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

"Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:39 (A review of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This happens to be my 100th review on this site, and what an appropriate choice for such a milestone! :D

I've been a huge AVGN fan since 2007, and James Rolfe himself, through his other videos, has become one of my biggest filmmaking idols. I've been following this movie's progress since day one, trying not to let myself get too hyped. But anyway, it's finally out, and I'm proud to say, it's worth the wait. :)
Man, this movie has a tonne going on! There's a car chase, a horrific dream sequence, zombies, robots, a giant monster movie homage, and much, much more! But it actually all flows together very well indeed; just about every step of the story feels natural. I love just how outrageous the situation keeps becoming as it progresses, like the Nerd is indeed in way over his head.
Needless to say, for an independent film, this is about as ambitious as it gets. I'd be lying if I said some of the obvious low-budget effects weren't distracting, but some of them just add to the humour in a big way. For example, seeing some of the actors turned into part of the miniature models is frigging hilarious! :D Besides, some other effects are legitimately slick – but unfortunately, those specific examples are in the climax, so I can't spoil too much.
And, speaking of which, the climax itself is definitely the highlight of the movie. There are too many laugh-out-loud funny moments to count, and even the payoff from a dramatic standpoint is priceless.
So yeah, colour me satisfied! :)

My rating: 85%


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"Labor Day" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:33 (A review of Labor Day)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have to admit, I'm having trouble explaining my thoughts on this one, because… I really don't know what to make of it. It's a pretty strange movie.
From the trailer, I got the impression that it was about an escaped convict keeping this woman and her son prisoner in their own home, but she ends up actually falling in love with him. But instead, he turns out to be a legitimately good guy, taking the place of a husband and father figure. The only problem is that he has to keep hiding his presence whenever someone comes to the door. It's just a really bizarre situation, and I'm not sure I mean that in a good way. I guess we're supposed to like the guy, to believe right from the start that the murder he was convicted for was an accident, but I think, in my case, there'd constantly be an ever-present fear that he could snap and kill us at any moment.
For that reason, I was never invested in the situation or cared about the romance. So, during the climax, when he's in real danger of being revealed, they drag the tension out for so long that, rather than being suspenseful, it just annoyed me.
I can't help but think how much better this movie would have been if it was actually about Stockholm syndrome. As it stands, it's just kind of confused and underwhelming.

My rating: 50%


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"Divergent" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:31 (A review of Divergent)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I'm not just saying this because it's cool to pick on young adult fiction, but… yeah, you guessed it. I didn't like this movie.
And that's mainly due to the premise. I guess it plays to teenagers who are discovering their social standing, but this whole idea of a society that dictates people by their personality type is just laughable. There are five factions in this world, and Four says that he always wanted to be a little bit of all of them… but he can't be the first one to have ever brought up that point! People aren't that one-dimensional; personalities are far more complex than that. This movie basically turns everyone in the world into a one-note drone. I'm a very introverted individual – I know very little about how society really works – and I was picking up on this stuff! It's beyond unrealistic! I haven't seen a society so obviously broken since The Purge!
Plus, I never got everyone's rampant hatred for the Abnegation people. Why does everyone look down on them, spread lies and dub them criminals when, by definition, they're selfless, good Samaritans?
Aside from that, the movie just did very little for me. The characters are boring, so I didn't find their struggle interesting or suspenseful in any way. But the ending made me legitimately angry: it's as bullshit and predictable as it gets!
In conclusion, it's not offensively bad, but still pretty meagre.

My rating: 40%


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"Reasonable Doubt" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:30 (A review of Reasonable Doubt)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When an attorney (played by Dominic Cooper) commits a fatal hit-and-run, he becomes determined to manipulate the case to acquit the accused (Samuel L Jackson) who was found with the body and convicted of the crime. But he eventually realises his actions have freed a guilty man, and a serial killer at that.
This is a movie that boasts a great premise but doesn't do the best job of realising it.
I had very little sympathy for the main character, who's so bad at hiding his guilty conscience that anyone with half a brain cell would immediately see right through him. But Samuel L Jackson's character is a really well written villain, thanks mostly to his motivation – which I won't spoil. :) He's what made this movie for me.
Aside from that, this is a pretty standard thriller. It keeps your interest well enough, but packs very little in the way of surprise. And it seemed really short; it flew by extremely quickly. In fact, they must have realised the script couldn't fill an entire movie and that the final product was too short, because it has the slowest credits I've ever seen: they're ironed out to a full ten minutes!
On the whole, it's just kind of mediocre.

My rating: 55%


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"The Legend of Hercules" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:29 (A review of The Legend of Hercules )

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

To put it simply… this was bad! Really, really, really bad!
It's a retelling of the story of Hercules that imagines him as your typical Moses-like hero overthrowing a tyrant. It's as clichéd as it gets, and you can even pinpoint the famous historical epics it's blatantly ripping off. First it's 300, then it becomes Ben-Hur, then it becomes Gladiator, then it becomes every triumphant "people's hero" leader-type story you've ever seen before.
The first thing I noticed right away is that the CGI is awful! I mean, astonishingly bad! Some of the worst I've ever seen! The acting, too, crushes your spirit pretty quickly: every performance is so dull it's downright depressing.
On top of that, the only one of the famous twelve labours that's even remotely referenced is the Nemean lion. Even the Disney version had more to do with the legend than that!
On a minor note, when Hercules pulls down two stone pillars and starts swinging the stone blocks around on the ends of his chains, all I could think was, "Hulk SMASH!" :D ('Cos didn't he do something similar at one point in the Edward Norton movie?)
Overall, this is one of the most boring, derivative movies I've come across in quite a while. In terms of tradecraft, it's easily the worst movie I've seen so far this year… but it wasn't quite as frustrating as Lucy.

