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Memory (2022) Review

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Memory (2022)

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Alex Lewis
Guy Pearce as Vincent Serra
Monica Bellucci as Davana Sealman
Harold Torres as Hugo Marquez
Taj Atwal as Linda Amistead
Ray Fearon as Gerald Nussbaum
Director: Martin Campbell

When Alex, an expert assassin, refuses to complete a job for a dangerous criminal organization, he becomes a target. FBI agents and Mexican intelligence are brought in to investigate the trail of bodies, leading them closer to Alex. With the crime syndicate and FBI in hot pursuit, Alex has the skills to stay ahead, except for one thing: he is struggling with severe memory loss, affecting his every move. Alex must question his every action and whom he can ultimately trust.

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While I generally like Liam Neeson’s action movies, they are very samey and repetitive and there’s only a few I’d call really good. I heard some mixed things about his latest film Memory, but I was willing to check it out, especially with Martin Campbell directing it. Having seen it, I wouldn’t call it good but overall, I liked it.

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Memory is a very generic revenge crime thriller. Essentially its two separate movies in one, following Liam Neeson’s hitman getting revenge, and Guy Pearce and his FBI team investigating a child trafficking ring and tracking down Neeson. The story is average and isn’t that interesting, but it is watchable and it is easy to understand what’s going on. The mystery wasn’t that intriguing, it pretty much tells you (almost spoonfeeds you) exactly what’s going on. It doesn’t help that it is predictable, and you can tell what’s going to happen. There are some interesting aspects which had potential. The title of the film is Memory because Liam Neeson’s character is suffering from memory loss. It does dedicate some scenes to that, and they could’ve done something with it. However, it almost just feels placed in there so he can struggle in convenient moments.

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Liam Neeson has done many of these types of movies before, but he’s generally good in all of them and at least seems committed to the roles, Memory is no exception. This is darker than some of his other characters, leaning into being more an antihero. He does well at appearing convincingly intimidating but still manages to convey vulnerability in some scenes. Guy Pearce is also in a major role and is really good, giving some sincerity to his FBI agent character. Both Neeson and Pearce are probably the reason that I enjoyed the movie despite its major faults. The rest of the cast including Taj Atwal and Ray Stevenson plays their parts well too. The only exception is Monica Bellucci as the closest thing to a main villain in the movie. She’s given so little screentime, doesn’t do much, isn’t interesting, and even the performance is very bored and phoned in.

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Martin Campbell directs this, and unfortunately this is not one of his greater action films like Casino Royale or The Mask of Zorro. Nonetheless it is still competently made. The visuals aren’t that interesting, but are serviceable nonetheless. The action isn’t as frequent as you would like it to be, when it’s on screen it is pretty good, if standard and mostly consisting of typical fighting and gun battles.

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Memory was a better movie than I was expecting given its reception, but it’s not like I don’t understand it. It’s another disappointing movie from Martin Campbell, who has delivered some great action movies in the past, but whose recent work has been fairly underwhelming. Even when you compare it to his weaker movies, this is probably one of his worst yet. Ironically, Memory is a very forgettable movie that’s mostly let down by its script. That being said, the direction is competent, the action is enjoyable, and the performances are mostly solid, particularly with Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce’s committed work. If you generally like Neeson’s other action movies, you’ll probably find stuff to enjoy here.

After Yang (2022) Review

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After Yang

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Jake Fleming
Jodie Turner-Smith as Kyra Fleming
Justin H. Min as Yang Fleming
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja as Mika Fleming
Haley Lu Richardson as Ada
Director: Kogonada

When his young daughter’s beloved companion, an android named Yang malfunctions, Jake searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there.

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After Yang was one of my most anticipated films of this year. A couple of years ago, I watched Columbus and was very surprised, it was incredible and lingered in the mind long after watching. Naturally I was interested in what director Kogonada would make next. Finally his next film is here, this time a sci-fi movie starring Colin Farrell. His sophomore feature is released about 5 years after his debut movie, but the wait was well worth it.

