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All reviews - Movies (137) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (17)

"A Good Day to Die Hard" (2013)

Posted : 4 years ago on 12 June 2013 10:17 (A review of A Good Day to Die Hard)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Well, it's that time of year again. :) The time when I start renting three new releases a week from Xtra-vision to catch up on whatever I missed in the cinema during the first few months of the year.
The first of this week's trio is A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth instalment in the franchise. I actually went back and watched the first four again in preparation for this one. :) So I'm left in absolutely no doubt that to say this is by far the worst of the series is a massive understatement!
As the series progressed, it increasingly lost sight of the vulnerability that made the character of John McClane so appealing to begin with. By this point, he doesn't seem to care about anything anymore.
But that's not the only reason this doesn't feel at all like a Die Hard movie. The film itself is every bland, generic action movie you've ever seen before. It really does seem like the name Die Hard was slapped on it just to make more money.
The story is so poorly set up that, even by the time it got to the first car chase, I had no idea what was going on. So, even though it had some admittedly cool stunts, the action wasn't the least bit exciting, because I didn't know who these people were or what was at stake. Doesn't help any that the action is shot and edited about as clumsily as you can get – again, like so many other action movies these days!
Still, at least this movie isn't pussified, unlike the fourth one. :) Neither the language nor the violence is tamed down.
To sum it up, my main problem with this movie is not just the fact that its narrative is confused (and confusing), but by God is it boring! The original Die Hard really is one of the most perfect action movies ever made, so to see its sequels degenerate to this point is pretty disheartening.

My rating: 25%


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"Daybreakers" (2010)

Posted : 4 years ago on 10 June 2013 06:38 (A review of Daybreakers)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In a future where vampires have almost completely replaced humans, vampire scientists are trying to find an effective blood substitute before humans are completely wiped out and the vampire population starves.
Daybreakers, quite simply, is one of the most inspired vampire stories I've ever come across! The vampire-dominated world it sets up is just fascinating to watch, with too many clever ideas to count. The cars equipped for daytime driving, the "subsiders" (vampires who've deformed from lack of human blood) – the list goes on.
It's also every bit as violent as you'd want a vampire movie to be. It doesn't go off the wall or anything, but whenever violence is called for, the screen is positively splattered with bloody, gory goodness. :) Especially, the final climax is straight-up awesome!
By the way, the main protagonist's name is Edward! Yeah. :)
But the big problem with this movie – sad to say – the acting's not very good. All the performances are a little too subdued, so even the big dramatic moments (like the relationship between Sam Neill and his daughter) fall a little flat.
Also, whenever CGI is used, it sticks out like a sore thumb because it looks awful.
But on the whole, the setup and story are so wonderful that I'm willing to let the poor acting and bad CGI pass. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to catch a breath of fresh air by watching a real, kick-ass vampire movie.

My rating: 80%


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"Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013)

Posted : 4 years ago on 8 June 2013 06:50 (A review of Star Trek Into Darkness)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Okay, I know I'm late to the game on this one, but I just got back from seeing Star Trek Into Darkness. :) And in short, I liked it a lot; I enjoyed it even more than the first JJ Abrams Trek.
First of all, this one demonstrates more of the true essence of Trek: exploration and diplomacy. The opening scene, for example, and the problems that spring from retrieving Harrison (Khan) from Klingon territory.
It also stays true to the characters, and their personalities are so strong that their interactions occasionally made me laugh out loud. :) I especially like how, when Kirk is forced to cooperate with Khan, he still has a plan in case Khan double-crosses him.
Benedict Cumberbatch makes for an amazing villain: manipulative, menacing and ruthless. Though am I the only one who thinks his performance gets a bit over the top at moments? And yes, IMDb flat-out spoils the surprise: it's Khan!
My favourite scene in the whole movie is, during the meeting of the Starfleet commanders, the moment Kirk realises they've walked right into a trap.
But the major problem with this movie is the ending. As many people have already pointed out, it blatantly retreads a classic moment from Trek lore, and at some points it just gets plain ridiculous.
Still, on the whole, it's a very enjoyable movie: cerebral as well as superficially exciting. I wouldn't say either of the JJ Abrams Star Trek films are five-star movies – they're not perfect films – but they're certainly very solid summer blockbusters.

