REVIEW: Django Unchained

"The 'D' is silent, hillbilly."

Bounty Hunter Dr. King Schultz is looking for a gang of outlaws worth a pretty penny, but seeing as how he doesn't know what they look like, he enlists the help of  Django, a slave he frees and who just so happens to know what these men look like.  A partnership is formed and Schultz agrees to help Django find and free his wife in return.

Quentin Tarantino has been talking about making a spaghetti western for nearly a decade now so it comes as no surprise to me that DJANGO UNCHAINED is entertaining as hell.  Tarantino's been rather sloppy lately in my opinion--this coming from a true QT fan--and although DJANGO feels rushed and uneven at times, this could possibly be due in part to the fact that QT has promised a five hour director's cut when this baby hits Blu-ray.  I know what you might be thinking, 'five hours, are you kidding me', but trust me, for a flick that runs around the three hour mark as it is, you'll find yourself wanting more by the time it all ends.  I guarantee it.

Jamie Foxx is brilliant as Django, that is, once he comes into his own.  The film does take a fair amount of presumptions and leaps of faith when it comes to his character though, mainly, how he goes from a rough around the edges slave, to a smooth talking killing machine that would make Billy The Kid nod his head in admiration.  This transformation reminds me of one in THE MASK OF ZORRO, though it felt like Anthony Hopkins schooled Banderas much more than Schultz did Django.  Perhaps this will make up a significant amount of that two hours we've been promised and I hope so, because as nit picky as it sounds, you can't help but notice.

The true magic of this movie comes from the rich characters, most notably Christoph Waltz as Schultz, Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie and Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen.  Waltz is such a well versed actor, I love the guy, he's a pure delight to watch.  I didn't care for INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, but I can't deny his awesomeness in the film.  I also didn't love (or loathe) GREEN HORNET, but for my money, Waltz's villain was what made the film watchable.  He and Candie have an epic battle of words that redefines the fact that Tarantino--for all his faults--is still a master when it comes to dialogue.  DiCaprio was phenomenal, the speech he gives about the brain was both intelligent and chilling.  Jackson's Stephen was a hoot, brought to life with sweet perfection.  It's a shame these characters don't get more screen time as they're the highlight of the adventure.

DJANGO UNCHAINED definitely makes it's own cattle brand mark on the wild west and takes quite a bite out of the race war of old.  I'll admit hearing the 'N' word so often is a bit jarring at times, but I suppose it's unavoidable given the circumstances.  Despite the uncomfortable feeling one gets when dealing with this subject matter, QT never really goes over the line, meaning we never get anything that we didn't expect to see given the nature of his films.  The one thing I didn't understand was how fleeting a moment the whole 'Brittle Brothers' subplot was.  This was the deal that sparks Django and Schultz's arrangement, but it's over before you get a chance to blink.  Don Johnson's character and involvement also felt rushed and ultimately pointless (not sure why Jonah Hill signed on for his meager role either).  These are small complaints however, and by no means take away from the film as a whole.  This was a brilliant ride into the sunset that should be enjoyed in the theater, and I personally can't wait for that five hour director's cut.



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REVIEW: Jack Reacher

"Cruise is at the top of his game as Reacher."

When five random people are gunned down via sniper rifle all evidence points to an unbalanced military sniper whose faced a similar charge before.  Claiming he's innocent, the soldier asks for Jack Reacher, a military investigator whose been MIA for two years.  Having seen the news, Reacher blows into town to put the guy down, but finds himself unable to do so when new evidence comes to light.


I had the chance to meet and chat with Lee Child (author of ONE SHOT, the novel in which this film is based) last summer during ThrillerFest in New York.  The guy was a true delight and we discussed the idea of Cruise as Reacher among other things.  He was happy with the choice and I must say I am too.  For my money, you can't do much better than Tom Cruise in an action vehicle.  This man is action ready and delivers every time.  Sure, he's not the hulking monster Jack Reacher is in Child's novels, but he nailed the character down with ease, making his wisecracking, intelligent dialogue a pure delight and fantastic beat downs loads of fun.

