Posts Tagged ‘thrillers’

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The (cough) conclusion of the trilogy: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

July 1, 2014

[And that brings us to the first not-terrible installment in the franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.]

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I’m trying to think of some pithy intro here, but, hey, it’s the new Transformers movie. I mean, if you get trampled by an elephant and end up with a compound fracture of the femur, the doc who looks after you doesn’t drop a witty bon mot before he yanks on your foot until the bone slides back in through the flesh and then resets it, does he? I don’t really know. That’s never happened to me, but I bet he doesn’t. No, he just does it. If he’s smart he gives you a slug of whiskey first. The point I’m trying to make is,, we both know this is going to hurt. Might as well get on with it. So: Transformers: Dark of Moon. The good news is that it’s probably the best of the three movies. The bad news is, that’s a little like saying last night’s prison rape was the politest gang-sodomy you’ve ever had. The praise is indeed faint.

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Another look back: “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen”

July 1, 2014

[And here we look back at the low point in this franchise--and that's saying something--with the execrable Transformers: Rise of the Fallen.]

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If you’ve read my review of the first Transformers movie, then you know that I didn’t love it. I thought it was loud, stupid, obnoxious, and not all that exciting. It was as if Michael Bay thought if he bludgeoned us with enough activity onscreen, he could convince us we were seeing a fun summer movie. A lot of people thought I was being too hard on what was meant to be a silly summer action movie about giant robots fighting. Kassandra the Work Wife brought up this point on several occasions, “Big robots whaling on each other. What more do you want? I don’t want to think too hard about a movie, Mr. I’m-All-Cool-Because-I-Use-My-Higher-Brain-Functions. Just eat your damn popcorn and enjoy Optimus Prime stomping Deceptacon ass, Mr. Thinkee.” The problem I have with this argument is that the classic summer movie’s that we’ve come to love were well-made­ pieces of disposable entertainment. We still recall and love them precisely because they were so well-made. Transformers was not. Quick, tell me your favorite line or scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Terminator 2, Escape from New York, or Die Hard. Okay, now tell me your favorite line or scene from Transformers (and none of that “One will rise; one will fall” bullshit. That was on the poster). Right, I didn’t think so. Well, the bad news is that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is everything the original was and much, much  more. If the first one was a cinematic pummeling, this one is the Bataan Death March.

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A look back: “Transformers”

July 1, 2014

[Since the latest in the Transformers, ah, trilogy? Series? Purgatory? Whatever. The latest Transformers movie just came out, so I figured I'd repost my original reviews...]

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“Before time began there was The Cube…”

Uh-oh.

Yet this opening voiceover was but the latest evidence that Transformers the movie and anything associated with it is simply bad, wrong, and possibly evil. Others include the Transformers logo bumper stickers that grown men have begun affixing to their cars, the chat room arguments that the robots in the movie lack the depth of personality present in the cartoon series of the mid-‘80s, and the fact that GM—a once-mighty American corporation—is using this movie to hawk their cars the way McDonalds uses Shrek to sell green milkshakes.

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Going off the rails: “Snowpiercer”

June 29, 2014

[Well, it looks like Snowpiercer has finally been released in the US. So, here is a repost of my review from December 13, 2013]

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If you dislike winter as much as I do—heralding as I do from a place that transforms into a frozen wasteland seven month out of the year where the wind howls like a soul in purgatory over a landscape of desolate snowdrifts—then the environmental cataclysm that forms the backdrop of the quirky new sci-fi parable Snowpiercer will likely strike a chord. If you’re one of those fortunate people who’ve never experienced sensation of feeling your hair freeze or don’t understand why you’d need to let your car run for a half an hour before driving it into the unforgiving elements…well, then Snowpiercer’s tale of social injustice will probably hook you. Because no matter what climate you were brought up in, no one wants a schoolmarmish Tilda Swinton lecturing you day in and day out.
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In Memory of Bob Hoskins: “The Long Good Friday”

