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Killers (2010)

Killers (2010)

Here's an action comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, as the young couple Spencer and Jen - a spy and a regular girl who fall in love, and get married, and settle down... until one day it's revealed Spencer has a million-dollar contract on his back, and both friends and foes are after his head.

Of course Jen doesn't know any of this until the last possible moment, and they flee their suburban ideal under great confusion and chaos. And Jen's pregnant, among other things, but what better way to test your relationship than via a life and death cat and mouse chase through the neighborhood, all the while seeking to reveal what's really going on?

It's fun, and fierce, like a bit watered-down, bit cheesier one-character-killer chick-flick variant of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It's not anywhere near as good as that one, but it's not bad at all. No discernible flaws apart from maybe the occasional lack of palpable character chemistry and spy-stuff authenticity. If you're looking for a not overly complicated, dramatic, charismatic, fun and feelgood movie with love and action, here's one.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Apocalypse Pompeii (2014)

Apocalypse Pompeii (2014)

Here's a crappy movie for a change. A B-movie with few redeeming qualities, despite a not totally bad cast.

It came out the same year as Pompeii, and has a title to match and cash-in on the former, which is apparently a common tactic for the studio in charge of the movie. It does feature at least one known actor: John Rhys-Davies, though the main cast is relatively unknown, played by Adrian Paul, Georgina Beedle (the daughter) and Jhey Castles (the wife).

They're alright, but not even John Rhys-Davies seems to get into the mood of the movie. Maybe it was rushed, but I get the impression it was just bad, and no one really went out of their way to make an effort.

The story? Mount Vesuvius erupts when a family visits Pompeii. The daughter uses her skill and her father his ability, in order to escape the disaster. It's as cliche as it gets, and most of the movie's spent hiding, or waiting, or watching the eruption from afar. The characters do showcase fear decently, though it seems they're not always looking directly at the source of it. We get to see mixed footage of real volcanoes, and CGI, and it's sometimes a pretty bad contrast.

The biggest drawback however is the lack of action. As the husband rushes to reach his family there are plenty of opportunities, but nothing really happens. He speaks with an officer at a roadblock. He joins up with a few recruits, and an old friend, and eventually steals a helicopter - but even then the chase that follows is a disappointment.

I'm mildly amused by the crappy directing, and scripting, but time moves slowly and the danger is never close enough. It's one long wait: for the family, and for the viewer, and when it's all over it all feels kind of pointless.

The CGI seemed like it might redeem itself over and over, but never really did; nor did the actors. In the end it's all over. They're happy it's over. I'm happy it's over.

I've seen similar B-movie releases meant to cash-in on mainstream movies before, like the San Andreas Quake that came out along with San Andreas in 2015, but usually they spin off the original in interesting ways, and at least provide some comedy value. This one did give a brief history lesson and tour of Pompeii in its introductory segment, but after that it goes downhill fast. All that lava, and ash, and mud, and no sense of urgency... so much potential wasted on bad CGI and a straight of wait.

 rated 1/5: shit shit shit

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

This one won one Oscar?!

It might be much-improved over the last movie: the CGI is starting to feel realistic, and the intro was stylish as few, the chemistry is getting better too... basically everything in this movie is better than it was in the previous, but it's still miles away from the reboot. And the reboot sequel, premiered ten years after this one, even further.

Maybe it's the predictability of it all. Maybe it's the so unnecessary ups and downs of Peter and Mary Jane's relationship (though the ups and downs did annoy me in the reboot sequel as well). Maybe it's the doubt. Probably it's a combination of all these elements, combined with the fact that this movie is just old. The CGI - albeit better, doesn't live up to the standards a decade later, and the romantic parts are still pretty cheesy.

I did like this one, and Alfred Molina played a convincing villain as Doc Ock - much more so than the Green Goblin in the previous. The plot's a compelling one too, with a clear threat, and an intrigue that makes it as personal as possible, and it ends in that familiar, flashy, Spider-Man way. It's good, but not as good as I hoped, or remembered it. But that is the point of a reboot, right? To make it better.

The polished storyline - truthful to the comics, is one of the biggest strengths of the reboot, and the actors a close second. Though these actors aren't bad, they just don't feel as suitable for their roles. Tobey Maguire is great, and Kirsten Dunst is great - better now than ever, but it's like their roles have evolved beyond them and need someone else. I keep comparing them to their new counterparts, and feeling like their personalities are no longer suitable for their roles.

As far as the original trilogy goes this was definitely the best part of it, but not so great it should've gotten an Oscar. Not if the new ones didn't.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002)

Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst is Mary Jane, James Franco is Harry and Willem Dafoe is Green Goblin. That's the main cast, and though they're all great actors in their own accord, they just don't strike this chord right. At least not as right as they did with the sequel, or better yet: the reboot.

Having seen the new version: the new story, and humor, and character chemistry, this one feels all wrong. Tobey Maguire is painfully goofy, the romance is excessively cheesy, and the CGI is terrible. The swings between buildings feel stiff and awkward, and the fights have that old Batman-style to them. Though that was fine and dandy with the Great Big Bat, it just doesn't work as well with a character who webs his way through the world rather than falling in or rising away theatrically.

The soundtrack feels similar, too, which doesn't mean it's bad, but it feels like it's aimed for another character, in another place; another time. Like Spider-Man hasn't found his true purpose, which in a way is relevant to the plot, though rather than enforce his lack of purposeless it just projects a different image. It's as pompous and orchestral as ever, but it's someone else's style. Not his; nor a blank-slate's.

