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

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Live Action Movies

Captain Phillips

captain-phillips-poster
Time for another super realistic story. This one’s about a boat that was attacked by pirates and the Captain of the crew was able to ultimately stall them long enough for the heroes to make it to safety. It’s naturally a gruesome battle between both factions, but not a whole lot of actual fighting since it’s more general action or in fighting among the pirates. Definitely not my kind of film and I’d argue that it could have been a much better adaption as well. You’ll be glancing at your watch quite a lot as this one goes on.

An interesting angle is the fact that the film gives the pirates a lot of scenes. I suppose that this is for development, but it comes off as more annoying than anything else. Let’s fact it, you don’t care about the villains because they’re just here to try and get rich as they shoot and injure the unsuspecting crew members. They have their reasons of course, but there’s no way that you’ll be able to generate any sympathy for these guys. None of the villains are likable as you might expect and there is definitely a lot of in-fighting among their members the whole time. One of them even bits the big one during one of the skirmishes.

Meanwhile, Phillips and his crew didn’t do the greatest job of stopping the pirates, but it may be more due to bad ship design than anything else. They’re going through waters where pirates aren’t just a random chance, but are actually expected. Why are there no guns or any defenses that are better than water turrets? Granted, water turrets aren’t a terrible idea, but the way that they were implemented is. Once you turn them on, you can’t turn them off so they just use up water as the pirates stay away until they are down for the count. This is where proper turrets would come in handy or at least a few rifles. It’s definitely annoying to see 3-4 guys take down a group of 20 or more.

On the flip side, it was great to see the government get involved towards the end. They came across as super professional and high-tech next to the other players. They got the good music and the best scenes. It’s a little iffy that they’re immediately reminded a lot that the hostage isn’t really their concern, but I suppose in the grand scheme of things you have to worry about the big picture. The person did sound super unsympathetic to the plight though. The government also looked unprepared in one scene as Phillips made a break for it and swam for a while, but the government’s budget cuts really hurt and they didn’t have any good flash lights. It was dark out so we can’t blame the government for slipping up…right?

The film is definitely pretty violent and over the top though. I’m almost surprised that it wasn’t R and expected it to be, but I suppose that it just made it. At least the pirates speak another language or else we probably would have been bombarded with language throughout the film. As this did not happen, I’ll give the film some mild props for that.

If you’re not too knowledgeable on what happened during this event, then this film should be very informative. Of course, if you don’t want to use up a lot of time watching all of the extra subplots and details in the film, then your best bet is probably just digging up some news articles. You’ll get more of the facts that way and you can do it in a much shorter period of time. It’s a win-win situation isn’t it? I believe that the film could have handled the adaption much better if it had followed 2 pieces of advice. One, they can definitely tone the film down quite a bit. That one’s pretty self explanatory. The other is that the villains should get less screen time. The pirates are not going to be sympathetic villains and no amount of screen time will really be able to alter that. The film could have used the extra moments to focus on the government or the film could have just been made a little shorter. That certainly wouldn’t have hurt the film in the long run.

On a final note, I also agree with the crew over Captain Phillips on not getting into the boat. See, one common mistake that people make is that they listen to demands when a gun is pointed at them, but just think about it. The classic situation of you and a villain pointing guns at each other and the villain says “Put the gun down” If you do…he’ll shoot you anyway. You may as well go for the sudden death. If it’s 5 vs 1, just rush the guy. He can’t take you all down, although if the other 4 chicken out then the gunman will win that round. The last example is the one in the film, don’t get into the boat because then you are outnumbered and defenseless. Nobody will typically be able to rescue you at that point so you should just accept your fate and make a break for it. At least try to escape instead of getting in the boat. When you think about it, that’s definitely your best move. Deciding to write a will when the villains told you to stop moving is another thing that I could really get into as the move made no sense and just resulted in another beating, but I think it’s clear why you wouldn’t make such a move. It’s not as if anyone would ever see the will anyway once you’re underwater and in enemy territory. A somber thought, but one worth thinking about before making such a move. Captain Phillips did save the day though and I’m sure that the situation was very different in real life. He did his country proud.