TRAILER: A Nightmare on Elm Street

After watching this trailer I can honestly say that I believe Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes have another hit on their hands, one that reminds me of their TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE effort. The atmosphere is there, the intensity is there and Freddy looks scary as hell (I also noticed they changed his voice which is also very good). I can't wait for this one.

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TRAILER: The Karate Kid

I'll give this kid some credit, he does look like he's training pretty hard here but as an avid fan of the original I'm still not buying it. This flick will only appeal to the newer generation who don't idolize the ones that came before this. For the rest of us, we just have to grit out teeth and look the other way until this passes.

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REVIEW: Sorority Row

"Not too bad...considering."

A group of sorority sisters put together the ultimate prank to show up an ex-boyfriend, but the whole thing goes south and they end up killing one of their own. Sworn to secrecy they try to make it through graduation, but as always, someone knows about it and decides to kill them one by one.

It would be all too easy to pick apart SORORITY ROW piece by piece, overanalysing the shit out of it and giving it a poor review but I’m afraid I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this killing spree a little more than I’d anticipated. Sure, there are plenty of worthy mentions when it comes to originality and such, but in a world where R rated horror is becoming scarce, I feel the need to defend the films that are still willing to go the distance and give us horror fans what we want to see. On that note, this IS what I want to see and though far from perfect, this flick was definitely good times.

Maybe it’s the man’s man in me, but first and foremost this flick gets an A+ in the hottie department because most of the main chicks (as well as the countless party girls) were hella hot! There was lots of fantastic skin shots and naked flesh to be seen, despite not really giving up the ones I really wanted to see, but that’s okay because the scenery was worth it. There was also no shortage of the red stuff and surprisingly enough the kills were pretty decent (which has to count for something these days). Yeah, so it was another “the killer is everywhere” deal, but at least he was good at his job.

There were two big letdowns here; the first one’s painfully obvious being that this thing is an utter and complete rehash of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (nearly down to the letter), which hurts the film on the surface but for the most part didn’t ruin the ride. The second thing is what killed me (pun intended), and that of course was the revealing of the killer and the ridiculous reasoning behind it all which led to a loathsome ending that made me want to punch someone. And no, the even dumber cliff hanger didn’t help the situation. That said, I knew it wouldn’t end well so it softened the blow.

SORORITY ROW is a worthwhile piece of old school genre horror and like I said, I loved that. The cast played through it well enough and were a treasure trove of hotness for the eyes. I especially dug Briana Evigan (S.DARKO) but was amazingly let down by how “plain” Bruce Willis’ daughter looked up in here. But the icing on the cake for me was Carrie Fisher showing up as a bad ass, shot gun wielding, F-bomb throwing Mrs. Crenshaw. Her presence alone is worth the price of admission. The mood, tension and overall effects weren’t too shabby either (the house fire stood out), so if you can wrap your mind around the fact you’ve already seen this scenario play out before and we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel here, I’m sure you can appreciate this one for what it is. I did.

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REVIEW: Planet Hulk

"The Hulk as a Gladiator...nuff said."

Earth's heroes are left with no choice but to propel Bruce Banner into space and as far from Earth as possible fearing that the Hulk's devastating power is just too large a risk. Marooned on a strange new world, the Hulk is now a slave who must fight as a Gladiator to survive.

I didn't read the comic book series for PLANET HULK, but I did read the sequel WORLD WAR HULK and was instantly drawn in by this insanely cool storyline. So when I heard they were making an animated feature about the first one I was automatically excited and couldn't wait to see it. I was by no means disappointed with this film, and despite the rather usual gladiator setup, this was pure entertainment from start to finish.

One of the smartest things Marvel did here was enable the Hulk to talk fluently as Bruce Banner does by way of an implant given to him by his captors. This allowed the Hulk to become a three dimensional character for a change instead of just a monster. Watching him rip his enemies to pieces was a hell of a good time, and despite knowing full well how it would end, I couldn't get enough of it. Marvel and DC have been getting better and better at the animation game and what's even better is that this time around the run time (an hour and a half) actually felt like a feature length film to boot!

