Tag: Action

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

And now, presenting, the 25th film in the MCU series, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Of course, definitely the hero you imagined would be in this chain of movies eventually.

For fans of Marvel movies, they should be stoked. We get more representation, a richer group of deep cut heroes, and of course, potentially a fix for the “The Mandarin” plot of Iron Man 3. Fix is a weird word, and I still find it hard to talk about Iron Man 3. The Mandarin twist was terrible for people who like the comics, but it was a great twist from a regular movie going point of view. But still, despite the problematic nature of that villain, it was disappointing that he wouldn’t ever make it into the MCU.

You know, until now, but fixed in the best way they could.

3D
Do movies come out in 3D anymore? Did the Pandemic kill that?

For over a thousand year, the ten-rings have been around at least, giving one man (Tony Leung) immortality and great power in China. He used it for the quest for more power, and building up an organization, and a life without worry. But he wanted more. He wanted to discover the location of a mystical lost city, supposedly blessed by the gods, named Ta Lo. There he met Li (Fala Chen), whom defeated him for the first time, and they fell in love.

The village abandoned, they had two kids, and now, decades later, Shaun (Simu Liu) is living his best life alone in San Francisco, being a parking attendant with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Their high school friends are confused by their relationship, or lack there of, and why they are seemingly wasting their life away. But hey, they are having fun, and that is important.

But what is that? Assassins? After his jade necklace his mom gave him a long time ago? Turns out, much to Katy’s surprise, that Shaun can really fight like an ultimate badass, and he has been hiding it from her. Looks like Shaun is getting dragged back into a past he wanted to escape from and forget.

Also starring Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Ben Kingsley, Tim Roth (maybe?), and Benedict Wong.

rings
Orange and blue colors for an action film shot? How original!

Can Marvel still make me care about more and more superheroes? The answer is a resounding yes!

To answer my inquiry above, this is an interesting movie to arguably be a direct sequel to Iron Man 3, but it closes off some of the open stories from that film in an exciting and worthwhile way. By having an artifact for over a thousand years helping shape parts of human history, it had the potential to feel ret-conn-y but it made its limited use seem overall plausible. If the villain gets to be the dad of this story, it feels like it is earned and respected their relationship, and the waves that it has gone through over the decades. That’s right. Another strong Marvel villain.

Liu is a wonderful lead, both in terms of his acting and his physicality that he brings to the role. Awkwafina works extremely well here as well, although just about her character, whereas the sister, played by Zhang, brings a different interesting angle for a powerful woman fighter into this universe.

One minor bug I had, and this is true about every movie that does it, is when they have very specific flashbacks (in this case, 1996), and then come back to present and literally tell us it is the present day. Normally, that is already annoying, because in a few years that makes less and less sense. If it is supposed to be 20 years ago, say it, don’t let it mesh over time. However, this film has to take place in like, 2023 I imagine? Based on everything, it is after Thanos’ snap had been reversed, so it isn’t even present day now.

A bigger complaint is a trope that this film did, that I don’t know the right name for. But if 90% of the film is spent towards trying to prevent this one irreversible bad thing from being happened (door open, something summoned, spell cast, etc), and then it actually happens at the end? Well, it gets resolved very quickly and then we wonder if it actually was worth all this effort this whole time. At least with Infinity War, the bad thing happened, and then it wasn’t fixed for a long time.

This doesn’t take away from the incredible choreography, effects, fighting, and new characters for us to swoon and simp for. I am excited for what he can actually bring to the future of these franchises, and I want more. Give me that diversity. (Also me, I don’t know if Eternals will be my type of film, but that is a later story).

3 out of 4.

The Tomorrow War

When do you all wanna go? Tomorrow? Sure. Tomorrow will never be here, so that works, I am a fan of procrastinating war.

Unfortunately, The Tomorrow War has nothing to do with procrastination, although it uses something procrastinators wish they have.

See, this is a war that takes place somewhere in the future, not the present. You know, like the concept of tomorrow! So this is a war with time travel, but it shouldn’t be anything like whatever the fuck was going on in Tenet.

