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All reviews - Movies (141) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (19)

"Lady in the Water" (2006)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 20 June 2013 03:48 (A review of Lady in the Water)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Right before this movie started, I said to myself, "Let's get this over with." I knew it was going to be bad… but I didn't think this bad! This was damn near intolerable!
The plot is that Cleveland, an apartment complex handyman, finds a mysterious woman (named Story) in the pool, discovers that she's an entity from an old bedtime story, and has to use clues from the tale to help her get home.
First of all, the dialogue in this movie is hideously bad, especially from Story herself!
But it was Cleveland's asking around for information that constantly aggravated me. He's making himself sound insane, but no one ever questions him! And it's just ludicrous how the group of people he assembles just goes along with it, no questions asked! I swear, I was facepalming for more than half the movie!
Also, this movie is basically Shyamalan giving a big "fuck you" to critics. The character Shyamalan himself plays is a deeply inspirational writer. And there's a critic character who's described as arrogant and has no right to determine people's positions.
Overall, "awkward" is the best word to describe this movie. It's just really, really awkward.

My rating: 15%


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"The Village" (2004)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 17 June 2013 03:30 (A review of The Village)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The residents of a small rural village live in harmony, except for fear of the mysterious creatures in the woods beyond the village. Now the villagers believe that the alliance between them and the monsters has been broken.
Most people agree that this is where Shyamalan definitely went downhill. I may not have liked Signs, but at least it had potential to be a good movie. The Village, however, just flat-out fails.
First of all, the acting is just as wooden as Signs – except for Adrien Brody, who easily upstages everyone else. And I guess Shyamalan was trying to make the dialogue sound old-fashioned, but that's all it sounds like: an imitation of that dialect.
But perhaps my main problem with the movie is that it's slow! Painfully so! It feels ironed out to its hundred-minute length!
The opening scenes raise plenty of questions about where things are going to go, but the movie takes a long time to establish what its real focus is.
It's towards the end, however, that the movie hits rock bottom. The last half-hour is a constant barrage of weak twist after weak twist.
It's dull, boring, unfocused and just all-around tedious.

My rating: 35%


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"Signs" (2002)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 14 June 2013 02:43 (A review of Signs)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I know a lot of people like this movie, but at the same time, many other people have already pointed out how flawed it is, so I don't feel I have anything significant to add.
I understand what the movie was going for: an alien invasion scenario that focuses entirely on an ordinary rural family and how the crisis unfolds from their perspective. In this regard, the movie could have worked. Other movies, like Night of the Living Dead, have used that idea of a limited focus to great effect. But here, it's all ruined by terrible acting and some really stupid writing – too many examples to get into.
Yes, the acting is a major problem with this movie. No one ever shows any emotion whatsoever, which completely kills any tension. I know Shyamalan usually goes for a downbeat tone, but for a movie like this, you really need something more realistic.
To sum it up, this is basically Wasted Potential: The Movie. It has its moments, and could easily have been an engrossing and bone-chilling horror film, if only the story had been thought out a little better and the acting had actually been competent.

My rating: 45%


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"Unbreakable" (2000)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 13 June 2013 06:41 (A review of Unbreakable)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The plot is basically that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the only survivor of a horrific train crash – completely unharmed. Then he's approached by Elijah Prince (Samuel L Jackson), who believes that, because David has never been injured in his life, he's a real-life embodiment of a comic book superhero.
Elijah's theory seems absurd at first, but gradually starts to make sense as the movie progresses. I especially like how, as a security guard, David has an instinct for wrongdoing, which Elijah sees as a human trait that's the basis for super powers. It gets to the point where he can tell if someone's got a skeleton in their closet just by touching them. :)
But sadly, this is one of those movies that seems to end too soon. The climax doesn't give you any indication that you're nearing the end of the movie; it feels like you're only at the end of the second act. (I had the same problem with Rambo 4 and Hostel: Part II.)
But on the whole, my first impression of Unbreakable is that it's pretty good. It's a well-written and thoughtful take on heroes combined with life imitating art.

My rating: 75%


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"Silver Linings Playbook" (2012)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 12 June 2013 07:08 (A review of Silver Linings Playbook)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Silver Linings Playbook rounded out my trio of rentals this week because there aren't yet any films from this year that I thought would be good enough to offset Die Hard 5 and Gangster Squad. And it turns out I made a very good choice indeed! :D I loved it!
I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking mental illness is a very delicate subject, but I don't think any movie should be interpreted as a parable. I think of this more as a character study of two people helping each other to stand on their own two feet again. (I have heard from Film Brain, though – whom you can usually trust considering how meticulously he researches these things – that it's a pretty realistic depiction of mental illness.)
It's also astonishingly well acted across the board – including, surprisingly, Chris Tucker! :)
I was thoroughly enjoying the movie… up until near the end, when the DVD started skipping to the point where I couldn't watch any more! :( Imagine my frustration! You know, that really pisses me off! Why can't people take good care of DVDs they rent? They're supposed to be public property! Letting a disc get scratched up is downright insensitive to anyone else who wants to rent it! So my final comment is a resounding "fuck you" to whomever let the DVD end up in that state!
But even though I haven't yet seen the ending, I think I can quite safely say that, had I caught this during 2012 itself, it would definitely have been on my favourite movies of the year list – top three easily.

My rating: 90%


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"Gangster Squad" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months ago on 12 June 2013 06:58 (A review of Gangster Squad)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Gangster Squad is loosely based on a true story, about a band of Los Angeles police officers who go undercover as renegade gangsters to take down mob boss Mickey Cohen.
Since the movie claimed at the start that it was inspired by a true story, I was expecting something somewhat serious. What I got instead was a ridiculously over-the-top blast of camp. Right from the opening scenes, the movie made it clear what tone it was going for – the violence was deliriously outrageous – and my expectations plummeted through the floor. It's a movie that basically embraces and glorifies cops chasing gangsters in a pulp fiction kind of way.
The characters are underdeveloped and, sadly, underperformed. Jerry and Grace's relationship falls especially flat.
And the action scenes are poorly edited; in the first couple, I could never tell where anyone was in proximity to each other.
I would have preferred if the movie had gone for a more serious tone, tried to properly represent the true story. But as it stands, it's ludicrous, thoroughly predictable and unimpressive.

My rating: 40%


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"A Good Day to Die Hard" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 2 months 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, 2 months 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, 2 months 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, 2 months 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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