Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Best Night Ever

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! "Evil" is not a word I throw around lightly but evil was definitely involved in getting Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer their careers.




Best Night Ever – 0 out of 5

While it’s entirely possible for a “found footage” film to be unique, creative and capable of pushing new paradigms in the world of cinema, it’s still the go-to subgenre for the easy, quick-fix/hopefully big return movie. While there’s examples of filmmakers utilizing this formula to really make the viewer immersed in the activities and really bring the film to life, there’s also those two assholes who make the awful parody films that have titles that always end with “Movie” and they decided use this as an attempt to make a cheap party film that loves to steal its jokes from more popular (and better produced) films while blasting a soundtrack of dollar store sound-alike club hits. Seriously, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer need to be brought up on charges for crimes against movies.

I was actually surprised that this shot didn't end with a bird shitting in her mouth.
Friedberg and Seltzer must have been having an off day.

"Yes, I'll record everything because that's totes norm and,
even cooler, I will be able to keep everything in frame--
even while intoxicated--and there will be times where there will
be clearly a second camera but, amazingly, it's still all being
filmed from this single camera.  I'm excellent at catching
reaction shots with a single camera without stopping the
narrative!"
So, the setup is exactly as you would expect because Friedberg and Seltzer are incapable of coming up with something original…Claire (Desiree Hall) is getting married and wants to have a bachelorette party in Las Vegas (Wow! What a setup to a wacky adventure!). She brings along the usual cohorts of party movie tropes. She has the her bestie Zoe (Eddie Ritchard) who decides she’s going to film every second of the trip because that’s what people do in real life and also it cuts down on cameramen costs, the typical rich girl; Leslie (Samantha Colburn), who, after the beer shits hit the fan, learns she needs to let go once and awhile and just have fun, and, finally, there’s the girl who is the combined dumb one/whore-ish one/just looking to let loose and have a ball party animal one (whatever the story needs her to be); Janet (Crista Flanagan), and, together, they set off to have cliché fun in predictable fashion in Las Vegas. There’s some jello wrestling, lots of drinks, some light mugging and a whole lot—it bears repeating and capitalization—A WHOLE LOT of mindless musical montages (because story and plot are hard).

"I'm getting married...and that's the end of my personality traits for the film."


Normally, I avoid anything made by Friedberg and Seltzer and avoid it like it was composed of a flesh eating virus, a whole host of STDs, and my ex-girlfriends but a friend of mine and contributing writer to a website that I occasionally will do reviews for (therobotspajamas.com…visit them…now!) dared me to sit through this film and watch it. Well, Chris, I took your dare and I sat through Best Night Ever without weeping for humanity and fearing my sense of humor would die and never return…however, I still think Friedberg and Seltzer need to be brought up on criminal charges—not because of this film but because of their entire body of work.

The look of an actress who just realized she said yes to the wrong directors.


Like all their previous films, Best Night Ever barely has a story but, and this is almost a positive for this otherwise crappy film, the one isn’t just a pointless collection of poorly thought out parodies and juvenile satire that basically culminates in dick and fart jokes or a random collection of uninspired pop culture references that are already dated before the film hits its release date. Instead, Best Night Ever is just a random collection of pointless scenes of partying under no real umbrella of plot and is basically held together on the very thin premise that it’s a bachelorette party. This film basically jumps—often thanks to convenient disruption from the camera—from one scene to the next with very little character development or even depth to the story added. 

Once again, shocked that Friedberg and Seltzer didn't go for a Parish Hilton sex tape
gag here.  But, don't worry, they made up for more obvious jokes elsewhere in the film.


Sure, the film will give you a tidbit about how the rich chick Leslie is going through a divorce and Claire may be having some cold feet and Janet needs to break out because family life has her down and Zoe is…well…there but these bits of character back story are thrown in as an afterthought (because we don’t want to see Friedberg and Seltzer actually make a movie with too much depth, do we?) and the true heart of the matter is foregoing anything that remotely looks like story and just go for the quick time-filler of having music video-like sequences of the girls having fun set to bad club hits meant to sound like the bad club hits that are actually played on the radio (because it’s cheaper to have a knock off that was probably downloaded off a free use website). I’m fairly certain Friedberg and Seltzer said that this dynamic will eat up at least 4 to 5 minutes of screen time at a time and, at that rate, they will fill an hour and half in a flash and without having to concern themselves with making a film that actually contains those challenging things like story, plot, character and conflict.

