12 Rounds Review

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Time to look at a film that is fairly recent, but fell under my radar. I definitely had not heard of this film until I saw it and the plot is intriguing. It’s one of those films that has the potential to be pretty interesting or a train wreck. Luckily, it turned out to be the former and 12 Rounds was better than I had expected it to be. The film was handled pretty well.

The main character is named Danny and he works for the police. He does his usual nightly patrols with his partner, Hank, when they are roped into preventing an international fugitive from getting away. They go on the trail and after an intense chase scene, Danny is able to apprehend the man. What he didn’t expect was for a truck to run over the villain’s ally. Miles (the villain) swears revenge on Danny as he is taken into custody. One year later, he returns and kidnaps Molly. This is now personal for Danny and the only way for him to rescue her will be to play the “12 Rounds” game. He has to complete 12 challenges in time if he wants to win her back and will Miles really keep his word? It’s a race against time now!

12 Rounds keeps up a very quick pace throughout the film. The action never slows down and it works out pretty well for the film. Danny never gets a break since the rounds always start one after the other and he has to run around all day. The film starts in the morning and ends by the time it is nightfall. There are certainly a lot of action scenes to be found here, but they are typically not fight scenes. An example of one of the action scenes is Danny trying to stop a runaway trolley.

The film has a surprisingly high body count. The deaths are usually expected once the scene is coming close, but you may not have expected some of the characters to go when you first start the film. Danny may still be able to save Molly if he completes the 12 Rounds, but he can say good bye to many bystanders and one of his friends. It’s definitely an easy way to lose morale during the tournament and Danny has his doubts at times, but he keeps on going. There’s not much more that he can do.

The plot twist at the end is a little preposterous though. Let’s just say that the 12 Rounds were planned out very carefully to the point where the villain has to be a super genius. We do get a quick scene to show that he is really smart, but it’s a little over done here. All of Danny’s actions were predicted as well as the Police and the FBI. The plan also revolves around the villain being able to outshoot quite a few of the local cops and he is naturally able to best them with ease. This will certainly stretch your imagination a little bit…that’s for sure.

Danny makes for a pretty good main character. He’s actually almost perfect as he is very smart and a good athlete. He’ll do just about anything to save Molly while he also makes sure to help out the innocents along the way. He’s virtually perfect, which may make some fans wish that he had more character development, but being the ultimate hero is a personality in and of itself. He definitely looks really good here and you can’t blame him for the train hitting one of the villains seeing as how she ran into it. He took the whole situation pretty well.

Miles is a pretty decent villain. Naturally, he blames Danny for everything so he breaks out of jail and sets up one of the most elaborate schemes in cinema history. He’s nothing special when it comes to a fight so he has to rely on his intellect. He never goes too far, which is why I don’t mind him as a villain. He wants revenge and he never loses sight of that objective. Molly is a decent heroine and she also takes the situation as well as she can. I do have to question how she was taken out so easily while on the boat though since there was a lot of security around and someone should have noticed something. That whole scene was definitely a little unbelievable and I have a feeling that it was off screen because there was no believable way to show it.

Luckily, the film ducks the animal violence section twice. Danny’s pet dog makes it outside of the house before it blows up and the guard dog from one of the neighbors steals Danny’s gun without letting the hero get any hits in. I was certainly glad to see that since it proves hat the film knows what it needs to do to continue being a good film. A scene with animal violence would have definitely cost it a positive rating and a 5 would have been the best that it could have hoped for.

12 Rounds can certainly be pretty sad at times when you know that someone is about to be written out. The elevator scene was a little hard to believe though as I think that the main should have been able to get up to grab onto the window with Danny. He was overweight and tired, but when your life is on the line, I imagine that he should have been able to put in the extra effort. The partner of Danny also looked pretty bad during his subplot. He finally locates the villain and allows him to escape so that he can tail the guy. I don’t see how anyone thought that this could possibly be a good idea since they immediately lose him. The hero only has time to use one last insult before getting destroyed.

The writing is pretty decent although the writer must love a certain swear word. It’s always the one that’s used for emphasis when the hero is mocking the villain. “I guess you weren’t in the plans….._____” is something that one of the heroes says. They always finis the sentence and let a little dramatic pause slip by before saying the true insult. It’s rather unnecessary and the language issues don’t actually pop up that often, it’s just notable that the word is always used in that fashion.

