Action

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

While I am a fan of franchise, I am not a fan of this movie. The Resident Evil films have rapidly decreased in quality with each successive release. The first one was pretty great, the Final Chapter was barely watchable. One action scene strung to the next with only the slightest allusion to a plot line. What I did like is that it tries to wrap up the loose ends created by its predecessors, and Milla Jovovich. Though I simply adore her, and personally I think she makes a great action star that is deserving of more films roles in the genre. Just no more Resident Evil films, please let the Final Chapter be the final chapter.

After surviving the events at the end of previous film, a full on assault of the white house by those infected/mutated by the T-virus, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is contacted by the Red Queen and told she needs to return to the Hive. Inside the Hive, Umbrella has created an air born antivirus that will kill and thing infected with the T-virus, the catch being Alice has only 48 hours to do so if she want’s to save the last remaining human outposts before they’re overrun and wiped out. On her way to return to Raccoon City and The Hive, Alice is captured by Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen). Who Alice thought she had killed, turns out that was just a clone. Alice Manages to escape Isaacs and makes her way to Raccoon City, where she encounters a group of survivors including Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Alice leads the defense of the survivor compound against the army of infected being lead by Isaacs caravan. Alice then leads those among the survivors that can fight into The Hive, for her final confrontation with Umbrella.

This movie was awful. Just a simple tragedy. I love the Resident Evil series, with a particular fondness for the first three games. I also enjoyed the first two films in the series, but after that it just becomes a tangled mess. Trying to wrap up the jumbled mess that’s been these films, while creating a satisfying ending was close to impossible. But I can’t think of a worse approach than this.

The acting is Okay…ish. Milla Jovovich, and Ali Larter feel like they’re just going through the motions. Leaving me with impression that they’re just as happy as to see this film series end as I am. The only actor that feels energetic and like they might be having a good time is Iain Glen. Who plays the gambit of normal to insanity pretty well, he has a strange roll and he runs with it. But the supporting cast, not so good. They don’t get enough time to establish themselves as characters before being feed to the meat grinder.

The action scenes is where this film shines. But as polished and nice as they are, the complete lack of narrative shows heavily. As the story is just there enough to get you from one action scene to the next.

Final thoughts, this film was bland. So bland that it sours and becomes bad quickly. They few good nuggets in this film, and there are a few, aren’t worth the rest of the garbage you have to sit through. The Final Chapter is a classic example of a series that was ran way past its expiration date and I for one am glad the ride is over. 4/10

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The Wraith

I was surprised that I didn’t see or even know of The Wraith. Given that it stars a number of actors that I simply adore such as Randy Quaid and Clint Howard. Also the soundtrack is simply amazing and makes the film drip with the aesthetics of the 80’s. Which holds up really well as The Wraith doesn’t have the feel of forced 80’s but simply set in the time. But it does suffer a bit as I expect more from my horror films.

The Wraith opens with lights dancing over the desert that join and form a Dodge M4S piloted by a helmeted, leather clad driver. Said driver starts coming after a local street gang consisting of Oggie (Griffin O’Neal), Skank (David Sherrill), Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian) and Rughead (Clint Howard), who are all lead by the feared Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes).The gang forces people to race for the their cars under threats of violence to either them or their loved ones. Often turning to cheating it win the races. Until the Wraith shows up and starts racing them, killing them off during the races. While the gang deals with the mysterious racers, Jake Kessey (Charlie Sheen) comes to town. Quickly befriending Billy Hankins (Mathew Barry), who’s brother Jamie was murdered and Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn), Packard’s unwilling girlfriend. Keri and Jake strike up a romance, one that is not approved of by Packard. Who set’s his goons upon them, though they prove to be little problem as they keep getting killed. The deaths are all being investigated by the local sheriff, Loomis (Randy Quaid).

I like it and The Wraith is pretty okay. It just doesn’t feel like it accomplishes much with its run time. Wraith has some great ideas and actually does a good job delivering most the time. Though it would have been nice to see the characters and the traumas they’ve suffered more deep explored and expanded upon.

One of the gripes I do have is Randy Quaid’s character. Who is fun, because of Randy Quaid. But that’s the extent of the enjoy-ability of the character. If he can be called one, mostly it feels like he’s brought in to chew the scenery and suck up some screen time as the character provides nothing to the story. I’m positive you could cut all of his scenes and it would have no baring on the plot of the film.

He does do a good job. A lot of the actors do a remarkably good job. Mathew Barry has a number of great moments and his final scene is sad, though not what I would call heart breaking. Also Clint Howard stood out in what could have been a very mediocre role.

