REVIEW: Immortals

"Finally, an enemy worth killing."

Long ago a war raged between the Gods.  The victors claimed the heavens, the losers became known as Titans and were imprisoned deep in the mountains.  Now, the bloodthirsty King Hyperion seeks the legendary Epirus Bow so that he may free the Titans from their prison and enslave mankind.  Ever watchful, Zeus sets his eye upon Theseus, the one mortal capable of leading mankind against Hyperion.  

A few years back, 300 renewed and revitalized our thirst for epic, blood thirsty battles of conquest, lust, power, riches and glory.  And then CLASH OF THE TITANS got a remake and we added Gods and mythical monsters to the equation.  IMMORTALS is smooth mixture of both worlds overflowing with scantily clad, muscular heroes and awesomely beautiful Gods who love to stir up trouble.  The result?  A two hour feast for the eyes if raging war ignites your heart, but not to worry if you happen to be the significant other of one such person as there's no shortage of eye candy either in any sense of the term.

Visually this flick surpasses 300 as most of that film takes place on the battlefield.  Not here.  The landscapes are magnificent, from Theseus' home in the mountains, to the pit, Zeus's temple and the resting place of the Titans.  The rich details and thought that went into them is jaw dropping and immensely impressive, but these things are simply the icing on the cake.  The storyline isn't as spellbindingly original as I'd hoped but fits well within the right parameters for what's expected.  The concept and legend surrounding the Epirus Bow was enough to impress me.  Sure, I felt Theseus found it a little too easily but then again, he did have help.  The oracles were also well done and added just enough intrigue, not to mention the fact they sure did know how to fight.

Henry Cavill may not be the biggest actor on set, but the spotlight was certainly on him as anticipation grows for THE MAN OF STEEL.  Cavill was brilliant as a brooding, flawed hero.  The fighting scenes were fewer than I'd anticipated but the choreography was there.  There were all kinds of cool slow motion shots (especially when the Gods were fighting) but no shaky up close angles or flash fighting.  I got to enjoy every inch of each battle scene and I loved every second of it.  A lot of the God battles were shown in the trailers but that's to be expected and didn't hurt the film.  The final battle between Theseus and Hyperion delivered big numbers and made me realize how underused Mickey Rourke's fighting skills are in most films.  The guy can pull off an incredible fight sequence, and should be called to do so more often.  Rourke's Hyperion is everything you want in a villain, ruthless, bloodthirsty, smart and tough (I loved his helmet too).  He did have a scene where they photo shopped him 300 style, but I just grinned.  It was noticeable but forgivable. 

IMMORTALS didn't hold back when it comes to bloodshed and violence, which is exactly what I want to see in films like this.  That said, It didn't go overboard with gore or even nudity, there was one sex scene but it was brief and modestly done.  The dialogue was well written and never overacted, the Gods weren't around as much as I wanted them to be, but it's understandable considering how the story plays out.  There are lots of familiar faces here in cameo appearances like Kellan Lutz if you're a TWILIGHT fan, Joseph Morgan if you watch THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and let's not forget Stephen Dorff who plays a perfect wing man to Theseus.  Luke Evans played a great Zeus, though that's the youngest I've ever seen him portrayed.  Also, ironically enough, Evans played the God Apollo in the remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS.  From start to finish this flick was the goods, and I especially love that the ending implies a round two.  I certainly hope to see this group again, it was a well rounded cast and a fun action packed adventure.  As for Cavill, I think he's got what it takes to be leading man materiel, making me even more pumped to see him play Superman.    

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REVIEW: 13

"Pure garbage, I wouldn't wipe my ass with it."

A young man down on his luck and in need of some extra cash for his family, mistakenly stumbles upon an underground Russian Roulette syndicate which he's able to slip into at the last moment.  With the stakes clearly not in his favour, he must rely on luck and determination if there's to be any hope of survival.

Oh Hollywood, why do you continue to rape our eyes with such drivel?  I've never been opposed to B level action films, but I've never been disillusioned by them either.  The fact is, just because these types of films can be hit or miss, most times they miss by a long shot.  13 is a prime example of this theory and here are just a few reasons why you should never rent this film.

