Gemini Man Review


I remember seeing the promotions for Gemini Man when it was first coming out. It definitely looked like a pretty interesting story with the main character having to go up against himself. You can’t really go wrong there right? Well, the movie delivers and while their confrontation may end up being a rather small part of the movie, it’s still a fun concept. The film delivers on having a good amount of action scenes and so in the end I was satisfied here. I’d be up for a sequel.

The movie starts with Henry taking someone out as per his job as an assassin but his shot is a little off the mark. He doesn’t shoot someone else by mistake or anything but he figures that it’s a sign he needs to retire. In this business you have to be 100% accurate after all and he’s done well for the government so they should let him go right? Well, not this time. He’s seen as a liability now who may know too much and so a bunch of assassins are sent after him. Henry takes most of them down no problem, but one of them looks just like him. Now Henry’s conflicted about just bumping this guy off and wants to learn more. Accompanied by agent Danny and his old friend Baron, Henry will have to travel the globe now.

I always like it when a movie picks up right away and that happens here. The assassins attack very early on in the movie. We get to see why Henry is known as the best because taking these guys out isn’t really a problem for him. The only reason he struggles at all in the movie is really because of the dilemma of having to beat his younger self. Otherwise it’s shown time and time again that nobody is going to beat Henry in a straight fight. The guy’s just too good at what he does.

So the fight scenes are interesting with how he’s fighting defensively and still having the upper hand. I thought he did a good job with the smoke bombs and in general did handle himself like a pro. Henry’s also just a likable character. He’s trying not to sink further into the darkness especially now that he knows the government may have had him bumping off some innocent people. His days of being an assassin are long gone but of course he still will take out almost anyone else who comes after him.

The villains need better armor though. I can’t tell you how many of these guys were wearing armored helmets and the shot ended up piercing right through them anyway. That’s definitely not a good look for those guys. There was only one exception to this for the final boss who actually had real solid armor. That was a great 2 v 1 fight too. The film pulled out all the stops here and this could have passed for a comic book fight with how fast everyone was moving. Now this opponent wasn’t exactly normal so I can’t praise the armor for everything but it stood up to a whole lot of punishment which is what a good armor should do. Especially since it’s from the government here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the government was holding back to save on expenses with how corrupt they appeared to be here though. This was definitely not one of the more heroic versions. You had a few of them make a bunch of excuses throughout the whole film on how this was not their fault and how they couldn’t actually do anything about all of this but it just felt like excuses all the way through. At least the main villain Clay was straight forward about being a villain. He just wants to make as many clones as possible and he figures that will reduce the amount of lives that have to be lost in every war.

The whole premise revolves around the idea that these clones aren’t real people though which is problematic at best. Personally once a clone has been created I would say it’s a real person particularly since they can feel emotions and everything. You’d have to create a clone with no emotions or traces of a soul to even start to convince me otherwise and that would be a tough one. It’s an interesting motivation though and I did think Clay was a good villain.

As for the heroine Danny, she’s solid as well. She helps out a lot during the fights and never holds the main character back. I’m always glad when the characters are all doing their part as needed and Danny really proved herself by jumping in during the climax and getting some shots across. Her conversation with Junior was also good and so she showed why she is a full fledged agent.

Then you have Baron who is here as the comic relief sidekick to an extent. I mean, he’s not really a sidekick as he’s got his own thing going on. I guess it’s better to say that he’s a friend who shows up with his helicopter to help out but he doesn’t get to do a whole lot here. You never feel like he has the same expertise as the other characters. Props for coming in to help but that’s about it for him.

As for Junior, he makes for a solid villain here. Naturally he’s really kept out of the loop here on who the heroes and villains are so that makes the deck stacked against him right from the start but as the film goes on he gradually gets to learn more and more about what he should be doing. Junior doesn’t always make the right moves here but ultimately he’s a good kid that grew up in the wrong setting. Once he’s able to get past that then he’s all set for future adventures.

The ending to the movie is satisfying and so you’ve got a solid action movie right here. There aren’t any real memorable tunes here but the special effects are good and the battles are on point. The pacing is good and the writing is solid so this really does nail down the fundamentals. Surprisingly there is no stinger for a sequel or anything like that so this really seems to be a completely stand alone title.