My rating: 75%


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"8 Mile" (2002)

Posted : 4 years ago on 7 June 2013 02:59 (A review of 8 Mile)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I was under the impression that 8 Mile was a fictionalised account of Eminem's rise to fame. But it felt very cinematic and predictable as I was watching it, particularly the low point at the end of the second act – and, sure enough, it says in the credits that it's purely a work of fiction. It does seem it was inspired in part by Eminem's own life, though; it makes me wonder just how much.
As a movie, it's okay. In essence, it's just your basic inspirational tale of self-confidence. Its effect depends on how much you like the characters and the urban setting. I myself was never all that invested in it, but I didn't mind it, and there were a few moments I did enjoy. For example, Jimmy and Future making up their own lyrics to Sweet Home Alabama and beaming broadly all the while. All the freestyle rapping scenes gave me a whole new respect for anyone who actually can do that! :) And the intent of the climactic rap-off battle is summed up in the moment where Jimmy and Papa Doc are glaring at each other nose-to-nose, almost like Rocky and Clubber Lang! :)
My only real complaint is the villains: the Leaders of the Free World gang. They're just the same old cardboard-cutout bullies that I find so boring.
To sum it up, I don't really feel too strongly about it either way; it was okay. I can understand its appeal, but personally I wasn't totally impressed.

My rating: 60%


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"Dude, Where's My Car?" (2000)

Posted : 4 years ago on 6 June 2013 08:49 (A review of Dude, Where's My Car?)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

To cut right to the point, this movie sucks! Big time!
I've heard people say that The Hangover is basically a remake of Dude, Where's My Car? Well, they're right: it's more or less the same formula. Two guys wake up, can't remember a thing about the previous night, and discover increasingly just how much they got up to. But the characters' goal here is paper-thin, and none of their actions are in any way fun.
As you can probably guess, I really don't like these characters. They're obviously trying to cash in on the 90s stoner craze, but they fall completely flat. Doesn't help any that the acting across the board is God-awful!
On top of that, the movie just isn't funny. It's not painfully unfunny, though; I was mostly just sitting there indifferent. Except for several times when the movie keeps extending the same joke to the point where it gets torturously repetitive. Even more maddening is that those extended jokes are the only reason the movie barely passes the eighty-minute mark!
For most of the movie, I wasn't really mad at it: just bored. Until the last twenty minutes, that is, when the movie plummets off a fucking cliff! Without actually giving away the ending, let's just say shit flies off the deep end so drastically that it just makes you slap your forehead – hard! It's a jaw-droppingly stupid climax!
There's really nothing else worth mentioning with this movie. It just sucks. It's just two really unlikable people doing really uninteresting things, and there isn't a single gag that works.

My rating: 30%


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"Dirty Dancing" (1987)

Posted : 4 years ago on 5 June 2013 09:09 (A review of Dirty Dancing)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Spoony One once said that Dirty Dancing is one so-called "chick flick" that guys can actually enjoy as well. And he's right. :) Yes, to cut right to the point, I liked it.
I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we follow Jennifer Grey's character, "Baby", right from the start, which puts everyone watching the movie into the mindset of a teenage girl; we can understand her thought process. It certainly helps that the guy she falls for actually is talented! :) Twilight should have learned from this movie! The romance here has a much more substantive foundation.
The dance sequences themselves are a lot of fun to watch, and sometimes irresistibly sensual; they could almost tell the whole love story in themselves.
The film's only real detractor is the villains. Good God are they boring! It's just the clichéd oppressive higher-ups, and they're all stick-in-the-muds who simply won't listen.
Honestly, I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts to properly describe this movie. All I can say is that I did get wrapped up in it – again, because the two leads do share a genuine connection. The opening was pretty confusing, not really establishing the characters and the resort well enough, but the central relationship doesn't put one foot wrong. And you couldn't have asked for a better ending! :)

My rating: I'm torn between 65% and 70%


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"A Cinderella Story" (2004)

Posted : 4 years ago on 3 June 2013 05:53 (A review of A Cinderella Story)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Okay, A Cinderella Story. I only watched this for the sake of completing the Movie Compatibility Test on Flixster, since I don't like to use the "not interested" rating: I'll give any movie a chance. And this is one of the movies on that test that I was looking the least forward to seeing (okay, not the least, but we'll get to that later).
Now, I'm not one to diss girls' movies just because I'm not their target audience; I try to keep an open mind. But this one… it's terrible, plain and simple!
I understand that it's basically just telling the straight-up Cinderella fairytale but in the modern day. But superimposing a modern-day setting just draws more attention to how one-dimensional fairytales are. It doesn't work.
I can't stand the stepmother or the male lead's jealous ex-girlfriend because, again, they're just one-dimensional bitches with no character other than to simply be antagonists. Especially, with the stunts they pull at the end of the second act, I just wanted to punch them square in the face – but not for the reasons the story wanted. It's because they're such base, cardboard-cutout bullies that I just wanted them to get a clue! I just wanted to get their comeuppance over with and move on.
The only thing I liked was the character of Rhonda. Again, she's just meant to be a stereotypical supportive offset to the cruel real family, but at least her screen time isn't a chore to sit through!
Bottom line: just stick to the fairytale itself, not this pig drivel!