PLANET HULK is another triumph for Marvel and I can only hope and pray that WORLD WAR HULK is on the horizon. The voice talent was also top notch (as always) and I couldn't help but grin when I heard the voice of Liam O'Brien from the recent DARKSIDERS game. I'm still not sure how the whole Disney takeover is going to affect these films in the not so distant future, but again, I can only hope and pray they don't lose any of their recent appeal, especially considering how well these flicks have matured. It would be a shame to see them go backward now.

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REVIEW: Edge of Darkness

"It's great to see Mel back in action."

Homicide detective Thomas Craven is tossed over the deep end when his daughter is gunned down on his front step and dies in his arms. His quest for vengeance and answers leads him down a road filled with government cover ups and corruption.

Mel took a rather long break from feature films and to say that his presence was missed would be an understatement. Good guy, bad guy or anti hero with an edge, Mel is always fun to watch on screen and I'm happy to report his genuine presence has lost none of it's intensity. EDGE OF DARKNESS rekindles the rage found in Mel's character from THE PATRIOT with a touch of LETHAL WEAPON and PAYBACK to sweeten the deal. The result being a driven hard ass who you most definitely don't want to fuck with and I couldn't have been happier to see it.

The story here is rather intriguing, though I feel it best to warn you that this is not Mel Gibson's TAKEN as the trailer might have you believe, instead what we have here is a layered government thriller that takes it's time while revealing the details. If you know this going in you'll love it, if you're expecting a non-stop action vehicle you might be somewhat disappointed. Even so, Mel's character is pure gold when it comes to ass kicking so when the action is there, it's REALLY there so you won't be disappointed for long. I was thankful for the hard R rating as it helped immensely with the realism, especially when it came down to the government end of things.

EDGE OF DARKNESS is a return vehicle Mel can be proud of. It wasn't perfect, there were a couple times where I felt the story dragged but it was nowhere near enough to hurt the film. The cast was great, but I can't help but wonder how much better Jedburgh's character would have been had Robert De Niro not jumped ship on this project in it's early stages. Still, they made it work without him and the film still held it's own in my opinion. I wasn't a hundred percent sold on the ending, not because it was bad but simply because I didn't like where it went. This was one of the better government/conspiracy theory thrillers I've seen in a long while and I'm anxiously looking forward to Mel's next project.

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BLU RAY: The Bourne Ultimatum

"I'd say they saved the best for last, but this is my least favorite of the three."

Jason Bourne is back for round three of kicking ass and taking names. Still trying to fill in some of the blanks surrounding his original life, Bourne is once again pulled into the thick of things by the government who’re still adding more deaths to his tab.

The first two Bourne flicks had be by the balls and begging for more, but I’ll be honest about my initial feelings toward ULTIMATUM when I first caught the trailer which were “Haven’t we danced this dance already…twice?” The first two films had two distinct hooks to draw us in; the first being that Bourne had no clue who in hell he was or what the F was going on and two, they didn’t leave his ass be and to make matters worse killed his woman in the process. Those two pitches alone sold me and had my ass in the theater opening night. I did see ULTIMATUM in theaters, and though I didn’t rush out to see it with raging enthusiasm I still enjoyed the ride quite a bit.

The story is by no means poor this time around, but it was here I started to see the pattern most novels fall into when they use the same character over and over (ie: Jack Ryan, Alex Cross). This is not to say there’s no room for this approach, but if you want to keep the audience connected to these characters you have to keep raising the bar. Bourne is a phenomenal character, I love the guy and nothing makes me happier than watching him kick the Bejesus out of everyone in sight, but this time around we got more of the same; bent government agents, more super soldiers killing people and poor Bourne getting the blame. This is still entertaining as hell, just not as original as the first two.