Overall, Gemini Man is a pretty good movie and I’d definitely recommend it. At most I think the only negative you may have here is that the actual fight between the two main characters stops being the focus early on. We only get to see them have an all out fight where both are trying their best once and it’s clear that Henry could have won that match in an instant. Once he chooses not to go for the win, that’s when you realize that we aren’t going to get those big battles at least with these two. There is still a solid fight underground but Henry is never really trying to win. Still, we do get a lot of battles either way so it’s not something that would really hurt for the film for me.

Overall 7/10

Concussion


When the concussions became a big issue in the NFL I definitely remember it being a big deal. To an extent of course you expect a lot of injuries in the game, but it wasn’t yet known just how deadly this was. In recent years we’ve seen several gameplay additions come in to try and mitigate this like moving the kickoff so there are less returns. The helmets are also better but of course there will always still be concussions in the game so the NFL just does what it can to reduce the amount of hits. This film delves more into the discovery of this.

The main character is Dr. Omalu and he was a pathologist who would find out how people died. Omalu could be a little on the quirky side as he would talk to the dead bodies and wasn’t very well liked by his colleagues here. He did put up results each time though. One day he is puzzled at why a very healthy ex NFL player died. It didn’t seem to make sense but the office didn’t want to foot the bill for this. Omalu pays out of pocket and discovers the concussion but he has just opened up a bigger can of worms than he ever could have guessed.

Naturally when you discover something that’s really groundbreaking there is going to be a lot of fall out. There is always two questions that you have to ask yourself as well. Are you really the one who discovered this? Did nobody else ever piece this together or did something happen to everyone else who tried to go public? The second is, how do you tell the world? As several characters point out, the NFL is a huge organization with almost unlimited power. This discovery will certainly cost them a lot both in terms of cost and reputation so they will have to try and bury it.

The NFL are the main villains of the film in that sense. They’re out to protect their own interests and try to threaten and discredit Omalu the whole time. It’s not particularly surprising since if they acknowledge that he is correct then all the families of the people who died will definitely sue them. Additionally they will have to come out with new equipment and then have liability for not noticing earlier. Meanwhile if they can bury this they can buy time to come out with new protocols naturally so if someone else notices in 10 years they can say that the game has already been safe.

Not ethical but it is to be expected. The only part that felt like a bit of a stretch was the FBI randomly showing up to threaten everyone. Guess the NFL wasn’t playing around here. I thought Omalu seemed a little too surprised the whole time. I get that he’s optimistic but he seemed shocked that the NFL would be upset at his discovery and I dare say that even a kid would have come to that conclusion pretty quickly. Omalu’s discovery completely shows that the NFL is effectively murdering people. Why would they be glad to know about this? I liked to think Omalu was just messing with everyone but he did seem to really think that this was going to go over well.

Still, he’s a nice guy though and a good main character. He put in the work to learn a whole lot of different subjects in science to the point where his accolades took several minutes to read through. He took the entire case very seriously and made sure that he had enough awards where he couldn’t be silenced so easily. Omalu also took in a lady named Prema when she really needed a place to stay. So he was a class act all around.

Then you have Prema who is the main heroine of the story. She helps to cheer Omalu up when things aren’t going well. You do immediately feel like this will turn into a bit of a romance plot which is too bad since I think it would have been a good, rare example of a nice friendship blooming there. Having even just one person to stick up for you is major though so she really helped out quite a lot. On his own Omalu may not have been able to stick it out for so long.

Finally there is Bailes who also helped out. He used to be the team doctor for the Steelers and is the only professional to side with Omalu. Even then Omalu doesn’t seem to fully trust him until the end and blows up at the guy at one point. Bailes does his best to earn trust though and sees this through to the end. This will certainly impact his career and reputation as well so he’s also taking a risk.

Beyond that, everyone else here is either an antagonist or a victim. You see the ex players as they start to suffer the side effects and take their own lives. The film certainly gets quite serious in these moments as you can see how the concussions just proved to be too much. Then with the NFL players, everyone’s always really angry and yelling about Omalu’s discoveries. They seem to have no regard for the players and so the film never lets you forget that they are the enemy.