Take one wild guess who the rich, uptight one is.

They're talking about the film but what you can't tell is they
are being sarcastic.  If only there was a sarcasm font.
It should go without saying but Best Night Ever is not funny (and the critics who started their reviews with “Best Night Ever? More like Worst Night Ever,” is significantly less funny). The entire film feels entirely devoid of humor that I began to question if what I’m watching was really supposed to be funny or if Friedberg and Seltzer are really just that shitty of writers that if they can’t poorly spoof a film using jokes they steal from the internet that they become lost and just say, “Cut to the next musical montage.” Then, when the musical montage produces nothing remotely amusing, humorous or even slightly chuckle-inducing, the film blatantly steals jokes from every party film ever made and even a gag from Borat…only this time it’s a full nude man and a fat black woman running around and fighting in their skin suits in a hotel.

Oh look, someone shitting on someone's face.  There's the lame humor from Friedberg
and Seltzer we know...the silence that follows is also very familiar.


A film like The Hangover made the whole concept of partying and suffering in Las Vegas to be amusing because you had fun characters and the journey was interesting. Too often, party films lack this dynamic and give you characters that are completely unlikeable or entirely uninteresting. This film brought in characters that weren’t that enthralling and so little is told about their story that you just don’t give a shit about what they are going through. Most of the characters are vicious stereotypes from films of this ilk and don’t do much to go beyond the one-dimension, cookie-cutter mold they come from. Claire is just the bride-to-be and nothing more, Leslie is the rich uptight girl who lets loose after booze, drugs and sex come into the equation and Janet is basically the blank canvas that the artists (and I use that word very, very loosely) Friedberg and Seltzer can paint to be whatever they want whenever they need it…and Zoe is just there with no real defining characteristics. When the story needs a dumb character, they make Janet be that one. When the story needs a girl to act like a hormone driven Frat guy (but as a woman), they make Janet be that part. When they need an inappropriate character to shock the monocle off of Leslie, you bet it’s Janet. However, can you really expect anything but this lazy of writing from the guys who gave us Meet the Spartans?

Say what you will about the filmmakers but the guys like to throw in metaphors and imagery of
the awful trauma associated with watching their films feels like.


Best Night Ever is just another example of terrible filmmaking from two men who clearly sold their souls to the devil in order to pollute the world with juvenile, sophomoric unfunny comedies that, which each passing film, kills the world’s collective sense of humor just a little bit. The film isn’t interesting, the characters are devoid of any real purpose or even contain a single need or desire to watch their shenanigans, and the film is truly and entirely unfunny and to the point I can’t even tell if an attempt was made to try some jokes or not.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grudge Match

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Well...at least it isn't as embarrassing as an Expendables movie.




Grudge Match – 2 out of 5

Okay, we’ve all taken our pot shots at the careers of Bobbie De Niro and Sly Stallone (I’m as guilty as anyone). With all the bad comedies that De Niro has been trying to cram into his IMDb credits and the fact it somehow feels like they are churning out Expendables movies every six months, it’s pretty fucking easy to make fun of the guys who once gave us Raging Bull, Rambo, Goodfellas, Rocky, Taxi Driver, and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. So, it’s not hard to assume that the producers of Grudge Match were just creating an elaborate joke meant to tease these two men and even went as far as somehow convincing them to be in on the project.

Okay, the production didn't even try to hide the fact that those images were clearly
"borrowed" from Rocky and Raging Bull.

In real life, we already know that this match would end
with De Niro being remembered at the Oscars.
Henry “The Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen had a heated rivalry when they were in their prime as boxers. As time went on, they were never able to really demonstrate who the superior boxer was but, after a special airs on TV about them, a son of a famous fight promoter; Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), decides to get the two men together and have their final battle. Reluctantly, the men agree and the whole thing grows into a public spectacle. During their training, Sharp recruits his old trainer (Alan Arkin) for help and meets up with the love of his life that he turned his back on in favor of the sport (Kim Basinger—who apparently hasn’t aged a day since Batman) and McDonnen finally gets to meet his son (Jon Bernthal) who he has remained at a distance from his entire life. All of this culminates into a wild bout on PPV where they will prove, once and for all, who truly is the better fighter.

Not a single day has passed for her since the 80s.