The opening killings hit home pretty hard in light of recent news events, but the tone eases up fairly quickly once the film starts rolling.  The action is top notch, leaving me feeling this wasn't actually a PG-13 flick (which it was) and that's always a good thing.  I'm happy to see Jai Courtney getting his due (Varro from SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND.  I'm sure Andy Whitfield is looking down on you with a big smile on his face, brother) here--even if he is the villain--and in the upcoming DIE HARD flick as McClane's son.  Rosamund Pike was a feast for the eyes (especially in the cleavage department) and grizzled veterans like Robert Duvall are always a smart addition.  The cast was stellar and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

JACK REACHER is film I'd love to see turn into a franchise and with Cruise at the helm, it's definitely a good possibility.  The novels will always be better, but Jack Reacher is a fun character to root for with a keen intelligence that rivals Bruce Wayne himself.  Reacher always has something to say and is ready to kick your teeth in if you don't like it, making him my kind of anti-hero.  The good news is, we root for him anyway because at his core he's fighting the good fight and that's something we can all get on board with, despite his methods.  I did feel the man behind the madness was a touch weak (not literally though as anyone who can chew off their own fingers is a certified badass), as his end result, beyond a creepy presence and cool accent, didn't make for much a epic end game.  That said, this is a thrilling action title and Cruise at his very best so I have no problem recommending you see this bad boy in theaters over the holidays.

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TRAILER: Spartacus: War Of The Damned

I love this show. It pains me to know this will be the final season, just as it pains me that Andy Whitfield is gone. That said, this looks like a ferocious ending to a series that's reinvigorated not only a legendary figure, but Roman history in general. I can't wait to see how it all plays out and then look forward to watching the entire series back to back.

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TRAILER: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I'm not sure how laugh out loud funny this is going to be, but I'm down for Jim Carrey in a comedy that doesn't feel like a run down gimmick. Magic is always fun and it's a concept I can't get enough of. Maybe I'm a big kid, but part of me wants this to be funny even if I doubt it will be.

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TRAILER: This Is The End

Okay, I have no clue where this came from, but damn does it look funny. The end of the world thing's been done to death and by the looks of the lazer beams this might include aliens (also done to death), but the fact that the boys are playing themselves in what feels like a PINEAPPLE EXPRESS meets TROPIC THUNDER means this is bound to be funny as hell on an epic scale. I could be wrong, but I really hope not.

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TRAILER: Pain And Gain

"I'm hot. I'm big." I love it. This Michael Bay led extravaganza looks fantastic and I for one am pumped to see it. The Rock and Wahlberg are enough to get me excited but this is a great reunion for Bay and Ed Harris as well. This is pretty out there for Bay considering what he's used to, but I'm excited to see something in the vein of BAD BOYS. If that's what we're looking at here, it'll be awesome.

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TRAILER: Pacific Rim

I'm loving the concept here, but I would've been so much more pumped had this been a trailer for VOLTRON. Instead we get Charlie Hunnam (SOA's Jax Teller) piloting giant robots to kick the hell out of those pesky interdimensional aliens from THE MIST. I'm down. I loved REAL STEEL and that was a kid's movie, so this one should knock it out of the park.

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REVIEW: The Hobbit

"A well rounded revisit to Middle Earth."

Sixty years before the events surrounding the LOTR trilogy, a young Bilbo Baggins is reluctantly convinced to join Gandalf and a party of dwarves in their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a vicious dragon who killed their kinsmen and ravaged their homeland.

I didn't read the Rings books, but I'm an avid fan of fantasy.  Fans like me go out of their way to find 'passable' fantasy flicks where we can, often times taking the awful with the good.  It's a great genre to read, but film hasn't exactly been kind.  Peter Jackson changed all that.  Aside from the ridiculous amount of endings in RETURN OF THE KING, I loved the extended versions of the LOTR trilogy and would count these three films as not only the best fantasy film has to offer, but also how to "do it right".  That said, who better than PJ to bring us back to Middle Earth for another three part adventure?  Do I think we needed three films to convey this story?  Probably not, but the pacing of this one was fine by me (and trust me, I was expecting otherwise) and if the other two fair as well as this one did in that department, I'd have to say I agree with this decision.