Can’t complain about the cast though, Damon is nothing short of the man as Jason Bourne, a driven, sympathetic hero you totally want to see win no matter what he has to do to overcome the bad guys. Joan Allen returns as Pamela Landy who’s now seen the light and is on Bourne’s side (thankfully). David Strathairn can’t hold a candle to Brian Cox, but I did like the addition of underrated martial arts master Scott Adkins and what I wouldn’t give to have seen him and Bourne fight on equal terms.

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM was not the best of the series, but what it lacked in overall originality it made up for in great writing, solid acting, intensity, government intrigue and fast paced action. I barely even noticed the shaky cam stuff this time around, and was again in awe of the smooth transfer onto Blu-ray. The only thing that really pisses me off is that Hollywood is now planning on rebooting this franchise (have they no f*cking shame!?), which means more Bourne but your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what capacity. I was comfortable with a Bourne 4 somewhere down the road, and am ultimately saddened by the idea of seeing this series born again without Damon.

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TRAILER: The Last Airbender

Visually this thing looks amazing. Conceptually this thing looks amazing. Whether or not Shyamalan can capitalize and make this work remains to be seen. People love to give him shit, but I know he's got a couple more goodies left in him. Let's hope this is one of them.

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TRAILER: Get Him to the Greek

Now aside from the disturbing musical puppet show I really dug FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, and this flick looks like it could be a direct sequel featuring Jonah Hill and the crazy British dude. I'm totally feeling this movie, it won't win any awards or shatter any box office records but I'm pretty sure it'll make me laugh.

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GAME TRAILER: God of War 3

There hasn't been much in the way of trailers for this title (game play videos aside), but if I had to sum this up in one word it would be INTENSE. I loved the first GOD OF WAR and sadly never had the time to finish the second (though I'm going to before I beat 3), and although I won't readily get to it next month due to FINAL FANTASY XIII being released a week prior, I will get to it and it does look awesome.

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TRAILER: Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

This international trailer is much meatier than the teaser we saw a few weeks back. I still haven't watched the original, but it doesn't take a genius to see what's going on here and I like it. With Michael Douglas bringing his A game and Shia going head to head with the big man, I think Oliver Stone might have a winner here.

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TRAILER: Kick Ass

I have abnormally high hopes for this flick, mainly because it just keeps getting better and better every time I see more of it. I have no doubt this movie WILL kick ass and I for one will be sitting anxiously in the theater opening night.

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TRAILER: Cop Out

I'll admit, this flick looked overly ridiculous to me at first glance and then I watched this R rated trailer (not to mention this was a reminder that Kevin Smith wrote it, which I'd clearly forgotten) and it changed my entire view. I mean where else will you see a grown man punch a kid in the nuts? And the fact that Bruce Willis is a party to this kind of behavior makes this film a must see.

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BLU RAY: Mystic River

"I'm not an avid fan of Clint Eastwood, but this was worthy of praise."

Three childhood friends, Jimmy, Dave and Sean, who have drifted apart over the years, are reunited under horrible circumstances when Jimmy’s daughter is brutally murdered. With Dave now a suspect, Sean (now a cop) must hurry before Jimmy goes looking for blood.

Where Clint Eastwood failed to impress me as a “still hanging on to the dream” actor over the past couple decades, he’s managed to wow me as a director. Sure, some of his films aren’t exactly my style (CHANGELING, MILLION DOLLAR BABY), but I can’t and won’t deny his astute eye for detail and the ability to capture a grand tale on film. This was my first viewing of MYSTIC RIVER and like Clint’s recent GRAN TORINO, I have to say this film (thought not perfect) is most certainly a triumph.

Of the many accolades I can give Clint, his best power seems to be in the amassing of powerful, larger than life casts. Sean Penn is mesmerizing and gives us a character with pristine depth, flaws and a father’s drive to do what most of us wished we could do in a similar situation. I love movies that make heroes, villains or martyrs out of scorned fathers because there is no truer depiction of love in this world than that of parents for their children (something Clint must feel close to as this is not the only film he’s done that centers around this premise). Tim Robbins brings me back to JACOB'S LADDER with his performance and is equally as brilliant as Penn (ARLINGTON ROAD is still my favorite Robbins flick).