Back to procrastinators. Don’t you wish you had a time machine to go back and slap yourself into doing something before a project got overwhelming? Hells yeah.

soldiers
I said slap, not shoot, what the fuck dudes. 

It was a day like any other day. People were doing sports watching on the TV, and then…and then…a large portal appeared from nowhere. A human lady came out and so did a lot of soldiers. They had a message. They were in a war in the future, against aliens. And they were definitely losing that war. A war that was going to kill every remaining soldier. So they needed help, recruits from the past, so that they could have more people for fighting. Oh shit.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is just a science teacher during all this, but sure, he was in the military before. But retired now. The war first asked for the actual armies around the war, and then volunteers, and then sure enough, drafts happened. Not everyone was eligible to go to the future. They had to be scanned and matched with the history of the future, to make sure bringing that person to the future (and them potentially dying) wouldn’t alter the future in a way that ruins everything.

Dan has a wife (Betty Gilpin) and little girl (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) but sure enough, draft bells still came to his doorstep, and he was enlisted. Each term is only meant to be a week long, after about a week of training. If they survive, they get automatically sent back to their time line, richer, and won’t be picked again. But in Dan’s group, everything gets messy. They are sent to the future without full training, so it is up to him and one other to keep his team of mostly untrained people slightly together to help out the best they can, and they are thrown right into the fray.

Can they save the future?…By fixing the past? And stuff?

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Matthews, Edwin Hodge, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Mike Mitchel.

ages
It is like we are glancing at the strangest Parks and Rec and Chuck crossover ever.

A sci-fi action movie has a lot of easy potential to just turn into a generic action flick with stranger weapons or people being killed. A lot of films have done it. The movie has to say something, or offer some nice twist. Give me something good to eat, a famous children’s rhyme once said.

To break down this film, I would say I did enjoy the beginning, the first arrival, the draft, the logic, the training. And even when they were first sent to the future. But real quick after that first sort of mission, it went real hard into generic pewpews for me. There were some plot scenes that mattered, but for a film that is 140 minutes, a not so insignificant chunk of it it doesn’t do a lot for me. However, the ending? I did enjoy the ending/final act/set piece of the movie. It took it away from the plot of the rest of the film, settings changed, and it gave me a fresh look on the action and the events and by then, it featured mostly just characters I could care about.

The ending saved the whole thing for me, that was trending pretty average in the middle, almost towards bad. But at this point, I think The Tomorrow War is actually a movie I could imagine watching (shock) a second time!

Pratt has perfected his twist of an action star on us, although I still prefer him to be a bit more goofy. I haven’t seen Strahovski in awhile, and I am bit disappointed that Gilpin was just given a generic house wife role. More importantly, with the time travel element, it never became confusing. The rules were pretty straight forward, and I don’t believe they broke any of them in getting to the end of the story.

We haven’t had a big rush of new sci-fi action films lately, or at least ones that were big enough for people to notice (I saw a few indie sci-fi action duds). Is this thing on par with films like The Thing or Starship Troopers? Nah. But it has a straightforward enough message and is entertaining in its own rights, so it is by far a passable entry into this genre.

3 out of 4.

Occupation: Rainfall

See my interview with the director/writer of the movie here!

A couple of years ago, a film called Occupation released out of Australia. It starred Australian actors, was directed and produced by Australians, and hell, surprisingly, was shot and set in Australia. It was so Australian, a rugby match played a pivotal part of the film. Mmmm, non American sports.

Well, it was hit with relatively big success for an independent film about an alien invasion and a small community coming together to fight the scary aliens away.

And now we have the sequel, set a few years later, starring the same people, and also coming out a few years later. Hey, it is wonderful when that works out like that. Occupation: Rainfall is updating us on the war, years later, with more explosions and pew pews.

snow
Posing before shooting is the coolest thing you could ever do. 
For real though, aliens invaded, but they aren’t like, that much better than humans. Yes, their guns and ships are better, but they weren’t able to take over the entire world. Last time was saw one community stand up really well on their own against them (and probably had a small force to try and take them out, they weren’t Sydney). But it turns out, a lot of places in the world were able to shoot them and take them down.