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After Yang is a very contemplative and meditative movie, and such it really takes its time, especially at the beginning. It might turn off some people who aren’t interested in a slow burn, but I was invested in everything that happened. Despite being set vaguely in the future, much of the setting is kept vague, and it is deliberately focused in telling an intimate story. It uses advancements like robots to help to serve the story, and not necessarily be the focus. Essentially, After Yang is a movie about coming to terms with a potential death in the family. There’s a lot that can be taken from this movie. Without providing the context in the plot I can say that a major part involves memory and losing time. With it involving robots, unsurprisingly it is a movie about what it means to be living the life of a human being and to be alive, but also what it means to be in a family. It even covers adoption and racial identity. After Yang is a very thought-provoking film, especially with the conversations between characters. Its very bittersweet, yet tender and heartfelt, and it sticks with you long after watching. There are some issues I had, even though I liked how it ended, it felt a little abrupt. There is also some corporate conspiracy subplot that was introduced during the movie, but it doesn’t amount to anything. It might’ve been intended as a bit of worldbuilding, but this surveillance part came up more than a couple of times that it distracted a little bit.

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The cast are all great, everyone gives such convincing performances. Colin Farrell is the main focus of the movie and is the standout. This is some of his best work, very subtle yet very powerful. The rest of the cast playing the family are really good, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandreawidjaja, and Justin H. Min as Yang the robot. Haley Lu Richardson is also great in her small but notable part.

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As I said earlier, the main reason I was interested in After Yang was its director Kogonada. His work on Columbus was fantastic, and once again he delivers here. Like with Columbus it has a very calming and dreamlike atmosphere, and the cinematography is outstanding and stunning, with some aesthetically pleasing visuals especially with the production design. It’s incredibly edited, especially in the way that they portray memories. Finally, the soundtrack from Aska Matsumiya is beautiful and entrancing, perfectly accompanying the relaxed and mediative vibe of the movie.

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After Yang is another fantastic movie from Kogonada. A mediative, intimate, existential yet beautiful reflection on life, loss and humanity. Its visually stunning, directed incredibly, and made even better with the powerful performances from the cast. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already, it’s one of my favourites of this year thus far.

Casino Royale (1967) Review

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Casino Royale (1967)

Time: 131 Minutes
Cast:
David Niven as Sir James Bond
Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble/James Bond
Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd/James Bond
Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond/James Bond
Daliah Lavi as The Detainer/James Bond
Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond
Barbara Bouchet as Miss Moneypenny/James Bond 007
Terence Cooper as Coop/ James Bond
Deborah Kerr as Agent Mimi/Lady Fiona McTarry
Orson Welles as Le Chiffre
William Holden as Ransome
Charles Boyer as Legrand
John Huston as M/McTarry
Kurt Kasznar as Smernov
Jean-Paul Belmondo as French Legionnaire
Director: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath, Val Guest

James Bond, a secret retired agent, sets a plan to take down SMERSH. Later, James Bond renames a group of agents with the same name in order to hide the real one.

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I had watched all the James Bond movies, including the unofficial Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery. But one Bond film I hadn’t gotten to yet was the 1960s Casino Royale. Casino Royale was the first novel in the James Bond book series, there were attempts to adapt it in the 60s with Sean Connery, but from what I could tell, there was issues with the rights. Eventually it was made as a spoof of the James Bond movies, and most nowadays people don’t really know about this film (especially after the 2006 film). Despite the reviews, I went in open minded and was hoping to enjoy it on some level. However, it ended up being worse than I thought it would be.

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The movie is titled Casino Royale, it features characters named Le Chiffre and Vesper Lynd, and there is a card game that takes place at Casino Royale. But that’s as far as the similarities to the original James Bond story go. The movie is pretty much a James Bond spoof, unfortunately it doesn’t really succeed as that. The script really is a mess, and its not surprising that 11 scriptwriters had worked on it. It just felt like they had thrown a lot of different ideas at the wall and saw what stuck. The plot is bizarre and absolutely incoherent, even spoof movies are at least comprehensible. The setup is that a retired James Bond played by David Niven returns from retirement to take on SMERSH (parody of SPECTRE) which involves giving multiple agents the name of James Bond. That’s as far as I can describe the plot. As for the spoof/satire aspect, it largely deals with the themes of sex and womanising in the James Bond franchise, and this is established very early on. Eventually it forgets that, and very little of the overall humour is based on Bond tropes. Most of the jokes aren’t funny and really miss the mark, and it only grows more tedious to watch as the movie progresses. I won’t say that its completely unfunny, there are some moments which are so absurd that I did find them funny, the ending is particularly insane. But those take up a very small part of the movie, and with the unfunny and annoying humour and the prolonged sections, Casino Royale is quite boring and a slog to sit through. The worst part of this movie might be the length. Had this just been 90 minutes long, I think I wouldn’t have minded the movie as much. It would’ve been a weird and trashy 60s James Bond spoof that would’ve been somewhat enjoyable in its weirdness. However, Casino Royale is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, there’s just so much pointless and random padding, and it makes the experience even more insufferable.

