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Indiana Jones 3 - The Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones - The Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones is at it again, this time searching for the Holy Grail. Of course the Nazis are there as well, and as his father points out, it's a race between good and evil. If the Nazis get their hands on the holy grail first it'll be eternal darkness all over the world... or something like that.

The movie starts with a flashback into Indiana's past, when he's a kid, stumbling onto some thieves trying to steal a very special cross. He manages to escape, but the thieves take the cross from him anyway, with some help from the popo. A ton of years later he takes the cross back once again. Then his father gets kidnapped and sends him his diary. Turns out the father has spent 40 years of his life researching and searching for the Holy Grail, and now it's Indiana's turn to do so. Oh btw, in the introductory flashback of the movie, Indiana's fear of snakes gets a probable explanation. :)

It's a great movie, as all other Indiana movies I've seen so far. The fights all have the choreographically-wild style that characterizes fights from this day and age (you know, when the characters really lunge at the opponent), but there are still quite a few dangerous stunts among them, a lot of knocking down and shooting up and tumbling around, and some clever situations. Like taking refuge in the fireplace when a fire spreads through the castle. It's both clever, fast-paced and entertaining at the same time. In a way I'm amazed that they actually made a movie this fast-paced back in 1989. Most the movies I've seen from this time aren't nearly as quick or quick-witted as this one.

Another thing that strikes me is how they combined daylight and darkness. Nowadays, everything is dark. To portray evil there has to be darkness, but why, when it stands out so much better under a bright sun? It's one of the great differences between the eighties and the past-millenia movie-making style. All the remakes we get are darker than the originals. Think Batman, Superman, Terminator, etc etc. It's always death coupled with darkness, and the stereotype gets boring fast, there's only so much variation when you can't play with color and atmosphere. On a side note, the movie has some incredible special effects: traps and illusions, explosions, gunfire, everything is very realistic. And most of it probably is... real. I don't mean they're shooting with real bullets, I mean they're probably shooting with blanks or blowing up small charges to simulate gunfire and hits. I mean it's not digital. Only the blood looks as all blood from the eighties, just a bit too bright. The illusionary bridge at the near-end of the movie is probably my favorite effect from this time, and it seems to be real, too. It's quite a feat.

Of course there's a little love aside from the action, and the meeting with the father calls for a lot of comedy. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are a great duo, wish they'd make more movies together. At one time in the movie Indiana gets Hitlers autograph, unintentionally, just to randomly name one of many interesting moments. Of course there are more dramatical moments as well, such as when Indianas father is dying and he is forced to find the holy grail to save him. The mystery knight that greets him, after having waited 700 years in the temple, is a magical moment. I like how these movies seamlessly pull together reality and mythology. The beginning is similar to the end, taking place in the desert, four old men riding into the sunset. The bad guy dies, the Nazis flee the scene and it ends happily after all... though that has nothing to do with the beginning.

But anyway, this is a great movie, as all the others in this series. If you've seen them, you better see this. If you haven't, this is a good introduction, especially since it features the flashback at the beginning. I actually think this was the first Indiana Jones movie I ever watched (fortunately), and it seems I did so in good order. Don't know if this is my 2nd or 3rd time watching, but it never gets old. I'll give it a...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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RED (2010)

Red (2010)

Bruce Willis is living a boring life. Of course, in this movie he's not Bruce Willis, he's Frank Moses. He's an assassin, a retired one as such, former CIA agent, living an anonymous life in American suburbia. The highlights in his life consist of contacting the public pension service and talking to a specific girl. When a wet team one day storms his house and it's clear they're out to kill him and anyone he's been in contact with, he goes to meet her and save her, team up with a bunch of other retired agents and kill the vice president.

There's a bunch of great actors in the movie. There's Gordon Freeman, Err... Morgan Freeman. There's Carl Urban and that actress from Weeds, Botany something? Or was that her Weeds name? It's not a name I remember, but she's really a great actress. There's a lot of good actors/actresses in this movie. Those are the only ones in this that I've seen in other movies, but everyone does a great job, the movie is just filled with good actors. It reminds very much of Knight and Day, with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, which btw came out the same year, and maybe overshadowed this movie a bit. It's the same spy/romance drama, with same guy saving some girls life multiple times, kidnapping her in the process, the girl trying to flee all the time; you know the story. Personally I think this movie outclasses Knight & Day though. It has much more depth in it and much more detail. It's not just a regular spy/romance movie either, there's a mystery plot involved, and it's unpredictable. People you think are dead are alive, people who should be alive are dead, people you expect to survive get killed. It's complex. New things are revealed all the time. Maybe that's why this movie has a lower rating on IMDB than Knight & Day: it's too complicated for most people. Or maybe it's just chance that one movie was favored over the other. Either way, if you like action, you really need to see both of them.