My rating: turkey


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"Doctor Zhivago" (1965)

Posted : 4 years ago on 2 June 2013 07:42 (A review of Doctor Zhivago)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Today's classic that I've finally got round to seeing is Doctor Zhivago.
It's a romantic epic in the same vein as Gone with the Wind: it's seemingly less about the romance and more about how the characters survive in a harsh war-torn world. In this regard, it works very well. I especially love the sequence where Yuri escapes from the partisans: you feel the same sense of relief he does when he sees Lara's house again after so long.
The one downside to the film, though – and it is a big one – is that it doesn't explain its historical backdrop very well for uneducated slobs like me. With Gone with the Wind, you don't need to know the history beforehand to understand the context of the film. But here, I just didn't understand the purpose of the war, who was on which side and what they were fighting for. And since so much of the story revolves around that, the film as a whole really lost me.
One thing I have to say: I was very much surprised when I realised the Christmas Eve party scene was over an hour into the film! :) "We're an hour in," I was thinking, "and very little has happened." I had no idea; I thought I was only about half an hour in. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Overall, because the film doesn't have a three-act structure, it all depends on whether or not you like the characters enough to share in their meandering adventures. I personally liked them okay, but it would help if I understood exactly what their peril was.
So my conclusion is: it's a good movie, but it's not a great movie.

My rating: 70%


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"The Longest Yard" [AKA "The Mean Machine"] (1974)

Posted : 4 years ago on 1 June 2013 09:58 (A review of The Longest Yard)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Just saw the original Longest Yard – or, as it's apparently called in the UK, The Mean Machine. Yeah, imagine my confusion, especially knowing about the Adam Sandler remake!
This is the second American football movie I watched today, after revisiting The Blind Side! :D And I… didn't like it. I'm sorry: this seems to be a very popular movie, but it didn't do a thing for me at all.
I am not a sports fan myself, but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't like a sports movie. It all depends on whether or not I like the characters enough to cheer for them. But here, I just didn't care. They're all prisoners – hell, we even hear about some of the grisly crimes they committed – so why should I care?
Even in the climax, when (spoilers) Crewe keeps going just to defy the warden, I still didn't care. And, since I don't understand the rules to American football, the game itself made no sense to me.
On the whole, I just found the movie dull and far too long.

My rating: 40%


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"Planet of the Apes" (1968)

Posted : 4 years, 1 month ago on 11 May 2013 09:05 (A review of Planet of the Apes)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I used to post full reviews on this site right after seeing movies for the first time, but just found it too damn difficult. I think most will agree that the more times you see a movie, the easier it is to form a concrete opinion. So I've decided to revise my reviews, holding off on full ones until I see the movie multiple times. But, since they say the first impression is very important, I think it's only fitting to still make my initial gut reactions known. So here's my first short "first impressions" review.

So yesterday I finally got round to seeing the original Planet of the Apes – but I didn't comment on it right away because, as yet, I wasn't thinking straight. But suffice to say, for me, the movie definitely lived up to its hype! :)
For one thing, it's a much darker movie than I was expecting! Not only are the humans in this world brutally oppressed, but what happens to Charlton Heston's comrades is actually really shocking.
But on top of that, the humans being in the reverse position of the apes, in terms of the contrast it creates, is a hilariously brilliant idea. But it also makes for a fantastic parallel of the big religion-versus-evolution argument. The movie doesn't come out and preach all that social and theological satire, though: it all blends right into the story.
The ape makeup effects are stunning, even if the lips don't always sync up properly and you can tell that the makeup is impeding the actors' speech.
I love the music – anything by Jerry Goldsmith, I think is gold.
And the ending, even though it's since been flat-out spoiled because that iconic image is now on every poster for the movie, is still a great twist.
So, on the whole, I think this is one of many movies whose reputation precedes it. Planet of the Apes is a great movie.

My rating: 95%


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