My rating: 20%


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"Before I Go to Sleep" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:27 (A review of Before I Go to Sleep)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This is basically 50 First Dates in the form of a thriller. :D It's the same psychological condition: she has amnesia that wipes her mind every morning. But in this case, it's told from her perspective, as she tries to figure out what happened to her and gets back in touch with some things that her husband Ben keeps hidden from her.
It sounds like an intriguing premise, but sadly it falls pretty flat in its execution. I'm just not a fan of these movies where everyone speaks very slowly, very simplistically, very little wit in the dialogue at all, hardly any jokes being told. That just makes the movie seem really wooden to me.
All the actors are giving it all they've got, but again, I wish they were more naturalistic.
However, the main thing the movie did for me was the plot twist in the third act. I obviously won't spoil it, but I will say this: I was half-correct in predicting it, but the circumstances actually took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting exactly what I got.
Overall, this is a pretty lacklustre but still interesting thriller that makes up in plot for what it lacks in performance.

My rating: 55%


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"Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:26 (A review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Well, it was a long wait for this one! I never read any of the comics, but I love the first Sin City movie: its spectacular blend of hyper-violence, snappy character actions and dazzling visual style is like nothing I've seen before or since.
That unique atmosphere is almost perfectly recaptured with this sequel; I just can't get enough of the world this franchise presents. :) The characters are just as easy to latch onto as they attempt to fight the injustice in this corrupt hellhole of a city.
Sadly, though, the stories themselves just aren't as interesting this time around, and in some cases they seem to go on a bit too long. In the first movie, each story was just the perfect length, and the film even bookended itself really well, which made it feel satisfactorily complete. But this one feels very lopsided and not quite as fulfilling.
Several characters return from the first movie, but a couple of them are really distractingly recast. I can understand recasting the Manute character, since obviously Michael Clarke Duncan is sadly no longer with us, but why Dwight and Miho as well?
I was also pretty disappointed that nothing more is revealed about the mysterious man from the first one played by Josh Hartnett.
But overall, I was only too happy to return to this unique world and get a second dose. :) This sequel is still good, but it's not as good.

My rating: 70%


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"Sex Tape" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:18 (A review of Sex Tape)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Married couple Jay and Annie try to reignite their sex life by making… well, the eponymous sex tape – but Jay accidentally ends up synchronising it to several iPads before distributing them.
I usually find sex comedies insufferable, but this was a surprising exception – thanks mostly to the interplay between the two leads. The way Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel work off each other makes the dialogue sound natural and improvised, and never fails to amuse.
There's a running gag about how Jay keeps taking things far further than he needed to, which could easily make him look like an irredeemable idiot, but somehow that joke works too.
The whole sequence with the dog had me in stitches!
There were some gags that went a bit too far, like the blackmail scene. And any scene involving lying had me grinding my teeth, especially since some of those parts went on for too long.
But overall, much to my surprise, I liked this movie – although, judging from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, I seem to be a minority on that.

My rating: 70%


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"If I Stay" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:18 (A review of If I Stay)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Mia Hall is left comatose after a car accident; caught between life and death, she has to decide whether to die or wake up again. As she wanders around the hospital, she overhears what happened to her family, and other discussions among her family and friends that guide her in her decision.
So, what kind of message are we supposed to take from this? That if you're half-dead, you can wander around freely and acquire knowledge for when you recover?
Also, the narrative structure is kind of offputting: a lot of it is told in flashback, and the flashback sections bear no relevance to the scene at hand, so it actually feels like a romantic drama that keeps getting interrupted by the hospital scenes.
The romance itself is kind of manipulative, too, in that the characters are pretty flat, not much personality.
…But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't invested. The film is just so heavy on mood and enthusiasm that it's hard not to start falling for it.
Plus you have Chloe Grace Moretz giving a predictably flawless performance.
So, overall, I think it's okay. It was certainly a welcome relief right after such a terrible movie as Lucy, but I have to wonder if I'd be so lenient under different circumstances.

My rating: 65%


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"Lucy" (2014)

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 8 October 2014 01:17 (A review of Lucy)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This was HORRIBLE!
Right from when I first heard the premise, I couldn't help but laugh at how downright stupid it sounded! Look, until right now, I didn't realise the "10% of the brain" thing was an actual misconception; I always thought it was just an expression meaning that hardly anyone makes full use of their talents. But regardless, it's still a bullshit premise for a sci-fi movie!
That's not the only scientific inaccuracy I picked up on, either. Another is that the earliest life forms date from 3·5 billion years ago, not one billion.
And even simply as a movie, it lost me right from the opening scenes, when it keeps abruptly cutting between two completely unrelated series of events; the transitions are just jarring. But the moment this movie died for me is when Lucy calls her mother and suddenly starts talking about what's happening to her, which makes her sound insane.
The second half of the movie is mostly unremarkable, but it's so frustrating because it's serving such an idiotic purpose.
I hated this movie! It's quite possibly the worst movie of the year so far, right up there with The Legend of Hercules and A Long Way Down.

My rating: 15%


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