REVIEW: Book of Eli

"Denzel's ability to kick ass and take names remains untarnished."

In a post apocalyptic future, one man travels due West on a mission to save mankind. Armed with his wits, weapons and a sacred book, he'll stop at nothing to insure his quest and it's safety.

It doesn't take much to determine that this film has a religious overtone about it (end of days, a lone man of faith carrying a special book, not to mention the name Eli), but the trailers would have to believe this is nothing more than another desolate look into our world's future which we've seen more than enough of already. I'm here to tell you that all is not as it seems and BOOK OF ELI is most definitely a welcome piece of thoughtful entertainment as well as one of the better uses of religion I've seen in quite some time.

There's not much more to the core of this story that what you've seen in the trailers or what I've thus far explained; that is, without saying too much. Some people have complained that the enigma surrounding the book wasn't complex enough or didn't pack the "end all, be all" punch people were expecting. I think the book and everything surrounding it was done just fine and had me nodding my head in approval when the dust settled. And rest assured that the ending provokes the need for a second viewing, and that in itself says something about the film right there.

Denzel Washington hasn't lost an ounce of potency when it comes to the action game, and carries himself well for a man his age (he's in his sixties but you'd never know it to look at him). I still find the admiration and respect I have for him ironic as I never liked him until FALLEN, which changed my whole point of view of him as a character and actor. Gary Oldman is always welcome as a villain and he too is still just as sharp as ever. Milla Kunis is looking hella hot (though it feels like she's there for that reason alone all too often) and keep your eyes peeled for a Dumbledore cameo that made me laugh out loud.

THE BOOK OF ELI isn't something that will change your life, but it's a damn fine flick considering some of the useless shit passing off as movies these days. The action was a feast for the adrenaline, the acting bang on and the story original enough to stand out. End of world flicks all kinda fall into the same loop when it comes to visuals, locals and the breakdown of society and it's scruples, so yes, you've seen similar setups but like I said, ELI does bring something worthwhile to the table and I certainly recommend it.

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REVIEW: Daybreakers

"I think I'd prefer the Matrix setup to that one."

The world in nearly all turned into vampires and humans are fast becoming an endangered species. With only a month's worth of blood left, vampires are trying to find a solution before they all turn into mindless monsters.

I was happy to see a vampire flick hit theaters that didn't have the world "Twilight" in it, and even more stoked by the fact it was rated R. Being an avid vampire fan I found myself intrigued by the concept of a world populated by vampires, but can't help but think this blood problem is a touch rudimentary and quite the plot hole. How the fuck do you let people just die out and not get serious about a solution until you have one month's worth left!? Come on now, instead of keeping people in the freezer maybe you should have been breeding them. It's not exactly rocket science and I find myself hard pressed to believe no of them could have thought of that.

The cast is a good seller here, with Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe. I dug Neill as a villain (he pales in comparison to Victor from the UNDERWORLD series though), but did feel his whole subplot with his daughter was completely useless and delivered dick all to the story. The brothers aspect of things worked, the rallying of humans not so much, but the enigma surrounding Dafoe was cool as was the way in which the final product got delivered.

DAYBREAKERS was a fresh look into a the world of vampires; not nearly on the same level as TRUE BLOOD but light years beyond the drama of TWILIGHT. This was also not as groundbreaking as 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, but I'm happy this story didn't get downsized and pawned off as a direct to DVD gamble like DARK DAYS (the sequel to 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) is going to be. Vampire fans will find something of value here, though it's nothing you'll rush out to buy when it hits video stores. Rest assured it's still a good time for horror fans.

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TRAILER: Macgruber

In the event some of you don't have any fucking clue as to what this is (and don't feel bad, I didn't until a few months ago), MACGURBER is a SNL skit/parody of the old school TV show MACGUYVER. There are a slew of shorts on YouTube if you feel the need to acquaint yourself with the source material, but other than that, this looks like it could go either way but it'll stay on my radar simply because it's an R rated romp and those tend to rub me the right way.

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TRAILER: Hot Tub Time Machine

I'm a serious fan of Craig Robinson, and for that reason alone I would watch this flick. John Cusack seems a bit out of place here but other than that I could see this being funny. It's nothing to rush out to theaters for but it looks like a solid way to entertain yourself over drinks on a weeknight.

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REVIEW: The Road

"Beware the rage of a desperate man."

The world has become a bitter husk of it's former self and humanity ain't looking so hot either. A man and his son face fear, hunger, cold and worse as they try to make it south to the coast.