I will confess this, I'm glad the film strayed away from the "old
people don't understand technology" gag.
For the most part, Grudge Match is a harmless comedy that makes a lot of “ha ha, they’re old and trying to do young stuff” humor that falls flat every time. The film constantly goes for the obvious joke (and even went as far as doing the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” tired old and completely hack bit) and this going for the already tested humor is not necessarily a bad thing. Any stand up comic over the age of 40 who still talks about airline food, the fact that (rarely) the handlebars on an escalator moves slightly faster/slower than the steps, and still tosses out the tired Viagra joke about how they would use the 4 hour erection to have sex with every woman they could find will, almost definitely, find this film hilarious and completely relevant to them but other than feeding the older audiences like baby birds, younger crowds might find the film more grating than pleasurable in any sense. Maybe that’s why they added Kevin Hart to the cast but, even then, if you’re not a fan of the dude’s humor (and I’m not) you’re just going to find his non-sequiturs and loud rants more annoying than the bad “old people” gags.

Oh look, Kevin Hart is showing Bobbie his stand up...

"Bump it, bro."
I won’t lie and try to act like a comedy hipster; this film did make me chuckle a few times. Alan Arkin is in the film and if you say you don’t love Alan Arkin you are an evil person who probably kicks dogs and babies in the testicles or you are a liar. Arkin, above all others was able to take the limited amount of decent humor in the film and make it work. So, for ever time Kevin Hart is trying too hard to be amusing, Arkin swoops in and makes it look fucking effortless and actually made me laugh.

Arkin, we need to figure out some way of making you an immortal.


De Niro, ready to kick anyone's ass who thought Little Fockerswas terrible.
I don’t hold anything against the film for the weak humor because I knew going into the film that the jokes were going to be hopelessly cheesy but I wasn’t prepared for how the film went from this cheese and quickly turned to way too heavy drama right before the Third Act. While it was expected that, because of the history of the characters, there would be some scenes where shit gets real and they end up learning some things and, blah blah blah, they become better people and work their way to the real moral at the end of the film where they realize they’re both great and strong fighters despite their age and failing prostates; however, the film just gets so heavy that I suddenly didn’t know if the film was being a geriatric wacky sports comedy or was a human-emotion enthralled drama about aging boxers. Car accidents, shitty parents, irresponsibility and child endangerment suddenly reared its ugly head and the film turned into a complete different monster for a short period and then, almost just as fast, old jokes come walking back in (on its scooter or walker...see, I can do old people jokes too, movie!) and the film goes back to the original formula.  This whole thing was very strange and made for a very awkward period in the film.

In between takes, Sly filmed three more Expendables movies.

In all seriousness, Jon Bernthal should be in at least 15
movies a year.  The guy is too talented to let go to waste.
So, despite some sloppiness with its tone and some really weak humor, the film’s cast is actually doing a great job. Bobbie and Sly have some great chemistry together and really have a rivalry that feels deep rooted and personal and the chemistry these actors share with the other actors feeks authentic as well—whether it be Sly and Basinger (seriously, she hasn’t fucking aged and is clearly an immortal) or Bobbie and Jon Bernthal or Sly and Alan Arkin. Even with the weak script, all the actors did their job well and were probably the best thing about this film…and the film needed it because it uses some truly awful CG effects at the beginning and it was pretty fucking frightening because the Playstation One had better graphics on its early games.

Oh god!  What is that?  Kill it with fire!!!


Grudge Match isn’t very special and pretty forgettable but it had some highlights—although, I have to admit, the film was asking a lot as it expected the viewers to believe that Robert De Niro would somehow hold his own against Sylvester Stallone, who, even at his age and despite the fact his skin looks like tanned leather, is in ridiculous fucking shape and, in reality, would have murdered De Niro with one punch if the film decided to go for realism.

Out of the Furnace

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Listen up, kids:  Furnaces are hot.  This has been a life lesson from the good Reverend.




Out of the Furnace – 3 out of 5

It’s like the old saying says, “Out of the furnace and into a chocolaty cake.” Wait, nobody says that.  Is the saying, “When life gets you out of the furnace you make furnace-ade?” No…that’s not it because that is idiotic. Actually, what is really going on here is I’m buying time to try and come up with a opening paragraph for this review and I basically have nothing so I’m just rambling on about absolutely nothing and making shit up until I feel I’ve reached the point that I can make the abrupt jump to the synopsis—

Why do I feel Casey Affleck should be blasting REO Speedwagon in this shot?
Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are a pair of brothers who are just trying to make it in the world. Rodney spent some time in Iraq and is troubled with an addiction to gambling and is now owing money to a local bar owner and game runner; John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Russell tries to bale (ha ha, get it? Bale is trying to bale out someone) his brother but, as fate would have it, he gets into a car accident while drinking and driving and is sent to prison. While there Rodney starts to get in deep with Fight Club-like underground fighting and, after Russell is released from prison, Rodney gets in trouble with a backwoods fight organizer (Woody Harrelson) and goes missing. Now Russell is on a mission to find out what happened to his brother and he won’t let the fact he’s an ex-con or the fact he’s going after a dangerous man stop him.