So the pacing was fine, but what about the 48 FPS you ask?  Again, I went in expecting the worst, but I have to say I was blown away.  The best way to explain 48 FPS (frames per second if you didn't know) is as follows: if you've bought one of the newest brands of TVs over the past year, a Quattron for example, then you've experienced the overly defined, camcorder/soap opera 'look'.  I'll admit it takes some getting used to, but I've grown to like it.  The 3D 48 FPS takes that technology and throws it into overdrive with a smoother, much more colorfully-vivid transition that makes you feel like you're actually there.  Seriously.  When they were being chased under the mountain by all those goblins, it felt as though they could leap off the screen at any time.  I highly recommend you see it like this, but sadly, if you haven't had the opportunity to 'get used' to this technology and are hitting it for the first time, you'll no doubt be a little bothered by it at first.

The next issue is the acting and or actors involved.  The returning cast, led by the always awesome Ian McKellen, were a real treat.  For years, continuations of films and TV shows have been plagued by new faces playing the original characters, and sure, ten years isn't that long of a gap, but I've seen it happen and it sucks.  Not so here (for the most part) as Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman and Gollum are played the by same actors who all look fantastic (Cate Blanchett was looking especially delicious).  Hell, we even get to see Ian Holm (old Bilbo) and Elijah Wood (Frodo) for a little at the beginning.  This added tremendous flavor for me as a fan of the series.  I particularly loved watching Christopher Lee (can you believe he's ninety years old) acting all innocent like he has no idea what's going on in Murkwood--priceless.  I enjoyed Martin Freeman's Bilbo (especially his scene with Gollum) and the dwarves weren't nearly as annoying as I thought they would be, Thorin in particular was a cool as hell leader.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY falls short by comparison to the original trilogy in only one department.  The tone.  I remember trying to read THE HOBBIT when I was in grade nine and after one page put it down thinking it sounded too childish.  The movie isn't that bad, but at no point did I ever feel anyone was in mortal danger and considering some of the things they had to endure, I should have.  This is only a minor complaint, as I'm not sure how this story ends or who dies (if anyone), but aside from that, the scenery was breathtaking (especially Rivendell, the dwarven city and the goblin cavern), the makeup and effects were stellar, the story was fun and the action scenes were epic.  There isn't much to complain about here as far as I'm concerned, so this makes the perfect flick for the holidays and I can't wait to see the next one.  PS: It would've been nice to actually see Smaug.  Damn you for making me wait another year Peter Jackson.  Damn you.

  

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REVIEW: Skyfall

"Not the best, but a still a damn good time."

In a failed attempt to recover a hard drive containing the names of fellow agents, Bond is shot and presumed dead.  In his absence, M and the entire MI6 are targeted as M's past comes back to haunt her.  A burned out Bond must overcome self doubt and demons from his own past if he hopes to make things right.
 
There's no question that Daniel Craig has reinvigorated the Bond franchise and I'd even go a step further by adding that he's raised the bar far beyond where I thought this series could go.  Obviously it's not all him, he's had some great writers, directors and fellow cast members to help this process along, but all in all he's one hell of a Bond.  Some are praising this installment as the best yet and thought I'll agree it's a great film, the best of the franchise?  Probably not.  The best Craig Bond film?  No dice there either.  I'm still very partial to CASINO ROYALE, but make no mistake SKYFALL still delivers the goods.

I find it interesting that no one's picked up on the fact that this storyline is (in some ways) similar to DIE ANOTHER DAY.  Now before you take my head off, I did say in some ways.  DIE ANOTHER DAY was campy as hell, but it had a dark edge with Bond being presumably killed off in the beginning, just like he is in SKYFALL.  The resurrection, if you will, may not come across in the same fashion, but similarities are there.  Eve/Jinx are both hot African American chicks who help him along the way, and the two villains even have their similarities.  That said, there's no ice castle in this one (it was pretty badass despite being literally impossible) and SKYFALL is the better film, but as far as originality goes I can't give it all out praise, even though it was a good story.


