Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Anderson Tapes Review


It’s time to look at the Anderson Tapes conspiracy film. Will this one fare any better than the last one? Not really I’m afraid. It makes quite a lot of mistakes as the film goes on and by the end you wonder if the film even knew what it was doing. After all, you’d almost think it was promoting the view of everyone being watched as a good thing even though you would assume the opposite from the film’s premise. It’s just a very confused movie.

The film follows an ex con named Anderson. From the start you will wonder if he is really reformed or not as he isn’t exactly a pleasant guy and seems to be carrying around some grudges. Still, the film could just be trying to make him a very ambiguous character where you don’t know what his goals are…nah. Turns out that the guy still is a crook and he decides to get all the local thieves together for one more crime to make them all rich. We may need some extra surveillance to stop him.

You probably see what the problem here is and that it gives the surveillance people a leg to stand on. They thought this guy was suspicious and were watching him and it turns out that they were completely right. They didn’t actually help out at all so the whole thing is moot but it’s something to think about. Of course, it’s the principle of the matter that many will not agree with and one film’s positive portrayal of it shouldn’t really have any kind of impact on anyone who is watching. It’s one of those things that you know is going on and you pick a side but at the end of the day at least it’s good that you are aware of it. The government’s already got most of your information along with many large corporations so the best you can do is roll with it. The ironic part is that most of this stuff can’t really be used in court anyway so don’t expect it to prove your innocence even if it can do the opposite.

Naturally the film goes for the low hanging fruit by having the villains spy on the character during romance moments to give him some extra humiliation. Given that Anderson has been gone for 10 years he certainly didn’t waste any time. It’s a pretty painful scene to watch and I would basically have to call it a rebound since the girl dumps the other guy over the phone. The romance here (if you can even call it that) is pretty brutal. It doesn’t help this film’s case at any rate.

One thing the film handles reasonably well is the heist I guess. I like how confident everyone was during that scene as they really didn’t even seem to care that they were being robbed. They just took it in stride and were confident that their safe could not be cracked. The main characters are basically amateurs anyway so it’s not as if there was much to fear in the first place. The main characters even let the kid get to his walkie talkie to alert the proper authorities.

There are definitely quite a few comedy moments like that sprinkled into the film but they are spread too far apart. It was nice to see one of the crooks try to drive away so quickly that he crashed. The scene may have been unintentionally funny but sometimes that is why it works. While some of the humor lands it isn’t enough to distract you from the dreadfully boring story and poor writing. It just won’t be able to keep your interest for very long and you’ll quickly start wondering why the film is just so unfocused. It really didn’t play out anything like I thought it would and unfortunately this isn’t a good thing. It should have been a straight up conspiracy story where the main character tries to find out why everyone is spying on him.

Instead this is surprisingly not much of an issue. Once he finds out that someone is spying on him he just locks the door in the guy which doesn’t actually help matters at all. He then forgets about this for the rest of the film or just chooses not to think about it. Either way the whole plan was already compromised at this point. You also have to wonder why everyone was still in place after 10 years. You can’t stress this point enough. Anderson was locked up for a full decade but then he walks out and acts like he still owns the crime syndicate. His usual informants are still in the game and he is the head honcho. The way I see it, if Anderson was caught and locked up, that would have been reason enough for one of the underlings to decide to take him down and become the new king. I wouldn’t have minded some internal conflict among the gang members as it would have at least been a little exciting.

It’s rare that I ever say this, but maybe the whole film should have taken place at the prison. At the very least that place seemed like a more interesting backdrop than what we got. Some of the dialogue there was rather sketchy so maybe the film would have just gotten even worse, but at the very least I didn’t mind the Doctor. He seemed all right and talked tough to Anderson even if he lost the verbal battle. His bluff was called, but I applaud the guy for giving it a try. Once Anderson left the prison the film still stayed strong for a little longer as the three ex cons went to an airport to hang out. Once they split up, the film split along with them.