So where do we find our heroes now? Well, still in Australia, still working together, but with more tech. And hey, they got some alien deflectors now. They got aliens who are giving them intel and helping them strike back and go for bigger and badder tactics. And they all have responsibilities over larger amounts of people. It is nice they didn’t get fully swept up in the bureaucracy of defending their planet.

Before their issues were about just finding loves ones, but now we have to worry about the survival of the species. And hey, we got some other countries people helping us this time! Will this be the end of the alien scum, will our heroes finally lose, or will neither happen and will we get a third film?

Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Gillies, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, and Jet Tranter. Also featuring some newer bigger names like Ken Jeong and Jason Isaacs.

space
Yep, looks like they got all the lasers and pew pews right here.

The first Occupation film, from my point of view, was surprisingly well done. This was based on my already low expecatations however of an indie film trying to recreate a bigger budget film with clearly not the names or budget behind a normal big budget movie. It was solid, but it did stall out and feel a bit generic in action department by the end. So with the sequel, they are given some bigger names, the same cast and crew, and a lot more money to do the bigger bangs, more aliens, more ships.

And does the sequel deliver on that front? Yes for sure, they amp up everything in this franchise being made from the ground up.

However, with that being said, and with real tactical things being done in the movie, and betrayals and twists and action, it will be great for those who want that in a movie. But I always want something more in my action film and this one doesn’t seem to deliver it to me on that level. It is, unfortunately, chock full of the sort of action that would put me to sleep. The tension created didn’t transfer over to me or put me on the edge of my seat in any way. I did care a little bit about the story elements, and whether some would live or die, but that wasn’t enough for me to fully care about the final results.

I won’t take away the technical achievements this movie has made though. With a bigger budget, it still wasn’t astronomical, and they did a lot with what they had, just like the first film. And the crisp new cameras really help you get immersive in the final polished piece. But from start to finish, I couldn’t tell you after the fact what action scenes happened in this or the first film, and I would describe them all relatively similar because unfortunately none would stick with me.

2 out of 4.

Army of the Dead

Zachary Theodore Snyder, you have been in the news a lot lately you have.

What, with your cuts of movies, and your…well, family problems that are very sad and that sucks. But you have been mostly in the news because of other properties that aren’t your actual doing. Sure, Justice League did suck, but don’t worry, the Zack Snyder’s Justice League still wasn’t that great either, and much longer in mediocrity.

What happened to the Zack Snyder I used to know ,the one who did his own work? (Technically, I never knew that Snyder. I learned about him with 300, so I have only known him as someone who adapted graphic novels/comics to film, and I liked them. Heck, I liked Sucker Punch, which was basically his only original film at that time, not based on another property.

So I am here for a chance for Army of the Dead. His own Zombie flick, not a sequel like his Dawn of the Dead, which I most definitely did not ever watch.

gun
Should I go back and watch all the classic zombie films? Nah, let’s just shoot them from my memory.

Shit! Zombies!

They actually use the word in this movie, and that is nice, because a lot of films with zombies don’t. Anyways. Some Area 51 army dudes are transporting secret cargo between facilities, and have a stupid little accident that flips their vehicle and opens it up. And what is inside? A zombie! A smart, strong, fast zombie (Richard Cetrone), who kills the guards, makes a few zombies, and sets his sight for the place with the lights in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas baby!

This film takes place a few weeks after these events, with the city not only completely overrun with Zombies, but thankfully also walled off from the outside. There are communities outside the city, a lot of lost lives, and America might go and just Nuke it to deal with this threat before it gets out.

But one casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) wants his money out of there. So he hires a team to get his money, offering them a lot. They just have to go get in, hack a safe, get the money, and repair a helicopter in the city to fly out of there. And he picks Scott (Dave Bautista), a man who survived Vegas already and has shown capabilities. So he gets a team, including his daughter (Ella Purnell) accidentally.