One thing THE ROAD is not, is the "feel good" movie of the year. It's the end of the world and brother is it ever bleak. To say this is our darkest hour would be sheer understatement. We're not specifically told about our recipe for doom, but one has to imagine by the raining down of fire and what seems like a nuclear winter that someone somewhere pushed a button. And what we're told about Viggo, his son and wife pre-apocalypse is shown through (not overly happy) flashbacks.

The world's rotting gray corpse is captured quite vividly and gives off a distinct sense of danger. Though we're not left with a barren wasteland quite yet, I was especially creeped out by the trees as they randomly fell down dead all around them. The lack of animal life was a nice touch, heightened by the discovery of the beetle which was cool but didn't seem to phase them. The concept of cannibalism in dire straights won't come as a shock, but it seemed like they couldn't decide whether or not to play it up or down. Also this film poses a good many religious questions and tosses around the idea of suicide like it's proper table etiquette.

Viggo's a fantastic actor and made his plight more than believable (dude looks like he starved himself for a month before filming started). The kid annoyed the hell out of me, if he wasn't whining he was finding some other way to be completely and utterly useless. And calling Viggo "papa" irked me, call him dad jackass, it sounds ridiculous when you say "papa" every five minutes. There were a couple cameos to watch out for (Guy Pierce and Robert Duvall) but they're characters weren't substantial even though there was reason to be.

THE ROAD has a rigid tone that one can easily judge from the trailer. Usually with these films there is a goal beyond survival and obstacles beyond the obvious standing between "them" and "it" (take THE BOOK OF ELI for example). This isn't one of those films however, and if you go in looking for an adventure per say, you may find yourself left wanting. There is an emotional journey here, but many of the important questions remain unanswered and things come to a close. I'm alright with that on some levels, but I would have liked to know a bit more. Either way, you can wait for this baby to hit DVD and Blu-ray.

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REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes

"You couldn't ask for a better representation of Holmes."

A villain with supernatural powers at his disposal threatens the very foundation of London, leaving only the legendary Sherlock Holmes and his trusted partner Watson to save the day.

A must admit that upon hearing Guy Ritchie was set to direct a new incarnation of SHERLOCK HOLMES, I was as intrigued as I was confused. I'm a fan of Ritchie, SNATCH being one of my all time favorite movies, but it still felt a touch out of place. Thankfully Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law put on one hell of show as they tackle this story a lot like Christopher Nolan approached BATMAN BEGINS. A remarkable amount of thought, wit and ruse went into the stew pot here and the result is a dish your pallet will treasure.

Robert Downey Jr. is a brilliant method actor, and it's my distinct pleasure to assess him so. He hit the nail on the head with Tony Stark, making us believe beyond the shadow of a doubt he was destined for the role. The very same can be said about his portrayal of the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes. I'm not a big fan of Jude Law but there's no denying the uncanny chemistry between the he and Jr. throughout the film. And their quip banter is as funny as it is clever.

Blackwood was a fascinating villain and the use of supernatural/magical elements added just the right tone of darkness to the film. London looked as dirty, gloomy and dead as it should have and was captured wondrously. The action scenes were well done (I loved the pre-fight deductions), and the sets, the bridge especially, created the perfect surroundings for a final battle. I was also very happy with the Moriarty sub-plot and expect big things to come of it in the future.

SHERLOCK HOLMES was everything I hoped it would be and more. The detective side of this tale was vast, thought provoking and unbelievably engrossing. The new Batman films have touched on these principles, but Sherlock took it to the next level and surely earns his "greatest detective" title in spades. The astute attention to detail and obvious love of the source material clearly played a vital in the final product as everyone involved made the best of their individual parts. All in all this one of the best films of 2009 and deserves praise.

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TRAILER: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Well, here's yet another contender trying to take poor Harry Potter's place when his franchise finally comes to an end. I love Fantasy as much as the next guy or gal, but PG Fantasy is never going to fill the hunger gap for me. This might be watchable, and only because Sean Bean's in it, but if want TRUE fantasy, keep your eyes peeled for Sean Bean in George R.R. Martin's A GAME OF THRONES which will be hitting HBO very soon. In the meantime, LEGEND OF THE SEEKER is pretty damn good as well.

