January 29th, 2009–
The best thing that can be said for Martin Campbell’s new thriller of Edge of Darkness is that it’s a gritty and welcome return for the fallen Mel Gibson who stars as Detective John Craven. That’s not a back-handed compliment either. Even before events in his private life shattered his rep, Gibson hadn’t exactly been lighting up the cinema with his onscreen presence. His ability was never in question but his choice of films often felt like paychecks to help finance his own personal directorial visions. He’s a gifted and canny director, but I haven’t really bought one of his performances since 1999’s Payback.
Now, in a variation on that role—add in a heaping helping of Liam Neeson’s grim, determined father from Taken—Gibson comes back to the acting fold with a character that walks the line between justice and vengeance so erratically one feels compelled to check the credits and make sure his name isn’t Max Rockatansky. Continue reading
Daybreakers (R) 108 min. Written & Directed by: The Spiereg Brothers. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Isabel Lucas Cinematography: Ben Nott Score: Christopher Gordon
At a Christmas get-together this year, one of my extended family members told me he had seen the site and would probably read it more if I didn’t review so many damn vampire movies. At last inventory, I’ve technically reviewed 2, but one of those was New Moon so I’m not sure it counts. Eitherway, it seemed to be the gore and tedious nature of the genre that had done him in.
The lights turn down, the 3-D glasses go on, and what follows is one of the most basic and honest reasons to go the cinema; pure delight. James Cameron finally unveils his Avatar and it is one of the most entertaining and visually accomplished works of his entire career. This is the pulp sci-fi feast fans thought they were getting some ten years ago when they went walking into The Phantom Menace hoping for magic to strike. When it happens, you can hear the thunder and feel the electricity. This is why I love the movies. Continue reading
November 25th, 2009–
American Ninja, where art though? Pray for Death, you have gone…never to return. Even Ninja III: Domination moved away and forgot to write. The over-the-top kill happy martial-arts fantasies of the mid 1980s have all abandoned us, and nothing ever came to take their place. With the exception of a occassional, errant nugget like 1995’s The Hunted (yea, it sucked…surprise) a genre I so loved as a child has all dried up.
Yes, I’m talking about the ninja film. Sure, Japan produced a few half-hearted attempts over the years, including the recent Shinobi:Heart Under Blade, but it had a decidedly wuxia feel to its ninjary (TM), and it played like a feverish video game. Then, hope briefly surfaced in the form of an announcement; the brothers Wachowski were making a big budget ninja film with their acolyte James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) behind the camera and Korean pop star Rain in front of it. Now that it’s here, Ninja Assassin turns out to be one more glittering chunk of fool’s gold. Outside of a killer opening sequence and a rather lively final battle, this one proves a tedious disappointment. Continue reading
So, this is the movie responsible for Predator, Die Hard and Hunt for Red October? In a way, yes it is. Those three films are all pinnacles of the action genre; peerless giants, and all three were directed by John McTiernan. Predator, in fact, would be made one year later and it’s this little supernatural thriller that nabbed John the job to helm that film. So, if you give it nothing else, give it that: it jumpstarted McTiernan’s career and got him a gig directing one of the seminal sci-fi action pics of our time. The good news is that Nomads is also a highly creepy, engaging thriller, well worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it. Continue reading
Oct 14th, 2009–
Welcome back to another installment of Trailer Round-Up. This one is gonna be short and sweet but not lacking in content. Here are some of the latest and greatest trailers buzzing out there on the net.
Of most notice right now is the sneak peak at Sly Stallone’s 80s-charged action flick that brings the Italian Stallon into the orbit of action mainstays like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and then throws in colorful faces like Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Terry Crewes and a hinted at Ahnuld cameo. The trailer itself looks like what you would expect, and chances are it will be all that the fanbase hopes for and everything those waiting for Stallone ‘s return to his indie roots (ala Rocky) feared it would be. Continue reading
Sou-eeeee! You boys just took a wrong turn! Right through the wild backwaters of cinema and into the dingy, scat-littered lair of Pig Hunt. This is one crazy movie. Expecting some sort of Sy-Fy channel opus about a cgi giant hog, what I found instead in Pig Hunt was an off-kilter action flick with plenty of beasts, babes and ‘billies of the Northern California variety. James Isaac isn’t a director that inspires confidence–his only other movies are Jason X, Skinwalkers, and House III: The Horror Show–but his newest is actually so crazy, so demented and over-the-top insane that it achieves a kind of grandeur. Absurdity and oddness for its own sake are the mark of Pig Hunt. If John Waters ever made a horror movie it might feel a lot like this. Continue reading