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American Anarchist (2016)
Chris McKinley and Charlie Siskel probably thought they had a real scoop here, but are clearly grasping at straws. Half way into the documentary – when clichés have run dry; the lonely piano, the super-8 footage etc – it becomes pretty clear that the producers are pushing the script towards some kind of a statement from William Powell. The fabricated narrative of Will as the outcast terrorist loner just doesn't work. In reality we get to know a very sincere person who's deeply involved in educating children with disabilities. Is Will responsible for the actions of all the individuals that have read the book? Of course not. The film is finished abruptly, mid-sentence, as if the producers ran out of questions. They probably did.
A heartfelt peak into the world of professional skateboarder Chris Cole's rise to the top, transformation as pro for Zero, and mission to help a younger skateboarding generation find its voice. From the humble beginnings of making budget 'sponsor me'-tapes through the transformation of Philly's Love Park and getting nominated Skater of the Year - The Motivation 2.0 is a story of indisputable passion for skateboarding and the battle to build a legacy for the future.
The Dutchman, Jericho, Wormhole and the Russians. This euro-thriller is likely to bore you to death with its clichés, but hey, sprinkle with a few old-timers and we're all good? As per usual, there's no venting fake reviews by IMDb, one-time reviewer 'kevjoyce-41340' not only used the words 'perfect', 'brilliant' and 'flawless' in once sentence, but also gave the film a 10/10 rating. I'd say that's pretty much what this movie isn't. Instead it's a slightly confusing amalgamation of equal parts Bourne – the last boring one, mind you – Die Hard and Face-Off, but with a handful unfunny and overly violent scenes added. Criminal tries hard to be extremely badass, but without the smarts and flair of the many movies it stole from.
Story aside, there isn't much excitement in the actor department either. Kevin Costner is not all that bad, but Gary Oldman and Tommy-Lee Jones are both seriously past their expiration dates, and with Ryan Reynolds continuing to be nothing more than a face. 'Bland' is the word here. A few cringe-worthy scenes comes to mind, like when Costner take down four guys at a fastfood joint, grabs a vehicle and starts jamming to the radio. Or 'blending in' by dressing epicly gangster whilst punching a random guy in the face – the kind of overacting reserved for melodrama queen Nicolas Cage. Or maybe Travolta in Swordfish (2001).
Other than that, the movie is shot well, has its fair share of action scenes and also includes a few interesting people like Scott Adkins and Amaury Nolasco. Unfortunately, none of whom get the chance to shine this time. No doubt there are some good actors in Criminal, but it leaves you questioning if the film hadn't been better off with a tailor-made script for just one of them. I'm giving Criminal a 5 out of 10. It's watchable, but you've seen it all before.
A royal 'meh'
Shooter comes off as an overly polished and pretty bland approach to the Swagger story right from the start. The visuals are slick, portraying the main actor as a pretty boy, who just happens to have a beautiful mansion in the woods, the perfect marriage with a semi-supermodel and a man cave (war room) full of toys. And then there's the overplayed CIA/Homeland/FBI fight over jurisdiction, the minority girl that has to 'try harder' to impress her slick boss (Designated Survivor). Add duckface while tuning your scope to some 90's alt rock etc. So, in all honesty, nothing new and nothing interesting so far.
I thought the Wahlberg movie was watchable, so I was expecting a little more here. Not like the movie version is crazy good, it just feels a little more believable. Another thing that struck me as a bit odd is the fact the sound design is very off in the series, with pretty lame rock in the montages and an annoying droning sound throughout most parts of the remaining scenes. It might be the 'in' thing right now, but it doesn't work here as there's no recognizable overlaying musical theme to keep the visuals together. As a whole, the sound design fails to create any tension or add anything to the already dull mood.
I'm gonna give it my best to not fall asleep watching the first episodes, although I find it very unlikely not to happen. Rolling EP 02 as I type this. Wish me luck.