Final thoughts, Charlie Sheen is bland in the film. The man is devoid of emotion throughout the film. He comes off as bland and uninteresting, which is awful as everyone is treats him like he’s not either of those things. The revenge angle doesn’t work for me either as so little time is spent on the catalyst, and is only brought up briefly for no other reason than to hold on the vague plot. Lastly, I was bothered by how Keri’s character felt more like a something that is being fought over, rather than a functioning individual. 6/10

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperior

mummy_tomb_of_the_dragon_emperor_ver4So, this film isn’t what I could a horror film. The other films in the series don’t even try to call themselves horror after the 1990 version, the other films being solely action/fantasy. But its origins go back to the classic universal monster movies. So having not seen The Mummy films in years, but seeing the classic far more recently. I was wondering what the newest in the long running franchise looked like and I really didn’t like what I saw. At least The Mummy and The Mummy returns had some elements of dread. In Tomb of the Dragon Emperor doesn’t give its horror origins a passing thought.

Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens with the Dragon Emperors (Jet Li) armies sweeping across China. Until he controls all of China, but having conquered all of his enemy’s he turns to his ambition of conquering death itself. He sends his most trusted friend to find the sorceress Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh), how is rumored to know the secret to eternal life. She doesn’t know it personally, but knows of where to look. She uncovers a book of spells that contains the spell. She seemingly casts the spell in Sanskrit. After which the Dragon Emperor kills her lover, his close friend. Before stabbing Zi Yuan. Her curse takes hold though turning the Emperor and his army into terracotta soldiers before fleeing the castle. Fearing the day he’s woken up as he will wash over the world. Fast forward to 1949, Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) with the help of Professor Roger Wilson(David Calder) uncover the Dragon Emperors tomb. Inside Alex is attacked by a masked assailant when he reaches the tomb of the emperor. After the assailant is chased of the pair take the Dragon Emperor to Shanghai. Meanwhile a very bored Rick (Brandon Fraser) and Evelyn O’Connell (Maria Bello) are asked to return The Eye of Shangri-La to the Chinese government. Though they don’t expect to run into their son in Shanghai at Evelyns brother Jonathans (John Hannah) night club. After breaking up and family drama everyone goes to see Alexs find at the museum. Where they learn that Rick and Evelyn were tricked to bring the Eye to Shanghai, by Professor Wilson and his friends in a military faction led by General Yang (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong). They use the water of life inside the Eye to bring back to life Dragon Emperor. But The Dragon Emperor’s curse isn’t lifted until he bathes in The Fountain of Life at Shangri-La. So The O’Connells and Lin (Isabella Leong), the masked tomb guardian, set off to stop him.

If anything the major sin of this film is feels very paint by numbers. Set up, Magic McGuffin used to bring back mummy, action, twist, action, mummy end fight. At no point was I ever surprised by this film. Well, No that would be lying, as I have to take a moment now to talk about the Yeti’s.

I have no idea what was going through the writer’s mind to make Yeti’s be the best move. When they first show up I was like “Ok, Sure. Yeti’s because why not some Yetis?” Which is perfect since they add nothing of substance and are inconsequential in the scope of the film. There was no reason to even have them, anything that the Yetis do or are attributed requires them. They are really when this film lost me. As their addition is so distracting that The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor lost any sense of suspense that it might have held before then.

The acting is, no good. The chemistry between Fraser and Bello feels genuinely forced, lacking the charm and whimsy of the previous films. Their isn’t one performance that feels like a solid attempt. Each actor and actress come off as overblown to the point where they come off as cheesy.

Now another gripe I have as how underutilized Jet Li was. His performance is limited to the beginning of the film and the last act. The rest of the time theirs a terrible CGI monstrosity sucking up valuable time. Not that any real character is there for Jet Li to convey as the Dragon Emperor compared to IImhotep.

Final thoughts, a wasted two hours. While it has been a long time since I watched the first two films, I remember enjoying them. There is at no point in my life that I would have enjoyed this film. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a shameless cash in and for once do I agree with RottenTomatoes rating. 2/10

Outside the Genre: Mr. Right

mr_rightIt’s been a real long time since I’ve done an Outside the Genre, and I really wanna talk about this film. So here we are. I was turned on to this independent Romantic-Action film by a co-worker. Who knows my general taste in films (Horror films are a passion, but are by no means the only films I watch), suggested this one. What he didn’t know is I’m a fan of all the principal actors, Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell and Tim Roth. So, this film was defiantly up my alley and was absolutely delightful.