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There is a weirdly large cast, filled with known names from the 60s. Unfortunately, they are all wasted here. I did somewhat enjoy David Niven, in this movie he’s playing the original James Bond. His stuttering and flustered Bond was amusing to see, even if you can easily call him the worst on screen James Bond. For the most part though, the cast are just wasted and given bad parts. There are a couple of exceptions. For examples, Woody Allen is in this movie and while his character is bad, his presence makes the whole movie even more annoying when he appears on screen. This is the first time I’ve seen Allen act in a movie and I’m very content with never seeing him again. That being said, his final scene did actually make the viewing worth it in the end. The other exception is the surprising addition of Orson Welles. In this movie he plays Le Chiffre, and for what its worth he was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He is good in his scenes, unfortunately he’s not in this movie as much as I would’ve liked. Its just a shame that out of all the James Bond movies he could’ve been in, he ended up in this one.

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As if 11 screenwriters for one movie wasn’t enough indication that Casino Royale was going to be a mess, its also directed by 5 people: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath and Val Guest. Just by looking at the movie, you can easily tell that its from the 60s and the direction is really a mixed bag. For what its worth though, there is some creativity on a visual level, from the production design to the colours and lighting. There’s even some German Expressionist inspired visuals in the Berlin segment. I also liked the score, its very 60s and probably deserves to be in a better movie than this.

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1960s Casino Royale is easily the worst movie with the James Bond character, but also one of the most ill-conceived films I have seen. I do like some of the actors, and there were a few moments of absurdity I did enjoy. On the whole though, it is really bad. Most of the humour misses, it fails to be a solid spoof or satire of James Bond, and its just dull to sit through. The troubled and messy production certainly comes across in the end product. If you are looking for a good parody or spoof of James Bond, Austin Powers and Johnny English deliver on that much better. I’d only recommend Casino Royale (1967) to those who are very curious or want to watch all the James Bond movies, but you really aren’t missing out if you don’t watch this.

Decision to Leave (2022) Review

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Decision to Leave

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes, suicide & content that may disturb
Cast:
Tang Wei as Seo-rae
Park Hae-il as Hae-jun
Director: Park Chan-wook

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

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Park Chan-wook is one of my all time favourite filmmakers and I was excited to see him direct another movie, especially since its been 6 years since his last movie (the excellent The Handmaiden). He did not disappoint with Decision to Leave.

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On paper, Decision to Leave looks like a very standard police procedural thriller, the he plot following a detective investigating the death of a man and his mysterious wife. Surprisingly though, its more of a romance, its almost like a Wong Kar-wai film if it was made by Park Chan-wook. I loved the first half, I was engrossed and intrigued with the story. Its filled with detailed clues, deceit, and is layered with important subtleties. That mostly comes down to the central relationship that is unconventional and weird, yet incredibly compelling, and one which I was wrapped up in. The movie isn’t without its issues. Unfortunately, around halfway into the movie (without spoiling anything), there is a notable shift in the story, and I became less invested. There are points where the plot could also get a little too convoluted, more so in the latter part of the story. It’s a film that is deliberately paced across its 2 hours and 20 minutes, it was very appropriate and allowed things to naturally develop, especially with the central romance. However, I found that it could drag in parts (mainly the second half), and there are parts of the movie which could’ve been tightened a little bit. That being said, the film does end on a great and memorable note.

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All the actors play their parts well, but it really comes down to the lead characters played by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, both of whom are excellent. Their relationship is what kept me invested throughout the film; there is a lot of intimate tension between the two, and you feel that every gesture, glance and action are significant. The relationship felt believable, and the two definitely played a big part in the movie working as well as it did.