My only real complaint here is that the story is a mashed compilation of films I’ve seen before, good ones mind you, but the similarities are too obvious to discard. I love me some Kevin Bacon, and he’s the place to start with the comparisons as he was also in the film SLEEPERS who’s subtext is very much the same. There’s also a little SUMMER OF SAM in here, but that is my personal observation and may or may not hit the rest of you the same way. I loved the story either way, and despite Eastwood’s knack for having a film drag on, this film was well paced and never left you hanging for long.

MYSTIC RIVER is a solid drama with just the right amount of action. This will be harder to watch for parents, and some people may not totally agree with the ending (I’m cool with it) as it’s clearly debatable on an ethical level. You can’t ask for a better group of actors though, and the emotion pumping through this story is enough to get anyone’s heart racing. Eastwood knows how to make a movie and it’s no surprise that cast seem to flock to him when he’s in front of the camera. If you have yet to see this movie, by all means go out and get it, it may not have a lot of replay value but like me, you’ll appreciate having sat down to watch it.

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GAME TRAILER: Heavy Rain

What attracted me to this game was the fact that it's like you're actually playing the movie SEVEN, rather than a game. I love good old school serial killer romp that's played out like PHANTASMAGORIA and PUZZLE OF FLESH. The flip side is that you're playing a James Patterson novel if that's the way you wanna view it. Either way, looks like a good time to me and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

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TRAILER: The People vs. George Lucas

This trailer isn't nearly as exciting as the Con footage I saw a few months back, but I've been looking forward to this for two reasons: One, I fucking HATE George Lucas and his quest to milk every penny possible from the STAR WARS films and Two, this film features a four panel comic strip written and conceived by yours truly that the director found so funny he just had to add it.

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GAME TRAILER: Bioshock 2

Visually this thing looks fantastic, but because I didn't play the first one (which I've heard nothing but great things about mind you), I have no idea what to think as far as storyline appeal goes. Many people are raving about this game and I'm sure it's going to be good, but with March on the horizon, I have FINAL FANTASY on the brain.

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BLU RAY: Magnolia

"I hope I never see the day when it rains frogs."

Several individual characters (some connected, others not) question themselves and their search for love, happiness and forgiveness as life (and the past) takes them down the road less traveled.

I’ve mentioned before how sometimes movies can have an impact on the way we see things or live our lives, and MAGNOLIA is one such film. There’s a lot going on here in a “if a tree falls in the middle of the woods” or “everything happens for a reason” sort of way. This isn’t one of those films you sit avidly through, mindlessly shoveling popcorn into your mouth, quite the opposite in fact. This is a thought provoking piece of modern brilliance that requires multiple sittings to take it all in. Personally, I’m all for films like this one and enjoyed myself quite a bit.

The story plays out as a “ménage a many” with interweaving tales featuring a spicy set of characters that unfold in a CRASH-like fashion. Now I used CRASH merely as a way to describe the style, but rest assured not all characters cross paths with one another or even end up with a happy ending. That’s where I dig this flick the most, as these characters are hauntingly accurate when it comes to portraying everyday people lost in the grind and I couldn’t help but sympathize with just about all of them. Some stories are better than others of course, but all in all they work well within this three hour window.

The cast are on fire here; William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and of course the man himself, Tom Cruise. The real treat is catching these fine actors and actresses in roles unlike their norm (Macy and Reilly especially). Tom Cruise was by far my favorite as the womanizing tamer of the…well, you know the rest. His passion here is intense and the character as brilliant as he is sympathetic. My favorite line of the film come from Cruise as he stares menacingly at the chick interviewing him and says, “I’m silently judging you.” Gold.

MAGNOLIA is a wonderfully crafted story and a total home run for Paul Thomas Anderson. Films like this one don’t come along so often anymore, though not to say people aren’t trying to clone them. I’m still not a hundred percent sold on the frogs, not that I’m a religious kind of guy, but If I saw frogs raining down from the sky I’d be thinking Armageddon was upon us. I appreciate a film like this so much more when the actors are giving their A game and trust me they are. This won’t be for everyone and may actually offend people when it comes to the concept of religion vs. freedom of choice. It’s hard to sell the idea that everything happens for a reason and there are no coincidences in life if you’re one those people (like me) who thinks we choose our own fates by way of the decisions we make.