Mr. Right Opens with Martha (Anna Kendrick) getting ready to surprise her boyfriend with a romantic and sexy dinner. Though the dinner is lacking as she burns it, though it is quickly replaced with Chinese food. When he gets home he’s with another girl in the throws of passion. Being caught red-handed cheating, Martha breaks up with and proceeds to get really drunk. Her spiral is so bad that she ends up drunk, raving in a closet. Martha’s best and only friend Sophie (Katie Nehra) does her best to try and help her out. Meanwhile, Francis (Sam Rockwell) a reforming (in a manner of speaking) hit-man, goes to meet his newest client. Who he promptly kills, because killing is wrong. While inside the hotel where he kills his client he’s attacked by a crew led by Hopper (Tim Roth). But after donning his signature red clown nose, Francis effortlessly kills them. Leaving only Hoppe,r who had the sense and foresight to stay behind in the van. Both Martha and Francis have a chance encounter at a convenience store. Francis is instantly enamored with Martha and asks her out.  While reluctant, Martha agrees. Resulting in a wonderful day and with Francis staying the night. Hopper gets orders from those he works for to eliminate Francis by any means. During this two low level gangsters Von Cartigan (James Ransone) brother of a under boss in his families crime syndicate and local thug Johnny Moon (Michael Eklund) plot to overthrow Von’s brother using Francis and his penchant for killing those that try to hire him. Things turn rocky for Martha and Francis, once she witnesses him in action… though not enough to deter their love.

What I love most about this film and there’s a few things that I genuinely love about this film is the actors delivery. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell play wonderfully. Anna Kendrick is typical pixie adorable performance, what’s amazing is that Sam Rockwell delivers a performance matches her beat for beat. Just as often leading her performance as following her lead. Tim Roth, while not as memorable as his role in Reservoir Dogs or Four Rooms still gives a fun performance.

The action scenes are a point of inner debate with me. Not the best, with slower action and frequent cutaways. But filmed and added to the story in such a way that unless you spend time looking, you wont notice. Mr. Right makes liberal use of slow motion, at times to great effect. Though when that same effect is repeated it quickly looses its zeal.

Final Thoughts, I really liked this film. Few Romance-Action films hit the enjoyable mark with me. True Lies being the only one that comes to mind off the top of my head. The actors all do a great job. Even those in the more minor roles. The pacing is solid and the tone is constant. Honestly I don’t see what people are divided about. Is Mr. Right the best film? No. Is a fun and engaging film? Absolutely yes. 8/10

Dracula Untold

dracula_untold_ver4Just once I want to watch a PG-13 horror film that isn’t a complete groan Fest. I had heard Dracula Untold was awful, but numerous friends and internet reviews. But I thought, Nah can’t be that bad. I mean Dracula, how hard can you mess that up. Sure, he’s had some disservice in the past, but there is more than a handful great ones. Still I went in with really low expectations, hoping that Dracula Untold would surprise me. It didn’t. It didn’t even try to meet my insanely low expectations.

Dracula Untold opens with a voice over telling us who Vlad the Impaler was, or at least who this fictional account was. Focusing on his being raised in the Persian army of the Ottoman Empire as part of a thousand boys taken from Transylvania. During this time he learns how to fight as well as gains his proclivity for impaling. Now a grown man Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) is now King of Transylvania, is married to Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and the two have a young son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson). While out on patrol Vlad and a few of his men come across a helmet from a Persian scout washed down river. They follow the river to a mountain where they find a cave the Persians had taken refuge in. When the men enter to explore the cave they are quickly beset by a monster, that is feared by the people (Charles Dance). Only Vlad is able to escape the cave with his life. He goes to a local monastery where he learns the creature is a vampire, made by a man making a deal with a demon. But he’s trapped by the same bargain he made until he finds a worthy offering to the darkness. He then returns home. During the Easter Feast the Persians arrive demanding both their tribute as well as a thousand boys for the army. A practice that was supposed to have ended. Vlad goes the Persian camp where he meets with Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), the Sultan and his old friend. Vlad tries to treat with him, but fails with Mehmed demanding a thousand and one, the one being Vlad’s son. When an emissary comes to claim his son, Vlad kills them and heads to the cave where he meets with the monster. The two talk and the vampire gives Vlad his blood,, which infuses him with all his power. Power enough to defeat the Persian Army, and save his family. But if he drinks human blood before three days have passed, he will forever be cursed…

What’s awful is that’s the point where the characters stop developing and the rest of the film is nothing but mindless action. With the emphasis on the mindless. The only redeeming points during the latter half of the film is the visuals which are well done. But they’re about the only things done so.

The acting is mixed with Luke Evens doing a decent enough job with the trash he was handed. But often comes off as muted and never as the fearsome man he’s supposed to be. To much effort is placed on trying to make him a likable tragic character, in all the wrong ways. The other actor of note is Charles dance who plays the Master Vampire and nails the role. He’s everything the Dracula should be, but is relinquished to being a side character with little screen time. Which is disappointing as there are genuinely the best scenes that Dracula Untold has to offer.

