Tuesday, November 24, 2015



Let's begin this off by speaking out about how dumb of an idea it is to make movies out of board games, of all things. Board games that have literally no connection with such media whatsoever. Battleship being one of those games. The fact that Hollywood has to do these kind of these movies to make money is honestly kind of sad. 

Ironically enough, the movie Battleship actually doesn't have a whole lot to do with the game it's "based" off of. The movie centers around an alien invasion on Earth, with the alien ships centering themselves in the sea. It just so happens that they decided to pick the time of the RIMPAC war exercises in Hawaii to show up. 

Backtracking a little bit, we have our main character; Alex Hopper. A skilled person with unbelievably horrible decision-making skills. He's a Lieutenant in the Navy, though he's expected to be kicked out fairly soon. Then the invasion happens. Three destroyers are caught in the forcefield that the aliens put up to keep out interference. Plenty of people are killed in the initial attack; leaving him somehow in charge of the last functional destroyer. Thus begins the war for Earth. At sea. 

As mentioned earlier, the film actually doesn't have a whole lot to do with the game Battleship. The only time they truly sneak in elements of the game is during one of the better sequences in the movie, when both sides have nonfunctioning radar, forcing them to play things a little differently (Battleship-like coordinates are included during this admittedly awesome, suspense-filled scene). However, that's just about where the similarities end. In one of the biggest crimes of the film, no one even says "You sunk my battleship!" (And it would've been awesome to hear Liam Neeson, who was in this film, say that.) 

This film does have some good and bad things both going for it. It has some pretty thrilling action sequences at times, and the visual effects are pretty good. After a rather slow first 30 minutes or so, it's a pretty relentless fast-paced film after that. However, it is plagued by quite a poor script and mediocre acting from Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna (who seriously needs to get out of the acting business and stick to singing), though they and everyone else weren't helped by the poor script. There are some just flat out ridiculous moments (namely the introduction to Hopper), and the plot isn't exactly perfect either. 

Overall, it's a fairly entertaining action film, even if the fact that it exists is somewhat ridiculous. Luckily, I don't think most would expect much from such a film, thus there won't be too many disappointed moviegoers. Knowing what to expect when going in will help this be a passable and occasionally quite fun popcorn flick; as that is pretty much what it is. Fans of simple action films and special effects will have a decent time. Otherwise, there's not much to get you interested in the first place. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2


"Make no mistake," President Snow smirks in one of the trailers in a line that didn't appear to make it in the final cut, "The game is coming to its end." 

Indeed. The rebellion from the Districts against the tyrannical Panem has come to its head, and they are ready to take the battle to the Capitol itself. Katniss Everdeen has been the face of the rebellion, but the cost of the war is continuing to take its toll on her. It's only gotten worse following the cliffhanger ending of Mockingjay Part 1, where it turned out that Peeta had been tortured and had his memories revised so that now he sees Katniss as the enemy, making him a threat. 

This only seems to further Katniss's attempts to get into the battle front lines, still wanting to be the one to kill Snow. She sneaks away on one of the hovercrafts and joins her comrades as they plan their assault on the Capitol (which has been rigged with loads of traps and monsters). However, it only gets worse when Peeta is unexpectedly brought along. For some reason. Now they have to sneak through what Gale calls the "76th Hunger Games," into Snow's mansion and kill him with a mentally unstable liability on their side. 

If Mockingjay Part 1 focused more on the "verbal war" more than anything, then Part 2 is the war itself; along with the sneaking missions straight out of video game lore. Things tend to move a little slowly at times during the first half, with all heck breaking loose occasionally. One sequence that comes to mind involves a tense fight with zombie-esque creatures that puts the weird, twitching zombies of Maze Runner: Scorch Trials to shame.  

Eventually, things to come to a final blast in a near-apocalyptic assault on the Capitol (with some stunning visual effects/camera work), and then the game comes to its end with many a cost (which I won't go into in case if you haven't read the books) in a movie/conclusion that calls into questions of ethics of war, its tactics, and the cost of it, leading up to a somewhat unsettling ending that while it ends the story, it doesn't necessarily end the vicious cycle for sure. 

If there's one glaring issue with this film, it's the fact that some parts feel more stretched out than they need to be. This may have to do with the fact that it's a 2-parter film, and overall they pulled it off okay. But let's keep in mind that Part 1 was about 123 minutes, while this one is 137. I wouldn't mind having a few minutes taking off--namely a ridiculous sequence when they spend *way* too long drawing out the tension that is to lead to a frantic action scene. 