Overall, The Anderson Tapes was definitely another flop. The plot isn’t very interesting at all and the characters aren’t any good. The spying aspect of the film doesn’t actually go anywhere and the heist is a pale imitation of a real one. Pretty much every other heist film I have ever seen has managed to pull it off in a more effective fashion. There is really no reason to actually watch this film so I’d recommend leaving it where you found the movie. If you want a film that will make you think more then you should watch Resurrection F. At the very least that film will give you a lot of power level questions to think about.

Overall 3/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Italian Job Review


The Italian Job is one of those movies that you are unlikely to have heard of despite being familiar with the heist genre. It even has some big actors but I still don’t remember it making any headlines. I guess it probably just came out at a tough year. Still, it’s a pretty solid film that may not be amazing but manages to avoid making any really serious mistakes which is important.

The film starts with a group of burgers pulling off a pretty big heist where they had to race the cops in a boat and got to walk away with millions. Unfortunately just as one of the characters was finally going to retire, the group was betrayed by Steve who decided to keep the money for himself. He shots the best crook, drowns the others, and then runs off. Years have passed and now the burglars want their revenge and also hope to secure the money in the process. They managed to survive with their wit and have stayed under the radar for a long time. It has all been for this one moment but to make sure that this mission is a success they will need to bring in a secret weapon, the daughter of the dead burglar.

You will have to turn your suspension of disbelief on full blast right away here as the plans are so detailed and convoluted that you probably won’t be able to accept what is happening with a straight face otherwise. In the climax of the film the villain gets a helicopter and even a private militia as he drives through town but the main character, Charlie is able to hold his own on a quick motorcycle. His team of quirky hackers seem more than capable of taking any villain down after this film.

Where the film really did a good job was with the fast moving plot. A lot of things were always happening. The talking scenes are pretty engaging and I do tend to enjoy the planning. The execution is also on point and it’s just a solid film from start to finish. The ending was also really good. One thing that tends to happen in a film like this is that the heroes will win it, but the villains end up destroying all of the informants along the way thereby preventing anyone else from ever replicating the feat. I was worried for “Tiny” or “Slim” (I forgot which one was his name) when the villains showed up at his door. Fortunately it turned out all right for the guy and in the end everything worked out. It’s also rare for a villain to not get away with murdering random Jim #34 but in this case it’s one of the main things that comes back to bite him. Turns out that this guy was friends with the mafia and you don’t mess with those guys.

The cast of characters was also surprisingly good which is always important. Charlie is a great tactician which is shown from the start. He may not be infallible but is able to adjust his plan at a second’s notice to fix any oversights. Even by the end he was one step ahead of Steve and never found himself at the back. Steve is also pretty solid as he always talks with a lot of confidence and has a smug air about him. Definitely not a guy who gives up easy and even if he isn’t as smart as the main character he isn’t half bad at making plans. Against someone else he may have stood a chance. Of course, he definitely should have sold the gold by the time the heroes found him though and shooting the merchant just delayed this even further. Not the smartest villain around even if he is fun.

Stella is solid as well. Initially I forgot about her first appearance and for a second thought that the film was bringing in a new character. The opening does certainly make more sense in light of this. Unfortunately, her character is used for fanservice quite a bit as we have the unfortunate trope of someone walking into her room while she is still getting changed. Likewise, Stella’s entire first scene seems to be focused on her attire more than the actual dialogue. Once we get past these moments this fortunately stops happening. Stella is a solid locksmith even if she is not quite at the same level as her father yet. She can also drive with the best of them. I think her character could have been handled better but overall she was a good character.