Seeing as how there aren’t many fight scenes, the film isn’t that violent. The scene where the villain dies in the beginning is a little intense, but then things soften up for the rest of the film. The final fight between Danny and the main villain is pretty tame with the occasional stab thrown in. I have to say that Danny was pretty disappointing in that fight though. He naturally punches the villain and then assumes that e’s down for the count. I don’t see how you can possibly just turn away from the villain considering the circumstances. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen.

This doesn’t affect the rating since a little plot hax is expected from every film, but the very ending is a little much. The heroes jump from a helicopter into a swimming pool and the pool happens to be deep enough for them not to get injured. Moreover, they time the jump perfectly and their jump didn’t make them hit the rotors. I don’t know about you, but the rotors are why I could never jump from one. I’d slide off of one, but jumping is out of the question. The opening scene where Danny chases the villains is also a bit much as Danny has apparently memorized the neighborhood like the back of his hand to he goes through a lot of shortcuts and jumps through fences while keeping track of the speeding car. I don’t really see this happening to be honest.

The film can be sad at times, but it’s also a pretty fun blockbuster to watch. As I mentioned, the action is really nonstop and the film never goes too far to show us how evil the villain is. He kidnaps Molly and destroys a lot of people, but it’s all done in a reasonable way. This lets us feel free to just enjoy the adventure. Some of the challenges are certainly more interesting than others, but they all can’t be equal right? This is definitely a good film.

Overall, 12 Rounds was certainly better than I had expected. It was tough deciding whether to give it a 6 or a 7 by the end. I narrowly ended up going with the former, but you can certainly make a case for either rating. The concept is pretty cool and the execution of it was satisfactory. It was fun watching Danny tackle the 12 Rounds and the film didn’t fall into many holes. There’s some slight fanservice in one scene and the romance can be pretty cringe worthy thanks to some of the camera angles early on. Those are really some of the only negatives in the film. It’s a pretty good adventure and I recommend checking it out if you are in the mood for a thriller. Who doesn’t want to see John Cena take on a few challenges?!

Overall 6/10

The Giver Review

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The Giver is a film that I definitely heard a lot as I frequented the world. The poster was just about everywhere, but it was not very informative so I never had any idea on what the plot was. Eventually, I finally saw the film and it’s certainly a pretty good one. I think that the plot works better as a TV show or a movie series, but if it had been the former I may not have seen it anyway…so it’s a mixed bag. Nonetheless, it’s good to see a film with an original plot like this one since that’s pretty rare nowadays.

It is the year 20XX and….well, I guess you can just pick a year. Humanity has erected a…would this count as a spoiler? Hmmmm……all right folks, watch out for spoilers! This probably counts, but it needs to be mentioned…anyway, back to where I started. Humanity has erected a large barricade that stands at the edge of their territory and nobody is allowed to go anywhere near it. It is what keeps them safe by eliminating all emotions and creative thinking. Humanity lives with their assigned roles right now and they don’t know what happiness and sadness are. It’s a world without fault, but without positives as well. That’s where Jonas comes in. He has been selected to be the Taker and the government may have taken too much of a risk here. Jonas’ job is to inherit the memories of humanity, but with these memories comes emotion, color….life! Will he really be content with keeping things at the status quo or will he decide to revolt…like so many figures in history?

This is definitely a very fascinating concept and it’s one that’s fun to think about. The lines aren’t so clearly divided into good and evil here as you can make a decent case for both. The case for why humans should have free will and emotions is a little more obvious so I will be brief on that. Living without free will is like not living at all and emotionlessly just accepting your fate is terrible. You are essentially told that you will be a mother at home or you will work in nursery for the women and the guys are thrown into a random job with no prior preparation or experience. They won’t like the job either, but at least they won’t dislike it right? No matter how you look at it, this existence wouldn’t be great and it’s also logically impossible. Of course, we’re ignoring that tidbit, but it’s unimaginable to not be able to see in color and not understand universals and emotion.

