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Friday, September 28, 2012

[5.50/10] Resident Evil: Retribution [3D] (2012)

Brief review: The fifth entry in the "Resident Evil" series starts off with a spectacular opening sequence, shot in both a reverse order and slow motion, but soon after that, it turns into the same old same fare we've seen, well, four times before. The paper-thin plot is basically an excuse for killing zombies, but the problem is there are not enough zombies in the movie, and that takes away from the fun. Paul W.S. Anderson, who also directed the 'original' movie and last year's "Aftelife" is well-known for his ability to shoot eye-candy action, featuring shattering glass, huge explosions, highly-stylized fighting and tons of slow-mo, and here, he does it with flair and style yet again. During the action scenes, he uses lots of cool tricks and flashy camera work, and successfully manages to provide the audience with a spectacle, that will please any action fan out there. However, the lack of actual plot constrains him to unnecessarily overextend most of the scenes in the movie, and that combined with the lack of proper cohesiveness, and neat pacing, make "Resident Evil: Retribution" feel a bit confusing, at times surprisingly dull, and generally all over the place. The use of 3D is unimpressive, yet far from terrible, and luckily, the CGIs and creature effects are spot-on. The gorgeous Milla Jovovich proves herself yet again as one helluva badass female action star, but sadly she doesn't really have much to work with.

Overall summary: Worse than "Aftelife", yet better than "Extinction", "Retribution" is a so-so installment in the "Resident Evil" franchise, that won't win any new fans, but will still be appreciated by those seeking for mindless entertainment, cool zombie kills, and frantic action.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

[7.00/10] The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Brief review: After the three critically-acclaimed and hugely successful Bourne movies, released in 2002, 2004, and 2007, this year "Michael Clayton" director and Bourne series writer Tony Gilroy brings us another installment in the franchise, that somewhat manages to succeed, despite the lack of its title protagonist - Jason Bourne - which is an achievement in itself. The opening twenty minutes or so are a bit messy and hard-to-follow, but after a disappointing start, luckily, "The Bourne Legacy" turns into a gripping, and edge-of-your-seat intense action thriller, that proves the franchise is not dead, and still has more to offer. The well-delivered cat-n-mouse plot becomes more and more involvingly intricate with each next scene, and while less action-driven than the three previous films, "The Bourne Legacy" is almost as compelling, thanks to its tight pacing, brisk editing, and Gilroy's competent direction. The action 'explodes' a bit late, in the final act, but it's definitely worth the wait - the stunts are impressive, the chases are tense and adrenaline-fueled, and the whole set-up is fantastic. Rising star Jeremy Renner is a worthy substitute for Matt Damon, and even more charismatic and engaging than him. Rachel Weisz is absolutely brilliant as the emotional and intelligent scientist, Dr. Marta Shearing, and both share a genuinely strong on-screen chemistry, which is without a doubt the ultimate driving force of this sequel.

Overall summary: Although generally weaker than its three equally as accomplished predecessors, "The Bourne Legacy" is still a taut, finely-crafted, and constantly gripping entry into the solid franchise, featuring amazing performances by Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

[5.00/10] Bait (2012)

Bait (2012)

Brief review: Back in 2010, Aussie director Andrew Traucki blew us out of the water with his magnificently-crafted and realistically terrifying film "The Reef" - arguably the best shark flick since "Jaws". In 2012 another Aussie director bring us another film involving sharks, but he ultimately fails to leave the impression Traucki did. Even though his "Bait" sounds pretty intriguing on paper, it's the sub-par execution and undeveloped script that let it down. After an unimpressive and rather cliched opening sequence featuring, of course, a bloody shark attack, "Bait" changes its direction and suddenly becomes a heist movie, than quickly turns into a disaster film, and then gets back to its 'shark flick' roots. No, it doesn't suffer from an identity crisis - it's all intentional, and it's all for a reason. However, despite its clever first 15 minutes, the movie never manages to live up to its potential, and gets trapped just like its dull, underwritten characters, sub-parly played by a cast of known and unknown Australian actors. In terms of scariness, "Bait" barely 'bites'. The gore is there, but the suspense is nonexistent, the shocks are very few and far between, and though there are a couple of well-executed, nasty shark attacks, the rest of them are just plain lame. While the practical effects are spot-on, the CGI effects are beyond cheesy, but the director compensates with an atmospheric setting, that is wet, claustrophobic, and isolated.