The premise/story is a lazy rip-off of a HOSTEL/HARD TARGET/SURVIVING THE GAME type scenario where instead of being abducted, people actually volunteer to play this ridiculous hybrid game of Russian Roulette.  It's all been done before, but better and with better actors or at the very least a better lead.  Who the hell is Sam Riley?  Nobody, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm all for new blood to shake things up, but this guy is terrible.  Not only can't he act, the guy barely says five minutes of dialogue the entire film which I guess can be seen and both good and bad.  Not that it really matters though as this flick's polluted with familiar faces which I can only assume was to take the spotlight off Riley, but most of these faces are wasted and/or forgotten all too quickly. 

Let's start with Mickey Rourke.  I love the guy but his character is pointless, as is the fact he's joined by 50 Cent, whose character is even more pointless.  TRUE BLOOD's Alexander Skarsgard pops up as a driver who's clearly just there to "be seen" as is ENTOURAGE's sexy Emmanuelle Chriqui and DEXTER's David Zayas.  Yet, the worst example of this is Jason Statham.  He's splashed all over the trailer and cover like he's the man with the plan here, but again, he's barely there and comes off as a one dimensional throwaway character who nobody's rooting for.  You almost feel sorry for our lead whose Dad needs an operation the family can't afford (snore), but the guy's got no charisma, heart or soul, he's just there.  The nonchalant way he's squeezed into the game is questionable, just like his run in with the law afterward which he so conveniently talks his way out of.  Don't get too excited though, things don't exactly end well for him which also hurts the end result.

13 is a waste of time, film and talent, pure and simple.  How any of these people signed on for this nonsense is beyond me.  They must've been cut a decent pay check and told booze was on the house for the entire length of filming.  I understand some of these TV sensations wanting to get their faces out there by whatever means possible, but this is definitely not the way.  As for Statham, Rourke and Ray Winstone, they should be ashamed as this is below them.  Come on boys, quality over quantity wins the race.  Now whose up for some shots on the director!

This flick is nothing short of a big, crowded pissing contest that nobody wins, especially the viewer.  Some B flicks become hidden gems or cult favourites, ninety-nine percent of which aren't rolling with such a well known cast.  This movie could've been bang up fun like THE TOURNAMENT, but instead failed on virtually every level imaginable. 

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REVIEW: Bellflower

"Powerful for a first time run at filmmaking."

Two best friends dream of conquest in the event the world goes post apocalyptic.  To prepare for this future they decide to build an insane muscle car and flame throwers  worthy of their gang, Mother Medusa.  Sadly, a chance meeting with the wrong women threatens to change everything. 

I like a good Sundance flick from time to time to balance out the equilibrium of all this modern age Hollywood fluff.  That said, these babies aren't all gold, far from it, yet most times there's at least a spark of interest buried in there somewhere.  BELLFLOWER has enough sparks to kindle a flame but it's by no means perfect.  Perfection however can be overrated and the good here certainly outweigh the bad making for an interesting story.  The film opens with a quote from Lord Humongous, the main baddy from MAD MAX 2, which in and about itself made me smile.  I loved the concept of supposed "real dudes" being so obsessed with fictional characters whom they could ascend to if indeed the world went off the deep end.  I'm not saying it's a sane lifestyle to live or that maybe all this energy and ambition couldn't be spent in a more rewarding fashion, but hey, it's still pretty damn cool.

Speaking of cool, the fact that these guys not only obsess about a post-apocalyptic future, but have decided to prepare for it hardcore is awesome on paper, but the thought of these two turning into Columbine type crazies did cross my mind more than a couple times.  I loved the fact that they're building a flamethrower, I loved the fact that Woodrow's car had a booze dispenser on the dash of the passenger side (think an espresso machine that pumps out Jack Daniels instead).  I'm not saying I embrace the message it portrays, but it was a pretty off the wall gadget and I'd absolutely LOVE to see how they explained that one to the cops.  The only sad part is that he trades it in for a shitty looking bike to impress a chick.  I'm not certain, but I think that's a violation of the man code.