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As to be expected, Park Chan-wook’s direction is phenomenal, and Decision to Leave is fantastic on a technical level. The cinematography is spectacular, and the visuals are alluring and vivid. Whether it is showing a mountain, an ocean, or anything else, it captures them beautifully. The camerawork is very creative and inventive, especially with its movement and focus. It is already one of the best shot movies of the year. The editing is energetic and fantastic too, with some particularly outstanding and smooth shot transitions. On top of all those is a hauntingly beautiful score from composer and frequent Park Chan-wook collaborator Jo Yeong-wook, which fits the film perfectly.

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Decision to Leave is another fantastic film from Park Chan-wook. There are some issues I have with it, the second half particularly brings down the movie from being on the level of some of his very best movies. That’s a little disappointing, because everything else is amazing. It is stunning to look at, Park’s direction is outstanding, and for all the faults in the story, the central relationship is compelling and is performed beautifully by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il. Decision to Leave is not to be missed, and it is already one of the best movies of the year.

The Punisher (2004) Review

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The Punisher (2004)

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/Punisher
John Travolta as Howard Saint
Will Patton as Quentin Glass
Rebecca Romijn as Joan
Ben Foster as Spacker Dave
Roy Scheider as Frank Castle Sr.
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

After his wife and family are murdered by a gang of ruthless criminals, special agent Frank Castle takes it upon himself to hunt down and punish the criminals responsible for his loss.

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The Punisher has had many on-screen adaptations, I was only familiar with the Netflix version starring Jon Bernthal, as well as 2008’s Punisher: War Zone starring Ray Stevenson. There are also two other known adaptations of The Punisher, one in 1989 with Dolph Lundgren, and another in 2004 starring Thomas Jane. I heard mixed things about both, but nonetheless I decided to check out the latter, and I enjoyed it in spite of its flaws.

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The first thing to note about The Punisher is that it was made in the earlier years of comic book movies, and was a Marvel movie before the MCU was a thing. It feels like a movie first, and a comic book movie second. That in itself is something to appreciate especially with the MCU today. If you went into this movie without knowing its comic book source, it would work perfectly fine as an action movie. That being said, one of the big issues is that the tone is all over the place with what its aiming to be, and it is a weird mix overall. A big aspect about The Punisher character is that he’s meant to show the dark side and consequences of being a vigilante, this movie skips that in favour for a revenge fantasy. Not to say that there aren’t attempts at showing depth, the initial tragedy that the protagonist experiences is treated very seriously. However it just doesn’t go deep enough it is clear that it is more focused on the revenge. It is indeed very dark (as were most comic book movies released in the 2000s), but some o the nihilism is played so straight that it become unintentionally funny. At the same time, a lot of the movie feels like its aiming to be throwback to the B-level revenge thrillers of the 70s, the source material seemed to be pulpy, and there’s plenty of moments throughout the film where it goes for that. It also has goofy dialogue and one liners alongside the brutal violence. However, it even suffers as a revenge thriller, especially with how cliched and routine it feels. Another thing holding this movie back is that whatever way you’re reading the movie, the story is a bit dull. The overall length is over 2 hours and it’s a bit too long for this movie. The story and characters aren’t that interesting or given enough depth, so there are moments where you are just waiting for the action to appear again.

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Thomas Jane is the thing most remembered about this movie, as he plays Frank Castle/The Punisher. I still prefer Jon Bernthal’s version of the character, but Jane is good here and one of the highlights of the movie. We see Castle start off fairly light hearted towards the beginning, and then becoming cold and calculating when he becomes the Punisher. That being said, I feel like he doesn’t get much chance to show his Punisher off. The character isn’t that interesting here, and he doesn’t have much personality outside of brooding and seeking revenge. Still, Jane plays his part well. Something that would keep the movie exciting is by having the Punisher go up against an over the top and memorable villain. The main antagonist in this movie is Howard Saint, a mobster who is responsible for the death of Frank Castle’s family, and he is played by John Travolta. However, this character and performance are the most disappointing parts of the whole movie. You’ve seen this type of mobster villain in plenty of other action movies and nothing about this version is remarkable. The idea of Travolta playing him had potential, and had he brought some of his manic energy from his previous on screen villains like in Face/Off or Broken Arrow, it would’ve really made the movie more fun to watch. Weirdly though, Travolta plays things so straight to the point of it being emotionless and dull, and he doesn’t even succeed in being convincingly menacing. There are some other actors who are generally good, including Laura Harring, Ben Foster, Rebecca Romijn and Roy Scheider, with Will Patton as Travolta’s henchman being the standout.