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TRAILER: Tekken

I'm all for martial arts tournaments, some of my favorite martial arts flicks revolve around them after all. TEKKEN looks interesting, of course I was never into the game (MORTAL KOMBAT was my game), but the animated flick was noteworthy and a good time. The only problem with flicks like this one come about in the way of "MORTAL KOMBAT" syndrome, meaning there's far too many characters to follow and thus they all become throwaway efforts. The good news is, this looks like a bad ass fighting flick that should wet the appetite of action fans and finally rid us of that "STREET FIGHTER: LEGEND OF CHUN LI" bad taste in our mouths.

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REVIEW: Universal Soldier Regeneration

"It only hurts when I breathe Doc..."

When the Universal Soldier project goes kaput, the doctor behind it hires himself out the highest bidder giving a group of terrorists the weapon they need to strike back at the world. Desperate, the military re-commission good ol Van Damme.

Beyond the obvious nostalgic properties (being an avid fan of the original UNIVERSAL SOLDIER), I wasn't expecting a hell of a lot from this one. Since THE EXPENDABLES was green lit and started overloading male testosterone levels worldwide, guys like Van Damme and Dolph Lungren have come out to play a little more vigorously and THAT was what I was expecting here. Sadly, this isn't what I ended up with.

Don't get me wrong, action-wise this baby was well stocked and put foot to ass rather well. The fight choreography was tight on all sides and these boys gave it for the camera. New comer Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski tore up the screen as our main baddie, but what surprised the hell out of me (and royally chaffed my nut sack) was the piss poor efforts from JCVD and Dolph. First off, Van Damme didn't really have a presence in the film until about the forty-five minute to an hour mark, and Dolph, well shit, he had about a handful of words spoken and something like five whole minutes of screen time. His character was overflowing with eccentricity in the first flick, but God knows where the hell that went because it sure was MIA this time around.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER REGENERATION didn't fail as a straight to DVD action flick, on that end it WAS entertaining and shinned a hell of a lot brighter than anything since other than the original. Where it failed for me, was that it was supposed to be a UNIVERSAL SOLDIER flick reuniting the original hero and nemesis who destined to beat the living be-Jesus out each other and raise a little hell. If THAT is what you're looking for, be warned, but if you're clocking in for an action round up that fares a bit better than most, suit up and enjoy the ride. All in all (other than the money), I just don't see why JCVD or Dolph bothered here, because they're involvement was just plain pathetic.

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REVIEW: Avatar

"I told you, I'm not wearing one of those gay looking hats."

After the death of his brother, an ex-marine finds himself in a unique position as he undertakes a mission on the moon of Pandora to infiltrate a tribe of natives in hopes of gaining their trust.

This flick has been amass with speculation, gossip and some harsh criticism over the past few months. The fans loved it, but the critics picked it apart. James Cameron has been a distinct visionary in the world of film for years, and considering the man is responsible for the two highest grossing films of all time (TITANIC being number one and now AVATAR being number two), it's my opinion that we should give the man some credit. AVATAR is certainly worthy of it's number two slot and is a noteworthy addition the Cameron's legacy.

Visually, this film will take your breath away (I swear to God I was ready to punch the jackass behind me as he mumbled "amazing" once every five or ten minutes). The 3-D technology used here is mind boggling, and a far cry from the old school stuff of yesterday. Seeing this one in the theater is a must, IMAX the shit out it if you can, because although the Blu-ray will no doubt come with 3-D glasses, I can say with absolute certainty that "home 3-D" is severely lacking. The landscapes were surreal, with floating islands, waterfalls, glowing plant life and bad ass creatures.

Sam Worthington was bang on as Jake. Some peeps are cutting him up, but don't buy into it, he's got the making of a fine action star and I'm looking forward to him tearing a piece out of Godly ass in the upcoming CLASH OF THE TITANS remake. The characters were well done (loved the Sigourney Weaver action), and though there are whispers of the dialogue and villain being a touch generic, I saw no problem in either category. Sure, the story consisted of "I know exactly what's gonna happen there" moments, but who the fuck cares as it was well done and entertaining to boot. You can't ask for much more these days.

AVATAR might not be for everyone as there is a distinct Fantasy/Sci-Fi element that some people may find a bit overwhelming and hard to swallow. The action junkies will enjoy the fight scenes, nearly everyone will enjoy the plush visuals and insane 3-D, and Cameron fans won't go away disappointed by his latest efforts. I'm not entirely sure where they can go with this one trilogy-wise (Cameron boated that "it was always envisioned to be a trilogy", right, what the hell isn't these days), but if they put as much work and detail into the next ones as they did this one I'll be there opening night.