"I'm just telling you that your brother isn't going to be as good as I was in the suit..."


Out of the Furnace was a film that I had intended on seeing in the theater when it came out but because the time never presented itself (and, more importantly, the funds never presented itself) I never got to see it, so I waited until it was released on DVD. While I enjoyed the film, waiting to see it was worth it because I didn’t think it would have been worth the inflated ticket price and the intestinal issues that movie popcorn gives me but my addiction to it will never let me stop ordering a tub of it.

Fun Fact:  The butter from movie popcorn is the product they used in Willem Dafoe's
hair in this film.


I love revenge stories, so the story of a brother trying to locate what happened to his kin after he gets involved with a drug-dealing, drug-taking underground bare-knuckle fight organizer was something I easily got into. In fact, the basic concept behind the story is awesome and filled with all kinds of drama and intrigue (and it looked all kinds of gritty and cool); however, the story did have some issues for me as the film likes to throw in a lot of back story that Russell is going through and the changes that have happened to his life after he got out of prison. While I appreciate seeing the heartache that is caused to Bale’s character when he learns the love of his life moved on while he was behind bars and has to deal with the fact she is with the Chief of police (played by Forest Whitaker), all the while simultaneously dealing with the same Chief for the disappearance of his brother, it just occasionally felt like a distraction and something that pulled away from the dynamic and drama of his relationship with his brother. This, ultimately, became the one thing that stopped this film from scoring higher with me because I loved everything else. The issues outside of a missing brother in Russell’s life were important to the story, the problem was they just occasionally felt like the story was meandering away from the missing brother aspect.

Who would have thought that it was going to be Woody Harrelson that went on to have
the best career after Cheers ended.


Out of the Furnace has a fantastic cast made up of ridiculously talented actors who all do their jobs greatly. I hate to single out any single one of them above the others because each actor did their role perfectly. However, Christian Bale (who we already know is a man with God-like acting talent) was wickedly amazing as Russell Baze. The emotion he gives off felt way too real to the point he made the character practically jump off the screen and head off to live a normal life as a regular Joe you would see on any given day. One scene that particularly pops in my head (and really struck a chord in me) was after he was out and he approaches the woman who left him while he was in the clink (played by Zoe Saldana) and finds out she is pregnant. The break down he has was haunting as you can see that he is both happy for her but falling apart inside because he fully realizes that they are done. 

God dammit, I'm crying just looking at a picture of Christian Bale crying.


And I can’t help but emphasize that the other actors in the film were also tremendous…whether it be how unhinged Harrelson’s character was, the ordeal and chemistry between Dafoe and Affleck’s characters or the small, but important, part done by Whitaker; each actor proves why they are big names and really brought this dark, gritty tale to life.

I'm having one of those desires to paint a door black again...


Out of the Furnace may not have been the brutal tale of revenge I kinda thought it was going to end up being when I sat down and some elements of the story weren’t blended as well as I hoped they could have been but it’s not a bad film by a long shot. The acting is incredible, the human drama is heavy and satisfying and the film has a killer ending. Even though I had hoped for more, the film still was a great movie and I feel is worth the time to at least rent it from RedBox—although a theater ticket may seem like too much…unless it’s a budget theater, then that might be worth it. By the way, RedBox, I dropped your name (again) and I’m expecting a check in the mail so that, maybe, when I feel like seeing a film in the theater I can afford it.

47 Ronin

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Good thing Keanu learned that Kung-Fu, amirite?  Eh?  Eh?  I'll show myself out.





47 Ronin – 2 out of 5

47 Ronin was one of those films that, when I saw the trailer, I noticed Keanu Reeves (shut up, I like the guy) and samurai AND a dragon and I was like, “Everyone shut up, this movie has all I need.” However, I never got to the theater to see it because, of all ironies, I had to fight a dragon with some samurai (which I later found out was a vindictive coworker spiking my tea with LSD). After sitting down with the DVD, I can’t say that I missed much.