The crazy storyline is backed up in spades by our crazy two best friends, Woodrow and Aiden, whose loyalty to one another (and spot on chemistry) is the heart and soul of the movie.  I'm not saying they don't have a few ups and downs, but these guys are tight and that helps pull everything together.  Now, a couple things I didn't get was how these two afford all their gear.  Aiden's the mechanic and you see him shopping for parts, building the flamethrower and he even builds a car which he out and out gives to Woodrow.  Now add to that, these guys are boozing every night (and day oftentimes), can afford to just pick up and drive out to Texas with a chick on a whim and pretty much party their lives away, yet you never see or hear tell of them working or get an inkling of how they earn all this cash.  Rent, booze, flamethrowers, cars, women, none of these things come cheap.  Maybe Aiden built a money tree too, who knows, but it's a mystery that sticks out like a sore thumb.

BELLFLOWER is a film that immediately pumps adrenaline into your bloodstream and straight to your heart, especially if you're a guy whose fantasised about mass destruction, mayhem, fire and big explosions (I have no doubt Michael Bay owns this Blu-Ray).  There are very real emotions portrayed along the way when it comes to women and how they can come between even the best of friends if you let them, and as a guy whose seen it happen, I felt it was handled very accurately.  Evan Glodell (Woodrow) did an outstanding job considering he's the writer, director and one of the main leads.  Like I said, the film's not perfect, but the dude's got talent and I'll be keeping an eye out for his next endeavour.

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REVIEW: Tower Heist

"It's nice to have Eddie back, but a bigger role would've been even better."

After a Wall Street tyrant is taken into custody by FBI agents, the manager and staff of the high-rise building where his penthouse is located learn that he's made off with all their pensions as well.  Left with nothing to lose, some of the staff team up with a professional thief in hopes of stealing twenty million dollars stashed away in his safe.

Ben Stiller's career was in steady decline until TROPIC THUNDER, a film in which his character (ironically enough) was pitched as an actor whose career was in steady decline.  Personally I loved this clever or not so clever approach to things and since then I've been rooting for Stiller.  It pained me to the soul seeing him fluff off another FOCKERS film as well as another NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, so naturally I was hoping for a step up with this film (as I am with NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH).  I still don't understand all the Brett Ratner hate as the man is good at bringing comedy and action together with the most unseemly groups of individuals.  Sure, RUSH HOUR 2 and 3 shouldn't have happened, but RUSH HOUR was fantastic, a film I still hold in high regard, and Ratner also did a phenomenal job on RED DRAGON and PRISON BREAK.  If the only thing we're faulting him for is X-MEN 3, then we really need to give the man a break, it's not like it was BATMAN AND ROBIN people.

Now when it comes to making team efforts, Ratner's choice of bringing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker together isn't all that different from a Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy combo (with a touch of FERRIS BUELLER).  Tucker and Murphy are both great comedians, and though being known for raunchy comedies is always cool in my book, for some reason that seems to hurt these guys in the long run (see Martin Lawrence's career over the past decade outside of the two BAD BOYS films and BLUE STREAK).  I love Eddie Murphy's comedy.  Yes, I prefer old Eddie to new Eddie, but given the right character to work with is what it all boils down to.  Murphy's character here may be toned down a little, but his boisterous charisma is what sells half of this film.  Murphy's gruff persona is the glue holding this together and there's more than a couple times we get a flash of old Eddie, which was enough for me.  To his credit, Stiller is also on his game here, he brings a TROPIC THUNDER/MEET THE PARENTS sort of comedy that works and he and Murphy play off one another very well.

The storyline is touch and go.  The idea of seeing more crooks in Wall Street may indeed be a little too much lately, especially to those who felt the sting of similar situations over the past few years.  Though they do push this button, thankfully the consensus rests upon a bumbling OCEANS ELEVEN plot that tries to keep us entertained throughout.  Now a heist tale about thieves is easy to swallow, and although suspension of disbelief walks on paper thin ice here, a heist tale about wannabe thieves overcoming comical obstacle after comical obstacle (the bits with the maid aren't overly believable but their fun) does still have merit.  The supporting cast weighs in on this aspect of the film heavily and I must say everyone does their part well.  Tea Leoni may not be the vision she was in BAD BOYS but she's still looking pretty good and lends a very cool angle to the story.

