Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Rock Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. Keep this in mind when reading the review as one for the unedited version would be far more negative.

It’s time for a retro action film from the 90s. Sure, it may not be that old and calling the 90s retro is a little risky, but at this point I’d say that it’s old enough to be a valid point. You won’t really see this kind of film come out nowadays because the cinematography is just very different and new styles have surfaced. These 1-2 men against an army films can always be a lot of fun though and this one is handled well. I do admit that the first half does beat the second as the film begins to putter out but both halves are still pretty good. It’s more the fact that the film is so long and climax fatigue starts to set in while the first half is more laid back, but still has the explosions you’re waiting for. This is a Michael Bay film so there are quite a lot of explosions.

The film starts off with a bunch of terrorists breaking into Alcatraz and kidnapping 81 civilians. They demand 100 million from the government or they’ll use the chemical missiles that they stole from another base (Where they murdered everybody) to destroy 80000 people in San Francisco. The government is forced to call in the local chemical expert, Goodspeed. Goodspeed is used to being in a lab and doesn’t really like violence but he isn’t really given an option. He won’t be enough though so Mr. Mason is taken out of jail to help out. Mason is the only person to ever escape Alcatraz and he used to be a legendary agent for the British Intelligence. If anyone can stop these guys, he can. Will these two vastly different characters be able to put aside their differences and save the world or are they doomed to take a loss here?

Right away one thing you’ll notice about the film is that the soundtrack is actually really great. The themes are nice and fast which make the action scenes more fun. It amplifies the visuals and just makes the whole adventure feel a lot more complete. The visuals are also pretty good for the various locales and the combo works pretty well. Since a lot of films don’t really bother having a soundtrack I always feel the need to give a shoutout to the ones that actually pull it off. It’s an important thing to have.

Goodspeed is a decently good main character. He panics quite a lot but he’s never really been a field agent so it’s all pretty new to him. He still wants to do his best to stop the villains and save lives. He never really waffles on this and stays true to the goal. He fights when necessary as well and doesn’t bck down. He also tends to be a nice guy as he doesn’t put Mason on the spot in front of his daughter. He’s a quality lead. Fortunately, our other lead is also good. Mason’s the expert of the film. He’s one of the best hand to hand fighters the army has got and he’s also really good with a gun. This combo definitely makes him very lethal to everyone else. Anything can be turned into a weapon with this guy. He’s certainly not heroic the way Goodspeed is though. After the government locked him up for 30 years the guy appears to have gotten jaded with life in general. He just wants to make sure he gets out of this in one piece. The guy certainly has good reason to be upset at everyone though as he did get a pretty bad deal. No trial and everyone keeps on lying to him. Still, he has to man up in the end to save his daughter so he presses on. The ending may not be extremely happy for him, but it’s happy enough I suppose.

The villains try to go for the sympathetic angle, at least the main one. He wants the families of the fallen Marines to get recompensated since the government ignored them and figures this is the best way to do it. The thing is, he hired a bunch of guys he has never worked with before and they’re a little more villainous than the others. They just want to murder a bunch of guys and don’t care for anything but the money. Teaming up with villains never pays off in the end. It’s just a good way to speed up your ultimate demise.

I can’t really say that the romance was all that good, but to be fair it was barely a factor in the movie. It was relegated to the backseat for the entirety of the film. It was just there to give the main character more incentive to save the city. It’s not like he needed much more at this point since the city was nearly toast, but it’s not as if it’s a bad thing. The main heroine seemed like a reasonable character.

The first half of the film with the car chase was handled pretty well. The cops look a little bad as they really made it very easy for Mason to escape. Still, it was a good blend of action and humor. Goodspeed certainly gives us a lot of great facial expressions the entire time. The film really speeds by until everyone dies and it’s just the main two. That’s where the pacing finally starts to slow a bit as the characters keep rethinking what they should do next. It’s also one of the only points without a lot of constant explosions. Still, it’s not as if this lasts for long and then the action starts up again.