My only real complaint is that Javier Bardem's Silva wasn't in the film all that long.  He was a fantastic villain, played to perfection by an amazing actor, yet we barely see him and then he's gone--I also would have loved a better hand to hand combat fight in the closing moments of their final battle.  What we see of Silva is spectacular (that pistol/scotch scene was awesome and who else in history can say they threw a train at someone), I just can't help but feel he got cheated with limited screen time.  We did see more Judi Dench this time around which is always a good thing--she does come off rather cold and maniacal--  and I enjoyed the new Q as well as Ralph Fiennes being added to the team.  The cast was magnificent and Sam Mendes did a terrific job behind the lens.

SKYFALL is bond at his worst by way of feeling old, defeated and obsolete at times (I loved how he failed his field test and they put him through anyway), but his character is still as rich as ever and what we get is essentially him giving his all in his most desperate hour.  Make no mistake this is entertainment at its best for the Bond franchise so there's no complaints there.  I'm anxious as hell for the next installment, but for God sake, make a better theme song next time before the one in this movie was atrocious.  The writing was excellent, the scenery jumping impressive and I liked the clever use of the title--long time Bond fans might have picked up on what Skyfall was, but I guess I'm not hardcore enough because I had no idea.  It's a drag hearing Craig in interviews with a "ho hum" impression of the Bond character, but here's hoping there's more greatness to come from him and this franchise.  


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GAME TRAILER: Dark Souls 2

Very rarely does a game come along that changes the way we game. DEMON SOULS started this transition but it's follow up, DARK SOULS, established this level of greatness. If you know nothing about either of these games, that's not surprising as the appeal lies in it's difficulty, hence the catch phrase: Prepare to die. Remember some of those mind numbingly difficult Nintendo games whose difficulties were beyond the realm of reason? Well it is within these dark waters that DARK SOULS resides. I couldn't be more excited by this news and will bring you all updates as they become available.

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TRAILER: The Lone Ranger

I vaguely remember The Lone Ranger cartoon (I was more into BRAVESTARR as a kid), so like INSPECTOR GADGET, GARFIELD and SMURFS, I just don't get the need for this a generation or two later...aside from a lack of ideas and money that is. I don't mind a good old fashioned western from time to time, and as much as I hate to say it, this isn't looking all that bad. Time will tell, but seeing as how they had to shrink the budget a couple times during filming, they better pray it's not a flop.

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TRAILER: Man Of Steel

Part of me still feels that another Superman origin story is beyond ridiculous at this point. I mean hell, if you don't know who Superman is you're not going to see this movie anyway. SMALLVILLE did for Superman what no film will ever be able to do, and that's humanize Clark Kent and tell his magnificent story in awesome detail. That said, I have faith in Zach Snyder, Chris Nolan and Henry Cavill. I sincerely hope this film does well, and with any luck it'll help the JUSTICE LEAGUE movement.

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TRAILER: Oblivion

I love Tom Cruise. The man is phenomenal when it comes to work and films, he gives it his all and it shows on screen. He's been fantastic in runaway Sci-Fi flicks (MINORITY REPORT being my personal favorite), and OBLIVION looks like another home run in that department. With that and JACK REACHER coming later this month, Tom looks like he's got a great year ahead of him.

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TRAILER: Star Trek: Into Darkness

One of the most compelling things that hooked me about the STAR TREK remake was the trailer. J.J. Abrams knows his stuff and they cut a mean trailer then, and a slick one this time as well (and this is only the one minute teaser). The first film was going to be great or it was going to be a huge flop. I think we all know how it turned out so here's hoping this installment lives up to its predecessor.

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TRAILER: Gangster Squad

This is THE UNTOUCHABLES with some serious anger attached to it and I'm loving every second of it. I'm not much for Sean Penn, but he's a fantastic villain. Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin aren't exactly the bottom of the barrel either. For the most part these flicks all start and end the same, so the ride is what counts. So far, I'm down for some of this action.