Another one of the thieves was the Napster. This guy spends most of his time complaining about how Steve stole his inventions. He takes this the least seriously compared to the rest of the team and nearly blows there cover several times by pulling pranks on the cops and the government. So much for being discreet right? I suppose he has his own priorities so you can’t really argue with that. He’s definitely a pretty bad character though. There is also Gilligan who does his best to mess up everyone’s chances as well. When it comes time to broker a deal with someone who has the supplies they need, he can’t help but stare at the guy constantly even when he is told not too. Actually, as far as the great character cast maybe I should be more specific. Steve, Charlie, Stella, and the father from the very beginning are solid characters. Everyone else definitely has a lot of room for improvement if you ask me. Still, since the characters with the most screen time are at the top that’s what counts.

We also get a long car chase scene that I referenced earlier and works well as the climax. Who doesn’t like a good car chase right? After a while they may all start to seem like the same race if you watch enough films, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they work quite well as a satisfying way to end the film. It’s not as if we could have had a real hand to hand fight at the end as you would have then had to ask where they learned how to fight. A battle of two self taught fighters could be fun, but I don’t believe Steve ever would have bothered learning how to fight while Charlie showed earlier that he could throw a good punch.

Overall, The Italian Job is a pretty fun heist film. The pacing is always on point and the characters make for some pretty enjoyable banter. Some of the plans may seem like a stretch at times but that goes hand in hand with the genre. If you like watching a game of mental chess going on with plans and counter plans then I’d recommend checking this film out. It’ll keep you entertained the whole way through and never really make any mistake big enough to get you out of the action. It’s satisfied with just being an entertaining film and that’s a pretty solid approach if you ask me.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Elevator To The Gallows Review


It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Heist Review

Note that this review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be understood as belonging to this version of the film as a review of the uncut version would likely be more negative.
HEIST
Time to look at a Heist film, hence the title. This genre can be quite good as we saw in Ocean’s Eleven and I’m confident that the Ant-Man film coming up will be good or decent. Unfortunately, Heist doesn’t live up to its name and it takes the genre way too literally. It plays out like a classic crime film and you can barely even call it a heist by the end. Seriously…the heroes just don’t do anything for most of the film.

The main characters were part of a gang, but they decided to stop robbing stores when their leader was caught on camera as he attempted to escape. Unfortunately for Joe, another mobster wants him to do one more job. It’s not exactly a request and Joe has no money so he can’t escape otherwise. He’ll have to comply, but can he really suceed in this job when he also has to deal with a watchdog on his tail? Not a literal one, but the mobster’s son/nephew/some kind of relative is assigned to watch. Joe doesn’t like this one bit!

Joe may not like that, but it’s safe to say that I don’t like Joe. The film flopped for several reasons, but let’s get into the biggest one right away. The writing. This film has more language than the average horror film and it’s very in your face. The heroes will swear in just about every scene and Joe went on a roll at one point where he would curse in just about every sentence that he spoke. I always found that provocative language is just a sign of bad writing. The writers don’t know how to engage the audience in the scene so they just use course language to get everyone to pay attention. It’s a bold strategy, but one that it always doomed to fail.

The characters also reuse the same words over and over again. “It’s burned Joe” No, it’s not burnt Bob” It’s burnt…burrrrrrrrrnt!” They say the word, burn, and its other variations many times as the film goes on. You’ll eventually start wincing and wondering what’s going on here. No exaggeration, they probably say this at least 20-30 times. It gets old very quickly. The conversations go round and round and round. The film may have had some hope otherwise, but it’s almost literally impossible to be a good film when the writing is this lousy. A by product of this is that every character is instantly unlikable so it’s safe to say that their potential is out the window.

No worries, this film wasn’t about to just make one critical mistake. There’s also a degree of fanservice involved as Joe sends his wife to entice one of the villains. The very thought of Joe sending her off on such a mission already shows you more than a little about his true character. It’s a pretty cheap trick and the villains don’t really buy into it anyway. The scenes with her and the villain are rather unnecessary and the heroes could have tried to trick them in a better way.

