Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Cliffhanger Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be far harsher.

It’s time to look at an old action film about climbing the mountains. It’s definitely not a film that I had heard of beforehand, but the premise is fairly interesting and it’s always fun to remember what action films were like back in the day. I mean, this film isn’t as old as I may be hinting, but it’s an era that is certainly past now. It’s a pretty solid film all around and it doesn’t make any big mistakes along the way.

Gabe is one of the world’s greatest mountain rescuers. The average employee on the rangers uses the Helicopter, Gabe prefers to climb the mountain on foot. It was all going well until one of his friends (Hal) brought along a girl to climb the mountain with him. She is afraid of heights though and Hal has fun with this instead of being understanding. Gabe starts to perform his rescue, but the knot comes undone and the girl falls to her doom. Hal blames Gabe for this so Gabe quickly quit the Rangers and ran off for 11 months. After having his fill of guilt tripping himself, Gabe comes back only to find out that a group of people have gotten stuck on the mountain again. Hal is going off to find them, but Gabe knows he won’t be able to get the job done and tags along as well.

This cuts into the villain side of the equation. A group of plane hijackers are after 100 million (I think that was the total. Maybe it was 300 mill) but an FBI agent shoots the plane down and that’s how they crashed. They decide to trick the rangers into helping them find the money. Of course, they just go into threatening mode once the Rangers show up and have them at gun point. Hal and Gabe will have to think fast to get past these guys and back home. They’ll also have to do it quickly as the main heroine (Jessie) and the boss are planning to go after the heroes since the rescue is taking too long. They wouldn’t last a minute against these villains.

I was a little surprised at first when a large chunk of the intro focused on the villains. I wondered where Gabe was, but I guess the writers wanted you to really get to see all of the villains. They were pretty important in this film after all. Eric is a good leader for the group and he certainly plays for keeps here. He’s very persistent as he keeps coming up with different plans to take Gabe down for good. Gotta give him some kudos there. The tech man for the team was also pretty solid as he made sure that the gadget for finding the money could only be used by him. See, this is a smart minion. Most of the others would have just told the boss the password and that would have been game over.

As much credit as I give the villains for their resourcefulness and all…I still had a hard time buying into the plane hijacking. It’s just a little hard to swallow that all of the professional agents would go down so fast. At the very least you need to shoot the guy standing in the center if you’re going to be turned into swiss cheese anyway. So I did like the FBI agent there since he got one last shot just to mess with the villains. He certainly did a lot better than the average agent. Probably the best character in the film if we’re being honest. He just needed to be a little faster on the draw next time.

The film does a good job of mixing the action and the humor. It can actually get very violent and serious at times, but the TV version did a seamless job of editing out the worst parts and glossing over the fights. As a result we were just left with the hype parts. The soccer villain was also pretty interesting since he towed the line between sadistic villain and pun happy eccentric. The soccer skills were definitely impressive, but not as impressive as Hal’s comeback. I’ve always agreed with the characters on this one. If a villain is trying to destroy you anyway, it’s gotten to the point where it’s pretty personal so you may as well counter with a pun for the added disrespect.

The one liners in this film were pretty good like the line about how the campfire was expensive as the heroes burned money to stay warm. I mean, I probably wouldn’t light a fire when there are a bunch of people with guns out to get me, but I suppose the villains didn’t have their glasses ready yet. The romance is the only area of the film that’s rather weak but it doesn’t play much of a role anyway. It pretty much comes and goes with no real fanfare. The writing is all right as it delivers the humor well with the one liners but can be lacking otherwise. Not weak enough to hold the film back though.

There’s nothing really negative to say about Gabe. He didn’t handle the whole situation very well as he just ditched Jessie for absolutely no reason. Leaving for 11 months without a single form of communication and then showing up so Jessie can move out was a terrible plan. Of course the point is that Gabe is best when he’s on the mountain and then he wrecks everybody. He can certainly fight well and he did do his best to save Hal’s friend back when it counted. I don’t like Hal because of how petty he is for a while. I did keep some respect for him though since he still did his best to help Gabe out afterwards. Once the villains took out the guns and started attacking, there was no more time for bickering. The two of them just teamed up without a word. You’d expect that two guys who were friends for so long would be able to do that but it’s something that a lesser film would probably forget to be honest.

An important thing that the film also did well was keeping the pacing quick. The heroes and villains were always on the run so the brief campfire scenes didn’t last long. For an action film like this one, it’s important that the action keeps on going. That may sound obvious, but it can be difficult to always have something happening since the writers have to think of reasons for why each side isn’t dead yet. Since they’re on a snowy mountain that gets really dark at night, that helps quite a bit. It’s always fun to have an ongoing chase and the film’s soundtrack, while forgettable, worked well during these scenes.

Overall, Cliffhanger is a solid film. On one hand, it’s not as if it does anything spectacular that will always let me remember it, but sometimes you don’t need to have a scene like that. The film was consistent throughout and it’s not as if there are many action movies on top of a mountain so I think I’ll definitely remember this film for quite a long time. It is intense so I’d recommend waiting for it to be on TV, but then you’re set for a solid action film. You’ll get to see Gabe put his boxing moves to good use here. The villains never stood a chance to be honest. Now if only the cops could have done something to help. That would have been the icing on top.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements
Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Creed Review

creed-poster
I saw this film quite a while ago when it first came out so this review has been on the shelf for a while. Well, no longer! It’s time to discuss this film, what it did right and what it did wrong. I can say now though that Creed did live up to my expectations for the most part. It’s a fun film and I liked some of the modern twists that the film added to the franchise. Conversely, there were some modernizations that didn’t turn out so good. Rocky lived up to the hype as being the best character in the film by far and it’s good to see him get his props.

