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Pacific Rim - Uprising (2018)

Pacific Rim - Uprising (2018)

In the world after the last attack peace is slowly returning to the cities, yet some coastal areas have been left abandoned... scavengers run amok here; gather what they find for food. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and the war is long forgotten.

The hero's son lives in these parts, and he is not his father. Well, not until he one day winds up in the hands of the law and is forced to make a tough call... after meeting young Jaeger-building prodige Amara Namani and attempting to escape in her miniature Jaeger. It starts good, but then...

I'm not sure why I watch these blockbusters anymore. I mean they are great. The battles are gargantuan. Everything's amazing. I'm happy to see John Boyega start landing some lead roles (he's good at it too), and in good company of Cailee Spaeny. Some of the main characters from the first movie are here too. But still, it all feels a bit one-dimensional.

I was disappointed in how fast everything moved, and how at the verge of defeat (or victory) they just snap their hand and change the flow of battle completely. That some characters die seems planned to maximize sadness. And the Kaiju voice for effect. And the drones, of course, you know how that'll go. Everything about the movie... it's just too planned. Too political. Too predictable. It's awesome but still disappointingly normal, like it's trying to follow some standard blockbuster formula.

And regarding the special effects: are we starting to accept mediocre scenes? When things go fast they don't bother with the details here. The billowing smoke and shattering glass... it's just a haze.

Maybe this is clearer in the cinema than it is if you see it at home, but maybe not. Some close-ups and other bits are awesome. The props are awesome. The special effects at beginning and end and introductions are particularly awesome, but some bits in between... it feels like they get lazy, because they get hazy. It's probably tedious work doing CGI on a scale such as this, but if you are doing CGI on this scale you had better do it right.

I did enjoy the movie, but not as much as I hoped I would. It feels like a forced sequel, especially since it seems there might be another one on route. Awesome moments though it did have. Cool credits too.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Musicalish #244

Have a dose of awesome music! British, American, Swedish, ex-Yugoslav and Bosnian... this one has a bit of everything. New and old. Enjoy.

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6 Anticipated Movie Sequels 2016 Aftermath

I am way too late posting this thing again! But better late than never right?

I missed last year entirely too (maybe I was just too busy watching the sequels to write about them), but I'll be posting a list for this year soon.

You can find the old post from 2016 here, and as for my long overdue impressions on these promising sequels (which btw are not just 6 but 12 - something about how many awesome sequels there were this year):

Ride Along 2

I'd seen this one before I even posted the batch, and my impressions from earlier pretty much still apply. See the review here.

John Wick 2

Does this franchise still hold up to expectations? Hell yeah! The second segment of the series was just as flashy, classy, and tough an interpolation as the first one, and it looks like there's one more on route... at least! I'm looking forward to it. You'll find my review on this one here.

Now You See Me 2

It's got the magic! It's a real show of showmanship and distraction but... it didn't fully measure up to the first. Enter loose ends, too. Worth a watch, but not quite like the original. Review here.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny

Here's one I actually forgot about completely some time after I'd posted this list. I watched it now and... although it didn't compare the classic it wasn't bad. The feels are still there, just not as strong as they used to be.

Check out that review here.

Ice Age: Collision Course

I said this one might have a hard time measuring up to my expectations... and I was right. It didn't. It was still a fun watch, but overall this series just seems to be going downhill after the first one. Or rather getting messier and messier. Too many characters; too little red thread. You can read the review here.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Here's another one I actually hadn't seen before I revisited this old post! A few days later aaand here you go. Fresh impressions. Long (well actually it wasn't that long) story short: it was awesome! I'd forgotten how great the Kung Fu Panda franchise was. Rewatched the prequels while I was at it.

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The Maze Runner 3 - The Death Cure (2018)

Maze Runner 3 - The Death Cure (2018)

Apparently this movie was supposed to come out early 2017 (I noted when I posted my last review), but it sure took a while longer!

Three years later and here we are again, out in the wild lands, distant from the maze but still just as entangled in the war against Wicked. Theresa is working for the enemy, but she might not be all bad. Other old characters make a return too, and it feels like they're really tying up loose ends towards the end. And this is the end. The final part. Right?

The movie starts with a rescue mission, back to the wild, and then to a city: the last remaining bastion of humans yet uninfected, though it's spreading and it seems like no matter what they try their walls may still fall. Here Wicked have their headquarters, and are working diligently on a cure. A cure for death.

After seeing Daybreakers I was almost expecting the test girl's head to explode during the first experiment, but they kept it simple. I'm reminded during the action sequences of just how simple everything is here - and that sometimes it's better that way. They go for firecrackers, smokescreens and shaky cam instead of big budget special effects, and scenes like the car swirling through the air, or the container, or the bus, or the fall... they all seem real, and really add to the chaos.