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This is Jonathan Hensleigh’s first movie, and while his directing can be a bit of a mixed bag, it is a decent debut. On a technical level it is solid, if unremarkable. While the editing can be a bit shaky, on the whole there are some good action scenes. This is definitely an R rated movie, and that works to its advantage. This is a very violent Punisher movie, and they definitely deliver on the brutality. In some ways it feels like the R rated action movies of the 90s, and if that’s what they were going for, they succeeded.

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2004’s The Punisher is far from being one of the best comic book movies or one of the best adaptations of the character. The writing is unremarkable, the story is dull, and the tone is confused. However, I still enjoyed it; I appreciated the different tone compared to the comic book movies of today, the action is entertaining, and Thomas Jane is pretty good as The Punisher. It’s an above average action thriller which is mostly forgettable, but I’m glad I saw it.

Con Air (1997) Review

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Con Air

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe
John Cusack as U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
John Malkovich as Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom
Steve Buscemi as Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene
Ving Rhames as Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones
Colm Meaney as Agent Duncan Malloy
Mykelti Williamson as Mike “Baby-O” O’Dell
Rachel Ticotin as Guard Sally Bishop
Director: Simon West

Cameron is a wrongly convicted prisoner who is going to be released when his plane is hijacked by other criminals. While they seize control of the plane, he attempts to wrest control and return home.

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When it comes to the 90s and especially for Nicolas Cage, Con Air is one of the quintessential action movies, even if I wouldn’t consider it one of the all time best. I rewatched it after many years after seeing it for the first time, and it was even more enjoyable than I remembered it being. It is absurd, yet thrilling, and constantly entertaining from beginning to end.

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One thing that everyone will say is that Con Air is very over the top and ridiculous, it is almost insane that this movie was made at all. It just runs with whatever ridiculous happens, no matter the absurdity, and it just keeps escalating and escalating. Its very noisy, and nothing about the movie is subtle. It is helped by a light tone and the simplicity of the plot, which is basically Die Hard on a plane. Nicolas Cage is a prisoner going home on a plane full of convicts, and the convicts take over the plane. This movie is always moving, with rarely a dull or boring moment. I also love how confident this movie is, there is an earnestness to the movie, even with the tongue in cheek and self-aware moments, which gives it a real personality. There are even certain choices that are played completely straight, but come across as unintentional comedic, and that adds to the movie if anything. Its really hard to criticise the writing of the movie because any negative you could find in it also serves as a positive (on an entertainment level at least). What I will say without spoilers is that once everything with the plane is done, there is a final action segment to conclude the movie. It is still enjoyable, but does feel a little tact on.

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There is a stacked cast with plenty of recognisable names here, and everyone delivers in their parts. They know what kind of movie they are in and are committed to the film despite the goofiness. Nicolas Cage leads this movie with long hair and a wonky Southern accent. Even though its not one of his all time best action roles, its one of his most memorable. He’s likable, easy to follow, and has some memorable moments and delivers some fun one liners. John Cusack is also good as a US Marshal who helps Cage along the way. The standout is John Malkovich as a menacing and great villain, I really don’t think the character and movie would’ve worked as well without Malkovich. Supporting villains including Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo are solid, and Steve Buscemi is a scene stealer.

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Something that also helps the movie is the direction by Simon West. Its so overblown yet well filmed, stylistically it is the epitome of 90s action cheese. The action is entertaining and intense, the camera movements are great, and everything from the fight scenes to the shootouts are crafted well. The score is wonderfully bombastic, and is operating at the right tone and feel for this movie.

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Con Air is the most Michael Bay movie that isn’t directed by Michael Bay. It has the right amount of absurdity, earnestness, and self-awareness, made even better by Simon West’s solid direction, and an ensemble of enjoyable performances led by Nicolas Cage. It is a lot of fun, and is a great candidate for the ultimate popcorn movie. If you like action movies especially those which are incredibly over the top, I think Con Air is worth checking out.