Ha ha...Keanu always runs from me.  You can't run away from friendship, Reeves!

Someone just told him his hat looks like a penis.
Based on the ancient Japanese story that has been adapted seven different times into film (and this is the first time produced by Hollywood), 47 Ronin tells the tale of ancient medieval Japan and all about the domain of Ako, ruled by Lord Asano (Min Tanaka). One day, Lord Asano finds a half-Japanese, half-British child by the name of Kai and raises him in his home—much to the chagrin of others. Kai (Keanu Reeves) grows up to be a great warrior but must deal with hatred from the other samurai…it doesn’t help things that he’s in love with Asano’s daughter; Mika (Ko Shibasaki). One day, when being visited by a prominent Shogun, Asano’s rival Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) falls for Mika and, with the help of a witch (Rinko Kikuchi), has Asano put under a spell where he dishonors himself and must commit seppuku. Now, without a master, the samurai are now Ronin and seek revenge on those who have dishonored their master. Kai teams with Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), Asano’s most prominent counselor and they reunite the Ronin to enact justice and bring back honor to their fallen master.

She's crying because she lost her dad and just realized she's in love with Neo and
remembers what happened to the last girl that loved The One.


Oh shit, it's Shang Tsung!  Quick, hide your souls!
Once 47 Ronin came to an end, I fully realized that the film had the potential to be a decent martial arts/fantasy film. The story is great and should have been easy to make work and the cast is great (I repeat, I LIKE Keanu) but the end product was kinda dull and really didn’t feel like it was going to take off at any point. Overall, the film just feels like it is slowly tramping forward and moving like it is stuck in molasses. That really is the definitive killer of the film. Had the pace been interrupted on a few occasions with some fast pace action, the end product wouldn’t have felt so lethargic.  However, even when the film is interrupted by action, the fights just weren't that great.  Additionally, the fact that most of the Ronin barely have any screen time and the film feels like it's more like Keanu, Hiroyuki Sanada, a couple other Ronin who are allowed to be seen and the dozens of others that are barely in the background was bad and made the film feel weak.

Just so you know, one of the 47 has bitch tits.



"Um, the rest of the 47 got lost on their way here..."
While 47 Ronin isn’t a terrible film, the movie just wasn’t memorable enough to make it even average. The acting isn’t terrible and, even though I am a Keanu Reeves fan, he wasn’t that attention-grabbing. In fact, the entire cast, made up of very talented actors, all came off like they were actively trying not to steal the spotlight and it resulted in an entire cast of people doing their best to not be seen. However, at the end, their performances still weren’t that bad...they just weren't that great either.

Look, I don't think he's a bad actor.


I also liked the supernatural/fantasy element the film had—even though some of the special effects weren’t that great…

Jesus Christ, what the fuck is that thing?!?

 

Wait a minute...the foreign exchange student from Pretty
in Pink
was in this film?
The only real problem 47 Ronin had (beyond about 40 of those Ronin being background filler) was the fact it moved slowly and there wasn’t much action, excitement and the drama wasn’t prominent enough to make it interesting. The film has a lot of strong elements that, if utilized properly, could have made the film great or, at the very least, interesting enough where you don’t feel robbed of time after watching it. While I didn’t feel like the film was a waste of time for me, I did feel complete “meh” once the credits hit…and that was even after what I thought was a fantastic ending happened.

But it's hard to completely hate a film that has a dragon in it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Legend of Hercules

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I never realized the legend was that Hercules was kind of a lifeless, personality-less boring man.




The Legend of Hercules – 1 out of 5

"Weeee!"
Ancient Greek mythology, and just the myth of Hercules in general, is pretty awesome. It’s been done over and over again over the years and with varying success—shit, even Disney adapted the story and that was pretty awesome thanks to James Woods as Hades. Things are even more exciting when we know that there’s a Hercules movie coming out with The Rock in it and if that doesn’t make you salivate with anticipation and pop an action-induced boner…well, I respect your difference of opinion but I must insist that when you and I go to the theater to see that that you pay for your own ticket…but we’ll go halfsies on popcorn. Any-who, my hat has to go flying off with respect towards the production of The Legend of Hercules because they were able to take a character that has interest, intrigue and complete badasshood and made his story boring and incredibly dull.