Dog Eat Dog (2016)
Dead in the water
Fast cuts, split scenes, violence, profanity and drugs have been the go-to recipe for below average Guy Ritchie-esque films since 1998. While that particular film had a fantastic story, Dog Eat Dog clearly lacks in that department. Here we, again, get the overdue Cage in his stereotypical suit and tie, handing out wisecracks, being the smart guy (hint: boring) coupled with a few half naked tattooed chicks and plenty of rough looking ex-cons. Add drugs and what could go wrong, right? Another reviewer stated the film was 'unfunny and stupid' and I couldn't agree more. The whole thing feels like some old movie executives googled 'cool' and tried to make a movie from the words that came up. Thirty minutes into the film the actors have made references to Facebook, eBay and Elliot Smith. You know, to connect with the kids, yo. Possibly because nothing in this film will appeal to anyone above fifteen years of age. Also, the voice-over is always a dead giveaway for a plot that's too thin or convoluted you simply have to get it spelled out for you – or it doesn't make any sense. An utter waste of time. And by the way, how did Willem Dafoe get tangled up in this mess? Hardly worth downloading.
Put your offended male self aside for 116 minutes
If the people complaining about this movie actually watched the first film again, they'd be surprised how shallow and silly the original version is too. I mean, is the reboot as groundbreaking and fantastic as you thought the first film was when you were a kid? Not really, but then again, you're not a kid anymore so maybe it's not that strange after all. The first film had a female protagonist and this one has a male one, big deal. That doesn't make it a bad film by default. Are they making fun of men? Hell yeah, about time us dudes get a bit of that! I was actually surprised it wasn't half as bad as I thought after reading the negative comments here. I kind of enjoyed it, but then again I'm a grown-up, and I don't get offended by movies for kids. Move on.
Range 15 (2016)
Beyond bad, and not in a funny way
Movies can be bad in a funny way, we all get that. But then there's the odd few that are just so painfully bad, you have to ask yourself what the hell just happened. Putting aside the fact who made it and why, a movie still has to carry itself to the end. I find it hard to grasp how anything like this is even worth the time and money spent. There's no real acting, jokes are exceptionally bad, to the point I had to skip-watch more than half of the movie. How this abortion gets anything above a 1-2 star is really beyond me. No doubt IMDb's rating system is flawed to the point it's no longer even half-functioning. I've seen better films made by 8:th graders.
Go with Me (2015)
Gritty, low-key small town drama
If you, just like me, can't get enough of bleak and gritty small-town dramas, this one might be for you. Blackway slowly builds momentum and although not as good as Blue Ruin (2013) - one of my favorite films in the genre - actually feels kind of similar in 'realness' and setup. Dialogue is quite sparse but complements the low-key grading of the scenes perfectly. I doubt this film will make any significant waves with the general public, but Anthony Hopkins performance is as solid as ever and the story is pretty believable. Over all good performances by the cast. I would recommend for anybody into drama and or revenge type films.
Precious Cargo (2016)
Had to sit it out just to see if it could get any worse.
Boy, did wisecracks degenerate pretty severely since Die Hard and the good ol '90s. This faceplant reeks of cheap thrills, direct-to-DVD actors and, of course, a 150 year old Bruce Willis. I'm about 2/3 into the movie and I've already forgotten half of the plot. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the Michelangelo of Thieves apparently, acts with the kind of confidence only a guy who thinks Wakeboarding is an extreme sport would. And did I mention every girlfriend is a sniper? Granted, no adults were involved in the making of 'Precious Cargo', or it wouldn't have been made at all. This train wreck is what happens when subpar directors try to make movies for millennials – the most unlikely-to-happen plot in the universe right now.