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) Review

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Three Thousand Years of Longing

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes & nudity
Cast:
Idris Elba as the Djinn
Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie
Director: George Miller

A lonely and bitter British woman discovers an ancient bottle while on a trip to Istanbul and unleashes a djinn who offers her three wishes. Filled with apathy, she is unable to come up with one until his stories spark in her a desire to be loved.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. While it already had Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba in the lead roles, the main reason I was excited is that it’s the newest film from George Miller, who last directed the incredible Mad Max: Fury Road 7 years ago. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his upcoming movie. The premise seemed a bit vague and simple, and the trailer didn’t really convey much except for its strong visuals. Still, I was curious enough to check it out, and I’m glad I watched it.

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First of all, Three Thousand Years of Longing is nothing like the trailer. It showed the basic premise and there are certainly some crazy visuals, but that’s not the nature of the movie. Its not a bombastic spectacle, and its certainly not as chaotic and fast paced as it appeared in the trailers, nor is it as thrilling compared to Miller’s last movie. In fact, it is more of a subdued, endearing and existential fairy-tale love story for adults. The plot and storytelling is more straightforward than you might think it would be. For the most part, this movie surrounds a conversation between Idris Elba’s djinn genie and Tilda Swinton, as he offers her 3 wishes and recounts stories from his past. It is a sincere thought provoking character study about stories (and the importance of them), and a meditation on life, love, and desire. The movie has a lot of narration, and while it can be hit or miss in movies, it fits here given that characters are actually telling stories here. Its very dialogue heavy as you would expect, and I found the conversations between Elba and Swinton to be compelling. In the opening 10 minutes, I wasn’t really sure about what was happening with the story or what direction it is going in. However, it picks up the moment that Idris Elba comes out of the bottle. The third act is a bit out of place from the rest of the movie, it stumbles a little and the pacing is weird. While I was satisfied with the movie, I couldn’t help but feel like it could’ve been longer. Perhaps it was originally longer and was cut down for the theatrical cut, an hour and 50 minutes does feel a little short. Part of that is that it feels a little rushed towards the end, even though I enjoyed it.

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As for acting, it really comes down to the lead performances from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, both of them are great. They are genuine in their parts, and I like the relationship that they form. I will say however that I wished we got to learn more about Swinton’s character. At some points she talks about her life, but not a great amount, and it particularly pales when compared to all the stories that Elba tells of his very long life.

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George Miller directs, and once again his work is incredible, very stylish and creative. He already showed this in Mad Max: Fury Road, but he really is a master of visual storytelling. There are some spectacular sequences, and it was great to experience this in the cinema. The camerawork and cinematography are sweeping and amazing, and the visuals are stunning. There is also so much care put into the set decoration and designs. There is a lot of CGI in this, and sometimes is looks great. At other times however, it looks a bit weird, almost like it’s unfinished. The score from Tom Holkenborg is amazing, and some of his very best work.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing is definitely rough in parts, some of the CGI is a bit dodgy, and parts towards the second half do feel a bit awkward, and it could’ve afforded to have been a little longer. It is also definitely not for everyone, as can be seen with the disappointing box office. It wasn’t helped by the poor marketing, but then again, its not an easy movie to sell to audiences. It’s a shame because it’s the kind of film that we don’t get a lot of nowadays; director driven, sincere, and not afraid to be creative, weird or different. With Three Thousand Years of Longing, George Miller has created a $60 million arthouse movie. The story is genuine and compelling, Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton are great, its visually beautiful, and Miller’s direction and craft are on full display here. I know its not for everyone, but I do think its worth checking out. One of the most surprising movies of 2022.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Review

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Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Kristanna Loken as the T-X
Claire Danes as Katherine “Kate” Brewster
Director: Jonathan Mostow

A powerful cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future appears in search of a drifter. Soon, he must protect himself and his companion from a deadly robotic threat.

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The first two Terminator movies are widely regarded as action sci-fi classics. However, the following movies in the series has been receiving a rather mixed reception. That being said, I like them all, and that extends to Terminator 3. Made and released over a decade after the excellent Terminator 2, Rise of the Machines is enjoyable despite its many issues.

