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Spectre (2015)

Spectre (2015)

Must be hard to be in charge of Bond movies, when you know how high expectations the fans have! How much of a legacy you're entrusted to further, and how insane a budget you've to spend properly. Maybe that's why recent movies all seem to follow the same formula for success? If you've seen one Bond movie you know what to expect.

On the other hand, if you've seen one, you've all but seen them all. Each one is as different from the previous as night is from day. The budget's always high, the characters are classy and extravagant, the script is clever and complicated, the action is intense and authentic, and the story takes you all over the world. That's just how Bond rolls (in a Rolls).

This particular sequel may not be as grand as Skyfall was after the last, and not as fast-paced as Casino Royale either, but it's a good mixture. It's a bit like the previous (Skyfall) but... classier. Oldskool Bond's coming back again! Not all people seem to: but I like it. I think Léa Seydoux did a good job as the Bond girl too, and I'm happy to see Monica Bellucci make a short appearance. I was also pleasantly surprised at Bautista's appearance! How often do we get to see a WWE wrestler in a Bond movie?! A good one too.

The vicious criminal syndicate Spectre is back as well! And with it, the infamous Blofeld, who we've all seen much too little of in latter movies (apparently due to an ongoing legal battle - that whomever is in charge of this movie finally won!). Or in other words, chronologically, we've seen him much to little. I hope we'll be seeing more of him in the future. A re-occurring antagonist feels like a necessary counterweight for a re-occurring protagonist.

The intro scene was great. I had mixed first impressions of the introductory The Dead Are Alive text, but when I realized it was about more than the festival it made more sense! Hint: it's a hint. ;)

Apart from great filmography, the sound was also masterfully managed. Not just the soundtrack, but also the mixing, such as how you can during the train fight hear the tracks on one speaker and the action on the other, both interesting and effective blending, and the nerve-wreaking audio on the lobotomy attempt had me squirming in my chair. The explosions sound great, the dialog sounds great, and of course: the soundtrack is as pompous as it can possibly get. They've added something too. Some hit-hats? Something that adds to the tension. It sounds good.

The action's superb as always, and it looks like they actually built a little city in a crater just so they could blow it up at the end, just for this movie! Oh, whoops, spoiler alert there... though for anyone who's seen a Bond movie before you'll probably be expecting it. ;)

I don't know what else to say about this movie? It ties in nicely to the prequels, introduces a very capable criminal organization, is clever, creative and classy and packs two and a half hours worth of viewing material that seems at least half an hour shorter when you see it. It's all I'd expect from Bond, and as always also much more. Great watch.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

Ong-Bak 3 (2010)

Ong-Bak 3 (2010)

Well, it's the second part of the second Ong-Bak story.

Tien (Tony Jaa) is utterly defeated right away, so a large portion of this movie is basically him training again, and getting better again, and overcoming himself before he can take on his old foes anew. And then, finally, at the very end, he takes on his foes. But not with the same ferocity as he did in the previous.

Overall it just feels like a long sequence of filler that leads up to disappointingly little. After the second movie (where the greatest fighting scenes most definitely are) it all wears down pretty fast. It feels like focus is being placed in unnecessary areas; the story grows unnecessarily complex.

Simpler story: less filler: much better everything.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Ong-Bak 2 (2008)

Ong-Bak 2 (2008)

The second Ong-Bak was a big disappointment to me. Not because it didn't have good action. In fact, it had some of the greatest action sequences I've seen Tony Jaa do, not least this incredible one-scene sequence showcasing a myriad of odd martial art styles and weapons (this is just a part of it btw, watch the movie for the full thing):

The filmography is on a new level, and the characters are all a bunch of bad-ass fighters. I'd take it all in like a breath of fresh air if it wasn't for the plot... which goes somber and cliche all of a sudden, and deviates entirely from the previous movie - even though the second and third are linked together with a big TO BE CONTINUED notice.

