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 Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Air Force One Review

Air_Force_One_(movie_poster)
Disclaimer, Note that this is the TV version of the film so that it has been appropriately edited down to a TV 14 rating. The original version would likely score lower and every part of the review should be correctly associated with the TV version.

I’ve seen a few airplane films recently. By “airplane film” I mean a film where nearly all of it takes place inside of the plane. It’s an interesting genre and it tends to be pretty successful. I dare say that I liked this one even more than the blackmail film and the lost kid story. This isn’t just any ole plane story either…it’s an action film! There’s a lot more fighting involved than the others and the story is solid as well. There’s a lot of tension and excitement so this film earns the thriller genre. It managed to jump into all of the right spots and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting Air Force One anytime soon!

The plot involves the strongest country in the world as they helped to liberate another area. America is doing pretty well and the President promises that they will act a lot quicker in any future situation. He stresses that America will never negotiate with terrorists and he heads for the Air Force One jet to take him back home. He’s prepared to watch the game and everything is going well…until terrorists take over the plane. The President manages to fake his escape as he hides in the back of the plane. Alone and outnumbered over 5-1, President James Marshall must fight his way to the cockpit and find a way to save the many hostages. Among them are his wife and daughter…so this just got personal.

Unlike the last few films I’ve seen, Air Force One opens up with a pretty solid start. The men in black quickly dispatch the guards and take someone away. After that, the film really starts and we get some character development for the President and his men before they enter the plane. Of course, things really begin after the plane is hijacked. President Marshall makes for a great protagonist and I’ll be sure to talk about him in a bit. It’s safe to say that the film wouldn’t be nearly as good without him.

It’s interesting to see Marshall’s plan as he goes through the plane. He definitely can’t just run at the villains so he has to be methodical about his approach. There are many action scenes, but Marshall has to try and keep them quiet so he doesn’t alert the others to his position. The hostages have basically given up. It would have been nice to see them try something, but it would likely require at least one human shield and nobody was volunteering. Ah well, we’re mostly here to see the President defeat the terrorists anyway!

I don’t really have much to say about the soundtrack. I can’t say that any of the themes were that memorable, but I’m sure that everyone will recognize the victory music when the President first gets up in the jet. I actually agree with his plan to grab the phone since making plans with the outside world could really help. Too bad it was such a complicated type of phone though.

I do think that the other countries looked pretty bad or one in particular anyway. The pilots nearly land the aircraft and everyone is ready for the quickest end to a film in ages. Unfortunately, the police officers forget that terrorists are in the plane and they don’t try to land it. Maybe they had orders not to injure Air Force One, but those would be terrible orders. As such, the plane gets away and the terrorists get a free second shot.

James Marshall is the main character and he does a great job as the American President. This guy definitely isn’t messing around and he really believes in the ideals that he sets for America. We find out that he was actually a pretty great soldier back in the day and he even won a medal. That’s good because he wouldn’t have lasted long if he didn’t have that level of experience and expertise. He takes everything in stride and Marshall never cracks. He does have a moment where he has to question his ideals to save lives, but I don’t blame him for his decision. He arguably made the right call at that point and it’s easy to see anyone making that move. It’s also easy to sympathize with James since he just wanted to watch the local Football game before all of this happened. Now he’ll never get to watch the big battle!

Grace Marshall doesn’t really get to do a whole lot in this film since she’s one of the hostages. She takes the situation pretty well and she makes sure to try and protect her daughter as much as possible. She’s a pretty good character, but she really doesn’t get any notable scenes so there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. At least she doesn’t panic like half of the guys at the White House.

I have to admit that I didn’t really care for Alice Marshall’s portrayal. She’s the President’s daughter and there isn’t anything wrong with her personality. I would actually blame it on the writer. Her lines just don’t sound natural and I can’t imagine a 12 year old girl saying them with such confidence and poise. She lets the villain know that he’s nothing like the President and how he is a bad man while the President is a hero. Noble sentiments and I can certainly see someone saying a variation of that, but she’s really calm under pressure and her voice gets pretty deep as she says this. I think the lines would have been written to make them flow more naturally and perhaps she could have delivered them a little better. It’s a mix of the acting and the script in this case. One can also get a little irritated when she interrupts the President’s talk with the air force commando (To try and get home safely) to tell him that everything’s going to be okay. Wise words to be sure…but unnecessary ones at that point in time.

The Vice President is one of the major players in this film. She definitely does not look as impressive as the President and she does her best to make sure that he is safe. On that, she disagrees with some of the other members as they just want her to blow up the plane. “Save the lives of the many while sacrificing the few.” It’s definitely something that we see a lot so there is a lot of pressure on her no matter what choice is made. I have no qualms with her character and it’s just too bad that she never really got to fight.

Egor is the main villain and he’s as unlikable as you would suspect. He’s a crazed terrorist who wants to plunge Russia back into chaos like in the days of old. I don’t think any of us figured that they’d try to make the terrorist likable and that’s a good thing. At least they didn’t go overboard in making us dislike him either. He murders everyone, but at least he’s direct. I’m sure that everyone was waiting for him to meet his end and we even get an iconic line out of it. Egor is essentially the plot device that helps the film to move forward, but he’s not meant to be much of a character.

Gibbs is one of the big players of the film since he is the one who betrays America and aids the terrorists. The film tries an interesting method in his case since the viewers know that he is the traitor from the very beginning and yet he keeps up the act for a while. It’s pretty suspenseful since you don’t know when he’s going to try to backstab one of the heroes and you always have a sense of dread. As far as the villains go, he was much more interesting than the terrorists. His final lines are intriguing as well since he plans to trick the next President as well. I don’t think that would ever work since it should be obvious to everyone that he shouldn’t be trusted. This character definitely got a lot of screen time and we shall not forget Gibbs.

The guys on the ground team at the White House were all right, but they didn’t always take the events very well. At a tough time, the official forgot which wires to cut and he had to look at a schematic. As you can probably guess, he figured out which wire to cut a little too late. Another guy is just interested in asserting his authority over the Vice President. I’ll admit that he was definitely pretty bold and he would make for a good leader, but he definitely didn’t have his priorities straight. The secretary of defense was pretty bold as well, but I don’t think that anyone believed that his plan would work for a second. The co pilot at the end with the President is pretty good, but unfortunately…we know what to expect for him. He was in a pretty bad situation at the time and there wasn’t a really clear way out.

Overall, This was a pretty solid film. It has everything that you can really want from this plot. There are some scenes where you may feel like it’s a bit of a stretch with how easily the terrorists took over, but they had to get control of the plane somehow and it could have been a lot worse. A film like this is guaranteed to have some scenes where the viewer will be skeptical and it did a good job of minimizing this. The President is pretty likable and he has to use a lot of stealth to retake the plane. We get action scenes against other jets and the villains fight on til the end. The hostages can be a little annoying since they never try to do anything, but I guess they had already accepted their eventual demise. Naturally, this is a terrorist attack film so expect some people to be shot at point blank range and there are certainly a lot of casualties. If you don’t want to watch something that is fairly realistic in that regard, then this isn’t the film for you. It never really gets graphic though as the situation is worse than the actual shots. Otherwise, this is a film that I recommend wholeheartedly and it’ll join the other classics as a solid 90s film. It’ll be tough to top this film for a while! Also, don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that terorists could take over Air Force One so easily in real life. Our government is prepared and ready to win!

Overall 7/10