Scientifically speaking, I’m sure that it’s possible to remove the part of the eye rather painlessly that lets us see color on everyone. Removing emotions through a serum injection is certainly more sketchy. Also, you have to have the shot every day for it to actually work. Would the “rebels” really not “slip up” once or twice and then realize that something was amiss? Of course, this is ultimately still science fiction so trying to rationalize everything may not be very rational if you really think about it. I’ll just take this at face value for now.

Now, why would this be a good thing? Well, let’s start off with two of the big obstacles in the real. (“In the Real is a term used in Accel World to distinguish the real world from cool cyber worlds and I rather like the term so I may use it once in a while…for style!) World Hunger and Murder. These two things have been eliminated from the Earth entirely.* (*Unfortunately, babies are murdered every day in this world to keep the population stable, but they are simply “released” as far as the people know. They don’t know what death is and just believe that the person is gone…interesting. These guys better have perfect health tech or there will be unexpected releases sometimes…) Nobody wants to harm other people and billions of tragedies would simply never happen. If you’ve ever turned on the news you’ll know that millions suffer with every passing second. There is none of that here so that is an overwhelming positive that you simply cannot afford to ignore.

I think the fact that they were essentially murdering their own citizens at the end was where the film clearly starts to point to why you should be rooting for Jonas. It’s a painless death and typically it is willing since they cannot feel emotions. This was a one time exception because of what Jonas has done, but it definitely makes the others look more like villains. I’m still on the free will side for many reasons with the main one being that it is really what makes us who we are. It’s certainly a fun debate to tackle with in your head.

Jonas is not a great main character though. I just don’t like him and I felt like the writers were trying to make him a little too…over reactive. He was sort of showing us how we should be reacting to every scene and he didn’t seem to have any actual personality. He has a good excuse at first of course, but I still didn’t like him by the end. I felt like he really pushed his emotions onto Fiona. She didn’t know what romance is so she really couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Jonas had liked her from the start so it was different. It was just a romance that I really couldn’t get into and think that it was very unnecessary. It’s a sub plot that I definitely could have done without and it cost the film a star.

Fiona is actually a pretty good character as she stands by her friends (Unlike Asher) from start to finish. She is always looking out for Jonas and she risks her career and future to help him when the main hero is in a pinch. I do think that the romance was unnecessary, but this is one time where at least 90% of the blame should go to Jonas. Learning emotions for the first time can be a rather confusing experience after all. I imagine that it’s like trying to play a video game for the first time without a manual and holding the controller upside down. Now that would be confusing!

Is it just me or did the film try to make Jonas’ mother extremely antagonistic from the start? She would literally correct him every time he spoke and she seemed to almost despise him. Keep in mind that none of these characters actually have emotions. They demonstrate them a lot, but I guess that just shows that no serum can be 100% effective. The dad is more tempered and he seems to know more than he lets on, but that sub plot vanishes when he decides to go through with the releasing ceremony. He definitely didn’t know what that meant so maybe he just acted smarter than he was.

Asher is Jonas’ other friend and he definitely wasn’t good. Of course, he’s made to be unlikable since he represents the average person who quickly loses sight of all his aspirations and goals as he just follows what the government does without any questions. He has his big moment where he gets to try and stop Jonas, but let’s just say that he’s outmatched. None of the character even know what a fight is so they definitely can’t comprehend that the best way to stop an incoming punch is to parry or punch back.

The Chief Justice is another intriguing character since she has clearly been through a lot, but that isn’t really explained. We are left to guess and we are given pieces to the puzzle. We know that her heir suffered an untimely fate and it helped her to despise emotions, but then we have to wonder just how long ago the barrier was put up. I would guess that it was only recently from that (Last 20 years maybe) but other parts of the film hint that it’s been like this for many decades. It also makes sense since a big change like that could definitely not occur in such a short amount of time. She definitely has a lot of determination to help her keep things the way that they have been while her counterpart…The Giver has other ideas.

The Giver is the original keeper of the memories, but he doesn’t do a whole lot with his position. He could give everyone back their memories if he makes it past the barricade, but he’s old and he worries about what will happen to the town now if he should be away from it. Unfortunately, he’s a little sloppy and memories that he didn’t want to be shared are given pretty soon. He makes this mistake twice, which isn’t great for him. He’s ot a bad character, but I guess he’s not that good. He could have certainly done a better job during the memory transfers with Jonas and with his former pupil as well.