Honestly I would have liked to have seen them do a bit more here. The NFL’s like the boogeyman here as they’re mentioned a lot but rarely appear. I suppose if in real life they never met with Omalu it would be difficult to change that but I was really hoping for some more interactions between the two sides. Those tend to be the most interesting moments in a film like this where both sides size each other up a bit. The film builds up a good amount of drama either way but that would have been the clinching moment.

Overall, Concussion is a decent film to show someone if they’re interested in the whole concussions discovery. That said, I don’t think it’s quite as interesting as it could have been to the point where you’re probably better off watching a documentary about it. It’s rare to recommend a documentary over a movie but I think you will probably get more out of it that way because you just really miss the NFL angle the whole time. With a documentary you’d likely be able to see their responses in real time and it would better help to juggle the two plots there. I’m always up for a Football film though so I’m glad this came out.

Independence Day Review


Technically I went back and rewatched this film before the sequel came out, but then the review found itself on the backburner for quite a while. Needless to say, this film is certainly a lot better than the original. It still had a little issue with adding in too many plots which result in some being less interesting than the others, but ends up being a rather complete picture. The special effects still hold up really well and the characters are mostly likable. It’s the classic alien invasion story that you would expect and will always be remembered as an iconic film.

The main plot here is that aliens have arrived and they want to take over the Earth. They naturally go after America first since this country is super strong, but the world is their endgame. Not to fear, America has a plan and we’ve got a lot of natural defenses on our side of the field as well. Can our team of handpicked experts stop this alien menace or is the whole world doomed? Time to find out!

The film develops around a half dozen subplots so you get used to the characters before the Aliens actually show up. In one corner, we’ve got Thomas, the President of the United States! He seems like a charismatic guy and takes the situation in stride, but naturally there aren’t a whole lot of standard procedures to keep in mind when you are under attack from aliens. Considering the situation. Thomas keeps a steady command of the situation despite this and doesn’t let go of the reigns. He is easily the best character in the film as far as I’m concerned and his plot was also the most interesting. If you’ve been following my reviews a lot then you’ll remember that I always love to see the government’s point of view. As a result, the round table meeting with all of the higher ups was definitely a blast. One of the generals is ultimately portrayed as a bit of a worrywart by the end who talks back to the President and is quickly fired, but I actually liked him a lot when he first appeared. Before things went south for the character, he had some good points. For example, Thomas states that maybe they should consider going to Deafcon 4. The general immediately answers “Absolutely!” right after sighing as if he had been waiting for the President to finally make the obvious call. The general then went on to immediately dish out some orders before being put back in his place. Maybe he was a little too enthusiastic, but I liked how he immediately went to action and how he had his own ideas on how this should all go down.

Another one of the better plots involved David. He’s a genius who works with computers and detects a hidden frequency within the alien transmissions. Nobody else has noticed this yet so it could be crucial, but he has to find a way to infiltrate the White House first and that is going to be an issue. Especially considering that he actually punched out the President a while back. Something like that is a little hard to forget. Luckily, he has connections within the building, but is he in over his head? David plays a large role in stopping the alien menace and gets into the front lines. The actor’s always done a good job in the movies that I’ve seen him in and pulls off the character quite well. Finally, we’ve got the third main plot which featured Captain Hiller. He’s the ace pilot on the group and is the only character in the film to actually defeat one of the aliens mano a mano. He provides the gusto and natural leadership that gives the team confidence when it is time for the final attack. David’s the brains of the operations, but you need to have some brawn in a firefight and that’s where Hiller comes in. His natural charisma is something that the leads from the sequel really lacked.

Unfortunately, this is where we start to get to the plots that weren’t quite as interesting. For starters, there is Russell. He claims to have been abducted by aliens a while back and gets teased about it whenever he goes to the local bar to drink. He’s typically drunk throughout the day so that makes it tough for him to defend himself. He makes it onto TV, but not in a graceful light. He drives cross country with two teens, I believe they were his nephews, and they get to give us a grounded look at the situation. It was a very boring view though and this subplot was even longer in the extended cut. There was really no point to it though and naturally Russell got his big moment in the end, but I could have done without him. The plot could have certainly been more obnoxious and a lesser film would have really gone crazy wit it, but it still didn’t help the film out in the long run.