But, overall, Mockingjay: Part 2 succeeds at being what the book was, and that is being a grim, unsettling and bittersweet ending to a long, multi-part cautionary tale. The Hunger Games "quad-rilogy" (if you will) has come to its end, leaving us with one of the better book-to-movie adaption series ever to show up. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's certainly a story worth the reading or watching. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

RoboCop (2014)


Hollywood just loves putting out the remakes these days, don't they? Many probably didn't even want to watch this particular one. It's a lot easier for those of us, though, who never saw the original and got interested in this new one.

The corporation OmniCorp has changed the face of warfare with their development of cop-like drones/AI's that patrol various places around the world (we see them doing so in Iran) and maintain law and order. Due to concern over stability of the robots, the country that provides the drones ironically cannot use them on their own soil. So, for some reason, they decide to come up with a cyborg police officer. (What were they planning to do? Create a whole battalion of those guys?) 

One such subject comes along when Detroit PD officer Alex Murphy is all but killed in a car explosion, and they end up putting what's left of him in a machine. He doesn't take the news at all, and in order to move their plans forward, they are forced to slowly take away what's left of his humanity more and more. Of course, this isn't going to end too well for Omnicorp. 

RoboCop isn't a particularly spectacular action flick; there's a few cool scenes, sure, but they don't really carry the film. The reason this movie manages to keep one's interest is it's depiction of what happens when a megalomaniacal corporation goes to horrifying lengths in order to get more and more money (and how of course it backfires on them). 

The ending quote from a heavily opinionated reporter opens up some interesting questions when he notes that some believe that these drones violate civil liberties and the use of them overseas makes us like the imperialistic nations our forefathers were trying to avoid... and then essentially tells them to shut up. Considering the content of this movie and that the Omnicorp folks are clearly the bad guys, it's clear that such a line is intended to make you think, not to get some pro-imperialistic feelings stirred up within you. It's actually one of the better moments in the movie for that reason. 

RoboCop does have a pretty good cast, including Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel Jackson, and Jay Baruchel (the latter two of whom are sadly underused). And as mentioned before, there are decent action sequences and some good mental food for thought, and the storyline is certainly quite intriguing, if nothing else. 

Perhaps the biggest problem with this film is that it feels all too predictable at times (although that may be in part the marketing's fault), and there are a few isolated odd/goofy moments that perhaps were intended to pay tribute to the original film (again, I haven't seen it, so I don't know). Still, it's a fairly interesting and exciting action film with a little bit more of an interesting story than the special effects that are going on onscreen. One may not be able to help but feel something's missing, but it's still worth a watch. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Unknown (2011)


Ha ha, relatively unknown movie is called "Unknown." Anyways... partially due to the release of Taken, Liam Neeson has become something of an action superstar in recent years, and is sometimes seen dealing out punishment to unfortunate villains and mercenaries. "Unknown" is one such action thriller, which takes on a couple of familiar plot devices for its story. 

Martin Harris is visiting a biotechnology summit in Berlin with his wife, and he ends up in a car accident and receives a head injury. He regains consciousness in a hospital after four days with some very slight memory loss, and when he sees his wife again, she does not recognize him and another man *also* named Martin Harris is with her now. Yes, Harris is victim to a massive identity theft conspiracy. And now he has to find a way to somehow get his life back. Despite assassins being on his tail who also want him dead (seemingly to make sure the original Harris is dead). 

Unknown is a bit of a strange movie in some ways. It starts out surprisingly dull for the first 45 minutes or so, as we are subjected to cliches (and normally I don't care about those) and Liam Neeson stumbles around getting seemingly nowhere with his mystery for a while. Eventually, things finally break loose, we get a pretty decent car chase scene, and the secrets are finally revealed. 

And we do end up getting a pretty stunning plot twist that we couldn't have seen coming... in part because it felt like it was in the wrong movie. At first it seems as if we're watching an identity theft conspiracy movie... and then suddenly we're getting a (SPOILER ALERT) Jason Bourne storyline rip-off, with *one* minor twist of its own involving the memory plot device (END OF SPOILERS). 

Unknown certainly isn't a bad movie, but it's a bit of an inconsistent one. The first half is pretty darn boring as we establish the situation and then make very little progress, and then the second half is much more entertaining as the twists and turns begin to abound. It's definitely not the movie it's marketed to be, however. Unknown is an okay flick, but other movies of its nature have done it better.