TOWER HEIST isn't the comedy event comeback from Eddie Murphy some were hoping it would be, but it's certainly a step in the right direction (and damn if he doesn't look a day older than he did twenty years ago).  Apparently Murphy originally wanted this buddy heist flick to be an all black event with him and his crew robbing Trump Towers.  I'd have been on board for that, but such was not the end verdict.  Now he wants to do the same thing with an alien abduction plot (crickets).  I know, I don't really get it either.  There are actually a few things I didn't get about this film; The whole deal with the car and how they move it, how anyone in their right mind would trust a client at the Tower to handle their finances or why the gang so blindly puts all their faith into a thief they barely know.  The stealing initiation Murphy gets the boys to pull off is fun, but sadly most of the other laughs (especially the ones featuring Murphy) are given away in the trailers.  Suffice to say, when you watch a heist film, part of the fun is retracing the steps to see how the plan began, changed and prevailed.  You'll have a hard time doing that here as many of these situations don't make much sense and are supported by virtually zero credibility.  I mean, MacGyver himself would hang his head in shame.  Still, there's plenty of laughs and fun locked in this tower so I'd still recommend checking it out.

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TRAILER: The Hunger Games

There's been a lot of hype and anticipation surrounding this flick, but even after this trailer, I'm still not feeling it. It's like THE RUNNING MAN with kids instead and of course, a few changes, but the concept is very similar. I hope they have more up their sleeve when it comes to this series because I remain unimpressed.


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TRAILER: Snow White And The Huntsman

I had no interest in ALICE IN WONDERLAND or RED RIDING HOOD so a similar interest in revamping SNOW WHITE didn't entice me much. Of course, I'm impressed with Chris Hemsworth's rise to fame and for that I was curious. Suffice to say, this trailer looks surprisingly great. Color me intrigued.


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TRAILER: Goon

I've never cared for Hockey. Yes, I'm Canadian but not all of us go crazy for this game. Thankfully though, Hollywood tends to make exciting movies out of sports some people may not find so exciting. This is one of those times. I probably won't hit the theatres to see it, but it does look interesting enough to watch.

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TRAILER: Safe House

Denzel Washington is still the man, realistically there's very few like him in Hollywood these days and I'd gladly watch just about anything the man puts out there. Ryan Reynolds is another favourite of mine and to see them both together in an action flick makes me excited as Reynolds may be primarily funny, but he can also do action.

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TRAILER: 21 Jump Street

I'll admit that I have no resounding knowledge about the show this flick is based upon whatsoever so I'm totally bias when I say it looks funny (that said, I loved THE A-TEAM, STARSKY AND HUTCH and many other shows that weren't quite made the same). This won't win any awards or break any records but it does look like it's worth a few laughs.

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TRAILER: Underworld Awakening

In case anyone was wondering, "hmmm, does Kate Beckinsale still look smoking hot in tight black leather," the answer is most definitely yes...and of course the ongoing struggle between vampires and lycans looks cool too. Not sure how much juice this franchise has left in it but this is one of the few vampire vs. werewolf situations that works every time. I'm totally in.

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GAME TRAILER: StarCraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm

And speaking of Blizzard's awesomeness, here's another trailer for STARCRAFT 2's expansion, HEART OF THE SWARM. I love the much anticipated sequel and this expansion looks fantastic, as much as I like to give Blizzard shit for taking so long, it's clear that they have an immensely full plate.

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GAME TRAILER: Diablo 3

Yes, we've all been waiting for this game for the better part of a decade now, damn Blizzard and their slow-ass awesomeness, but the time is nearly here and my fingers are tingling with anticipation. But again, I have at least three or four games to get through before this one so I guess I can wait a little bit longer.

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GAME TRAILER: Skyrim

This live action trailer for SKYRIM, the latest ELDER SCROLLS game, is reason enough to check it out here in a couple weeks, but trailers aside this game looks amazing thus far...of course I still need to finish DARK SOULS and then beat ARKHAM CITY first.

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TRAILER: American Reunion

Now THIS is what I'm talking about! The first little teaser set the mood but this trailer confirms my suspicions that this flick will be worthwhile. I love seeing the gang all back in action (even Nadia), so I'm pumped to see how this one plays out.