Even the CGI intro was embarrassingly bad, with plastic-looking webs and unstable motions between the frames. Not how I remembered it.

It's a feel-good story though, about how Peter Parker first gains his Spider-Man powers, and how he manages his daily trials with school, his uncle's death, his tragic (but evolving) relationship with Mary Jane, and the soon-to-be unexpected clash between him and his best friend, when his best friend's father takes a strange drug and becomes the Green Goblin.

The intrigue's not bad, and Peter Parker's life and journey is bumpy and sad. Even if you're disappointed by the acting, and action, you do get into the mood. You relate to him, and hope it all works out, but at the same time have a hard time not continually comparing this to the reboot, and realizing the new is just so much better in so many ways. The character chemistry most of all.

I know I liked this the first time I saw this, and maybe it still is good, but now I know it can be better. If you're pending between seeing this and seeing the new one, I'd recommend the latter.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party (2016)

An animated, American, Disney-style movie for adults! Who would've expected this? And with adult I mean: crude, coarse, and full of sexual innuendo. And plain sex scenes. With animated food. That was... oddly exciting.

I've seen serious animated movies before, but never anything quite like this. I've seen provocative and profane, but not like this. I'm reminded a bit of that Simpsons movie from 2008, though this goes hurdles beyond, and with an animation style and quality remarkably close to Pixar, the combination of content and presentation feels pretty weird.

The voice acting roster is top of the line too, boasting such unexpected talents as Salma Hayek and Edward Norton. It makes me wonder how they were coaxed into participating in something like this. Incredibly big bucks? That or I suppose they too may have a silly sense of humor well-hidden under that facade of seriously professional talent, and a will to bend the borders when they're offered the opportunity. As any actor with true passion should. Of course.

There's Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen (the main sausage) too, but they're the expected cast for this kind of movie, and Nick Kroll voices the terrible Douche - main movie villain. The one villain within the same dimension. As it turns out, the humans - once perceived as Gods within the Supermarket realm, are the worst fiends of all.

The truth is uncovered ever so slowly, after unnecessarily heavy smoking sessions and hesitant passage through the store, but eventually they get there, and it gets crazy. The crazy scenes really are crazy, and the clashes between comedy and grotesque and eerie are sudden and confusing. Should you laugh? Should you cry? Should you look away? At least there's a bit more preparation before the sexual scenes.

But let us get back to basics: A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence. That's what it's all about. A sausage and a bun, who through a tragic chain of events both get pulled out of their packages - in which they waited pure and untouched for the Gods to take them out of the stores, and cast out into the cruel world and cold linoleum floor beyond the safety of the shelves on which they've dwelled.

It may all sound crazy and dandy, but there's also a darker side to it all, because it pokes fun at some of the most sacred aspects of society as we know it. But you know what? I like the religious jokes. The juice. The stupid jokes. The gum. The sexual jokes... well, some of them. I'm not as fond of all the drugs, but they're interweaved into the story in a way that'd make it hard to tell without. Seth Rogan steers the way, and provokes to the point where some people just can't seem to stomach it. Which must mean it's doing something right. If you can't laugh at yourself, then how can you laugh at anybody else?

The symbolism is easy to see, though maybe not as easy to accept. Aren't we all a bit like food in a supermarket? It's a genius corelation to me, that brings up a countless number of relevant (and controversial) topics in regard to our life, and you can find as much more as you want if you search the symbolism yourself. Expiry dates. Freshness. Shelves (the pyramid scheme of society). False Gods...

I admit I'm more pro-Atheist than I am pro-Christian when it comes to in-movie propaganda, simply because the logic appeals to me - and pro-Atheist movies of the sort are few and far between, though having this particular strain of logic proclaimed by an otherwise obscene and stupid pack of foods probably doesn't give the best impression.

I hope they don't give us non-believers a bad rep. I hope people don't start seeing non-believers as drug-induced anarchists who have orgies in public places and not only disavow but slaughter their old Gods.

Was there any intention at all with this movie, or is the motive simply to make fun of all we heed as holy, and open our eyes a little to... objectivity? To thinking outside the box? Food for thought.

I can watch a good Christian movie too as long as the message isn't all too angled, and it makes me wonder: is the Atheist message here too angled?

I don't know. We all have bias based on what we believe, and since I believe what I do, maybe this gave me more laughs than it would have if the message was another; more prophetic one.

But either way: be it profound and provocative by intention, or just the Seth Rogan-style of crazy by nature, I had a ball with it. The wordplay's witty, the red line is easy to follow, and the script picks on fragile pecking points within society as we know it - there's even a musical part, and in the end it goes beyond its own world. The jokes won't all appeal to all, or all appeal at all, but it was refreshingly unrestricted overall.

Though I would've liked some things different, I can't help be excited by the prospect that maybe this opened the doors for what we'll allow with animations in the future.

What's next? Whatever it is: I'll be looking forward to it.

 rated 3/5: not bad

(more…)

Jitters

So nervous like I never was,
So nervous you can't understand,
So nervous like... nerveruos?
So nervous like I run a band,

My face is flush but my hands are chill,
I sway when I stand but I brand my will,
My head is abrim - not with fear or doubt,
Just anguish, angst, I've GOT to let out.

Let it out slowly, with a breath - with a sigh,
Not with a crash, with a trip, with a fly... open,
Embarrassment's never so bad you could die,
But you could die, couldn't you? I believe: I'm a good guy,

Just with a little jitters.

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