Also starring Tig Notaro, Matthias Schweighöfer, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Theo Rossi, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, and Michael Cassidy.

zombie queen
Oh you are so lovely, my zombie queen, and so…slightly blurry. 

Army of the Dead has a lot of zombies in it. Not the most zombies I have ever seen in a film. Shit, did you see World War Z? There were a bunch of zombies in that one shot. But we got types of zombies! Regular zombies, dehydrated zombies, smart/armored zombies, maybe robot zombies, shit we got a Tiger Zombie. Zombies for days, and all breeds. I am not some Zombie purist who thinks the only good type of zombie is one that shambles and is brain dead. It doesn’t really matter to me, because zombies are made up so who cares what anyone does with them?

This is a strange opinion for me to take, given the whole film critic thing, but despite having some plot issues and strange edits, the interesting take of zombies in an interesting scenario won me over in the end, as an entertaining flick.

The film has a lot of strange additions to the plot, and hints about what is to come, and not all of them take hold. For example, the piles of zombies who just need rain to be rejuvenated. Does this film feature rain at all? Hell no. And frankly, the ending is extremely insulting, with the sequel set up, purely based on the time the character has during it, compared to what we already know about zombies earlier in the film. It doesn’t make sense in the context of this film, but it could probably make sense with even more backstory or science behind it, which likely future ones would work on doing.

That doesn’t mean things are okay! But also, some of these things are red herrings and mysterious at the same time. The ending is incredibly clunky, and a lot of that is probably attributed to the fact that Tig Notaro replaced Chris D’Elia entirely after the film had been shot, due to his sexual assault/harassment history. I can’t remember exactly what, but it wasn’t that good. Given the problems with that, a lot of this is better than anticipated.

This world created had a lot of potential, and the moments that I enjoyed far outweighed the slower moments, the ending, and any plot awkwardness.

Bring on more smart zombies, I say.

3 out of 4.

Thunder Force

“Shit we better get into that super hero genre game” – Netflix, probably, after losing their Marvel Shows. They didn’t want to get bamboozled again, so they figured they would just buy a movie by someone who was making their own. Enter Ben Falcone, ready for his next bi-yearly (usually) basic comedy starring his wife, Melissa McCarthy.

Their last film, Superintelligence, made my worst of the year list. I don’t remember fully how the other ones did, but I don’t recall it ever being met with high amounts of laughter or praise either, so there is that. 

Honestly, based on the cover of Thunder Force, it just seems like a movie they would put out entirely to make fat jokes with their heroes? I fucking hope not. I can hope they can do better than that overall. But I still wouldn’t put it past them given the people involved with it. 

steal
Pickle jokes too. Definitely gotta have some pickle jokes. 

Back in the 80’s, some sun shit happened, that gave some people super powers! Unfortunately, this only went to people who would be classified as sociopaths, which wasn’t a good thing for anyone out there. They were named Miscreants, and began to take a toll on society, and make things unbearbale. 

At this time, young Lydia and Emily became unlikely friends. Lydia was crass, but protected Emily, who was smart. Emily’s parents were killed by Miscreants, and she had to live with her grandparents. Emily dreamed of one day figuring out how to give powers to the good guys, and that was her life goals.

Decades later, these two eventually grew apart. Now barely functioning as an adult, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) is an adult construction worker and has nothing important to say about her life. Emily (Octavia Spencer) is rich, a scientist, a mom, and really close to getting some super powers. Once they get reconnected, unfortunately, Lydia gets given the special juice to make her super powered, so now she is in the experiment. Their first goal is to just control these powers, but stopping crime seems like a necessity. In fact, the Chicago mayor election is happening, and one of the Miscreants, The King (Bobby Cannavale) has been in charge of the city to put a leash on the other super powers, but he doesn’t like the idea of any sort of super heroes trying to stop them, or him. 

Also starring Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Melissa Ponzio, and Ben Falcone, of course. 

science
Actual footage of Cerebro trying to find more Melissa’s to put into this movie. 