The worst part of Dracula Untold has to be the plot holes and there are a ton of them. The most glaring being that Charles Dance’s character is supposed to be the first vampire. Made by a mortal man making a demonic pact, but once Vlad becomes a vampire everyone knows what vampires are, how to kill them and what their weakness are. How though? I know it shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s just so glaring it detracts from the whole film.

Final thoughts, it’s awful… but not unwatchable. You can get one viewing if you’re lucky out of it. But, Dracula Untold lacks any sort of meat to sink your teeth into, let alone any sense of dread. Which is terrible considering this is supposed to be Dracula’s origin story and the first film the universal monster reboot. 4/10

Big Ass Spider!

big_ass_spider_xlgBig Ass Spider! is one of the films that as soon as you look at the cover you know exactly what you’re in for. It feels like a call back to the 1950’s giant monster films like King Kong, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Them!. Them! being the earliest of the giant insect films. Big Ass Spider! is big, bold and apologetically a B-Movie. Not that this film doesn’t have flaws, because it does. But like other B-Films, I have a really hard time hating on it and before it’s thrown out there. I know that this film isn’t technically a horror film, B.A.S. is an Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi. But don’t tell that to Netflix, which claims it as B-Horror.

Alex Mathis (Greg Grumberg) is a down on his luck exterminator and after getting bit by a brown recluse while on the job goes to the hospital. Which is where his day off really starts to go sideways on him. While waiting to pay his bill, the Mortician Carl (Ruben Pla) emerges from the basement sporting a huge spider bite from an equally huge spider. Mathis offers his services to get rid of the spider in exchange for having the hospital flip the bill, which they agree to do. He goes to the basement, accompanied by Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar), the hospital security guard. Mathis and Ramos become fast friends as they hunt down the spider, which has made its way into the hospital’s ventilation. Mathis goes in after it after discovering the body it crawled out of, still on the slab. While Mathis is in the ventilation system, Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise), Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer) and Dr. Lucas (Patrick Bauchau) take command of the hospital, placing in under quarantine. Who knows full well about the spider and after finding the body of an elderly man, who was killed and eaten by the spider that it has increased in size and has entered stage two. After making his way through air vents, Mathis arrives in the basement. He calls Ramos to let him know he’s found the spider, a conversation overheard by Brant. She goes to the basement and manages to save Mathis just before the spider has a chance to attack him. After which it quickly escapes in the city’s sewer system. Mathis gets told by both Tanner and Brant to stay out of it, something he plans on doing until Ramos talks him into hunting the spider for both fame and glory. So the pair head out to find it before the military, something they are most often able to do. Mathis and Ramos are able to deduce the spider is headed for the park and arrive in time to save Brant from webbing. But she’s taken by the spider when the trio tries to flee, causing Mathis to set his sights on saving her and the city from the now gigantic spider.

My issues with this film is two-fold. The first issue being the lighter of the two offenses and that’s the complete lack of chemistry between Mathis and Brant. I know this issue has to lie with the script as Greg Grumberg rocked in heroes and Clare Kramer is my second favorite Buffy Big Bad, second only to the Mayor. So I know that these two can act, but maybe they just didn’t care enough to try for chemistry. I can only guess at the reasons, but the lack of chemistry really puts a damper on the film as a whole.

My second issue is my main issue and that’s the character of Jose Ramos. Not the actor mind you, Lombardo Boyar is fun, engaging and is without question delivers the one of the best performances in the film. My issue lies in the fact that his character is a terrible racial stereotype. Maybe I’m being over sensitive or maybe I’m just reading further into the character than is meant to be .

Something that B.A.S. did really well was its use of cameos and I love cameos. B.A.S. manages to slip in Lin Shaye and Ruben Pla from Insidious. It also has a Llyod Kaufman as a jogger and any film that features Llyod Kaufman in it has to be doing something right. I also wanna talk about Ray Wise that while not a cameo, plays a relatively small role. The main reason I want to bring him up is he’s constantly showing up in films I watch, and I don’t even follow his career… well intentionally at least. The man has been in Excision, Infestation, One Missed Call and Jeepers Creepers II, just to name a few.

Final thoughts, even with the inclusion of Jose Ramos I can honestly say I enjoyed this film. Would of I enjoyed this film more if they would have toned the character down? That I can’t say. As once I started to move past my initial problems with the character, he started to grow on me. But, I’ve never gotten fully past my issues. Big Ass Spider is campy and cheesy, but only in the best kind of way. Big Ass Spider is an entertaining, if flawed, send up of the classic giant monster movies and while not a horror film has strong enough roots in the genre that I feel it’s still worth watching for fans of the genre. Just don’t take it too seriously. 7/10.