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TRAILER: The Losers

Here's another comedy that just creeped up out of nowhere and blew me away. Jeffery Dean Morgan has come a long way since SUPERNATURAL and I'm happy as hell for him, add to that balls to the wall all out action fest with a solid premise and support cast and you've got me harboring some wood! This is one to keep and eye out for.

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TRAILER: She's Out of My League

I'll be honest, at first glance I didn't think much of this flick expecting it to be just anther "ho hum" comedy trying to get noticed by being raunchy. Well, if that's what it's trying to do, it got me at "Moodle" and kept me laughing throughout. This one looks like it'll be a hell of a good time.

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TRAILER: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I'll admit that this trailer doesn't pack anywhere near the punch it might have if I'd actually watched the original WALL STREET, but nevertheless who can say no the the Beef and Michael Douglas!? All this means is that I now have to go out of my way to watch WALL STREET because this movie does look interesting.

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TRAILER: Cyrus

This Sundance comedy looks like it might get some laughs but there's definitely a dark side to this film and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Jonah Hill is always a welcome face in my book and John C. Reilly looks fun here as well.

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GAME REVIEW: Darksiders

"Hell hath no fury like a Horseman scorned."

You are War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and you’re pretty damn pissed. Duped into punching Earth’s ticket prematurely, War is as confused as he is angry when he finds out the seven seals were not broken and that his presence on Earth is being ruled as treason (punishable by death) by the charred council for upsetting the balance. Luckily, War can play hardball and convinces the council to send him back to Earth so he can hunt down the mofos who tried to screw him. The council regrettably agrees, but gives him a sneaky little escort (The Watcher) to keep tabs on him. One hundred years later, with Earth in ruin, War begins his sojourn for vengeance.

One thing I immediately noticed about DARKSIDERS’ gameplay is how similar it is to GOD OF WAR. To be completely honest, this game IS a combination of GOD OF WAR, DEVIL MAY CRY and RESIDENT EVIL with the puzzle scheme of TOMB RAIDER and LEGACY OF KAIN. Before you get the impression that this may be a bad thing, think again as where the aforementioned games lacked in controls, DARKSIDERS has evolved correcting all their mistakes and leaving us with a smooth ride despite the long list of actions in War’s arsenal. There was room for frustration here (and lots of it), but I was sincerely blown away by the ease with which you can pull off War’s moves.

Now speaking of War’s gear, each and every upgrade (think BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM) are found and then implicated in the many puzzles you find throughout. Some require more skill and more thinking outside the box than others, but rest assured you’ll scratch your head in bewilderment more than once. Add to that a fair bit of back tracking to unlock areas you couldn’t reach, and above all else in this game, exploration is key when it comes to progression and secrets. There’s lots to find and lots more to buy with your souls (War’s currency) from Vulgrim the ambitious demon tradesman.

The graphics are a true testament to the PS3’s power and come to life in such wondrous splendor if you’re lucky enough to be playing this game on an HD TV. The characters look a bit more “cartoonish” than the cast of BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM, but the visuals are sharp and the detailed in a mature fashion that goes hand in hand with the storyline so that you never once confuse this game for something you’d find in the kids section. Everything from War’s brutal finishing moves (blood and gore aplenty), to each individual symbol on his sword and cool ass shoulder pieces are pristinely detailed. The landscapes are nothing short of spectacular either and the fact that they’re all interactive in some way, shape or form just adds to the flavor.

The story is where it’s at though, and what got me curious about this game in the first place. The writer wrote comic books before this and was always interested in trying his luck with a game. His story is an amazing one, loaded with eccentric characters you can’t get enough of. The intrigue behind the ever changing battle between Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons goes much deeper than you’d imagine with a clever set of twists and turns that breathe new life into a mythology that’s usually one dimensional (let’s just say the movie LEGION has nothing on this game). DARKSIDERS has a unique take on things and sets the stage for an even grander show than this one (yes, I mean sequels).