This film doesn’t really need a long in depth review to fully understand it, I imagine, but I will still go for it for a bit. First off, on the fat joke department, there was only actually one, which was surprising. I think I only laughed at one joke the whole film, a dinner scene freak out about sea food, because it was a good set up with the characters. At the same time, that scene was very slow and messed a lot with the pacing of the film. Why add that romance at all to the story? Not enough filler?

I was hoping as these two ladies were costars that it would feel like Spencer was getting a bit out of these supporting actress roles where she is there just to help the protagonist realize their true potential, or some shit. But it doesn’t. Despite the costarring, she still feels like second fiddle to McCarthy’s character, and thus is just supporting the crass member of the team into being the star. They also decided to do almost nothing with her powers. One gets super strength, the other can turn invisible and then…taze people. That is about it. Weak.

McCarthy’s character isn’t just annoying, but I have to wonder why she didn’t get powers as a kid. Her character, although not fully a sociopath, is a huge asshole. When this is a movie about good people getting powers to stop crime, but one of them isn’t really good? It is very uncomfortable. McCarthy’s character is showboaty and egotistical. She also uses her powers to get free food from places that were just getting robbed? Like. It left a big sour taste in my mouth, as she prevented a robbery, while then technically robbing at a smaller scale. 

This film has very low stakes, and these people who have superpowers rarely act like sociopaths. Is this something that affected the whole world or Chicago? Because in 20-30 some years, I would expect a whole lot more bad stuff going on than just mostly normal Chicago with the occasional gas station getting robbed. What is happening else where? Actual bad stuff? 

Low concept, low thought out film, but thankfully the humor isn’t completely bottom of the barrel. 

1 out of 4.

The Paper Tigers

What a year for martial arts films it has been!

We have The Paper Tigers, which this review is about and …!

Oh I think that is it so far? I definitely haven’t reviewed any more. There might be some out there I guess. We still have a lot of year left, so there is time.

But the good news is, I liked The Paper Tigers, so even if it is the only martial arts film that releases this year, I can still say it is a good year for martial arts films.

standoff
If there shadows fought separately, this would be the best martial arts film year. 

The Paper Tigers were a feared (not like, for your life, but feared like in awed) group of martial artists, trained by Sifu Cheung (Roger Yuan). Why were they feared? Because the trio never lost. That means in an official bout, of one on ones, or even in a trio match where the best 2 out of 3 wins. So there is some wiggle room there, but overall, they have never lost as a team, and they were gonna go far.

But then, their ages got older, joints got achier, and life got harder. Danny (Alain Uy) used to be the strongest of them, now he has a corporate job, a kid and is getting divorced for being so distant and a bad father/husband. Hing (Ron Yuan) has lost his hair, gotten fatter, but hasn’t lost his humor, and Danny (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) has his own dojo, but has still softened up in his age, despite still training daily.

Their lives come together again when they find out that their Sifu has died and have to go to their funeral. There is some mystery in their lives that made them drift apart, but when they determine that it is likely that their Sifu was murdered? Well, now they are going to have to investigate together to avenge his death. And if it means getting back into fighting shape in order to battle some more youthful fighters, then so be it.

Also starring Peter Adrian Sudarso, Yoshi Sudarso, Gui DaSilva-Greene, Raymond Ma, Matthew Page, Ken Quitugua, Jae Suh Park, and Joziah Lagonoy.

old men
Tea breaks are important for training. And dum dums. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into The Paper Tigers, as it began with a few kids starting training, and then followed up with a montage of them training and getting older, in home movie formats, before we get to the modern day. We got to see these kids grow up and train and get swole and fast, and become champions. It was up up and up for them, for us to get juxtaposed with our protagonist as an adult and trying desperately (and failing) to find a parking spot.

Because that is the major theme of this film is getting old and honoring your past. Reconciliation with your past as well, fixing mistakes, in order to grow as a person.

But also, martial arts!