I also wasn’t crazy about the plot involving the First Lady, who survived the crash and meets up with Jasmine, Hiller’s wife. (Girlfriend at the time) It was there for the emotional impact I suppose and to give us inspiration speeches, but it slowed the pacing down a little. That being said, I do have to give the plot some credit though because it provided us with a cool CGI scene where the fire starts to engulf the streets. We then see the main dog turn into Air Bud as he leaps across cars and outruns the fire all the way to the service entrance where the characters were. Many films have a make or break moment and this was it. If the characters had shut the door to save themselves and the dog had died, this film would have gone right into the trash. I would have churned out a 0-1 star review for this film and would have spent the duration bashing and bashing it. Luckily, this film had class and good writing so the dog lived and we got a plot with a nice ending. So, the dog scene is what saved the side plot.

Finally, we also have some annoying characters when we head to the underground bunker. It starts off okay as the President takes charge and infiltrates Area 51. Unfortunately, the scientists there was too zany for their own good. They try to go for a very Johnny Depp kind of quirky, but it’s very forced and not appreciated. They don’t get a big role here so that’s good, but prepare yourself for the sequel. The main positive about this part was when the alien decided to fight back and attacked from his glass cage. The alien put up a good fight and the action scene really came out of nowhere. It was unexpected and that helped to make it a very effective moment. The film may have not been super heavy with action, but had its moments. There was a big aerial fight in the climax after all of the alien ships take on the U.S. Airforce. That was fun and the effects really hold up well. Between that and the famous scene where the White House blows up, you can tell that this film got a pretty high budget.

A lot of people like to poke fun at the ending though, where we use a Mac to send a virus to the villains. I do agree to an extent that this is a little hard to believe and viruses shouldn’t work on villains in the first place, but I’m pretty okay with this. You have to keep in mind that we will never defeat an alien race without some kind of plot hax. Just look at how Captain Hiller takes down one of these superhumanly strong aliens with a single punch. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s still a pretty humorous scene to watch. At the very least, I thought it was pretty fun.

The soundtrack was fairly good. It’s not going to be winning any awards from this blog anytime soon, but I thought that the tunes were placed rather well and that’s what counts. The President’s big speech was certainly good as well and one of the cooler moments of the film. It was so good that the sequel decides to reuse it instead of coming up with a big one of its own.

Overall, Independence Day really set the bar for future alien invasion films. It definitely deserves to be known as a fun classic. It’s not completely amazing as some of the lesser subplots drag the film down a little, but it’s still a fun film in the end. The pacing is good and you should be kept well entertained the whole time. It’s essentially the definition of a solid film and considering that the aliens didn’t get to show up much, the set up was still really good. I’d argue that this is one of those films where the set up is better than the actual resolution as I like to see everyone getting worked up over the aliens. The fight was still good of course, but the prelude was just better. I certainly recommend checking this film out. It may not be July 4th right now, but it’s always the right time for an alien invasion film.

Overall 7/10

I, Robot Review

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It’s time to look at a film that involves Robots and a possible future for humanity. These titles are typically a lot of fun and this film handled the concept well. I really don’t like using the comma in the title, but the film forced me too. Luckily that doesn’t mean that I will need to do so in the review so I will refer to the film as I Robot when necessary. All right, let’s talk about this title.

Detective Spooner is called out by a man who presumably committed suicide. The guy left a small voice mail hinting that this wasn’t an ordinary death and everything is up to Spooner now. Spooner has held a grudge against robots for years so he enthusiastically sets out to prove that robots can actually be murderers. The problem is that a robot has never committed a crime in all of the decades that they have existed. Assuch, nobody believes Spooner’s theory. Spooner gains an ally from within the robot company, but it feels like everyone else is getting in his way. With Spooner’s job and life on the line, he must crack the case before the robots crack him!