There's comedy, romance and a lot of action. The filmography is great. The gunfights are great, and clever, there's a lot of creativity and a lot of good choreography, not only for the fights but for mostly... everything. There are also some amazingly well-staged scenes, like when the wet team are attacking Franks house and he throws bullets in the frying pan, they blast the house, he knocks them all down on their way in and one of them slides along the wall and drops down. Whomever did the sliding down the wall did a great job. Probably an uncredited stunt-man, but it's small details like this that stand out. Then there's the scene when the hitman hits Frank's car and Frank steps out while it spins around, starts walking towards the hitman's car whilst firing, reloading in a second, firing some more, then hijacking a cop car and putting the cops on the hitmans trail through police radio. The 'Hitman' turns out to also be a CIA agent btw. Overall the action feels fresh and creative, the typical scenarios don't repeat themselves in this movie, it has something new. There's grenades being batted back with a rifle, RPGs getting split by a bullet in slow-mo, regular fights, gunfights, car chases, snipers, automatic machine-guns, Russians, breaking in at Langley... there's a lot.

At the start of the movie it's revealed that Frank is a retired analyzed. It turns out he's not. Turns out he was one of the best Black-Ops agents they had. A lot of things turn up along the way, and in the end there's not just Frank & The Girl, but a whole set of retired agents from different agencies working for different governments working on different teams cleaning up one big mess. I suppose this is where it differs greatly from Knight & Day. In that movie, it's just the main pair and a few outsiders. In this one, there are a lot of personalities involved. There's not as much romance I suppose, but if you favor action over romance, this is the obvious choice. Btw, RED stands for 'Retired: Extremely Dangerous'. Also, when Frank speaks Chinese in response to Sarah's saying 'How could you possibly know that!', what he replies is: "Sever years ago, I lived in Wuhan". I was curious, so I looked it up. :) Also, here's a memorable quote from the movie: "Swedish K (picks up a weapon). Now THAT is exiting." What? It's always nice hearing people mention Sweden in foreign movies, especially when the mentioning is a positive one as such. ;)

Well that's it, I won't spoil the plot twists for you. It's a great movie, recommended, maybe my best watch this year (2010). I'll give it a strong...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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Takers (2010)

Takers (2010)

Takers is full of tough guys. The cops are tough guys. The robbers are tough guys. Everyone is a tough guy. You can't really empathize with the characters since they're all tough guys. At least that's the way it is in the beginning, but as the movie progresses so do the emotional aspects of the movie. It does get better. Some tough life situations are unraveled, two buddy cops, one corrupt, one thug with a drugged up sister stealing his marked money, a convict recently released that could be setting he whole gang up in what turns out to be the major robbery in this movie.

There's a lot of potential but unfortunately the movie doesn't make full use of it. The actors don't have much character of their own, it feels like they're just running off the script all the way through. When there's action it's pretty intense, but when there's no action it feels a bit too scripted. The camera angles aren't very creative, nor is the setting or plot.

Not to mention all the frequently abused clichés and stereotypes that this movie uses.

The filming is gritty and unnecessarily shaky. There's one great chase scene, where the human object of the chase is doing all sorts of crazy freerunning/parkour stunts, such as jumping off a ledge onto the hood of a car on a parking garage at least 3 meters below, over a large gap. There's a lot of potential in this chase especially, but they shake the camera enough to destroy plenty of it. It's a shame. They should try to learn something from Asian movies, where they usually manage to make great action sequences without making a big mess out of it.

The movie starts off with one successful robbery in which a selected few (antagonists? protagonists? still unclear, even at the end) get away with 2 million in a hijacked news helicopter. The final gunfight is intense. In fact, all the action is intense, and there's always suspense, but the movie needs more than that. Maybe it's because there's no clear divider between good and bad guys. There is no winning or losing. This movie could have been so much better if there was. It could have been on par with Oceans 11 or The Bank Job, but as it is, it's not. It's worth watching, it's still good action, I'm just not happy with the wasted potential.