As far as the writing is concerned, I’d say that it’s okay. Naturally the TV version fixed up some of the language so that significantly improved the script. That gives the writing a little help even if it is still there. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not bad either. It’s at a good enough level where it doesn’t distract from what’s on screen so then you can focus on the fights. This whole review really just boils down to one point, this is a solid and explosive action film. What you see is what you get here. There’s no animal violence, the violence in the fights isn’t excessive, things just move very quickly. You move from fight to fight and they’re all handled well.

The government is extremely shady as always, but to the point where it is comical. I always love seeing the government act shady while I also love seeing them look good in films. I’m fine with it either way. The film even has a bit of a stinger involving a certain assasination that everyone loves to use in conspiracy stories. It was a nice enough subplot and I wouldn’t mind a sequel where the government ends up going to court and then things get crazy.

Overall, The Rock is definitely a really solid action movie. The fight scenes are on point and there is an explosion around every corner. The film may have slightly dragged by the end but it’s hard to point to any specific scenes that could have been cut. There may be a few here and there, but it’s just that the overall length of the film is rather long. It’s still handled well at the end of the day. The main message of this film is that you have to be a good shot because if you miss the first few times, you may not get a second shot. I’d recommend giving this film a watch if you see it on TV. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements
Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Speed Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time for a classic thriller film. With a title like Speed, you’re definitely expecting a lot of action and intensity throughout and the film delivers. While there may be a moment or two that will stretch your disbelief, the film did a good job of covering its tracks for the most part. One thing that these films typically have a problem with is making the villain too powerful. He is somehow everywhere, has plans for everything, and ends up performing feats that make you question the logic. That’s not an issue here as Howard’s (The main villain) twist covers all of the bases.

Jack is one of the best swat officers in the business. He likes to go on gut instincts and always makes the villains pay for their criminal deeds. It’s just another day at the office when he stops a crazed bomber from destroying an elevator full of people. Unfortunately, the criminal has been nursing a grudge about this and shows up one day to even the score. He has planted a bomb on a bus so if it ever dips below 60 (I believe it was 60) mils an hour, it’ll blow up. If someone tries to leave the bus, it’ll blow up. If anyone other than Jack tries to get onto the bus, it’ll blow up. Etc etc. Howard seems to be able to see into the bus at all times so the heroes have to be careful. The fuel won’t last forever so Jack is going to have to rely on his instincts one more time.

Howard definitely has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He has planted cameras in multiple areas and can tap into the police communicators. This all makes sense given what we know later on. He’s definitely psychotic and the film never tries to make him sympathetic. (That’s good since I wouldn’t have bought into that) He does a pretty good job although the heroes should have been able to defeat him a little sooner. There are two main points where he should have been taken down. One was immediately after the elevator incident as Jack could have shot him. The other was when he first implemented his plan. A security officer walked over and instead of calling for backup, he proceeded to get one shotted. It wasn’t his best moment. So, Howard’s plan was definitely risky throughout and I’m also wondering how he got out of his bomb suit in time. He definitely did raise the body count by the end of the film though so he did some damage before going down for the count.

I was a little surprised that a certain death towards the middle/end of the film wasn’t played up more. It was essentially skimmed over, but given the circumstances, I suppose they didn’t have much time to dwell on it. Jack’s a solid main character as you’d expect. He’s really good at his job and while he’s seen as a hot shot, he does take the time to think things through. He’s just a very reasonable character and it’s good to see the main lead have as much confidence as he does. Annie made for a good main heroine. She always had the witty comebacks at the ready and wasn’t intimidated by all of the chaos around her. She also did a good job of getting away from the troublemakers on the bus very early on. Those guys certainly didn’t help matters at all with all of their bickering. One lady was particularly bad as she just cracked and decided to ignore the obvious bomb as she tried to escape. The cops were almost as bad there though as they were trying to help her. Not a good move.

As always, I do have to say that the romance in the film was a little rushed and cliche though. Jack and Annie quickly bond because of this emotional experience. Annie even points out that romances this sudden and nonsensical rarely last which will probably be the case. Even ICarly had an episode about this where the main lead’s life was saved by the guy so she mistakenly thought that she liked him for a little while. You always have to be careful not to mix up feelings of gratitude with love. It’s not like it took much time out of the film though since it was only a quick moment at the end, but Hollywood has to squeeze in its romance somewhere.