"How dull can I be with such obvious wire-assisted jumps?"


It's not the King who rules...it's his beard.
You know the story of Hercules but, for those that don’t…in ancient Greece, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) prays to the old Gods and ends up getting her prays answered in the form of Zeus’ dick. The god impregnates her with a child that is looked down upon by his stepfather, the King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). Favoring his weaker son Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), the King sells his other son, named Hercules (as if you couldn’t guess that), into slavery in hopes that he will be tossed into the realm of Hades and removed from this mortal coil. Meanwhile, Iphicles is set to be with Hercules’ (Kellan Lutz) true love Hebe (Gaia Weiss). While away, Hercules teams with a betrayed soldier; Sotiris (Liam McIntyre), and the two set forth to stop the evil King and see the son of Zeus live up to the legend that will one day be the only defining moment for Kevin Sorbo's career.

For a hero, Hercules sure stands like he just pissed himself.


"My brother may be the son of a god and incredibly dull
but at least I'm a total puss...and just as dull actually."
It’s pretty hard to screw up a story about Hercules because the dude is a demi-god and is capable of kicking all sorts of ancient monsters’ asses thanks to his dad getting his freak on with a human and giving him some God DNA. Shit, even Disney made a Hercules film that was filled with great action and spectacle but, somehow, the producers of this film felt they needed to have the film neutered of all its intrigue and its potential for fist-pumping action. While there’s nothing wrong with having a story about Hercules focus on his love for a woman and that love inspiring him to fight off the metaphoric and literal chains he was placed in by his stepdad but the big problem comes is that this love story is dull and extremely boring with no flavor whatsoever.

"Do a Hercules movie, they said.  It'll be a great, action-packed follow up to
Spartacus, they said.  Meanwhile Crixus is kicking ass on Arrow..."


It's as if the director is saying, “Yes, our love story is monotonous and one-dimensional but wait till you see what we do with our action sequences…they’re even worse!” How on Earth can you have a story containing Greek mythology and water it down to the point that the only reason the film has a PG-13 rating is because of pantomimed sex?

Seriously, this has to be the only reason it didn't get a G-rating.


"Help, there's clearly no way I can get out.  Hercules
has bested me."
Hercules is supposed to be the ultimate hero and all-around badass but what we get is a hero looks like he’s allergic to fighting. I’ll overlook that occasionally the horrible editing of the film ended up causing punch sound effects to not exist while Herc is punching dudes and end up making him look like he missed and his opponent was paid in gold coins by the demi-god to take a dive but I can’t overlook that we have gladiator-like fight sequences where Hercules is trapping his opponents in nets they can easily escape from and somehow is knocking out opponents with a club to the shoulder blades. The imagery of these coliseum fights instantly call up memories of blood-based fountains from neck stubs thanks to such tales as Gladiator and Spartacus and foregoing any real balls with the action made the entire film feel empty and a weak gesture at pandering to mass audience with an emphasis of not offending them with boiled down, tasteless action. More importantly, it made the already lifeless and uninteresting character of Hercules come off as a weakling. I understand that a true hero knows when not to save a life but having your hero just kinda throw stuff at people and lightly tap them on the back to send them into an unconscious state makes your iconic mythological being look sad and pathetic and incapable of living up to his name.

"Are you not entertained?!?"

"No, we're not.  You're boring and lack interest."


Of course, the fact that Hercules was played by a dude from Twilight didn’t help things either.

Duhhhhhhhhh....


There’s no point in playing coy, the only reason Kellan Lutz got the job of playing Hercules is because of his physique. The guy has great abs but can’t act for shit and, seemingly, the production thought that was fine because they allowed his minimalist reactions and emotional output for each and every scene and still thought enough of the final product to release it unto the world in, I’m assuming, a false sense of hope that they would somehow make their money back. Lutz has absolutely no range whatsoever and he really only has two speeds in this film: He either looks like he just woke up from a nap and immediate pounded down an entire Thanksgiving meal and chased it with an entire bottle of horse tranquilizers or he just growls and yells. I guess, however, this all makes sense with the overall composition of the film because there was no care put into the forgettable fight scenes, the special effects look worse than something you would have seen in the 70s and 80s and the story just feels like it died halfway through and no one noticed; so why not cast your main character with someone who looks like he’s too confused to understand what is going on?

Oh, he's hulking out!  This could be big...
...Or he just rips off the top of the pillars.