The Paper Tigers I was able to find funny and emotional at the same time. It never made me cry, but the emotions did run rampant near the end, because the final fight scenes had some high stakes. You really pull for the protagonist, even after finding out he hasn’t been the best of a stand up guy lately, because like all great husbands, they start off as fixer uppers and we can see them become great! (That is a joke, please do not be in a relationship with someone to fix them up). I did like his relationship with the son by the end, when he realized he was doing wrong, and when he became more serious.

The main characters are all really exciting to cheer behind, purely because they have weaknesses and struggles. Entirely relatable, even if you cannot do any sort of martial arts. The fight scenes are well shot as well, visible, and amusing at points as well.

The Paper Tigers is the best martial arts film this year. So far. And I have no idea if we are getting any more, but this one you might have never heard about before now is definitely recommended.

3 out of 4.

Wrath of Man

“Is Guy Ritchie finally back?!”

That is the question I ask myself every time I am about to watch a new Guy Ritchie film. I believe the last time he was actually “back” was when he did The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and I wouldn’t define his Sherlock films as really back either. So maybe he has been off for over a decade for the most part. Taking on strange projects. Nothing that feels like a Guy Ritchie film based on the movies he gave us in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

I could list his many duds, but it is unnecessary. You all know it is true. Duds or okay films or weird sell out films.

But is Wrath of Man, with his favorite actor ever, his return to his roots? This is what we want, after all.

security
Are these security guards? Nope. Killers.

Hill (Jason Statham) is just a regular average guy, who has done some security work in the past, looking for a new job. He is going to be a security officer who rides in an armored car that picks up and drops off large quantities of money. It is a dangerous job apparently, because people really love to steal from armored cars.

The company he works at now, that he barely qualifies for, is known for having good trained officers and not getting robbed as much, so they get the big business. But when a crew takes out their drivers and steal from them? Well, the drivers are now more shook. So Hill joins them at a strange time. But he quickly puts the stop to another robbery, bad ass incarnate and all, and becomes a hero to them.

But why, why did he join, and what connection does it have with the robberies?

Also starring Eddie Marsan, Niamh Algar, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, Holt McCallany, Rocci Williams, Josh Harnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Eastwood, Deobia Oparei, Raúl Castillo, and Andy Garcia.

construction
Is that a construction worker? Nope. A killer.

Maybe…maybe Guy Ritchie is back?

I left Wrath of Man liking it, and it did have a lot of similarities to his earlier work. We didn’t just get the good guys point of view, we got the bad guy point of view as well. Hell, our good guy isn’t really a good guy either. This is about different tiers of bad guys, and some good guys who also get involved. It has betrayal, many named important people getting killed, and it is told non chronologically.

It is also a relatively simple story, given the situation. The only leap of faith we have to take is a society where armored cars get robbed all the time.

It was nice to have the scale be relatively small with so many people being typical bad guys. Criminals vs criminals is the type of action film I can get behind. Especially if one is technically doing some good, even if for selfish reasons.

I don’t think there is anything inherently special about Statham’s “acting” here just like his other work. The twists are pretty simple to determine. It was nice to see various people in the random roles throughout the film. And you can even see Post Malone as Robber #6. If that appeals to you as well.

3 out of 4.

Vanquish

What can a reviewer even say about a movie like Vanquish?

Not a lot it turns out, as I struggled at the end of this review. But when I saw the poster for the movie, it was one that immediately let me know it wouldn’t be that good. It is the kind of cover that you only see on a Redbox catalogue and choose to never watch it. It is the kind of movie that if you saw advertised on a billboard that you would assume has been up there for decades and forgot about.

Also, guns as wings? Is it some angel of death?

Oh just don’t hurt me too much, Vanquish film.

pew
Ah fuck, blue tones, my greatest weakness. 

Victoria (Ruby Rose) is just a single mom trying to make it in the world. She is doing the best she can, one day at a time. Until her daughter gets KIDNAPPED.

Okay, it turns out Victoria used to be drug smuggler or deliverer. She was involved with some bad people who did bad things, but not her, right?

So who kidnapped her kid? Well, Morgan Freeman of course! No not the actual one, a retired cop named Damon (Morgan Freeman) who apparently is jaded and angry and needs to threaten Victoria with kid-killing at this point in his life. What does Victoria need to do to get her kid back? Well, you know, just kill a lot of people.