I did mention that I had to stretch my disbelief a little before. I’m referring to one scene in particular as a large part of the road is gone so Jack decides that they have to drive over it. He figures that if they drive fast enough, the momentum will allow them to make it. This definitely should have not worked in the slightest. The gap was way too big and the camera angles had to quickly switch all over the place to make it seem even slightly realistic. So, that part was a little iffy, but the rest of it was all on point. The cops all picking obvious hiding points may have been a little sketchy, but I don’t blame them for not noticing the hole under the trash because that was pretty clever. They should have had the tracker on from the start…but that’s how it goers I suppose.

The soundtrack was pretty solid. The themes definitely worked really well for the film and kept up the energetic atmosphere. The writing was reasonably good. The edited version cut out most of the iffyness. It’s nothing to write home about, but at least the characters weren’t constantly running around swearing. While they were annoying, the people on the bus were also pretty realistic because I can picture everyone being super petty like them even in such a dangerous situation. It’s just how people are on a bus…even the guy with a gun. Shooting the driver was pretty iffy though and I felt bad for the guy, he didn’t ask for this! It’s also not every day that you get a bus thriller instead of the usual car one. I like car chases as much as the next guy, but adding a bus certainly changes the dynamic quite a bit.

Overall, Speed is a pretty good film. Jack was a good lead and the film played out like a fun action blockbuster. It may not be something that you’ll remember as an all time great but it didn’t really have any big negatives. The villain was tough and it made for some good mind battles between the two, but the film never went out of its way to make him extremely psychotic or intimidating with super violent scenes. The film was actually fairly tame in that regard and it’s been a while since we had a villain who was just in it for the money. It’s probably still the most iconic goal for an antagonist. I recommend checking this out if you like a fast paced action and the film is pretty long so a lot happens along the way.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Reviews

Deja Vu Review

deja-vu
I know that some like to spell “Deja” with a few symbols above the letters, but I prefer to just write it out like this. The title can already tell you that this is either the next Groundhog Day or it’s going to involve time. I can safely say that it’s the latter although it’s a bit of a trick question since Groundhog Day did involve time. It’s a decent film, but I am hesitant to say that it’s much more than that. The film doesn’t really end up leaving a big impact on you. You watch it…and it’s gone. (Like Battleship)

The plot involves special agent Doug as he tries to solve a case before it even begins. A terrorist attacks a ship and destroys over 500 people in the process. Nobody knows who did it or where the person went, which is where Doug comes in. Doug is the first person to confirm that it was a terrorist attack and he is then brought on to the elite squad. With the use of satellites, they can watch just about any spot on the planet as of 4 days ago. So, they can wait 4 days to see who did it, but it may be too late by then. Moreover, there is no rewinding available so they need to be able to identify the person right away. The plot thickens when Doug finds out that another person was murdered prior to the explosion and thrown into the ocean to make it appear as if the person was just another victim. Doug is now personally invested in this case and he’s ready to solve this case. Now, what if there is more to this satellite technology than meets the eye? What if Doug can stop the crime before it starts? That’s when the real film begins!

Well, the satellite thing is actually pretty scientific. I recall reading about it recently that at least 4 satellites are typically trained on the area. From there, it gets a little hazy since I don’t really think that the satellites would typically be able to look through buildings and get clear 1080P footage while you’re in a dark alley at night. It’s certainly possibly in theory though and it’s interesting to think about. If our government actually had perfected the tech to this extent though, the world would either be a really good place or our civil rights would be even more dismantled than they currently are. (America is still one of the best at protecting us though) Things get more than a little hazy once they start explaining about how you can actually look at the past with the satellites. That means that it’s fiction time!

I do give Doug credit for deciding to change the past while the others said that it wasn’t possible. If time travel was actually possible, then I definitely think it could be altered. The two events go hand in hand. If you can go back in time, then you can change it. If not, then time and the events within it are simply unchangeable. That’s always been my stance on the matter.

Doug is a decent lead. He definitely wants to solve the case and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to succeed without doing anything that’s really unheroic. This is the kind of character that you could call a little generic and get away with it. There’s nothing about him that really stands out and he’s only decent in a fight. His final stand off against the main villain was actually pretty bad since he was on the defensive the whole time. One could argue that his end is also a little tragic and not what you would expect while others can argue that it had to happen due to the plot. I dunno, I think he could have put in the extra effort and just moved to the Hotel California to avoid any missteps.

