123 posts categorized "Action/Adventure"

January 08, 2013

THE IMPOSSIBLE

The ImpossibleYet one more example of a real-life story someone thought would “make a great movie,” “The Impossible” is as flat and predictable as they come. The story is based on one family’s precarious survival of the Christmas Day, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which was caused by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake.

The only thing the film has to offer — and it is no small contribution — is its impressive special effects that put the audience right in the middle of Mother Nature’s most destructive wrath. The tsunami sequences are astounding, and not for the weak or elderly. This is big screen spectacle like you’ve not seen before. Even Clint Eastwood’s immersive treatment of the same devastating event in his 2010 film “Hereafter,” pales by comparison.

Colesmithey.com

Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts play a British couple — Henry and Maria — who are on holiday at a beach resort hotel in Thailand. Oblivious to the warning signals of the approaching wall of water, the family is broadsided by the catastrophe that separates the family in the blink of an eye. The badly wounded Maria searches with her oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) for the rest of their family. Henry, in the meantime, carries out his own desperate attempt to reunite with his family.

Colesmithey.com

Although the ensemble performances are solid, the story is simple to a fault. Not every dramatic real-life story can be turned into a great or even good movie. “The Impossible” falls somewhere below mediocre.

Rated PG13. 107 mins.

2 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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January 07, 2013

JACK REACHER

Jack ReacherFans of Lee Childs’s hugely popular detective novels will have a tough time accepting the 5’ 7” Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, a hulking six-foot-five freelance investigator/enforcer with "hands the size of frozen turkeys.” Inversely, the fact of Tom Cruise’s ownership of the cinema franchise won’t provide an easy time for movie-inspired newcomers to the books. Mitigating the vast physical differences between the books’ stoic coffee-swilling protagonist with Cruise’s modest slow-burn interpretation is a bridge too far. Better casting options could easily have come from Liam Neeson, Vincent D.Onofio (my personal choice for the role), or Tim Robbins.

Colesmithey.com

That said, “Jack Reacher” is a perfectly competent popcorn movie adaptation insofar as Hollywood action thrillers go. Screenwriter/ director Christopher McQuarrie (“The Way of the Gun”) strikes a respectable balance between gut-wrenching action and built-in narrative suspense. One car-chase scene in particular turns up the heat on a well-worn action movie device. McQuarrie is slated to direct Cruise’s next “Mission: Impossible” installment — due out in 2015.

Colesmithey.com

Based on the Lee Childs novel “One Shot,” the story revolves around Jack Reacher’s efforts to solve a crime involving James Barr (Joseph Sikora, a tweaky military-trained sniper accused of taking out a group of civilians — think the opening sequence of “Dirty Harry.” Rosamund Pike is acceptable if not thoroughly engaging as Helen, the attorney daughter to Rodin, the local D.A. (Richard Jenkins). Intrigue and betrayal rub together as Reacher is led to a confrontation with Werner Herzog scene-stealing baddie, known only as The Zec. Robert Duvall brings his reliable acting skills to bear as Cash, a rifle-range owner with his own bag of tricks.

Colesmithey.com

So long as you accept that the twain will never meet between the film and book versions of Jack Reacher, you should be able to enjoy each exclusively if not necessarily as a compliment to one another.

Rated PG-13. 130 mins.

3 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

November 23, 2012

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING

Universal_soldier_day_of_reckoningIncomprehensible. If you are not familiar with the “Universal Soldier” franchise, which began in 1992, nothing in this fourth installment will make much sense, if any. And even if you are a fully committed fan of the series, “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” will register as nothing more than a guilty pleasure — and probably much less. Even then, that’s assuming you derive amusement from nearly two hours of unsupported sequences of outlandish violence.

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The amiably campy sci-fi groundwork laid out by director Roland Emmerich for the original got squandered by the two straight-to-video dogs that followed — “Universal Soldier: The Return” (1999) and "Universal Soldier: Regeneration” (2009). Here the ongoing saga of genetically modified super-soldiers hits its Waterloo with “Day of Reckoning,” a horror-bent piece of exploitation cinema without a strand of humor in its disastrous make-up.

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Looking like Ben Affleck’s evil no-talent twin, Scott Adkins plays his mechanically charged character John like an animatronic mannequin. After witnessing his wife and daughter being brutally murdered by masked assassins in his living room, John awakens in a hospital room sick for revenge. This time, original "Universal Soldier" hero Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of the killers — get it? Like in "Terminator 2"! when Arnold comes back as a good cyb…never mind. This time the Belgian action star is sporting a baldhead, which causes him to mimic Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz from "Apocalypse Now.” Indeed, the film’s mano a mano climax between John and Van Damme’s Luc Deveraux echoes the showdown between Captain Willard and Colonel Kurtz in Coppola’s 1979 masterpiece.

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Dolph Lundgren makes an obligatory appearance reenergizing his franchise role as Andrew Scott, a red-beret-wearing cult leader baddie whose weapon of choice is a machete. Gory fight scenes involving an array of weapons and random objects ensue. An intense car chase scene emulates the adrenaline rush you might experience in a real movie, which this isn’t. Director John Hyams’s competent direction can’t compensate for the film’s by-committee travesty of a script. Waste your time and money if you must.

Rated R. 114 mins. 

1 Star

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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