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TRAILER: Snitch

I love the Rock and since redeeming himself back into the action world, I have nothing but respect for the ass kicking he's been unleashing. This may be a worn tale of undercover action, but I'm liking the father/son dynamic and the cast is pretty damn solid (haven't seen Barry Pepper in awhile and it's cool to see Jon Bernthal as well). Looking forward to this one.

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TRAILER: Dark Skies

Most alien abduction flicks have that "been there, done that" look to them, but this one feels like it's got an edge. It's part PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and part INCIDIOUS (not surprising as it's by the same producers) with J.K. Simmons as the alien guru. I'm liking this so far, lets hope it doesn't disappoint with a lame/predictable ending. I hate that.

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TRAILER: Now You See Me

Just the other day I was watching ZOMBIELAND and wondering what Jesse Eisenberg was up to and now I know. He and Woody are teamed up for this magic extravaganza that looks like it's going to blow our minds. It feels like a revamped PRESTIGE (and even has Michael Caine), so I'm pumped as hell to say the least.

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TRAILER: Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones

Now this is more like it! When I think supernatural thriller this is the type of film I have in mind. Again, we're treading PG-13 territory here and the cast are relatively unknown (I hope it's not another ERAGON), but if there was a flick to surprise me in a good way, I would want it to be this one.

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TRAILER: Heavenly Creatures

At first glance it almost feels like TWILIGHT with witches (I'm assuming this is loosely based upon witchcraft). I'm sure this will be written a little better, but that's the vibe I'm getting. Either way, this is one of those flicks that looks like it could go either way. Who knows, maybe it'll surprise me, but I doubt it.

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TRAILER: Hitchcock

This trailer and overall concept doesn't interest me in the slightest. Do we really need an inside look at how Hitchcock put PSYCHO together? No, we don't. Do we really need to see Anthony Hopkins looking like he ate every copy of psycho on the planet? No, we don't. Hollywood's reaching with stuff like this and maybe there's a demographic for it, but I'm not part of it.

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TRAILER: Warm Bodies

More zombies, but in a comedic ZOMBIELAND type fashion which is interesting to me, but a tad sketchy seeing as how it's rated PG-13. I'm all for a dark, edgy zombie comedy, but again, it does feel a little like Hollywood pushing the genre simply because of THE WALKING DEAD. Lets hope that doesn't lead to rushed scrips and lazy writing.

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TRAILER: World War Z

I didn't read the books, but heard they were alright. Zombies are big right now with WALKING DEAD running rampant in TV land so I'm not surprised these guys are trying to cash in for a piece of undead pie. That said, it feels like I AM LEGEND with zombies and the whirlwind zombie CGI is weak to say the least. With Brad Pitt on board I have hope, but I'll wait for a more solid trailer before I decide.

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TRAILER: Evil Dead

This is one of those remakes that's had the fanboys' panties in a bunch for awhile now. My two cents? Yes, I'm a HUGE fan of Bruce Campbell and though the concept behind the original EVIL DEAD is quite intriguing, I'm not opposed to a remake. Horror is a genre that fits the remake scenario simply because these horror icons have been around for years and the original films (awesome as they may be) are dated. Now am I saying they need to be remade? Hell no, but at least I understand why the idea is there (other than money). Of the many hits and misses, this one looks like it has the potential to not only hit, but beat the living bejesus out of audiences everywhere.

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TRAILER: Iron Man 3

Tony Stark may very well have been the glue holding the Avengers together, but damn if he's not down on his luck here. If you thought dying a slow death by radiation poisoning was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. Mandarin looks and feels like the vicious villain we've been waiting for, a perfect match for Iron Man. I can't wait to see more.

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GAME TRAILER: Halo 4

I'm not a fan of HALO (or FPS at all for that matter), but even I can't deny the sheer level of excellence the advertising team puts into these games. There was one a couple years back with two kids starring up at the stars talking about what they wanted to be when they grow up (it blew me away) and this one is on the same level. It almost makes me want to play the games. Almost.