Plan 9 (2015)
Disjointed attempt to be nerdy-funny
Cult films, just like music, are made by people that have no clue what they're doing, but have a strong vision and giving it 100%. Trying to do something badly, unfortunately doesn't yield the same result. And that's where Plan 9 comes in. It's not nerdy bad, which obviously works sometimes - it's just plain boring bad. Scenes are too long, lit badly (not bad enough to be funny mind you) and although the viewer is introduced to a few quirky characters, there's just no substance to hang on to. There's a lot of over acting mixed with under acting and all things considered, the movie just come across as a "fun" art school project. And not in a good way I might add. A+ for trying tho.
Low-budget reached an all new low.
Man terrorizes a family seen through a multi web-cam type setup. That's it. Remove acting, character building, drama, tension or any of the myriad of things that could make a movie watchable. Hangman simply picks up the Paranormal Activity snoozetorch, and manages to do absolutely nothing with it. There are home movies made by kids on youtube that look stellar in comparison to Hangman. Not even kidding here. Had to scrub through the last third of the "film". Possible the lowest quality film I've ever seen. The fake review of the film here on IMDb was the most entertaining moment I had watching Hangman. They're just too funny and always written the same way.
Impressive Scandi drama-thriller
With the limited budgets of European films, compared to its US counterparts, it's bloody amazing what Norwegians are putting together for the screen these days. Hodejegerne (2011), Trollhunter (2010), Dead Snow (2009), Red vs. Dead (2014) and now The Wave. Even though some critics proclaim we've seen this before, the fact is I can't think of one film based on a geological landslide and tsunami combo. Can you? Sure, there's a bit of Volcano and Dante's Peak in this film, but it is a genre movie, so it's expected. As a whole The Wave is a very impressive piece of work with a great build up and far better special effects than most films out there right now. Norway is coming strong so Sweden and Denmark will have to step up their game!
Cheap thrill faceplant
Throw together a few bad-ass looking guys and you get a bad-ass movie? If only directing was that simple. This reeks direct to DVD; bad acting with little or no coherent dialogue, bad lighting with the classic 2008 fake lens flare, zero character development etc. The list goes on. These days Hollywood movies are sadly relying on statistics, stitching together parts and dialogue from films that once did well. De Niro hits rock bottom of wooden acting smoking Vapes whilst lecturing a millennial how in the future no one will know what a real cigarette tasted like. ZZzzzz. This film is the reason why people pirate movies. Period. Times is money, and you're about to loose some.
The bottomless pit.
Unfortunately no amount of f-words can save this immature and epicly sad excuse of a movie. We all have to pay the rent, I get that. Sometimes it just hurts to watch it happen. Checkmate tries to be so bad-ass it falls flat on its face from the very first frame. Disconnected plot, no character development, crazy amount of cuss words, words of wisdom outtro etc. The turkeylist goes on. How did Glover and Aston even end up in this mess? I would seriously think a seventh grader could put together a more interesting script. This is by far the worst film I've seen the last 10 years. We're not talking funny bad here either. Low budget just got a new low - and I'm not even gonna comment on the girl with the samurai sword.
True Story (2015)
A misunderstood gem
True Story is a slow-paced drama twisting and turning the question of what's important vs. what is true in a story. Having read some of the reviews after seeing the movie, it's quite clear that most people didn't get the double meaning of "true story" in this film. The whole plot is misleading the audience to think that there's some mesmerizing twist by the end of the film, although there isn't. The film rather mirrors real life, hence the title. However boring this might sound to the casual movie enthusiast awaiting a "Hollywood ending", it's the journey and not the end that makes this movie rather brilliant.
In True Story, Finkel has doctored one of his articles to give it more impact and has suffered grave consequences from it. His mission in the film is to make up for his mistakes by writing a true to the facts story based on the Longo case. Longo on the other hand, having committed multiple murders, has no leverage and so makes up a falsified story about what really happened as a last cry for attention. And that's the beauty of the film; both characters had reasons to fabricate a story, only to later suffer the harsh consequences from not giving the true story to begin with.
Sometimes it's what's not in a film that makes it great.