Overall summary: Some super-lame CGI work aside, Rendall's "Bait" is a reasonably watchable, yet not necessarily thrilling shark flick with loads of cool gore, but lacking in fearful intensity, likable characters or any sort of outstanding originality, in spite of its imaginative premise.

This review is also featured on TVFilmNews.com

Sunday, September 23, 2012

[6.50/10] The Possession (2012)

Brief review: While Bornedal’s latest film is not even half as compelling and terrifying as "The Exorcist", compared to some of the more recent movies of this sub-genre, "The Possession" is not that weak at all. Script-wise, it barely stands out form all the other exorcism flicks, as it has far too many familiar elements and tired plot formulas, but manages to make up for that in other areas. The fact that the film is based on a true story makes it fairly disturbing, especially if you take it seriously. However, some gruesomely creepy images and a couple of suspenseful moments aside, The Possession" barely has the 'scare factor'. Even though it’s set in present day, interestingly enough, it has that specific, 70’s-inspired, ominous feel about it. From the washed-out color palette to the bleak, intentionally simplistic cinematography, eerie sound effects and oddly scratchy music score, everything about "The Possession" screams 'old school'. Ole Bornedal’s direction is quite simple in style, yet sophisticated execution-wise, and while the use of CGI is a bit too obvious at times, overall the special effects are convincingly-executed, way above average, and everything but cheesy. Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives one of his best performances, but the true star of the film remains the promising young actress Natasha Calis as Em, who alternates between innocence and evilness so effortlessly, it’s fascinating.

Overall summary: Well-crafted, solidly-acted, visually-atmospheric and often sinister, if far from frightening, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Ole Bornedal’s exorcism flick, "The Possession", but there’s nothing that special, groundbreaking, or very original about it either.

Read (and please comment on) the extended version of my "The Possession" review, written solely for White Cat Magazine HERE.

Friday, September 21, 2012

[6.00/10] The Expendables 2 (2012)

Brief review: In 2010 Stallone's "The Expendables" ended up being a bit of a misfire, despite it contained the most popular action stars of the last 30 years. Two years later, director Simon West brings them all back together for a second time, and the end result is much more satisfying. Thanks to West's capability and skills, this time around the execution is slicker, the pacing is neater, and  the direction is way more solid than Stallone's, which isn't a big surprise. That being said, while definitely an improvement over its mediocre predecessor, "The Expendables 2" still struggles to impress with its plot, which feels dated and very uninspired. As expected, this sequel focuses a lot more on the action, than it does on the story, and in this area, the movie delivers everything it promises - great stunts, stirring, over-the-top action scenes, lots of explosions, loud gunfire, and tense chases. The spectacular opening sequence and the 'airport' scene near the end are definitely the biggest highlights of the movie - action-wise and otherwise. Set in Albania, but actually shot in Bulgaria, "Expendables 2" offers some interesting, untypical locations that feel refreshing, despite their gloomy, 'step back in time' feel. The ensemble cast of past and present action legends all do a decent job - Sylvester Stallone is at the center of attention, Jason Statham and Chuck Norris the show as usual, while Jet Li is wildly underused.

Overall summary: Entertaining, satisfyingly action-packed and well put together, if ultimately shallow, "The Expendables 2" is a rare sequel that easily surpasses the original, but will hardly turn into an action classic, despite the all-stars veteran cast of actors it proudly flaunts.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blogfest: Genre Favorites!

One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!


My favorite movie genre: Horror

I've always had a soft spot for horror... ever since I was a kid. I've seen hundreds if not thousands of horror flicks, and I enjoy everything from zombies, vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts and monsters to occult, supernatural, slashers, psychological, serial killers and even torture porn. I guess these facts are good enough to consider myself a pure horror movie buff.


My favorite music genre: Progressive House

Well, I like all sorts of music, but house music and progressive house in particular, will always have a special place in my heart. I just love the beat, the rhythm, and the fact that it brings me joy, gives me a huge adrenaline rush, and makes my heart pounding along with the beat.