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TRAILER: Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

No offence to Eminem but a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movie needs to have the theme song present in the trailer to feel legit. This second trailer turns up the heat and gives me more hope for the future of this franchise. Tom Cruise has still got it as far as I'm concerned.

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REVIEW: In Time

"A waste of time unless you're renting it."

In the future, people are engineered (don't ask me how) to stop aging at twenty-five, but once your twenty-fifth birthday hits, the clock on your arm starts counting down with only a year to live.  The good news is the world's currency is now time, so when you get paid, it adds to your clock.  The bad news is the rich and powerful have usurped the system to their advantage so they can potentially live forever.  When Will Salas crosses paths with a stranger who has over a century left on his clock, he's told the truth and then given the extra time to do something about it.

The quest for immortality by way of greed, vanity and murder...and the clock is ticking.  Essentially, the world is now overrun with vampires whose fuel for survival is no longer blood, but time.  No, this isn't some sort of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE type BLADE spinoff, but the idea of living forever, never physically aging beyond twenty-five and sucking people dry via the timers on their arms does feel a touch like vampirism to me.  IN TIME is Hollywood's latest "high concept" futuristic thriller, something we see in singles and doubles from Hollywood every three or four years.  Most of these films do quite well by my standards, MINORITY REPORT, BLADE RUNNER, I ROBOT, THE MATRIX, to name a few, but every now and again we get a dud that just doesn't push the envelope or worse, ends up sporting more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese.  IN TIME, though interesting and thought provoking on some levels, is hindered by both those problems.  At times, painfully so.

Firstly, I dig the idea of time becoming our currency, but there are some questions surrounding this premise that seriously need addressing but instead get shrugged off with a "I don't remember how this started" cop out.  I love it when they do that.  Okay, so I can let that one go.  I can even look past the awesome but high unlikely fact that people stop physically aging at twenty-five, but common sense just starts pounding in my head when they try to sell me on the idea that time can be transferred from one person's clock to another by simply grasping each other by the arm.  Sooo, the clock is triggered by a consensual telepathic bond between two people?  Nope, that's not it, because you can steel or give time while one of the two people are unconscious.  This paragraph could go on and on folks as this one tidbit is means for a long debate, and this is just one of many reasons you'll be scratching your head as you watch the film.

One of the other pivotal questions on people's minds is "does JT have what it takes to lead the show?"  Personally, I don't mind Justin Timberlake, he's by no means the best musical entertainer turned movie star, but I've seen much, much worse.  He carried himself well here, I loved the all-in poker game for time.  It was short but for a second there (no pun intended) it felt a little like CASINO ROYAL as the whole setup to this scene was very Bond-esque.  This however, was the highlight of the film, that and Cillian Murphy.  His presence here made the film much more tolerable than if some lesser actor had filled the role.  The Timekeepers weren't all that impressive, and I didn't care for where Murphy's storyline took him (also a very strange and debatable plot point).  I liked Alex Pettyfer's gangster minute man persona, but again, where it leads is a letdown, not by the scene itself but by the ridiculous arm-wrestling type duel to death situation both characters are drawn into.  This concept, referred to a couple times in the film as "fighting" is quite weak and will only make you roll your eyes.  If Stallone can make an entire film out arm wrestling (OVER THE TOP), making it adrenaline fused and exciting, then I think they could've done something a little better with this idea.

IN TIME is yet another Sci-Fi flick with cool ideas but no steam, intelligence, heart or common sense to properly nurture them, thus they come off dull, rushed and most of all lazy.   Amanda Seyfried is a good actress and with the exception of RED RIDING HOOD I love all her work.  That said, no matter how hot you are or how great your body looks in tight clothes, there's no way on God's green earth that any woman can run full tilt (and they do a lot of running) in high heel pumps.  It's impossible and a slap in the face to anyone with half a brain.  This film could've been great (like FREE JACK, a film whose endgame was also immortality) and I sincerely hate to pick it apart like this as I always go in with an open mind, but when there's this much there for the picking it's exceedingly difficult to enjoy what could've and should've been.  Save your money folks, this one's a rental.    

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