Now, I have mentioned that I think this plot would work better as a whole show or series. The reason why is mainly illustrated in the ending. After the barricade is breached…the film just ends. You can imagine that the world will quickly be plunged into chaos and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Will they go back to creating wars and become corrupt like the Chief Justice believes or will they unite and stand as one? The former is more likely, but it’s still an interesting situation to watch. Alternately, they also could have shown this emotionless world more so that we can really contrast it to natural life. Achieving all of this in about 90 minutes is a tough feat to be sure. I suppose that the concept itself is what’s important though and we can just put together the unseen pieces.

Overall, The Giver is a very interesting movie. As I mentioned, my main problem with it is the romance. I just found it distasteful and it certainly does impact how much you will enjoy the film. Beyond that, I definitely enjoyed it and the concept is certainly a winner. There isn’t really any action to be found besides a short scuffle and chase scene, but the writing is strong enough to hold the film together. I definitely recommend checking the film out since it will pose some nice philosophical questions for you to answer. I do think that the concept is a little too broad for a film, but I suppose that it did the best that it could. My stance on the ending is that most of the survivors were thrown inside of the barricade, but a few rebels managed to hide out in the outside world where they kept their memories and got to continue the human race as it used to be. That’s just my 2 cents on the ending so you’re free to speculate on it.

Overall 6/10

Hide and Seek Review

Please note that this review is of the edited TV 14 version of the film. All of the writing below should only be addressed to this particular version as the uncut one would likely get an even lower score or the review would just be more negative.
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It’s really no stretch to say that horror films are my least favorite genre. Even romance or comedy films tend to have more heart to them. Of course, there are likely some genres that could go under horror if we really went drastic. (Infinite categories out there. Kaiju films, Space Kaiju Films, Undergeround Kaiju films, etc.) War Documentaries would be pretty close to horror films, but I barely count documentaries as films as it is. A regular War film would still be applicable though and we can’t forget about Zombie films. (Even though they would likely count as horror) I can safely say that this film was even worse than the average horror and it goes to Sucker Punch levels of bad. Can you say a 1 for effort? Let’s see what it did wrong.

First, we need to try to remember the plot that all horror films have. A guy and his daughter decide to move to an abandoned area on the outskirts of New York after the mother dies. Unfortunately, strange things begin to happen. Is the House haunted? Is the Dad crazy? Is the Daughter Possessed? Are there Demons hanging around? Zombies? Ghosts? Plot Holes? Take your pick and then get ready to cringe through the background plot as you await the chills and thrills. The body count is pretty low for most of the film, but the ending decides to quickly change this as the film becomes your average slasher. I definitely got some “I know what you did Last Summer” vibes from the ending since it’s fairly similar. (Then again…I could say that about most horror films!) The main characters are certainly in trouble so this could get deadly.

Well, the cast is pretty small in this film. That’s probably a good thing since most of the characters would have been pretty bad anyway. The main character is Mr. Callaway. I dare say that he’s slightly worse than the average lead for a horror film and that’s saying something. He’s pretty unstable and you don’t know what to expect from him. One second he’s a professional on the mind so he can out psych the daughter through her issues and the next second he’s panicking and running away from her. He needs some more training to say the least. Once the murders begin, he decides to cover them up instead of reporting it to the proper authorities and he’s definitely outmatched against Charlie. There aren’t any likable qualities to Mr. Callaway, but he’s not the only terrible character.

Did I mention that Charlie gets a big role in the film. He’s just as unlikable as Mr. Callaway. He likes to play games and it’s heavily implied that he has super speed or invisibility. He probably has dozens of other powers since horror films like to make their villains unstoppable right? Well, Charlie definitely doesn’t have what it takes to be a cool villain. His character design is pretty awful and he’s also fairly weak so he has to rely on tricks and surprise attacks to win his fights. He certainly didn’t help the film.

Emily is the daughter and she doesn’t help the film. She spends most of it being pretty distant and refusing to talk until she meets Charlie. She did just go through a pretty traumatic accident so we can sympathize with her, but it still doesn’t make her an enjoyable character to see on screen. She’s typically a downer. We find out that Emily does try to help out at certain points and she does well during the ending, but she’s still not what I’d call a very good character. She did have some opportunities to quickly end things although I’m sure that it could have backfired since most of the other characters are slow on the uptake.