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TRAILER: Jack Reacher

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lee Child (author of the Jack Reacher novels) this past summer in New York and he's a calm, level headed guy with many a story to tell. He was pleased with Tom Cruise's portrayal of Reacher and I have to say I'm on the same bandwagon. This looks and feels like 24 with Cruise instead of Sutherland, lets hope it plays out that way too.

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TRAILER: Carrie

When it comes to Stephen King adaptions Hollywood tends to "miss" more than they "hit". I've never had the urge to read CARRIE (or watch the original film), but Chloe Grace Moretz is a solid little actress and if she could sell the LET ME IN remake, I have faith she can sell this as well.

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TRAILER: Movie 43

I don't know where this came from, who thought it up, or how in God's name they got some many big names to participate but I'm loving every second of it. A comedy, yes, but most likely an hour and a half of improved jokes from people who are always funny, accidentally funny and hope they're funny. Either way, I'm sure it'll generate some big laughs. I'm in.

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TRAILER: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger. Of all the characters and concepts of old, this would be one I never thought would see the light of day. Or needed to. That said, I'm a fan of Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski as a combo so this has my attention on a minimal level. It may be amusing, but most likely a dud. On a personal note, I never got the relevance behind such a small mask. It always reminded me of the "Clark Kent is Superman with glasses" scenario. I guess people just couldn't see very well back then. Must have been all that dust and wind.

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GAME TRAILER: Metal Gear Revengeance

I'm not sure what Japanese for "super awesome with a side of epic" is, but that's what this trailer is. Who'd have thought Raiden could become so damn cool, and the gameplay looks pretty tight and fun as hell. I can't wait to serve up some villain sushi.

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TRAILER: The Hobbit

The first trailer was a little "ho-hum" but this one actually feels like a LORD OF THE RINGS movie and I'm getting excited. These dwarfs (especially the leader) are an interesting bunch and a welcome change of pace as far as heroes go. I'm still not completely sure why they needed to cut this into three separate movies (it better not feel stretched or I'll be pissed), but hopefully we fans get the films we want and deserve out of this.

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TRAILER: The Collection

If you missed THE COLLECTOR (this film's predecessor), you missed a hell of a good time for horror goers. This is from the makers of some of the SAW flicks and it shows. I mean, this dude's like MacGyver's sadistically evil twin brother on steroids. I dunno how psychos find the time to create this stuff but it sure is fun to watch. Can't wait.

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TRAILER: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D

I like that this feels more like a sequel to the remake than another imagining, but it's a little hard to imagine the same dude being still alive and fully capable of dealing with younger people in their prime. That said, I'm digging the premise and hopefully it'll do the name and genre some justice. Totally not feeling the 3D though.

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REVIEW: Resident Evil: Retribution

"Oh the horror...but not the good kind."

Alice once again finds herself at the mercy of the Umbrella Corporation after being captured by Jill Valentine and taken to Umbrella's underground stronghold.  Wesker, whose now changed sides, enlists the aid of Ada Wong and a strike team led by Leon Kennedy to rescue Alice and destroy the facility.

What a mess.  I'm a longtime fan of the RESIDENT EVIL video game franchise and I've accepted the existence of the Milla and Paul Anderson led films.  The first one at least felt like a zombie/survival horror type scenario, the second had a lighter tone but the nemesis was at least fun to look at and root for.  Once the third time around came we got super-Alice and things got a little weird.  Anderson started dropping in subtle nuances like Wesker, Las Plagas as well as some of the familiar faces from the games like Chris Redfield and now Ada Wong, Barry Burton and Leon Kennedy.  Sadly, despite these additions, this film (along with the every entry after part 2) continued to distance itself from both the source material and the genre it's known for.

Did this flick get anything right?  Yes, but very little.  I loved the opening--backward--sequence that gets us in the game.  I loved that this film's structure actually felt like an RE title in theory as our character trudged through various levels of the Umbrella structure (a clever endeavor of sorts) and I loved seeing Leon and Ada in the mix, even if they were tremendously underused as they lingered in Alice's shadow.  And alas, that's about all the praise I can give.  Now for the bad.