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The biggest problem of Terminator 3 is how similar it is to Terminator 2, to the point where it almost feels like a copy. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from a more advanced Terminator, and there are plenty of one liners and action scenes. It doesn’t help that much of it feels like it is on autopilot. The plot is less interesting, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s not nearly as much emotion or depth to it, despite some of the opportunities presented here. The attempts at comedy are increased, but come across as being more forced, and I think its goofier than it was intending to be; the scene in which the Terminator gets his clothes here is an example of this. While some one liners are memorable, they were more misses than hits. That being said, I was fairly entertained with the movie, helped by a tight pace. It is also elevated by a surprising third act, with the bleak ending being a standout. While I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it is at least admirable. It is a bold move for a franchise movie to end on such a nihilistic note. At the same time, you get the feeling that it could’ve been more impactful had it been handled better.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as another Terminator sent back in time, and is solid as usual even if he’s feeling a bit tired here. One thing working against him is that he just feels like a copy of his Terminator from Terminator 2, only he’s not as good, almost like an empty shell. His characterisation isn’t as strong and doesn’t feel as human. At the same time, there are plenty of human moments where he acts like his Terminator 2 counterpart, despite not having humanising moments like he did with young John Connor. The rest of the cast aren’t as good. Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are fine as John Connor and his future wife Kate, but are forgettable. Terminator 3 is a logical and accurate continuation of where John Connor would go after stopping Judgment Day, but they don’t do much beyond the first act. Danes is also fine with what she is given but is underdeveloped despite playing a major role in the movie. Then there’s the new villain Terminator, this time it’s the T-X as played by Kristanna Loken. While the idea had potential, the execution has much to be desired. It’s a female Terminator and that’s all that’s going for her. She wasn’t menacing, she was hard to take seriously and was a step back after the Terminator villains.

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Jonathan Mostow directs this, overall his work is just okay but unsurprisingly pales in comparison to James Cameron’s work on the previous movies. Much like the writing, a big part of the problem is that it just feels like a copy of Terminator 2, except not as good. It doesn’t have much of a style of its own. Its also feels on autopilot, not helped by the generic score from Marco Beltrami. That being said, the action scenes are quite entertaining. It can be a bit messy and sloppy at times, but at the very least goes all in with the bonkers action. An early chase scene involving a truck in the first act particularly shines. While there is clearly an overreliance on CGI and the effects haven’t aged well, there are still some good practical stunts.

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a decent enough sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger is entertaining as usual, the action is fun, and there’s some aspects that are well done. The problem is that its just pretty much just a copy of Terminator 3, only not done as well. The only purpose of the movie seems to be the direction of its ending, and even that could’ve been handled better. Still, it’s okay if you manage expectations going into it.

National Treasure (2004) Review

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National Treasure

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates
Sean Bean as Ian Howe
Diane Kruger as Dr. Abigail Chase
Justin Bartha as Riley Poole
Jon Voight as Patrick Henry Gates
Harvey Keitel as Agent Peter Sadusky
Christopher Plummer as John Adams Gates
Director: Jon Turteltaub

Modern treasure hunters, led by archaeologist Ben Gates, search for a chest of riches rumored to have been stashed away by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin during the Revolutionary War. The chest’s whereabouts may lie in secret clues embedded in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and Gates is in a race to find the gold before his enemies do.

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I remember watching National Treasure for the first time, I was quite young at the time, and it was the first film I saw that had Nicolas Cage in it. I enjoyed it but wondered how it would be on rewatch, and whether it would still hold up over a decade and a half later. Thankfully, I think I can say that it does. While its not great, National Treasure is still a lot of fun to watch.