First, let’s start with the technical merits of the film. The special effects were nice and have certainly aged well. I liked all of the fight scenes that involved the robots and they were actually better than I had anticipated. I didn’t think that the fights would be bad per say, but I didn’t expect them to be as smooth as they were. The main character’s cool laser blaster was also a nice tough and you could easily tell that this was a film, which was set in the future. When a film takes place in the future, it should always feel like the future. CoughHungerGamesCough!

The writing was good enough. I can’t guarantee that it was great as you can never fully tell in the TV version, but it seemed to be good. The main character does panic at times, but he never goes quite as far as the heroes do in horror films or TV budget films. His line actually reminded me of the Sharknado trailer for the new film coming up since the song uses the phrase quite a lot. Other than that, it’s not very noteworthy.

Detective Spooner is a little overdone in how rude he can be so I didn’t care for him as the main character. Pretending to sleep is a joke of his that gets old very quickly. I am glad that he knows how to fight and talks tough. If he was a little less rude and spent more time just talking a good game, I would like him more as a character. The main heroine is a lady named Susan and she’s all right I suppose. It’s good that she ends up saving a robot because she realizes that the whole situation isn’t right, but she doesn’t get a whole lot of character development. She’s essentially along for the ride.

The main robot is named Sonny and he wants to know the meaning of life. He gets off to a rocky start as he commits a crime and spends a lot of time on the run. He’s not a very likable robot, but at least he learns the values of friendship and human emotion by the end. He means well of course, but the innocent android who wants to be a human is a trope that I’ve never been too fond of. The fact that he can fight does help the character significantly though. The main villain was pretty fun, but his role is very small. He relies on subtle, but personal attacks on his enemies and he excels at verbal combat. He does let his guard down rather quickly though.

I don’t seem to be a big fan of the characters, but why is the film so good? Well, the characters aren’t great, but I wouldn’t call them unlikable either. Detective Spooner was probably my least favorite member of the group, but I still wouldn’t call him a downright bad character. He has his moments and he never has any real dirty lines or bad character traits like other leads. So, they do all right and the rest of the film is solid enough to carry the cast.

As I’ve said, the action scenes are fun. The big war between the robots and humans was great to watch and I had been expecting a cop out or for the war to be hinted at in the sequel. I was pleasantly surprised to see things get so large scale so quickly. The humans were definitely doomed against these guys since we allowed the robots to essentially take over the military systems as well as the rest of the world. The actor from the Transformers movie trilogy is in this film for a very small role and he’s actually a pretty funny character. He’s just around to look weak and never actually helps Spooner, but he likes to provide the audience with some random lines about how dangerous the situation is. To his credit, he runs up to the robots and tries to pick a fight, but he didn’t count on the fact that they would actually oblige him. He helps to turn a bad situation into a terrible one.

Viki is the big AI in charge of everything and she’s fairly similar to Skynet. Naturally, she doesn’t get a chance to have quite as many lines or get as much character development, but she makes for a good mastermind. I just wish that she could have gotten a true form at the end since that would have been neat. Could she really hack the government computers? Normally I’d have to think about this one, but since she Is the Government computers in a sense, it makes sense that Earth wouldn’t stand a chance. This is why we should never let one system run all operations. It’ll make the US way too dependent and vulnerable since just taking out that program would cripple the whole army.

Spooner also has a quick origin story for the Oscar bait, which explains why he doesn’t like robots. I certainly could have done without that and it really had no place in the film, but it was quick and is never brought up again after it is shone so you can easily just push it to the side. It could have been worse after all and doesn’t really end up hurting the film. It would have been more solid without it, but there is no point swing over this issue.

Overall, I Robot was a fun film. It’s not winning any awards soon, but it’s essentially the ultimate good film in the sense that it wasn’t great by any means, but I would never call it a bad film either. It didn’t make any big mistakes and while there are no characters who shine, they all stay classy. If you’re looking for epic action scenes and a nice futuristic world with laser guns, this is the film for you. It was better than I had anticipated and that is always a good thing to see. I don’t see this film getting a sequel, but if it did, I’m sure that we would get some more robot fights and that’s always a good thing. On a final note, it’s really good that Spooner had a robot arm or I would have called plot hax on the fight scenes. As it stands, while there is a decent amount in the final battle, it doesn’t go overboard and the climax is definitely very exciting.

Overall 7/10