Obviously they had a big budget, judging by all the cars and sets that get wrecked. Wish they had used it better.

 rated 3/5: not bad

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Offside (2001)

Offside (2001)

This movie is Swedish, so all of you non-Swedish people, I don't recommend you watch this, even though there is a lot of English in it. The movie is a dramatical comedy. Swedish movies tend to contain more everyday dilemmas/relationship issues/etc that are typically left out in other countries (other countries being England, France and USA, the three countries I've seen most movies from). Swedish movies differ a lot from all the relationship dramas you'll probably watch in America. Mainly because, well, Swedish people are different, they prioritize different things, they act differently in different situations, they react differently.

Overall Swedish relationship movies are much heavier than the American ones. I watch a lot more American content than I do Swedish, and I like the American content much more, maybe because I'm used to it, but probably more-so because it always has a much lighter/brighter atmosphere. Swedish movies are too series... but this is still a good movie... worth watching. For Swedish people that is. It's not all about relationship, it's about soccer as well, and that aspect of it is exiting (as always). The comical values in it outweigh the other issues most of the time, so it's all good.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Zatoichi (2003)

Zatoichi (2004)

Was it 2004? If it wasn't, I apologize, and will not change the date above but will keep the right one in mind for the next Zatoichi-related post I make after you email me the correct year. Anyhow, this movie is fantastic. It's amazing. It's really great.

The main character is a blind masseuse traveling around the country, but there are plenty of other main characters as well, including a fat guy in a Samurai suit, a gambling addict, a transvestite and his sister, a ronin and a gang boss, and they all have roles to play in the story that unwinds. There's a lot of action, and though the blood may seem exaggerated at times (see ^), it's always realistic (at least it seems realistic) and stylish. There's a lot of slicing involved, so of course there's a lot of blood. It has just the right amount of exaggeration to it. The director puts the colors Red and Blue into focus, as he does in all his other movies, Red standing for evil and Blue standing for good. It's the classic clash between good and evil, with a twist. He also uses Gray and Brown, which is btw completely unrelated.

The story about this clash of personalities takes place in olskool Edo, where early Yakuza along with ronin (samurai without masters) and samurai roam the country. The movie is intense and fast-paced, with lots of variety. The scenery is varied, as are the swift sword techniques showcased, along with the characters, events and different angles of filming. The story puts together both Drama, Action and Comedy. Great music too, both ambient and exotic, and strangely it always seems to match the suspense in each situation. Maybe it has to do with the culture portrayed, a kind of determined calm, the concentration behind each swing of the sword, you know, Asian stuff. Speaking about culture, if you want to see what Japan looked like a few hundred years ago, this movie will take you there. If you're interested about Asian culture in general, this movie has a lot of it. Duh. It's Asian. The whole thing is a work of art, a must see. And the dance scene just before the credits roll is the real grand finalé. :)

Btw, this is the first Zatoichi movie that has made it across the oceans, to all sides of the world, but it's not the first movie about Zatoichi. Zatoichi is a folktale in Japan, and if I remember right there are 24 movies (apart from this one) made about him, with many different actors and plots. They're in a series in the same way as James Bond, each one being a story of its own, sometimes with new actors as main character. This movie is a new, more international start to an old legend; I hope not the last!

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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Perfect Stranger (2007)

Perfect Stranger (2007)

Perfect Stranger is a movie starring that Die Hard character and that other female figure that's been in a countless number of movies already that I really should know the name of by now. Of course I remember Bruce Willis; who can't remember a name like Bruce Willis? As for the other character, it's a mystery.

Forgetfulness of names put aside, it's a great movie. The main character is a reporter, and a good one at that, trying to uncover the secrets that rich and powerful men hide. In the beginning it seems like just any other romantic thriller, but there's much more to it than that. The main characters aren't always what they seem to be and there are plenty of secrets to be revealed. I hope I don't spoil it for you by saying that things won't turn out as predictably as you think they would at the very end. The very very end is also the intro, which connects a couple of dots and makes you say: "Aha - So that's what it was!"

This is truly one of the most complex movies I've watched. Very intelligent script. Great plot, great actors. Not filled with violence as my favorites usually tend to be, but it's still intense and I highly recommend it!

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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