Those are really my main two complaints with the film, but they sure deal a lot of damage. Another factor to add in is that the film simply isn’t interesting. There’s barely even a plot as it goes on. Joe will try to trick everyone and keep his money, but the villains won’t let him and that’s really all that happens. There is also a lot of the usual plot hax of course, like a police guard being defeated so easily and the cop actually believing what she heard in a bar. Naturally, these things will happen I suppose. Joe is also given an awful lot of time by himself to paint his hold and hide it in two trucks considering that the villains are on to him….

If I had to pick a character that was at least a little likable or close to it, I would pick Joe’s main assistant. He’s essentially the bouncer and since Joe isn’t the greatest fighter around, the guy protects him. He gets a pretty happy ending and he did good in the big fight scenes. It’s a little hard to imagine how he was able to stay underwater so long without an obvious air pipe sticking out, but we’ve already questioned the film’s writing so let’s not go there…

There are actually some fight scenes, but none of them are very good. They’re simply standard punches and kicks, which won’t be winning the film any brownie points. What it needs to do is look back and reflect on the many things that went wrong so that a potential reboot can be made better. For one thing, serious and heist don’t really go together. If the heist is played too seriously, then there’s a chance that the film will overcompensate by making all of the heroes really unlikable and evil.

We need some kind of plot twist to show that they’re stealing from someone who’s actually crooked. At least they try not to murder any civilians, but it’s only a small start. (That reminds me that it’s hard to believe that they could grab a job at the local coffee shop and drug everyone’s coffee….) Ocean’s Eleven was the perfect example of how to do the genre and this film should have taken some notes. The main characters in Ocean’s Eleven (Some of them anyway) were pretty likable villains. You still do need to call them villains since they are robbing the place, but they’re doing it in a professional manner. These guys lacked professionalism at every corner. Granted, you need good writing to pull off what Ocean’s Eleven did, but you could say the same for just about every film. There’s no real soundtrack so we’ll have to skip that section.

Now, let’s think of how the film could have realistically been improved. 1. Each of the characters is professional and the writing is on par with The Avengers GI Joe. 2. Get rid of the fanservice and the whole plot between the main villain’s relative and heroine. 3. Establish more of an actual plot. We need to know what they’re stealing and how they’re going to do it directly. Not in between all of the burnt comments. That’s not a lot of things, but it would have bumped up the score by at least 3-4 stars. That’s pretty good if you ask me.

Overall, Heist is terrible. It’s the kind of film where you’ll be counting down the minutes until it’s finally over. The ending has one of the main characters smirking, but you’ll be wondering why he’s smirking. One of his friends isn’t around anymore and his wife is gone. He got some money…but that’s hardly going to change things. If you want to see a good heist film, check out Ocean’s Eleven like I’ve been hinting or check out Dragon Ball Z, but be warned that it’s not actually related to the heist genre. Why did I recommend it? Simply because DBZ is pretty awesome. Now, we simply have to wait for the Ant Man film to see how it handles the slippery slope of being a heist film.

Overall 2/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ocean’s Thirteen Review

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Ocean’s 11 is a classic film that has been remade and even gotten sequels over the years. Ocean’s 13 is the second sequel in this continuity and it is a fun adventure. I was used to the characters a little more than I had been for the first two installments, which could be why I ended up enjoying it more than I thought that I would. It is hard to say whether it beats the original or not. I am inclined to say that it is not as good, but it is very close. Take away one unfortunate subplot and this one has a real chance at 1st.

The film starts off with the heroes working small jobs while one of their members makes a legitimate deal with a new character on a new gambling casino. The heroes warned him that the casino owner tend to double cross everyone, but the warnings do not stop the inevitable from happening. Now that he is in a coma, the heroes decide to band together one last time to avenge their comrade by bankrupting the casino. It will be tough, but they do have some money to burn!

