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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 06]

Maniac (2013) - Slightly artsy, slightly moody, slightly odd, "Maniac" is just as crazy, sadistic, and disturbing as its title suggests, but it's lacking in suspense and true scares big time, and not even Elijah Wood nutty performance can compensate for that. (4.00/10)

R.I.P.D. (2013) - Some creative camera work aside, "R.I.P.D." sounds fun on paper, but actually sucks. It's ridiculous, genuinely silly, the special effects are pretty obvious, and so is the lack of chemistry between the leads Ryan Raynolds and Jeff Bridges. (4.50/10)

V/H/S/2 (2013) - As expected, "V/H/S/2" is a hit-n-miss horror anthology, with the hit certainly being Gareth Evans' sick, gory and unsettling "Safe Heaven", and the miss being... well... all the other three shorts, as well as the very unfortunate frame narrative. (5.00/10)

Oblivion (2013) - Its futuristic barren scenery, combined with the splendid washed-out cinematography, and flawless CGIs makes it really visually-stupendous, but "Oblivion" is too unspectacular, aimless, confusing, and lifeless to be a successful sci-fi movie. (5.25/10)

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) - Neither as inventive, nor as delightfully witty as its predecessor, yet never boring, "Kick-Ass 2" is a very passable sequel, featuring some sarcastic, often black humor & crazy action, injected with a huge dose of enjoyable ridiculousness. (6.00/10)

Man of Tai Chi (2013) - Luckily for all action junkies, "Man of Tai Chi" is non-stop fighting, the choreography by Yuen Woo-ping is spot-on as usual, and the central character Tiger Chen is pretty likable, but on the other hand the story is very paper thin. (6.00/10)

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013) - Not as half as good as "Shaolin Soccer", or "Kung Fu Hustle", "Journey to the West" is, in a typical Stephen Chow fashion, goofy, cartoonish, and fun, but not nearly as inventive as it's supposed to be. (6.00/10)

Elysium (2013) - It's pretty innovative, well-acted, technically-brilliant, remarkably detailed, and featuring a first-class CGI work, however, "Elysium" never realizes its full potential, leaving the viewer somewhat unsatisfied, yet still thoroughly entertained. (7.00/10)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) - Grimmer, darker, slicker, and better than the cult original, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is 'more of the same', but that's okay as it still works on so many levels, especially when it's crafted with such care. (7.75/10)

The Grandmaster (2013) - It unevenness aside, "The Grandmaster" is not only a wise and philosophical film, but also one of the most polished martial arts movies ever made, flaunting Kar-wai's elegant direction, and Woo-ping's masterful fight choreography. (8.50/10)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 05]

Europa Report (2013) - It's not an easy watch, nor is that frightening, but at least "Europa Report" seems scientifically accurate, not overdone, and its creative if messy 'static multi-cam' filming style makes it stand out from the mass of 'found footage' flicks. (5.75/10)

Carrie (2013) [Extended] - Not pretending it's any better than the cult original, this gore-filled remake is crafted with both care and flair, and manages to stand on its own, thanks to the solid direction, atmospheric visuals, and the excellent performances. (6.50/10)

Captain Phillips (2013) - Involving, well-made, terrifyingly disturbing, and further elevated by Tom Hanks' stellar performance, "Captain Phillips" recreates the major global issue of sea piracy accurately, unafraid of showing terror, that is very hard to handle. (7.25/10)

The Way Way Back (2013) - The cast is every moviegoer's dream, the story is honest, sincere, and heartfelt, the protagonist is as likeable as he's awkward, the setting is exhilarating, and the direction is smooth as silk, hence, "The Way Way" Back rules! (7.50/10)

Trance (2013) - Danny Boyle's latest effort definitely lives up to its title -- from the haunting music score and intricate, yet absorbing storyline to the hypnotic direction and competent performances, everything about "Trance" is truly and utterly mesmerizing. (7.50/10)

Now You See Me (2013) - The best thing about this film is nothing is what it seems, and that's exactly what keeps drawn in. Moreover, "Now You See Me" is smart, energetic, original, and as entertaining as a first-class illusionist show. The camera work is magic! (7.75/10)

Blue Jasmine (2013) - Led by its clever plot structure, "Blue Jasmine" is a bright, elegant, darkly-comic, and vividly-shot riches-to-rags dramedy, that features arguably the best and most riveting female performance of 2013, by the magnificent Cate Blanchett. (8.00/10)

Rush (2013) - Not only "Rush" gives us an intimate look at one of the biggest rivalries in professional car racing ever, but it's also a splendidly crafted film about passion, raw enthusiasm and inner drive, that delivers as much adrenaline rush as it does drama. (8.00/10)

American Hustle (2013) - Boasting a clever storyline, authentic vintage vibe, engaging characters, and probably the best ensemble cast of 2013, "American Hustle" is definitely Oscar material, and also director's second best movie after 10's "The Fighter". (8.00/10)

12 Years a Slave (2013) - It's a beautifully-shot, and marvelously acted film about American slavery, in which the lush cinematography contrasts dramatically with the tough subject matter of the story, as does the raw emotion against the devastating violence. (9.50/10)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 04]

