117 posts categorized "Action/Adventure"

January 27, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel-and-gretel“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” could be a poster-movie for the exact type of gratuitously gun-heavy Hollywood flick that is being blamed for planting seeds of violence in young viewers. Bearing no resemblance to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale alluded to in its title, the R-rated movie is nothing more than an excuse for a series of barely connected fight and battle scenes than include numerous decapitations, exploding bodies, and plenty of guns being fired in the name of killing witches. Yawn. Writer-director Tommy Wirkola’s pitiful excuse for a script frequently makes continuity-breaking leaps that show no regard for the audience. Not even the least amount of disbelief suspension is maintained.

Most disconcerting is Jeremy Renner’s participation in a movie that sends his rising-star-career crashing down to a subterranean depth. Although set in medieval times, the movie is besieged with silly modern slang and weapons more befitting a 19th century spaghetti western. The Steampunk presentation is a travesty of clashing styles.

Renner and co-star Gemma Arterton play grown-up versions of the fabled kids that killed their candy-house captor, an evil witch who intended on eating them. Immune to witch spells for some mumbled reason, the bloodthirsty siblings travel between “shitty little towns” saving falsely accused witches, and killing off actual female practitioners of the dark arts.

A friendly CGI troll named Edward comes to Gretel’s rescue during a period when she is inexplicably separated from her badass brother. One-dimensional supporting efforts from Peter Stormare — as a slimy sheriff, and Famke Janssen — as the biggest and baddest witch of them all, just add insult to this awful film.

Rated R. 100 mins. (D-) (Zero Stars - out of five/no halves)

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January 21, 2013


The Last StandAfter watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lukewarm performance, you’ll hope that this bombastic exercise in gunplay is his last stand as an actor. Made up of composite cliché parts from various action flicks, “The Last Stand” is an oddly stilted affair. The former Governator plays Ray Owens, the badass sheriff of Sommerton Junction, a small boarder town that marks the final U.S. pass-through for escaped Mexican drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega). Cortez is on the run from Las Vegas FBI agents. With a female FBI agent hostage sitting in the passenger seat, Cortez hits speeds of over 200 mph in a stolen supercharged Corvette. The Chevrolet product placement couldn’t be any more obvious. The lawless speed-demon gets considerable advance road assistance from a gang of well-armed greasers led by Peter Stormare’s pathological killer Burrell.

Screenwriter Andrew Knauer doesn’t bother himself with too many continuity details regarding the staging for the film’s slow-to-arrive title climax on Sommerton’s main street. The movie reads as a puff-piece of pro-NRA propaganda. Guns and ammunition are fetishized. When a faceless baddie shows up in granny’s front room, she reaches into her handy knitting basket for the gun that will end his time on this planet.

Director Jee-woon Kim (“I Saw the Devil”) captures the fragmented eruptions of violence without giving a sufficient degree of character- illumination in the process. The effect is akin to watching a cartoon where you’re not familiar with the characters. Here’s one more mediocre movie ejected into the realm of January multiplex hell.

Rated R. 106 mins. (C-) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)

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January 13, 2013

The Baytown Outlaws

Baytown OutlawsConfirmation that January scrapes the bottom of the barrel for film releases, “The Baytown Outlaws” is as run-down a piece of cinematic tripe as you would expect. Checking in on the waning careers of Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria, newbie co-screenwriter/director Barry Battles does neither actor any favors. Also burned at the altar of filmic crap is Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Nanny McPhee”), who once seemed to have a bright future ahead.

A Tarantino-knock-off of the lowest order, “The Baytown Outlaws” announces its shoddy intentions with an opening blood bath sequence that is a study in bad taste. Good old boy Alabama redneck siblings McQueen (Travis Fimmel), Lincoln (Daniel Cudmore), and Brick Oodie (Clayne Crawford) dole out shotgun justice for local Sheriff Henry Millard (Andre Braugher). If they accidentally off the wrong bunch of lowlifes, so what? Enter slinky Celeste (Langoria) to bait the scuzzy bunch with $25,000 in bounty money them to extract her 17-year-old wheelchair bound (and mute) son Rob (Brodie-Sangster) from the clutches of her well defended drug kingpin ex Carlos (Thornton). Rob’s trust fund is about to come due on the boy’s 18th birthday. Killing Carlos is part of the assignment. Clichés surface like flies on manure. A fancy-pants ATF detective from Chicago rattles Sherriff Millard’s cage. The snotty Sherriff, in turn, spares no opportunity to insult and snub the Northern intruder.

The Oodie boys botch the kidnapping inasmuch as they leave Carlos alive to send his thugs after them. The story collapses into a chase-and-battle adventure that leave much blood smeared on various surfaces. Here is a movie that will last one week at your local cinema. Even that, is one week too long.

Rated R. 98 mins. (F) (Zero Stars - out of five/no halves)

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