On the one hand I wanted to appreciate the revamping of our previous cast.  The recap intro to the film has gotten a fair bit of flack, but I see why they did it that way.  Sure, we all know the score by now, but the recap dug up all the old faces and got them front and center in our minds in hopes that their recycled appearances wouldn't feel lazy and moot.  It was a nice try, but I'm not impressed.  Most of the these characters are just there, they serve no purpose whatsoever.  The only one who gets any real use is Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), but even she was unnecessary (and why'd we get two of her?  It was as dumb as it was pointless).

The biggest problem with this movie is that NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS.  It's boring as hell, a point driven home by the fact that everyone on screen spends ninety nine percent of their time shooting at something.  I'm not kidding here, the fight scenes (aside from the final one) are nothing but gun play and explosions.  You'd have to shake these actors to find a pulse.  There are countless small things that stand out like a sore thumb as well.  What happened to Claire and Chris Redfield?  What was the point of the Red Queen aside from regurgitating the same two lines over and over?  Why bring Wesker into the fold if you're not going to have him fight alongside everyone else (that's something I was dying to see all movie)?  Why didn't Rain shift into a monster after injecting Las Plagas--especially considering Wesker says to Alice ten minutes later "You're the only one who can bond with this virus."

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION was a huge disappointment.  Look folks, I'm a fan of mindless violence and I didn't go into this thing with a hate on or with the mindset of witnessing Oscar worthy performances, but I know a lazy, butter churned cash cow when I see one and lemme tell ya, that's what this series has become.  It's been that way for awhile mind you, but this entry doesn't even try to hide it and laughs at us every agonizing step of the way.  To make matters worse, it ends with a ridiculous cliffhanger that almost guarantees another installment.  They should've just killed Alice and let Leon take over, but no, this is what we get instead.  I did laugh when Leon puts his hand on Ada's leg near the end and she nonchalantly removes it (priceless), but the bulk of this experience was me waiting for it to end.  I hate to be so critical toward a franchise I've enjoyed despite its faults, but this time there's no hiding from them and it's a damn shame because at this stage of the game, I expected more from team Anderson.

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TRAILER: The Bay

This flick looks intense and I love a good dose of intensity. Sure, it's been done and we have what appears to be some cross genres (zombie like monsters, parasites, contaminated water supply), but overall this might work as a stand alone fright fest. Time will tell, but I'm gonna keep an eye out for this one.

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TRAILER: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Hmmm. I don't necessarily hate the TWILIGHT series. I actually enjoyed the first couple, but this last one was a bit of a bore. On the one hand, this final film looks interesting (these guys sure do love fighting in open fields though don't they). That said, I can't help but ask this one important question: Why wouldn't the Volturi simply send and emissary to confront the Cullens about this supposed treachery rather than stage all out war on a lie? I haven't read the books so maybe I'm missing something but it just seems like drastic measures to me.

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GAME TRAILER: World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria

Is World Of Warcraft out of juice? Blizzard doesn't seem to think so and with a new expansion featuring an Asian theme with Panda Monks, a captivating new world and many other upgrades, they could be on to something. As a gamer (and RPG fanatic), I've always loved Warcraft and respect Blizzard for going the distance. Of course, games like DARK SOULS and SKYRIM are a ton of fun as well so RPG's don't appear to be going anywhere. I'll give this a whirl and pray it's not a kiddish as it looks. This cinematic is alright, but a far cry from raw epicness that was WRATH OF THE LICH KING.

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TRAILER: Hansel And Gretel

Sigh. Clearly Hollywood didn't learn anything from epic flops like THE BROTHERS GRIMM and VAN HELSING (I really wanted VAN HELSING to be great, and though it's watchable its' still pretty damn terrible). And just when Jeremy Renner's career was at a high point too. I don't get it, I seriously don't. This movie doesn't look good, it will flop and I won't be saddened by this turn of events in the least. As long as one "themed" film does well, there will always be five more stinkers ready to launch. Plug your nose folks cause there's at least a couple more to come this year after this mess.