The Purge (2013) - The premise is decent and sort of unique, the acting is adequate, and the setting is fairly claustrophobic, but unfortunately "The Purge" is neither scary, nor very thrilling... it's just a sadistic 'home invasion' flick, that's hardly memorable. (5.00/10)

Beautiful Creatures (2013) - The "Twilight"-ish romance doesn't really work, the story is neither enchanting, nor horrorish, and the running time is way overlong, but at least "Beautiful Creatures" has a cool gothic feel, and delightfully muted cinematography. (5.00/10)

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) - Despite its vibrant and colorful imagery, and some imaginative ideas, "Oz The Great and Powerful" is a surprisingly dull fantasy fare, with no real heart and soul, or magic, and also Sam Raimi's weakest film in years. (5.25/10)

Curse of Chucky (2013) - The limited setting gets a bit tiresome after a while, but other than that "Curse of Chucky" is a bloody, at times cruel, but always fun and watchable sequel, and a welcome return for the well beloved, if spent horror franchise. (5.50/10)

47 Ronin [3D] (2013) - Exquisitely pretty to look at, yet muddled, unengaging, badly-acted, and hollow, "47 Ronin" is an underwhelming 3D f/x-travaganza lacking in action, that will most likely put you to sleep, or even worse -- bore you to death. (5.50/10)

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) - It may be loud, messy, and brainless, but "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" delivers exactly what it promises -- fast pacing, frantic action, startling explosions, cool ninjas and even cooler stunts, all accompanied by its charming cast. (6.50/10)

Dark Skies (2013) - "Dark Skies" is an almost non-stop thrill ride with never a dull moment, and some truly solid performances. Prepare to be frightened, and thoroughly entertained by easily one of the better horror movies involving aliens of this decade. (7.00/10)

Man of Steel (2013) - Yeah, "Man of Steel" is too much, but too much of awesomeness! The sci-fi-ish approach feels different, the ambitious story keeps you drawn in, Snyder's visual style is slick as usual, the CGIs are flawless, and the action is kinetic. (8.50/10)

Pacific Rim (2013) - Giant robots, even more ginormous sea monsters, confident characters, stunning visuals, stupendous action, sensational special effects, and all this directed by the uber-imaginative Guillermo del Toro. What not to like really?!? (8.75/10)

Frozen [3D] (2013) - With its magically adventurous, yet sweet story, charming characters, breathtaking and richly detailed animation and phenomenal use of 3D, "Frozen" is the very best animated feature of 2013, and also one of Disney's finest! (9.25/10)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 03]

The Last Days on Mars (2013) - Proving there's a curse about all the films set on Mars yet again, "The Last Days on Mars" not only fails to take advantage of its great lead actor, but also fails to generate any thrills and suspense, let alone scares. (4.50/10)

I Give it a Year (2013) - It tries hard to be funny and confident in its script, but despite there are some truly fine actors involved, "I Give it a Year" ends up being a rather joyless affair, that is neither very romantic, nor particularly hilarious to watch. (5.00/10)

The Big Wedding (2013) - It's unbelievable how much talents has been wasted in this pretty to look at, but also pretty mediocre comedy. The experienced A-list cast struggles big time with the underwritten script, and the jokes are few and far between. (5.00/10)

Bad Milo! (2013) - The lack of budget is obvious, the acting is sub-par to say the least, but "Bad Milo" instantly wins point for originality, no matter how ridiculous and absurd the story is. Yes, tt's sick, it's gross, it's downright nasty, but it's also kind of fun. (5.50/10)

Contracted (2013) - Far too many things remain unexplained in the end, which will confuse the viewers for sure, but for what it is, "Contracted" is a decent indie horror flick with some impressive practical effects, offering enough gore and gruesomeness. (5.50/10)

Dark Touch (2013) - It leaves far too many questions unanswered, and it's far from terrifying, but "Dark Touch" is nevertheless a reasonably effective little horror movie with a gloomy tone, and chilling atmosphere, that really suits its truly dark nature. (5.75/10)

Identity Thief (2013) - It's silly, and it knows it, but it doesn't afraid to admit it. Moreover, "Identity Thief" embraces its stupidity, prompting its audience to have fun with it, with Melissa McCarthy carrying the entire movie on her shoulders with such ease. (6.00/10)

We're the Millers (2013) - Sure, you won't be able to remember anything as soon as the credits roll, but "We're the Millers" is very fun to watch in a raunchy sort of way, and the chemistry between the well-cast lead actors is just as apparent as it's genuine. (6.00/10)

The Best Man Holiday (2013) - At times funny, at times serious, at times sad and depressing, but always honest and sincere, "The Best Man Holiday" is one of the better Christmas movies, balancing comedy and drama well, while caring for its characters. (6.25/10)

The Kings of Summer (2013)  - Rebellious, yet uplifting, and just as free spirited as its teen characters, "The Kings of Summer" is a finely-crafted coming-of-age drama that exudes purity in the most innocent sort of way, bringing back all our childhood memories. (6.50/10)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 02]