May 1, 2014

The Long Good Friday begins with Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) swaggering off a Concorde and through Heathrow Airport with the arrogance of a lion inspecting its patch of the Serengeti (or wherever lions live) while a ‘70s-era saxophones wail on the soundtrack. The jazz might as well be Harold’s own personal theme music, since, as we quickly learn, he came up hard in the underworld of the London docks, defeated all contenders, built a criminal empire, and is now poised to make a killing developing the very docks Harold tamed. He wears a perfectly-tailored, cream-colored suit; keeps with a beautiful, intelligent mistress (Helen Mirren); and splits his time between his penthouse apartment and yacht moored on the Thames. Harold, if anyone, deserves wah-wah saxophones playing while he walks. The Long Good Friday is about the 48 hours in his life in which he tears it all down. It’s a great movie—one which secures Bob Hoskins in the pantheon of brilliant actors—and it more than deserves its place as my 300th post.
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City of Lights (and Glocks): “3 Days to Kill”

March 18, 2014

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This is a toughie. No, not because I’m conflicted about my feelings toward 3 Days to Kill—I pretty much hated it, and at one point was so bored I tried to file my income taxes on my iPhone during the middle third of the movie (word to wise: don’t ever try this…you fat-finger one key and the next thing you know the IRS wants actual proof of the elephant preserve you’re claiming as  a write-off). No, 3 Days to Kill is a toughie, because I can’t figure out what the hell anyone was doing with this movie? Like, what kind of movie were they making? What kind did they think they were making? Why did they make this? And why, when they saw the final result did they not just destroy it with fire and say that the final cut was destroyed by rampaging elephants who escaped from a preserve? That last one would actually be very helpful for me, if anyone wants to, you know, sign an affidavit to that effect. Anyway, let’s talk about this movie.
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Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until Liam Neeson punches you in the face: “Non-Stop”

March 4, 2014

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Well, it’s a new year, and you know that means: time for a new movie about Liam Neeson killing people. I don’t know exactly when this became a tradition—I guess sometime around 2009, when we, as a country took in the ludicrosity of the AARP-eligible Neeson running around Paris murdering human traffickers and said, “Yes! This—this is what has been missing from my life!” Anyway, Neeson’s latest entry into this sub-genre of filmmaking is Non-Stop, which differs from his usual outings in two very important ways: 1) none of the people he kills are foreigners, and 2) he does it in a plane.
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Guilty Pleasures: “Terminal Velocity”

February 13, 2014

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Friends, Romans, Cinephiles, lend me your ears (figuratively, of course; this is a blog). I watched Terminal Velocity with naught but the intention to roundly eviscerate it and score some cheap laughs at Charlie Sheen’s expense. This is, after all, an all-but-forgotten 1994 thriller that was all-but-forgotten by…well, a month later in 1994. It would be easy to say that this movie went splat like one of the hapless skydivers that the plot centers around, but that would imply the movie had some weight. In fact, this movie more blew away in the wind like one of those skydivers—if they were full of helium (shit, that started so good). Alas, gentle reader, I come here today not to bury Terminal Velocity, but to praise it, for this movie is utterly brainless, totally improbable, and a lot of fun.
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The hunt for a new action hero: “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

January 19, 2014

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After more than a decade hiatus, CIA analyst Jack Ryan–Tom Clancy’s signature creation—is back on the screen. First embodied by Alec Baldwin nearly 25 years ago in a career-making (and, perversely enough, career-derailing) performance in The Hunt for Red October, the role then went to the more appropriate, but less interesting Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. An attempt to reboot the character was made in 2002 when Ben Affleck stepped into the role in The Sum of All Fears, and that went about as well as everything else Affleck did in the 2000s. Now, Hollywood as decided to reboot the reboot with Chris Pine stepping in to retcon the character yet again in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This time, however, the results are far more positive.
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From the Mists of Time: “Wanted Dead or Alive”

January 14, 2014

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Here’s a strange little number. It’s a movie that could just as easily fit in the “Criminally Overlooked” category as “From the Mists of Time,” since it’s actually quite a good movie, which never garnered the cult status it deserved. Even now I’m hesitant to wholeheartedly endorse it, since it’s the product of a more innocent time, which now takes on the dimension of a nightmare. Still, there’s no getting around the fact it’s a solidly-built thriller with more than ample amounts of ‘80s cheese, all served atop a hearty helping of Rutger Hauer. Okay, that metaphor went wrong, but you get the point: Rutger Hauer, sawed-off shotgun, terrorists in L.A. Need I say more? Of course not, but I will…
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