Big TBC notices are another grand no no in my book. Using the Ong-Bak name, and splitting what feels should have been one movie in two parts all makes it so clear they're just using the previous movie's (maybe unexpected?) success to kick start a bigger-budget film like this... and those intentions shine through. The plot may not be so bad, but it doesn't feel very unique or memorable either, even if the fights and characters do. I barely remember what this movie was about (and even less in the sequel), though I clearly remember the action.

The first Ong-Bak was better in all areas. Don't mind the lack of high quality film and blockbuster script, Ong-Bak was the classic. This just wears down the fame of the former. Real shame.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

21 Jump Street (2012)

21 Jump Street (2012)

The only thing getting blown tonight is their cover.

Clever catchphrase! And that's just the beginning. The first 21 Jump Street was awesome. Just pure awesome. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are the perfect duo, the script is fun and crazy and fresh, and the infiltrating a highschool to catch some drug dealers thing a fitting scenario.

Johnny Depp makes a cameo appearance, Ice Cube (almost wrote Samuel Jackson there... whoops!) is boss, the expected values of friendship and love get mixed in, in unexpected ways, and it's all just a blast, packed with parties, drugs, action and packs of laughs. Not so sure I dig the dick shot, but that's a minor detail.

Let me also note that I don't usually dig party movies, but this one was a grand exception, where even the party scenes I could take part in. Even the violence is entertaining. However crazy the scene, there's bound to be some comedy involved. All in all it felt fresh, fast-paced and fun in every way, and when its all over, the credits roll as a slideshow of explosive visuals. 21 Jump Street. Somehow the name just seems to sum it all up. Great watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man (2008)

Some movie covers are worth posting in bigger format!

As seems to be the case with most movies with a sequel, the first Iron Man is still the best Iron Man. It tells the tale of Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr. - his character inspired by Elon Musk), genius businessman and head of Stark Industries, a company that deals with war machines and the business of blood... amongst other things.

One day Stark accidentally bumps into a group of terrorists while on a test run, is hit with shrapnel from a missile he himself created, and is taken prisoner, given the task of making them his infamous Jericho missile. But with the help of Yinsen - fellow captive and interpreter, he builds not a bomb, but the 'core' of what becomes his Iron Man costume, powered by a miniature arc-reactor that keeps the shrapnel from his heart, and is, basically, his life force from that point onward.

Tony Stark is both charismatic and kick ass, and the movie's a blast from Stark to finish. Clever, witty and choreographed with the trademark style of Marvel that just... makes everything so superhero awesome. The transitions are great too. There's plenty of those. One moment Rhodey (good buddy of Stark played by Terrence Howard) is refusing to drink, the next he's telling his life's story. One moment he's telling Stark he can't just use any cover story, the next he's using that particular cover story. The script delivers very quickly that way, start to finish, instant turnover.

But there's more! There's Pepper Potts. There's romance. There's Obadiah Stane. There's betrayal. There's Jarvis (or... is there?). And whatever the motion or emotion, there's entertainment. It has it all.

The sequels feels sub-par in comparison. Maybe because this is the one movie where Tony truly shows his human side; tells his story... maybe because this is where it all begins, and thus everything feels shiny and new. Both the characters and the technology. Whatever it is, this sets a mark that sequels will have a difficult time trying to surpass.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

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Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass (2010)

Time for a different kind of Superhero movie! One with kids, an avid assortment of superheroes all fighting for different purposes (and not all of them that great at fighting - there's the common guy there for the common guy to relate to), the one big bad boss... and his son.

There's plenty of bad-ass footage. I mean, there's plenty of kick-ass footage. Knifes. Guns. Bazookas. Jetpacks (spoiler alert). It's a tale of relations and vengeance too, but the way they present it... that all doesn't seem that important. Maybe it's the unnecessarily happy music that tunes in as soon as Mindy (AKA Hit-Girl) fights.

Overall it's a stylized bloodfest of colorful costumes and kicking ass, that sometimes gets unexpectedly somber. It never holds that somber atmosphere for long though, and thus doesn't come off as the most memorable movie of the sort, but if you are into cheap fights and Punisher style vendettas, this has it all. Creatively different and somewhat kiddy kick-ass action.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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