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TRAILER: Sex and the City 2

I'm gonna be honest here, considering how grandiose a clusterfuck the first SEX AND THE CITY movie was to get moving, I just don't see the need for another. That said, these washed up broads ain't getting much else in the way of paychecks so I guess we can tack this one up to green eyed monster. Women love these gals and I'm not gonna begrudge them they're sequel, but this trailer isn't exactly in-sighting a riot in my pants. Carrie and the girls in Egypt? Okay, if you say so. But I must add that these gals' sex appeal is fast becoming a hard sell.

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TRAILER: The Karate Kid

I've been against this flick from jump street for more than obvious reasons, but mostly because the original is a timeless classic in my mind and one that can never be topped. Yet, here we are and the trailer is finally upon us. This thing feels like FAST AND THE FURIOUS TOKYO DRIFT, being that it's leeching off a solid premise with a mediocre to shitstorm result. This wouldn't be a bad flick if I was now the same age I was when I first discovered the original, and of course if the original didn't exist. It does exist however, and I can't go back in time so naturally this trailer makes me want to kill someone.

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REVIEW: Something, Something, Something Dark Side

"Sadly, there's really nothing to see here."

Peter shares his take on Lucas’ classic film THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. WARNING: some of the following scenes may greatly differ from the original…but you know, in a funny way.

I’ve been a loyal FAMILY GUY fan from day one, and though I feel that some episodes lately are reaching deep into left field for laughs, I still maintain that I’m a solid fan of the series. I watched the first STAR WARS presentation (BLUE HARVEST) and felt the same way then as I did during SOMETHING, SOMETHING, SOMETHING DARKSIDE: underwhelmed. For a spoof that had so much potential, it just doesn’t go the distance for me. If this had been the first attempt at such a thing it would be different, but it isn’t and ends up feeling tired.

We all know the STAR WARS franchise up, down, back, forth and sideways by now, and with countless winks and nods in this series’ direction nearly every time you sit down to watch TV, the biggest question on my mind about these flicks was WHY!? And I answer, MONEY of course. This is yet another reason I disliked this weak incarnation. I have a strong distaste for George Lucas and for anything that puts another dime in his pocket (of which I’m sure this did aplenty). The only thing worse than seeing this twice now is knowing there are four more to come.

Now as far as the writing goes, the FAMILY GUY schtick we all know and love was in attendance but the jokes never took it to the next level in my opinion. I laughed (literally) a couple times, and I owe that to Stewie. I’ve always found the added F-bombs and such feel out of place when you hear them, regardless of which character is using them. These “feature film” episodes sprinkle them in for shock value but we’re past that now and as a result, they feel a touch forced and awkward. This baby looks and sounds great in HD, but FAMILY GUY is hardly necessary on Blu-ray.

SOMETHING, SOMETHING, SOMETHING, DARKSIDE was coming whether we wanted it or not (as is Episode VI: WE HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS), and personally I don’t think you’re missing much here if this flick slips through your fingers. STAR WARS fanatics who love FAMILY GUY will be in heaven, but for those of you on the fence I dare say this is mediocre fun at best. I love Peter and the gang as much as the next guy or gal, but these spoofed up parodies feel like by the number money gimmicks to me, which sucks the fun factor out of them pretty quick. Somewhere Lucas is building castles out of money and burning them to spite us.

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REVIEW: The Marine 2

"WWE Studios continues to push the action envelope."

A marine back home after a rough mission, joins his wife at her boss’ exotic resort for a grand opening party. The locals aren’t too fond of Easterners invading their paradise however, and stage a coup to get some tribute and send a violent message.

I’m a fan of WWE productions, they were a gamble at first glance but have come a long way and continue to deliver solid action flicks. Being a John Cena fan, THE MARINE (as well as 9 Rounds) was a lot of fun for me. THE MARINE 2 is WWE’s first sequel (with the exception of BEHIND ENEMY LINES COLUMBIA which was another notch in a series not originally by WWE), and to quite honest, comes to me as a bit of a shock considering there is plenty of fresh ways for them to continue in the film universe. THE MARINE 2 dropped Cena for Ted Dibiase Jr. but still managed to pull off a watchable action flick.