We have the Sheriff who looks pretty terrible throughout the film. He wanders into the house during the climax and he knows that there has already been a murder. (More than one, but he only knows about one) So, he goes into the room and the lights turn off. He panics and runs towards the basement…that doesn’t end well. Should I mention that he never even reaches for his gun? This guy must be super confident to be walking into closets and constantly giving his back to every direction.

Catherine is another major in psychology and she proves to be more proficient at it than the main character. She doesn’t get a huge role, but this is a slasher so she does make sure to grab a gun and get involved in the climax. She looks downright terrible during most of it, but she finally gets to land a good hit in the end. She’s easily the best character in the film and it’s too bad that she couldn’t have gotten involved sooner. At least we had one pretty good character right?

We also had some supporting characters that had no point in the film except to be red herrings. So that I don’t spoil which one is the red herring, I shall quickly name 4 side characters. Apologies if it’s obvious who the red herring is, but this isn’t exactly Inception! We have the neighbors Laura and her husband. Laura’s a little overly friendly and she constantly goes to the house while her husband hangs around outside and meets up with the daughter. There’s also another acquaintance who has a daughter and they decide to visit the house as well. It should be noted that both neighbors as well as the mother look pretty much identical and I was wondering if they decided to save the budget by having one actress portray all three. Let’s face it, this film didn’t get a big budget!

Well, that’s basically the cast. If this doesn’t sound like a 1 star film yet, then you have not seen Man of Steel! (Man of Steel’s awesomeness in comparison should show you that this is basically a one star film) One of the numerous negatives in this film is the classic animal violence. Every horror film has it so this one quickly includes it as well. Let’s just say that it’s a cat this time and it’s as sad as you may have expected.

This is a slasher so you can expect a lot of gratuitous violence as well. We get the blood bath tub that seems to be featured prominently in all of the 18 and up slashers. It’s really their calling card I suppose. Other people get slashed and we even have doll violence where the dolls are so grotesquely broken that you have to wonder if it’s even possible. One of the characters really crushes one of them in the span of a few seconds. Sort of like Attack on Titan, this film helps to show us that too much violence can just water down the story.

This next negative is probably a given, but the film is also a downer. There’s a happy ending at the end of course, but it only gets about a minute of screentime while the other events take up the rest of the film. You would have more fun watching the Broncos get blown out of the Super Bowl again and I have to say that the game was pretty painful. (I was rooting for the Broncos) There aren’t any scenes that will make you cheer or even any that will make you smile at all. The whole film is devoid of enjoyment or entertainment.

The final plot twist is pretty generic and not in a good way. Of course, I would have said that the twist was generic if it had ended up being one of the other twists that I had labeled in the beginning. All of those are just stale at this point so none of them are surprising. As expected, the film chose the worst one of the group since that is just continuing with the film’s history of bad choices. The only twist that could have been worse would have been if the red herring was the actual villain because of the plot holes and the idea of such a threat. Nonetheless, this is still a pretty awful second and it didn’t do the film any favors. I should also mention that the film tries to be deep and complex by having a subplot filled with flashbacks and a mysterious waking at 2:06 every morning, but that won’t stop you from snoozing throughout the film and checking your watch.

“Hey, you forgot the positives!” Actually..this film had no positives. It’s one of those films that doesn’t even need to exist. It just takes all the worst tropes of your average horror film and throws them together. On that note, you could say that the film is even worse than Sucker Punch since the other film at least had action scenes, but the worst scenes in Sucker Punch are probably worse than the worst ones here so it’s a dicey showdown. Either way, this is a film that you really just want to see panned by critics and smashed at the Box Office.

Overall, Hide and Seek is as bad as the title would suggest. You’d have a much better time playing Hide and Seek in a one room apartment during the afternoon. I usually give a quick recap of the positives and negatives in this paragraph, but the whole review is basically made up of the negatives so you probably still remember them. This goes without saying, but I strongly recommend staying away from this film. (and horrors/slashers in general) If you want a classy film that’s still pretty scary, I would recommend the 4th Bleach film or even playing a level in Luigi’s Mansion. In the meantime, you’ll be spared from watching this film. Thus, saving you at least 100 minutes of your life that you can use towards racking up trophies on your PS3.

Overall 1/10