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The story is a fairly interesting and fun adventure with a lot of excitement throughout, helped by the fast pace. You’re right there with the main characters as they make discoveries and solve puzzles in order to unravel the central mystery. As far as adventure movies go, it occasionally meets its aspirations, but could’ve been better. As it is, it’s a solid riff on much better action adventure movies. Its not just limited to the main characters exploring tombs, there’s also a conspiracy aspect, as well as a heist aspect. The history and science are definitely messy and aren’t realistic, but it is an absurd movie overall. One of the things most known about this movie is that a key part involves Nicolas Cage having to steal the Declaration of Independence, and that is gloriously silly as that sounds. Even some of the logic of the plot can be hilarious. Nicolas Cage and Sean Bean start off hunting treasure together, but they separate when Bean wants to steal the Declaration of Independence and Cage doesn’t want to. So when Bean decides to go get it himself, Cage decides to go and steal it first. Thankfully, National Treasure has the right tone, not taking itself too seriously, but not going too overboard and risking becoming a self parody.

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The cast are quite enjoyable. Nicolas Cage made for a charismatic, likable and entertaining lead as Ben Gates. Its definitely not one of his craziest performances in some of his other movies like Face/Off, but he gave his character a lot of energy, and is fun to watch. Diane Kruger is also good, and Justin Bartha is solid as the comic relief with some great comedic timing. There are also other great actors who have parts to play in this, including Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Plummer. Sean Bean is the villain and while the writing for him is nothing special, he does deliver on his part as an antagonist.

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If there’s an aspect of National Treasure that I wished was better, it was the direction. Jon Turteltaub’s work is decent, but it needed something more. The action is relatively fun, there are some good environments sets and designs, and the score from Trevor Rabin is good (especially the catchy main theme). Its just that there’s nothing distinct about this movie on a directing or style level that separates it from other similar movies.

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National Treasure is comparable to The Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser, not the best action-adventure movies (i.e. not on the level of Indiana Jones), but nonetheless very entertaining for what it is. It’s a fun ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously, helped by the solid cast led by Nicolas Cage. If you haven’t seen it already, I think its worth checking out.

The 6th Day (2000) Review

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The 6th Date

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Adam Gibson
Tony Goldwyn as Michael Drucker
Michael Rapaport as Hank Morgan
Michael Rooker as Robert Marshall
Sarah Wynter as Talia Elsworth
Robert Duvall as Dr. Griffin Weir
Director: Roger Spottiswoode

In the distant future, human cloning technology falls into the destructive, corrupt hands of a multinational corporation. But one man refuses to be a pawn in this deadly conspiracy.

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I have been meaning to check out The 6th Day for some time, I knew it as another Arnold Schwarzenegger action sci-fi movie. However from what I heard going into it, its not exactly one of his most beloved movies. It definitely has a lot of problems, but I liked it overall.

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The story of The 6th Day definitely has some holes and issues; it starts off intriguing but becomes less interesting as it progresses. I liked the slightly futuristic setting with the technological advancements, some of those predictions are even accurate to today. It also raises some interesting ethical questions, especially about cloning. However, the movie is not clever enough to do anything interesting with those ideas, like its in completely the wrong movie. As a result, it is all over the place tonally, it has dark and disturbing implications with the future but has plenty of silly moments. However there is a charm to the movie, ,and I think The 6th Day does work better as a silly Schwarzenegger film with sci-fi elements than a serious sci-fi movie about cloning. The movie definitely succeeds when it has fun with its premise, and it definitely has those moments. While the overall plot isn’t memorable, there are some individual sequences which are. It is also a funny movie and has some great one liners.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger leads The 6th Day, and this is definitely not one of his best movies or performances. However, he’s as enjoyable and charismatic as ever, handling the action and the one liners with ease. Robert Duvall has also done much better in other movies, but he’s decent in his screentime here. The villains aren’t anything special but work well enough for this plot, from Tony Goldwyn as the main antagonist, to Michael Rooker as one of his henchmen.

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Roger Spottiswoode directs The 6th Day, and his work here is fine. Some of the CGI is very early 2000s and is dated, but it can be enjoyably silly. There are some entertaining sequences, and I liked the futuristic setting shown in the movie, especially with the technology and weapons. The action isn’t fantastic but between the laser shootouts and car chases, its fun and well shot.

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The 6th Day is not a good movie, despite an intriguing premise and ideas, it really doesn’t utilise them to their fullest. Out of Arnold’s action movies, its not one of his best. That being said, I still had fun with it. The cast are decent, and the action was at least entertaining. It’s definitely no Total Recall, but if you’re a fan of Schwarzenegger, then The 6th Day has enough to make it worth checking out.