To think…I started this review in November, but it was placed on the backlog for a very long time. That’s how it goes I suppose, but let’s wrap this up. Adonis has had a troubled past and is no stranger to being in fights. He is eventually adopted and treated to a very luxurious life. He even gets a nice financial job with a lot of money, but it’s not enough for the guy. Adonis wants to fight so he quits his job and gambles away his car on a match where he is soundly defeated. The main character was forced to move into a very small apartment building, but also decides to meet up with Rocky. Rocky is reluctant to train the kid, but eventually relents and now Adonis must work to become the strongest fighter of all time!

Well, let’s talk about one of the modernized techniques that I did like a lot. Whenever a fighter would walk into the ring, the screen would quickly freeze and show off the guy’s rankings. It was like a little power level system that you would expect to see in a Shonen Jump crossover film or something like that. It was definitely a lot of fun and I hope that they keep this in for the sequel. It’s the little effects like this that can really amp a film up.

Unfortunately, another effect of modernization is that there is definitely more language to be found here than in the original. It can definitely get a little tired. The boxing matches are solid as you would expect. They’re not as good as the original Rocky films, but few fights are right? They can be a little violent with one random blood scene, but they’re still relatively tame when compared to the average fight. Certainly nothing that should frighten you if you’ve seen any action film recently. Since this is boxing, there are rules to the fights, which helps a lot. The fights feel real and have no cheap shots.

My other big complaint with the film would certainly be the romance. It’s a textbook example of how you should not do a romance plot. It makes both characters look rather bad. Adonis hears some music coming from a downstairs apartment so he goes there to tell the occupant to keep it down. Turns out that the occupant is a girl who appears to either be rude or simply doesn’t realize that her music is super loud. Turns out that it’s partially the latter, but he has no way of knowing that. Doesn’t matter though since looks apparently do and he asks her out on a pseudo date almost immediately. He claims that it’s not a date and that they’re just friends, but I don’t think either one of them bought that for an instant. It’s a sad stereotype. After all, there are probably some guys and gals who just want to be friends, but you can never trust anyone who says that because 90% of the time, there are ulterior motives. Adonis clearly did not want to be friends from the get go even though he acted as if he was. They knew each other for a few minutes before effectively going out and then they show no restraint as we have some wince worthy romance scenes later on. You never saw this stuff in the original Rocky scenes!

Still, romance aside, this was a good film. I still enjoyed it as I was watching and I could see it again easily enough so I’d say that it deserves to be in the positive side of the scale. As mentioned earlier, Rocky’s easily the best character in the film. The film did a good job of keeping his character true to himself and making Rocky defeat all of the other characters in verbal battles. I’m fine with his decision not to fix himself either since when I’m old, I won’t bother pulling out all the stops. Why prolong the inevitable if you’re super duper old? Of course, I’m sure our treatment plans will be better by then. If they are and there’s a high success rate, then I’ll go for it. If not, I’ll upload a final blog post about the end of my era.

Adonis has some good qualities, but he was ultimately lacking as a character for me. Obviously, the romance played a large role in this. Aside from that, I just felt that he was a little unrealistic in how extreme he took his love for fighting. Ditching his super high paying job and mansion for a broken down apartment in a sketchy neighborhood so that he could fight a little? A love for fighting is great and I’m glad that he bet the car away since it showed some confidence, but he definitely did not need to quit his job. At least let them fire you if you show up with a lot of scrapes! Still, aside from the constant drama with Bianca, he was fine I suppose. In the next film, I hope they focus on his love for fighting and the drama can take a backseat.

Bianca is about on par with Adonis, I’m not really a fan of hers either. Obviously she’s just too easy and ignoring the romance plot, it was a little rude to have the noise so loud. A less charitable neighbor could have filed some big complaints and gotten her into a lot of trouble. I’m also wondering if her hearing loss is going to be a big plot point in future films. Hopefully not though. She’s supportive at least. Conrad was the main villain and while they try to make him seem like a nice guy at the end…he seems pretty sketchy. There’s a reason why he’s going to jail after all, but at least he got to have one last fight.

The ending of the film definitely isn’t very satisfying, but it’s how it goes I suppose. Even real boxing battles have anticlimactic endings like Floyd Money Mayweather and Manny. While I may not have been the biggest fan of this film, it was still a good one even if it sounded like there were more negatives than positive. The training scenes were a little more soulless than the original Rocky’s, but that’s because newer films can rarely grab that S rank soundtrack to help push things along. This one borrowed a tune or two, but for the most part it was definitely a step below in that regards. It was cool reliving the Rocky vs Creed fight on the big screen at the beginning of the movie of course and we even got an ESPN homage on the IPad. Those moments were definitely a blast and we also got to see that Rocky’s restaurant is still doing well.

Overall, If you enjoyed the Rocky films, then I think that you will like Creed. It’s essentially a modern take on the franchise and has a lot of good fights. More drama than you may have expected, but that’s how it goes. The main way that the sequel can improve upon this one is with a better main cast and that could easily be achieved by introducing the President of the USA…as a fighter. That would be a very ambitious plot, but it can maybe be done. Give us a likable President like in Airforce One and we’ve got ourselves a solid sequel!

Overall 6/10