My favorite book genre: Fantasy

I confess, I'm not the biggest reader in the world. Not that I don't enjoy reading books, I just don't have the time, considering I have a full-time job and tons of movies to watch and review. Anyway, Fantasy books are so my cup of tea, because they take me into a different world, and make my imagination run wild.


My guilty pleasure (movie) genre: Chick Flicks

Being a movie freak, I had to go with a film-related guilty pleasure of mine. Shocker! Now to the point... I secretly enjoy some chick flicks. Most of these are cheesy, cliched, formulaic, corny, and overly sentimental, but there are some really good ones, that can be enjoyed by girls and guys alike, and they're fun to watch, especially with your girlfriend.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

[5.75/10] Men in Black III (2012)

Men in Black III (2012)

QuickRating: With its super-slick production design, rich and vibrant cinematography, cartoonishly-cool special effects and quirkily designed aliens, "Men in Black III" is visually and technically marvellous, plus it features some truly entertaining action scenes and an unexpectedly touching final act, but Sonnenfeld's mildly successful debut effort barely impresses script-wise, and there's an obvious lack of on-screen chemistry between Will Smith and Josh Brolin as a partners.

[6.25/10] The Lorax (2012)

Dr. Seuss'
The Lorax (2012)

QuickRating: The graphics are definitely imaginative, the polished CGI animation is exuberant, vivid and colorful, most of the characters are absolutely adorable, and the film brings a great moral message for little kids, but despite all these positive aspects, while Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" is cute, enjoyable and easy to watch, it isn't particularly special, original or very memorable, especially plot-wise, and will hardly stand the test of time.

[5.00/10] What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012)

What to Expect When
You're Expecting (2012)

QuickRating: Don't expect a lot from "What to Expect". While the attractively charismatic ensemble cast, especially the female part of it, do the best they could with the given material, and there are some moderately amusing moments and a couple of touching ones, the multi-layered, yet messy plot never really comes together the way it should, turning the film into a joyless affair with pregnancy-related humor, that is mostly lame and inappropriate.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

[4.75/10] Lovely Molly (2012)

Lovely Molly (2012)

QuickRating: In spite of newcomer Gretchen Lodge's disturbingly convincing performance, a couple of decent scares and suspenseful moments, and all the interesting craziness happening around, the ironically titled "Lovely Molly" is far from being the fright-fest it promises to be, and the lack of budget is so obvious, that even director Eduardo Sánchez's pushy efforts can't make it look particularly good, but only depressingly moody and thoroughly bizarre in tone, feel and look.

[4.75/10] The Moth Diaries (2012)

The Moth Diaries (2012)

QuickRating: Based on Rachel Klein's novel of the same name, "The Moth Diaries" is yet another "Twilight"-like vampire teen horror flick, that has a sinister atmosphere and an oddly captivating villain, thanks to whom the film is watchable at times, but the painfully sluggish pacing, lackluster direction and sub-par performances ofter turn this film into a boring snooze-fest, that not many fans of the genre will remember for a long time.

[5.00/10] Dictado a.k.a. Childish Games (2012)

Dictado a.k.a.
Childish Games (2012)

QuickRating: This Spanish horror thriller has an interesting, if rather familiar premise, plus, it definitely possesses the creep factor, and keeps you guessing until the very end, but on the other hand, "Childish Games" suffers badly from its low production values, Antonio Chavarrías's generic direction and the utter lack of any real scares that could have saved it from being a pretty mediocre horror fare.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

[5.25/10] The Raven (2012)

The Raven (2012)

QuickRating: James McTeigue's direction is profoundly stylish as usual, the authentic production design is subtly impressive, and the muted color palette and low-key lighting make it atmospheric and create a very mysterious tone, but despite all that and John Cusack's unsurprisingly strong performance, "The Raven" is an overlong, overly talky and overwritten period thriller with no thrills and suspense, that looks good, but feels dull.

[4.75/10] Rites of Spring (2012)

Rites of Spring (2012)

QuickRating: Part tired slasher flick, part kidnapping thriller, part Jeepers Creepers-inspired monster movie, "Rites of Spring" has some intense moments and gruesome death scenes, but at the end of the day, from the formulaic opening sequence to the disappointingly unsatisfying conclusion and largely stereotypical characters, everything about this mess of an indie horror film is heavily built on cliches and shamelessly borrowed from many others and better genre movies.