Hatchet III (2013) - It has basically no plot, the practical effects are rather questionable, and there's not a single character you'd care for, but if you're in the mood for guts galore, buckets of blood, and over-the-top goriness, than this one is the movie for you. (4.50/10)

Stoker (2013) - Despite its well-chosen cast, and potentially intriguing story, this Hitchcockian thriller fails on so many levels. From the not-so interesting, if not boring characters to the mysterious, yet confusing plot, everything about "Stoker" is so half-baked. (4.75/10)

You're Next (2013) - It looks pretty decent considering its limited budget, the kill scenes leave nothing to imagination, and Sharni Vinson saves it from being another pointless slasher crap, but sadly "You're Next" ain't original or smart enough to be memorable. (5.00/10)

The Lords of Salem (2013) - "The Lords of Salem" is a mixed bag. While definitely not that scary, it has an eerie, almost depressing tone that works in its favor, and also easily wins the title for 'the oddest horror movie of the year'... in a (sort of) good way. (5.25/10)

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) - It has its moments of dread, and the cast do their best, but "Insidious: Chapter 2" lacks the genuine creepiness of the original, besides, Wan's inconsistent direction, and clumsy execution bring the overall quality of this sequel down. (5.50/10)

The World's End (2013) - While neither as brilliant, nor as bonkers as Edgar Wright's previous films, "The World's End" is a downright hilarious alien-esque comedy full of typical British humor, moronic, yet likable characters, and cool CGIs for you to enjoy. (6.75/10)

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) - With its amusing and fun-to-watch British cast, likable characters, top-notch CGIs, considerably brisk and tight pacing, and startling action scenes, the truly enjoyable "Jack the Giant Slayer" is nothing, but mindless entertainment. (6.75/10)

The Wolverine (2013) [Extended] - For a 130-minute superhero movie "The Wolverine" could have had a little bit more action, but other than that and some pacing issues, it's a slick and stylish flick with a refreshing Asian flavor, that sets it apart from all the rest. (7.50/10)

Gravity (2013) - Technically exceptional, visually-sumptuous, well-acted and thoroughly intense from start to finish, yet tad overhyped, "Gravity" showcases Alfonso Cuaron's great versatility as a director, and his ability to provide his audience with something unique. (8.25/10)

Iron Man 3 (2013) - Every bit as engaging, witty, and humorous, as it's visually spectacular and impressively action-packed, "Iron Man 3" never takes itself way too seriously, and has all the right ingredients for a cool, successful, and highly enjoyable superhero flick. (8.75/10)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Quick Reviews: 2013 Movies [PART 01]

Scary Movie 5 (2013) - Featuring probably the worst screen combo of 2013, namely Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, loads of painfully unfunny jokes,  and uninspired spoofs, "Scary Movie 5" is the bottom of the barrel of this tired  parody of a franchise. (2.50/10)

Beneath (2013) - Although it sounds like a lot of fun on paper, this creature feature has its own terribly unlikable characters as its worst enemies, hence, you care more about the man-eating fish that the humans. Otherwise, it provides some good gore. (4.00/10)

After Earth (2013) - The film looks fantastic, and the chemistry between Will and Jaden Smith is great, but it's the sluggish pacing, limited cast, and Shyamalan's bland direction that turn "After Earth" into a tedious sci-fi snoozefest, that is instantly forgettable. (4.50/10)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) - Sure, it has zero brain, but "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" is one of those type of 'silly fun' movies, that provides decent entertainment with its brisk pacing,  dynamic action sequences, and awesomely bloody witch kills. (5.75/10)

Warm Bodies (2013) - While, it could have been a little bit more exciting, especially in the first half, but "Warm Bodies" is still a fairly original take on the zombie genre, that actually balances horror, humor, and romance quite well, plus, it's visually pleasing to the eye. (6.25/10)

World War Z (2013) - It goes downhill as the story progresses, and the pacing is pretty uneven, but "World War Z" manages to make up for that with some decent thrills, and a couple of clever ideas, and also benefits from its main star Brad Pitt, who basically saves it. (6.50/10)

The Call (2013) - Yes, the climax is hardly that believable, and way too over-the-top, but apart from that "The Call" is an incredibly well-crafted and fairly intense thriller, that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. And Halle Berry shines in the lead role. (6.75/10)

Side Effects (2013) - It's a bit too moody for mass tastes, and certainly not one of the best efforts in Soderberg's career, "Side Effects" is nevertheless a smart and engaging thriller, full of unexpected twists and turns, that succeeds mainly due of its stellar cast. (7.00/10)

Evil Dead (2013) - Not only it doesn't hurt the classic original in any way, but the "Evil Dead" remake stands on its own, providing its anticipating audience with a heavy dose of ultra-gory gruesomeness, some brutally nasty death scenes, and a couple of good scares. (7.50/10)

The Conjuring (2013) - James Wan is hands down at the top of his game with "The Conjuring" - an old-fashioned, atmospheric, tastefully-crafted, and genuinely frightening creepfest, that can be easily considered one of the ten best horror movies of the past decade! (9.00/10)