"Fear my poorly CG'ed lighting sword!"
I can’t really say that The Legend of Hercules was a disappointment because I didn’t go into the film with any real expectations—knowing that Herc is played by the “dumb” vampire from Twilight really makes sure your sights are set low. In reality, the film is nothing else but boring and incredibly mundane. Here’s hoping the Hercules film with The Rock is much better…it won’t be difficult for any sort of improvement to be made…in fact, just having The Rock instead of Lutz is already a vast upgrade.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Raid 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This is the type of movie that if it kicked you in the crotch, you'd thank it for doing so.




The Raid 2 - 5 out of 5    

If you call yourself an action junkie and you’ve never seen The Raid: Redemption, then you need to turn in your Action-o-holic identification card to your local Department of Action Lovers office because you are not fit to own the card and utilize all the perks that come with it (like 10% off your entire bill at Olive Garden). The movie was just badass incarnate as it was a punch in the face, a knife to the gut, and a kick to the ass brutal rollercoaster of epic action…so, naturally, we got a sequel!


                                                                                        PT. Merantau Films/XYZ
A sequel with a girl killing people with hammers!
 

Taking place only hours after newbie police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) survived the ordeal of the previous film, the young man is set into an undercover operation to get into the world of two crime lords. After getting his ass incarcerated, Rama befriends Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of local crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). Once released from prison, Uco gets Rama employed with the organization but he soon learns that he’s in deeper than he thought he would be and now the only way out is to throat punch and nut kick as many motherfuckers as he can.


                                                                                            PT. Merantau Films/XYZ Films
Hmm...he kinda looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Like I stated in my review of the first film, I thought that movie was incredible and the brutal action was like mainlining an adrenaline shot directly into your beating heart...but adrenaline made by the gods in the heart of a dying sun. It was exciting, had a decent story to carry the action and, most of all, the battles were balls-to-the-walls. While it’s hard for a sequel to live up to a great starting film, I really didn’t go into The Raid 2 expecting the film to be anything less than the first film. And to be honest, it wasn’t bad at all.

                                                                                           PT. Merantau Films/XYZ Films
I keep telling myself she is just a character but I'm still scared shitless of her
and keep trying to give her my wallet so she doesn't hurt me.

                                                              PT. Merantau Films/XYZ Films
Martial arts battle or just dudes having fun in the mud?
The only real complaint I had with The Raid 2 is that writer/director Gareth Evans really wanted to work in a character rich story…and that’s not actually a bad thing. The characters were actually really great and interesting but the real problem came when the film would go off on a B-story and the story of Rama and his undercover journey feels forgotten about—for example, the character of Prakoso (Mad Dog in the first film) returns to be a badass and we get some amazing action sequences from him and a peak into his character but when this starts to feel like this is the direction the film wants to go, it flies back to Rama and the formula of going down one path until it starts to gel and is then thrown back to the other story is repeated. This wasn’t a deal breaker because both Prakoso and Rama’s stories are filled with rich detail and backstory and, most importantly, motherfuckers beating the ever-loving shit out of each other but it just became a little distracting.

                                                                                         PT. Merantau Films/XYZ Films
Once it was distracting though, that's when the bats to the chest came in to make me forget...


Like the first film, the story takes some time to take off and get to the whole reason I went to the theater in the first place (I’ll give you a hint: the reason is people fucking each other up with fists and feet and other types of weapons including, but not limited to, baseball bats, hammers, glass windows, water bottles, serving trays, machetes, guns, and much, much more). However, once the action scenes arrive, you forget how slow the story moves at points and you are just immersed in brutal, “good gawd, I could feel that man’s pain from here” action. I was hard-pressed to even pinpoint which fight was my favorite because each one is unique and each one is satisfying as all hell and overflowing with impossibly amazing choreography.

                                                                                         PT. Merantau Films/XYZ Films
However, if I was forced to pick a favor by threat of getting my ass kicked by
the entire cast of the film...this fight would definitely be a front runner.


While I will admit that I feel The Raid 2 wasn’t as good as Redemption, I concede that I wasn’t expecting it to be--I just expected it to be amazing with its action as the first one. I just wanted the film to be another fist-pumping action film that makes me want to leap into the air and punch the nuts of angels because it was so adrenaline-fueled and that’s exactly what the film gave me. Sure, I felt the story is a little sloppy as it can’t balance out the details very well but it was still a great story…with fucking fantastic and bloody action!  I can't emphasize that enough.