuitous cool-looking slow-mo action scenes can’t be all bad.

*Which I still liked, don’t get me wrong. It was so bad it’s good, instead of being legitimately good, is all.

04/15/2012

And in the role of Kurt Russell…

by wfgodbold

Will be Guy Pearce!

Lockout is every bit as bad as the trailers make it look.

And yet is still an entertaining, awesome movie.

Sure, it might just be Escape from New York IN SPACE, with Kurt Russell Guy Pearce playing Snake Plissken ex-CIA agent Snow, but Pearce is so good at hamming it up and cracking wise that you don’t care about stupid plot devices or bad science (QUICK! TURN ON THE GRAVITY GENERATOR!). And instead of rescuing the president from a prison island, he’s rescuing the president’s daughter from a prison space station, where all the prisoners are kept on ice.

The movie is billed as “Based on an original idea by Luc Besson.” Which can only mean that he was drinking with his buddies and said “We should totally remake Escape from New York, only instead of Manhattan as a prison, it should be a space station! That would be awesome!” And everyone agreed, and since he’s credited as a producer, I bet he helped bankroll it.

Fortunately, Luc Besson is the master of so bad it’s awesome filmmaking, and the movie will probably end up doing okay.

It had several other actors I recognized but couldn’t place at the time, including the military dictator from Sahara, the captain from 300, and Lucifer from Constantine. I suppose that makes me more of a cinematic gourmand than gourmet, but I’m okay with that.

Anyway, it’s a great popcorn movie, and Guy Pearce’s character is hilarious.

03/26/2012

Thoughts on Uncharted: Golden Abyss

by wfgodbold

I finished the game Sunday night on normal. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good handheld adaptation of the console Uncharted experience.

The gyro-assisted aiming was great; I think this would work even on the console versions of Uncharted with the PS3’s Sixaxis controllers. Once I figured out how to use it properly, I was getting headshots more often than not.

There wasn’t much deadtime; the game was good about taking Nate from one action setpiece to the next.

The story was decent; it’s set before Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (the first game), but aside from Elena not showing up at all, you’d never have known.

However, there were some things I didn’t like at all.

The final boss fight was terrible; it combined the tediousness of quick time events with the annoyance of swiping all over the Vita screen. If I wanted to play a touchscreen-based game, I’d have bought a damn iPad. There were plenty of touchscreen quick time events throughout the game, so it’s not like they surprised me with it; but I didn’t like those either, and so I really didn’t like it when I had to swipe around on the screen for five minutes to beat the final boss. If you miss three of the swipes, it’s game over; it’s also game over if you miss the final swipe, even if it’s not the third.

The graphics were pretty good, in spite of the jaggies. It looked better in motion than in the screenshots I took, but the jaggies were still noticeable.

Your sidekicks are morons. They get in the way, and thanks to collision detection, you can’t just walk through them; you bump into them and have to go around. It was especially annoying when they would start climbing down ropes before I could and then when I tried to follow them, I’d roll off the ledge and fall to my death.

I’d say if you’re on the fence about whether to buy it or not, either pick it up used or wait for a sale. It’s good enough to play, and a fun game, but it’s definitely not worth the $50 MSRP. Maybe if it had been made by Naughty Dog instead of Bend, it would have been a bit better; I guess we’ll never know.

03/10/2012

John Carter of Earth?

by wfgodbold

No. John Carter of Mars!

For an adaptation of a pulp adventure novel first published in 1912, Disney’s John Carter (adapted from A Princess of Mars) holds up very well. The reviewers don’t know WTF they’re talking about (though I suppose it is kind of a hit or miss movie, so maybe 50% is about right. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys movies like this, this is a movie you’ll enjoy).

The actors all do a good job, and get into their roles without going Large Ham on us (even Willem Dafoe manages to rein it in!). I did like that while they used a bunch of recognizable actors, there weren’t any huge stars to ruin it by doing their shtick (e.g., Tom Cruise running, Nic Cage with a weird haircut and a flashlight losing his mind).

The action is great, the setting is great (though it could have been a bit redder), and the effects are great. The 3D was understated (surprising in a Disney flick).

And the movie does its job; for two hours, John Carter isn’t the only one transported to the savage world of Barsoom.

The audience is as well.

03/07/2012

Act of Valor

by wfgodbold

It won’t win any awards; the acting is mediocre and the plot is threadbare.

But you don’t need acting chops in an action movie; you only need believable protagonists, and actual Navy SEALs are about as believable as you can get. And since the plot is generally just tacked on anyway, the fact that there’s enough plot to get us from set piece to set piece, and tell a decent story, is enough (my only complaint is that they didn’t do enough to illustrate the passage of time).

The action, though; the action is why we watch, and the action is magnificent. Read the whole Popular Mechanics article for the lowdown on how working with SEALs influenced the filmmaking; it’s worth it.

And go see Act of Valor if you haven’t already!

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