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REVIEW: The Expendables 2

"Bigger, badder and enough action to satisfy fans of all generations."

Barney and his crew are back and after their exploits in the first film, Mr. Church feels they owe him and has come to collect via a mission.  When this mission goes sour and they lose one of their own, Barney becomes dead set on revenge.

Say what you will about THE EXPENDABLES, but I loved it.  No, it wasn't a symphony of well orchestrated music by any stretch of the imagination, nor did some aspects of it make sense, but it was a no holds barred, no remorse, ass kicking hell of a good time.  The action genre needed this film to kick start the apocalypse and I was looking forward to the "boom".  This new installment is no exception, aside from a bigger budget, bigger cast and bigger set of cojones.  This fact is immediately noticeable as the boys open up with a full blown assault on some baddies, racking up a body count for the books I'm sure.  I had a wide smile on my face when they smoke cleared and dude the bad guys were interrogating was revealed (he had a bag over his head up to this point).

As far as muscle goes I dug the addition of Liam Hemsworth and although many gave his "speech" flack because of the dog mention, I didn't mind it and felt it went hand in hand with his character.  I liked the father/son bond he and Sly shared, and it nearly made me tear up a couple times in light of Sly's real life loss he suffered here not long ago.  I wasn't at all happy with Jet Li's early exit of the film, I guess it made sense in context of the mission, but I didn't care for it--no Li is no good.  Dolph hams it up here something awful, to the point of him almost coming off as goofy, but he's a welcome addition to the team.  I can't say the same for Randy Couture who I still feel doesn't belong.  Terry Crews gets a line here and there but is sorely underused, whereas Sly and Christmas still have the chemistry of life long friends and are truly the heart of the team.

Bruce Willis doesn't come off as strong this time as he did last time, but Church doesn't overstay his welcome here.  I loved the way Chuck Norris was introduced and used, they were going for tongue in cheek and it played out marvelously (the cobra bit was priceless).  I wish I could say the same for Arney, but I can't.  Congress put some noticeable miles on the guy, and as much as he still is a hero of mine, he felt and looked off.  I knew he'd be saying "I'm back" from the trailers, but seriously people, once was enough, the third time was like Freddy Krueger nails on a chalkboard which is anything but funny.  Nan Yu added some much needed estrogen to the scene, but it's painfully obvious that this was indeed her main reason for being on board.  "Needed" is not an adjective I'd use to describe her presence.  And what the hell happened to Mickey Rourke?

The real show stopper here was on the Vilain side, with Jean-Claude Van Damme's return to the big screen.  I'm a Van Damme fan through and through.  When I was growing up in his prime, I would cut out the coming attraction picture of his movie from the paper and tape it to the fridge in anticipation for the weekend.  It's been far too long since Van Damme's been on the big screen and I sincerely hope Hollywood feels the same.  I'm not fond of the lame "name game" they had going on with his character, but his badassery was writing loads of checks that were all good in my book.  The showdown between him and Sly was both worthy of praise and admission.  Scott Adkins (one of my absolute favorite martial artists--and one of the deadly dudes on the planet) was also a welcome addition to the mix. I loved the instant rivalry between him and Christmas, I only wish their end battle had been as exciting as Sly's.  I get it of course, you can't have their fight outshine the final one but it still felt rushed and not nearly as satisfying.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 does exactly what it sets out to do, capitalize on a dying genre with loads of action, muscle and testosterone.  No complains there.  I will say this about the violence though, those rumors about it being shot in PG-13 and R seem to have credence as the blood was obviously CGI added after the fact and a lack of language implies that perhaps Chuck Norris got his way after all.  Does this hurt the overall experience, not really, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't noticeable.  My biggest complaint is that this would've been such a bigger and badder concept a decade ago when these guys' prowess was more visceral.  The debate of why this never happened would take us years to tackle, but the action junky in me who loves these guys can't help but pose the question (with a tear in my eye).  That said, this flick does the first one justice, does the characters justice and gives the fans exactly what we wanted to see.  At the end of the day, you can't ask for much more from Hollywood. EXPENDABLES 3?  Yes, please. 


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