Doesn't matter if they filmed it all with a green screen - they still filmed it, and that I appreciate. There may be plenty of CGI as well but around the characters everything feels real. Props to the producers on managing that authenticity even in a world like this.

I'm not so fond of the Transformer sound effects though, or the constant stunning instead of killing. Even if is pretty considerate of them it somewhat tones down the threat levels.

It seems they reprised the train heist from Fast and Furious 5 a bit too... not that I'm complaining on that one, and the final war reminds all the more of The Hunger Games. They're out of their cage, and maze, but once they get back to the city... the similarities all come again.

It is great though. The sceneries are switched up once again, and go from futuristic city oasis to green land, from deserted desert to sandy island, and the characters... they jump around a bit. They go on and off. I like their energy, and how they capture the emotion, even though I sometimes wonder... are people really this intense? Really?!

Great action. Genuine effects/props. Strong characters. Fragile relations. Overall this was a great finale to a great franchise. The mystery's gone, but the death cure... even with the world overturned there's still hope.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

The Purge 2 - Anarchy (2014)

The Purge 2 - Anarchy (2014)

Enter Sergeant! The nameless bodyguard you saw a bit more of in the sequel. AKA Frank Grillo.

He starts the movie plotting revenge - to participate in the Purge with unknown motives... yet when he finally embarks out into the dead of night he runs into four strangers that alter his path. He saves their lives, and they have nowhere to go, so against his vengeful will they go together.

Similar to the other Purge movies - both prequel and sequel, it's a both violent and scary trip they embark on, and though the city streets seem mostly devoid of life there's always someone lurking behind a corner, or a fiery truck blazing by on a backstreet (I loved that part).

The atmosphere is built up masterfully, and the plot the same, with all the coordinated chaos that entails. Only the title is a bit misleading. It doesn't become as big a war zone as it seemed to promise.

I thought the movie might reveal a bit more about what came to be in the next movie too - how the Governor's campaign first started, but it ties in loosely to events of both the previous and the following, and it does this in a good way. It's independent, yet the reoccurring characters and evolving sense of chaos feels like an aspect of continuity between the movies.

I really love everything about these movies, and seeing this one now... this might be my favorite one of the original three. Though maybe I'm just not remembering all the details in the others. As scary as it is a topic relevant to our modern world: in movie form it's all just perfect.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (2015)

The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (2015)

The first Man With The Iron Fists didn't sell as well as they hoped, and so the second one is on a budget. The setting's new (a small village in rural China), the actors aren't as known (unless you watch a lot of martial art movies), and the movie isn't so much about The Man, as it is about his journey, and the small mining town he stumbles upon whilst on it.

Here's the story surmised via IMDB: When a stranger, Thaddeus, is found badly wounded near the village, miner Li Kung and his wife Ah Ni offer him refuge. As he heals, he becomes entrenched in a conflict that pits the townsfolk against the evil Master Ho, his nefarious Beetle Clan and the terrifying Lord Pi.

Theatrical, no? The description captures that part nicely, and that's one of the things I like about these movies! I'm happy they made a sequel.

Though RZA doesn't have as prominent a part in the fights he does have plenty of involvement with the soundtrack, and it definitely builds the setting well. The main characters may not be as famous either, but the martial arts are on a new level too.

When Thaddeus isn't the main one fighting (considering I doubt he has the martial art skills any of the other skilled martial artists here do) the fights do come across a lot more authentic, even if he always seems to land the heaviest punches. When he fights it's with special effects, fake blood and props. When the others fight it's pure skill. I'm undecided as to which kind I like most, though I do have an affinity for authentic action. Stunts. Props. As much material action as possible, even if it's acted.

The props are brutal too. Blood. Flying heads and limbs and what-not. Expect a bit of everything. Good stunts too, though nothing spectacular.

The plot's easy to follow, although it sometimes jumps around a bit with apparently no reason, like how when Thaddeus appears at the arena... nobody questions his being there. Suddenly it's like he's been in the village forever. And why did the bad guy try to teach the kids about Chi? In such a spontaneous way too. And: lots of other why's. Some of the music with lyrics doesn't really fit in either, even if I like the atmosphere they build, and the fights aren't always as fluent as they could be.

Fun fact: The editor's name is Charles Norris, and as a gag he's credited as Chuck Norris.

The movie has a few throwbacks to the early Mortal Kombat movies too, and there is a certain similarity with the tournaments. It's a strange mix between traditional martial arts movies and the more modern ones. Both new and improved and old and traditional... and the gray area in between.

Seigi Ozeki, Dustin Nguyen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Carl Ng - the cast's a real mesh of origins too. Japanese, Vietnamiese, Chinese, part British, part American, American, They've got it all.

I like the style, I like the props, I like the action, and overall: I liked the movie! It's like a homage to the action movies of old, and a bridge between times and cultures at the same time. Not to mention a feast of action. It just doesn't play in the same league as the one before it.

 rated 3/5: not bad

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