The premise is very good and watching the heroes band together once more should be nostalgic. It should definitely be noted that these guys still aren’t very heroic. One of them is robbing a vault as the film starts and judging by how rich all of the members are, they can’t be on the up and up. It’s intense to see them constantly throwing millions around. It’s actually a good thing in the sense that it makes the film more realistic even if it means that they can’t be completely heroic. There would be no way for them to use their plan if they didn’t have such a large amount of money on their end. By the end, they’re all essentially broke, but the ending probably means that they will have a lot of spending money once more. So, you could say that they’ve practically been reset to the beginning of the film.

Let’s get the unfortunate subplot out of the way first. One of the components of the plan revolves around tricking the villain’s right hand woman into taking one of the heroes into the vault room so that he could steal the diamonds. They use a strong cologne that messes with her mind and acts as a cupid type of weapon. Ignoring that the plot hax was downright unbelievable in those scenes and that they had no trouble getting into the vault room (Guards must have been panicking or something) there were better ways that they could have handled this. Just rushing into the room would have been my personal favorite. It may have been a little less believable, but it would have taken out the romance aspect that hurt this film so it would definitely be worth it. The heroes are basically just taking advantage of the lady and that’s definitely not cool.

The heroes mention from the start that their plan will have collateral damage and they weren’t kidding. By causing the company to lose billions of dollars (Not quite bankrupt, but it’s hard to see the casino ultimately staying alive) they probably costs dozens of workers their jobs. One reviewer had a pretty awful day and people almost got hurt from the tremors. I do give the heroes props for making things all right between them and the reviewer. The review guy was pretty sympathetic during the film and his plight was rather depressing and painful. The ending definitely makes things better and I was glad that the film did that since the ending would have been pretty sad otherwise. It was the ending that we needed.

We get some guest stars in this film, which was pretty neat as well. The main villain of the second film randomly shows up to try and steal the diamonds from the heroes, but they dismiss him rather quickly. One of their big rivals/antagonists also gets a decently large role as the heroes are forced to ask for his help when they are running out of money. He warns them that their lives will be over if they double cross him and he also forces them to steal the jewels from the casino in addition to their normal plans. The main characters manage to get back at him during the ending. It made for a pretty fun dynamic.

The main thing to consider here is if you enjoy dialogue a lot. The film is really centered around that as there are no actual fights in this film. It’s all about outsmarting the opponents and winning in a peaceful way. The dialogue is engaging though so that shouldn’t be a problem. Watching them make the plans is cool and the heroes already have a good idea of how to start at the beginning of the film. They’ve just run into 2 problems that they spend most of the film trying to correct. Again, it’s an extremely detailed plan that runs on so much luck that it would never work in real life, but it’s still cool to see them give it a whirl. I appreciate the fact that the writers still made the effort of creating such a thorough plan.

As for the actual cast, most of the main characters are likable, but certainly not all of them. Ocean makes for a good commander and Rusty is pretty dependable. I don’t care for the guy in the Mexico plot (That one had a happy ending as well, which is good since it would have been pretty annoying otherwise) or the one who never bothers to speak in English even though he understands it rather well. Lenny is easily one of my least favorite members. I liked the guy who managed to get a table in the casino. Now he could act (in film) as he tricked the owner into realizing his greatness. He’s the kind of guy who’s just so charismatic that it’s hard to stop him. Unfortunately, he has his less impressive moments, which ends up hurting his overall rating. Most of the other members are just there so they don’t really impact the plot all that much.

Overall, Ocean’s Thirteen is a pretty good film, but it does suffer from the unnecessary romance plot. The writing is still pretty good on the whole and the film is enjoyable so I would still recommend it. It may not beat the original, but as far as sequels go, it is definitely not bad. It holds true to what the series is all about and watching the heroes try to perform such a tricky heist is always amusing. Perhaps not all that realistic, but amusing nonetheless. It’s one of those films where a reboot/remake would probably be a lot of fun, but it’s hard to see it being quite as good. The twists in this film were all done really well and that’s where the new film would have a tough time topping it without going overboard.

Overall 6/10