A whole night of killing of bad people under a threat. Ah yes, what a night.

Also starring Patrick Muldoon, Nick Vallelonga, Julie Lott, and Hannah Stocking.

face
Let’s call this support for solid mask usage. Or at least visor usage. 

Not only is Vanquish forgettable, it is potentially website destroyable. I wrote this review earlier in the day and published it and saw it and it was on my computer, and now it isn’t. This is my second write through. This writing is apparently better, to be honest. It has more filler and more words because I gave that first version little attention, because the movie Vanquish was not worth my attention.

But here is goes again. Vanquish is not only bad, it is boring. It is not only boring, it was a waste of time. It was not only a waste of time, it was also bad.

None of the acting is good in this film. Freeman probably has a 10% good rate these last few years. He has phoned it in enough that he has a payphone booth up his ass. I barely know anything about Rose, but as a lead in this film I never cared about her character. It was just one bland and tasteless action scene after another. And occasionally the filter pissed me off too, for style reason.

If you want me to like your movie, make a good movie. I don’t care about your digital effects.

0 out of 4.

Without Remorse

Something surprising to me is that there are only six Tom Clancy films out there, with the first one being The Hunt for Red October in 1990. I have seen only one of them. I saw the last one before Without Remorse, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which I remember almost nothing about.

There are a lot of books by Tom Clancy, and they all have these same characters. And based on what I have seen in this film and in the last one, I still have no desire to watch any more of them, and certainly never read one of the books. A lot of pew pew spy action thrillers I guess. I am sure everyone get betrayed a dozen times and somehow gives a lot more bullet deaths than they end up receiving. Huge body counts. Catastrophic deaths.

This is all an assumption. Hell, maybe the first one was really tame.

But Without Remorse is going straight to amazon, probably because they have a successful Tom Clancy show, and now they want successful movies as well. Make money while you can, that is my motto.

action
Also to avoid old shrimp. That’s another motto. 
John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) is a Navy Seal, part of an elite team of soldiers, and is good at his job. He is good at the killing of bad guys and terrorists, while protecting the innocents, and going in and out of a job quickly with minimum damage. So, a normal movie soldier of a seal. You know.

Well, after a mission, that was quite a success, it turns out it secretly wasn’t a success after all! Months later, his team is assassinated by Russian soldiers on American grounds. They go after John too, but they can only get his pregnant wife (Lauren London), as John survives. A Russian attack on American soil is a pretty big deal. Especially if it was ordered by a Russian operative (Brett Gelman), who they thought was dead. Ahh, America fooled again.

Now John is going to have to go on a secret revenge mission, get them back without starting a new world war. He has to make them pay for killing his friends and PREGNANT WIFE, you know?

Also starring Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce, Jacob Scipio, Jack Kesy, Jamie Bell, and Todd Lasance.

intrigue
A man in a hand is worth a gun in the other.

I don’t think I have ever cared less about the death of a fictional pregnant woman than in this movie. I am not saying she deserved it or anything. But we barely get to know her as a character before it happens. And it happens early in the movie. After that, there is some grief and determination to get revenge, but it isn’t too believable. Jordan is too good of an actor to not have him focus on that anger grief sadness more and use it to tear the bad guys a new one.

Okay, the bad guys are teared into a new one. But it feels plastic. It feels like a generic action movie, because that is all that Without Remorse ends up being. A generic action film. I guess it being based on a Tom Clancy novel should have given that away. Not that I have first hand experience with any of the source material, like I already said, but lets go on and assume the plots are normally weak.

Despite Jordan being a good actor normally, there is little here outside of the standard action. Is there conspiracy twists? Sure. But they don’t make things more interesting. I don’t care about things setting up for future films when they can’t bother to get the first one right.

Without Remorse has action in a lot of dark places, so you’ll get to use your imagination, alongside many bullets for those who just like the action to be mindless while pretending it is more than mindless. (Note, this is not more than mindless). The people excited for this movie due to the previous ones or the books will probably like it as well, let’s leave it at that.