Another thing that can’t go unmentioned is the quality of the voice talent. The only thing that makes these characters ten times cooler than they look is how they sound. War’s brought to life by Liam O’Brien (who sounded so damn familiar because I just finished DRAGON AGE which he’s also in), Mark Hamill needs no instruction as The Watcher and a couple other highlights are Phil Lamarr (VAMP from MGS) and super hottie Moon Bloodgood who dawns the wings of the female angel Uriel. Everyone delivers the goods here and my hat is off to all involved as I continue to be impressed by how great games are coming together these days.

The boss battles can get intense, but only until you figure out what to do and then it’s a matter of determination and timing. Each boss tends to have at least two if not three phases which impressed me in the originality category. I love a good boss fight, and yes, they ARE a touch easy if you chose “easy” mode, but they’re by no means pushovers.

At the end of the day you’ll feel like you’ve “played” this game before due to the various titles it borrows from, but with a game like DARKSIDERS it’s all about the ride as told through the ambitious storyline. There are some rather annoying aspects to your journey like figuring out HOW to do some of the things you need to do (it’s not always as straightforward as you’d think), but I like it old school in the way that you have to THINK from time to time instead of mash buttons until something dies or blows up. I have a soft spot for religious overtones so a story about Horsemen, Angels and Demons is right up my alley; that said I think this is a fresh and exciting enough premise to hook just about any gamer. I can’t wait for the next one!

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BLU RAY: The Bourne Supremacy

"Got the first two for free, so I guess I can buy the third one."

Jason Bourne has his memory back, got the girl and escaped to fight another day. Unfortunately that day has come and Bourne must show the government that he meant what he said about coming after anyone and everyone if they didn’t leave him alone.

Usually the trouble with sequels is that they try to capitalize on an idea that played through with the film and has nowhere to go in the second, third and so on. Bourne spends the entire first flick trying to figure out who he is, whilst dodging the government and bad guys. In the end he figures it all out, has whooped and insane amount of ass and gets away to start over. One of the great things about THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (or the series in general) is that they’re based on a series of books so there WAS a relevant place to take him this time around and trust me, this is one of those sequels that delivers like SPIDER-MAN 2 and X-MEN 2.

Assuming that most of you have seen this (spoiler alert), what I love most about this flick is how they go from a confused yet driven Bourne, to a pissed off and out for blood, brains and balls Bourne. Killing off Marie in the beginning was the perfect catalyst, not because she was horrible but because I felt she slowed him down considerably in the first film. Not this time around. Bourne is all over the place, bringing the fight to anyone and everyone in his way. My blood tingles when he calls in and talks to Pamela while starring at her through the scope of a sniper rifle on the roof adjacent to her office.

Matt Damon becomes Jason Bourne this second time comfortably and with ease (you can tell he’s thoroughly into this character and who could blame him). This action is just as good as last time (that kitchen scene is intense as hell) and particularly well choreographed. Sure, we still get some shaky cam action, but like before you roll with it and enjoy the flick regardless. Carl Urban was a decent baddy, and I hate that the guy seems to have fallen off the face of the earth lately. We get more Brian Cox, no complaints there and there’s a very good performance from Joan Allen as the overzealous Pamela Landy. I’ll also take this time to mention Julia Stiles…too bad she didn’t get more screen time though.

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY is a dream-come true for action fans and a true gift of a sequel when weighed with what we could have got. Again, if I had any doubts that Damon could kick some serious ass it went out the door for good with this installment as he looked nothing short of lethal here. It’s hard to believe these films are PG-13 and still this good, but that’s a tough balance that only so many writers, directors and producers can pull off. The HD really brings out the luscious locals and makes this yet another good transition to Blu-ray. My only regret is that I didn’t get the third one to review as well.

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