Dibiase is known in the WWE for being a heel, and most notably one of Randy Orton’s minions, but surprisingly enough his presence on screen is noteworthy enough as a lone wolf hero protagonist. Making his character a tough as nails, not too talkative type was smart for a guy with no acting background, but even still, his lines weren’t the stuff cheese legend that I assumed they would be. The acting here was decent and the story pretty good (not as fresh as its predecessor but still good). I also dug Dibiase’s “solid snake” tactics rather than the one man army RAMBO shit we usually see in these situations.

Where this film exceeded my expectations the most was cinematography. This flick looked phenomenal, the HD made the majestic locales look like a small piece of heaven. You’d never think this was a WWE STUDIOS production, and THAT is one of the major elements used to make these films stand out. This one puts a bit more emphasis on action with little to no comic relief (as many have before this), and though I enjoy the comedic moments (like Robert Patrick‘s character in THE MARINE) I can’t complain here as there’s nothing wrong with straight out action either.

THE MARINE 2 is exactly what I thought it would be as far as straight to DVD action sequels are concerned, but thankfully WWE STUDIOS put just enough finesse into it to make me feel good about having watched it. I had zero expectations going in, but ended up liking the ride far more than I expected. If you’re a fan of the WWE and its superstars these flicks are double to fun for being able to catch these boys in action, but if you’re not into the WWE scene and have no idea who guys like Ted Dibiase or John Cena are, you may not appreciate these films as much. Either way, there are far worse things you could be watching.


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TRAILER: The A-Team

I'm no fan of the "let's remake every fucking popular show to ever hit TV" trend, but THE A-TEAM was one of my favorite shows growing up and so when I heard this was happening I was on the fence but a little excited. Of course when I got wind that Liam Neeson was playing Hannibal and Bradley Cooper was would be Face, that changed everything. Now this first teaser is what I expected and definitely a safe route to take if they wanna invoke some nostalgia, so here's hoping the full trailer is as impressive.

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TRAILER: Kick-Ass

The Con footage was touch and go, it looked cool but being that it wasn't a trailer it was to hard to judge. This time around the action is still fantastic and the laughs not as cheesy as they could be. If you can get past the idea of McLovin being able to kick your ass (or getting a severe beat down by a cute little girl), then you should have no trouble enjoying what KICK ASS has to offer. I'm looking forward to it.

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REVIEW: Moon

"An emotional roller coaster ride that was well worth the wait!"

With only two weeks to go, Lunar Industries’ astronaut Sam Bell is ready to head back to Earth to his wife and daughter after a long three year haul on the moon but something just isn’t right, and an accident on the moon’s surface starts a chain of events that will change everything.

Let me start by saying that MOON was one of those “released in select city” deals when it hit theaters and my city wasn’t selected. I love space films, especially films that deal with real world scenarios that could happen like ARMAGEDDON, SOLARIS and first half of SUNSHINE. MOON felt like a compelling psychological thriller from the trailers and that’s one hundred percent the way I roll. This film deserves far more praise than it got, and I want to believe the select city angle is why more people weren’t raving about this film as one of the summer’s best. This film is easily one of my top five favorites of 2009.

I’m big fan of Sam Rockwell, his underrated gem CHOKE was pure genius and executed in so brilliant a fashion that you just have to give the man his due praise. And this time around is no different. Rockwell’s performance is astounding, backed by a compellingly vivid storyline that hit me on just about every emotional level possible. As you can well imagine, this is one of those films where I can’t divulge much in the way of details without spoiling it, but suffice to say the story won’t disappoint. I also have nothing but love for Kevin Spacey who lends his voice for the helpful android Gerty.

Much like SOLARIS, this journey does play with your mind. I’ve always admired astronauts, and couldn’t imagine being marooned on the moon (or anywhere) for three years without human contact. The only thing darker than the far side of the moon is the human mind. We don’t need monsters or chest bursting aliens to drive us insane, as the mere THOUGHT of them being out there is enough to test even the most courageous soul’s resolve. Space and the moon itself look gorgeous in HD, combined with a haunting score that sucks you into Sam’s plight rather quickly. I love a film that makes you feel like you’re there, and this does exactly that.

MOON is everything I expected it to be and more. The backdrop of Earth’s fossil fuel being harvested from the moon was a smart subplot to start from, and the truck doesn’t stop there. This is one ride I won’t soon forget, much like DISTRICT 9. MOON felt a bit more real of course, and really took hold of me emotionally the same way I AM LEGEND did when it comes to dealing with isolation. But as I mentioned before, SOLARIS is the film I would compare this to the most, so if you liked George Clooney’s adventure through space you’ll love seeing Sam through his.

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