1 out of 4.

Mortal Kombat

Moooooooortal Koooooombaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

I could write a whole review about the non-video game medium of Mortal Kombat, but that is not what you are here for. The first film, despite its flaws, is iconic, and gave us the theme. The second film, despite its bigger cast of characters, is a train wreck and shit, and we all wish it could have been better.

There was the cartoon, that as a kid I found really cool, and as an adult, well, never saw it again besides the few random episodes. There was a 90’s show that I saw a few episodes of as an adult, and didn’t try to watch a lot more after that.  And then there was Mortal Kombat: Legacy, an attempt to make it cool again, focus on the fights, and focus on the Kombat. I still haven’t seen that, because I suck, but I did buy the whole thing on Blu-Ray to watch eventually. Apparently the release of this film was still not the right time.

Regardless of the quality of video game movies and how they always end up disappointing, I was excited to give this new movie a chance. One rated R and ready to give us Fatalities.

 

hat
I always liked picking hat-guy in the game, so I could throw his hat.

 

Like before, Earth is about to get fucked. There is a secret tournament that happens, and if Earth loses ten times in a row, we are all gonna die, basically. And you know what? We have lost the last NINE times already. That is some pre-movie shenanigans. So the stakes could not be higher.

Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) is in charge of protecting the Earthen realm from interference, but as an Elder God, he can’t just go and defeat the bad guys for them. Sad.

This movie is actually about a new character, name Cole Young (Lewis Tan), so his powers are a secret until the movie lets us know them. Secret secret secret. He is married (Laura Brent) and a father (Matilda Kimber), and he is a washed up MMA fighter, who takes on shitty fights for $200 bucks and usually loses. But he has this dragon mark, which means he eventually is going to participate in the tournament for Earth’s existence, but he had no idea.

Tournament shournament though. Because Shang Tsung (Chin Han), leader of the Outworld forces, is going to make sure the next tournament is a cakewalk. Nothing permits him from going and getting his guys to kill the main fighters before the tournament even starts. Time to cause a ruckus! Oh, Shang, you rascal.

So what cast of characters do we get in the film? We have Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), Jax (Mehcad Brooks), Cano (Josh Lawson*), Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), Mileena (Sisi Stringer), Kabal (Daniel Nelson), Nitara (Mel Jarnson), and Reiko (Nathan Jones).

 

get over
No Baraka? I demand Baraka! Gimmie those blade hands.

 

People who want a Mortal Kombat movie want a few things. They want a nice cast of characters. They want a lot of fights. They want their fights to be bloody, long, with moves that the characters use in the movies. They want these battles to be cool and surprise. They want goddamn fatalities. Someone has to say Finish Him. Maybe even Fight.

And at least on that front, I would say this film certainly delivers.

It was cool, we had a variety of characters, some more charismatic than others. We got to see some people start off strong and some grow into their powers. We got some magic.  We have a few fatalities and some deaths, not all of which are surprising. And it is good to finally get some bad Sub-Zero, we keep getting good Sub-Zero, and that is silly.

But I am leaving still a bit disappointed. Why is that? I don’t think I got a complete story.

Obviously the plot is going to be a weak point in a movie like this (Despite the video games being steeped in their own timelines and history, I am sure there are winners in that). But when it was over, I more asked “That was it?” to myself and it left a sour taste. Technically my plot description of the movie is accurate, but I still found it awkward where  it ended. Because this is not a guaranteed film series. Most are not, unless they film it all at once. We aren’t guaranteed a Mortal Kombat 2. And if we were, I don’t care. I am not a franchise reviewer, I review the movie. And this movie doesn’t give a complete story.

Come in for the fights, and stay for the fights. But be disappointed when the sequel never happens (And if it does, statistically, it will be a lot worse based on the history of these films).

 

2 out of 4.

 

* How in the hell did they make the nerd guy from House of Lies into an amusing and deadly Kato? Holy shit Josh, well done.