Claire is the main heroine and a lot of bad things happen to her in a very short amount of time. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a whole lot of street smarts. She gives away her home address to a random guy over the phone that wanted to buy her car. If you’re going to sell a car to someone, at least arrange to meet in a busy section that has a McDonalds. (Or a sports bar, since the guys inside can definitely fight) Her second big mistake is to open the door when she hears a sound outside. First rule of living in any area is that you never open the door unless you know exactly who’s outside. (And you should recognize their tone to know if they’re being held at gunpoint. Although, there’s not much you can do at that point) So, that was a really rough start for her and that leads to the events that transpire afterwards. She’s a decent character overall, but negative things happen to her left and right. She can’t really find any peace at this rate. This also means that she doesn’t get a whole lot of time for character development and the romance is pretty non existent. (It’s pretty one sided until the end where it’s probably both ways, but still rushed)

Oerstadt is the terrorist in the film and he’s as crazy as you may have expected. I doubt I’ll ever like a terrorist character in a film and that’s a good thing. Films shouldn’t even try to make them sympathetic or likable since they’re just bad people when it all boils down to it. Oerstadt is certifiably insane as he wants to murder everyone to show the United States that they need more patriots. He wants them to wake up and start controlling the world since they have the power. Instead, Oerstadt is woken up to the fact that he didn’t think this through and that his only escape options are death and life imprisonment. Not the best set of options right?

One of the complaints that I would have with the supporting characters is that they can be slow on the uptake. Take Doug’s partner. He gets a message informing him that a terrorist is going to blow up the boat so he heads there to stop him. He sees the guy get into the van so he runs towards him. “Stop….Stop…hands in the air” is basically what the agent says. The guy just takes out his gun and shoots him…..eh? When you’re dealing with a terrorist, you quickly let everyone know and you don’t just walk up to the window. At the very least, shoot all of the wheels so that the guy can’t escape. Then, don’t go in front of the window so the shot will at least be a little more difficult. This guy was an agent so I’m sure that he’ll have enough connections to inform the NSA that something’s up.

The film is also pretty gritty. The main heroine’s plight is pretty serious and the partner’s demise is also pretty gruesome. The film shows the aftermath of the terrorist attack and it’s grim as you would expect. They don’t want to make light of such a situation, but these three scenes are still not really any fun. The heroine’s plight happens twice. The first one is off screen and then we see part of the second until the guy is interrupted. That was good at least, but it’s still a bit much since we know what would have happened.

Finally, this film actually has some fanservice, which is a definite no no. I wasn’t really expecting any since I’ve actually gotten lucky on that angle recently. Most of the films that I’ve seen have actually stayed away from that angle. Not here. Doug and his co-workers decide to spy on Claire through their super satellites to see what happens and they definitely take a while to turn the camera. They’re spying on her constantly and that is decidedly unheroic. It’s okay when she’s in proper attire, but they should otherwise change the view immediately. Not a good move “heroes!”

There’s not much of a soundtrack of course. Luckily, that was to be expected here. We had a bit of a red herring involving the main agent in charge since he acts incredibly suspicious the whole time, but his plot never amounts to anything. At least it gives the viewers something to think about. His role is very small and I still wonder if the writers just forgot about him.

Overall, Deja Vu is a pretty standard film. It does end up losing some extra points for the gruesome violence and the fanservice though so it ultimately becomes a little sub par. The main character wasn’t bad and I always like a good time travel story, but the film just wasn’t terribly exciting or interesting. You sort of want to find out what’s going to happen, but you’ll find yourself to be pretty detached from the current events. It’s hard to really get into what’s happening and you could say that it’s a bit of a negative. A film should really keep you on the edge of your seat. An example of this is the big car chase scene. It’s a fun concept, but it’s not as thrilling as you would expect. Maybe the cars just weren’t going fast enough or it’s because I already saw Need For Speed. Well, I wouldn’t really recommend this one and I think you’d be better off watching The One for parallel universe explanations.

Overall 4/10