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Blade (1998) Review

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Blade

Time: 120 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
N’Bushe Wright as Dr. Karen Jenson
Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Donal Logue as Quinn
Director: Stephen Norrington

Blade (Wesley Snipes), who is part-vampire and part-mortal, becomes a vampire hunter to protect human beings. He prevents vampires from taking control over the human race.

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Blade was a hit back in 1998 but it’s been somewhat forgotten in recent years among all the numerous amounts of comic book movies released the past decade. It was the first R rated comic book movie, the first comic book movie to have an African American lead, and also led the way for some of the other comic book movies to follow like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. It also helped make audiences to take comic book movies more seriously after some other comic book movies like Batman and Robin did make them out to be a bit of a joke. Rewatching Blade now, it surprisingly mostly holds up and is a lot of fun.

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Blade is 2 hours long and from beginning to end I was entertained immensely. The opening in an underground vampire nightclub was the perfect beginning for this movie as it really set the tone for the rest of the movie. Blade does somewhat take things seriously, and there is a dark atmosphere, and at the same time it’s also got a very cheesy tone, with silly dialogue and multiple dumb moments which were also fun in their own rights. It blends the two elements effectively. It is also an action horror hybrid and delivers on both sides of that. The worldbuilding was very strong, establishing many concepts, groups and characters without giving annoying info dumps. The story is decent enough but does get a little convoluted with a number of subplots happening at the same time. Blade’s story also doesn’t have many surprises, and in the second half it does have a typical world ending plot. There are some cliches for sure, especially when it comes to both fantasy and comic book stories. As it approaches the third act it’s particularly a very typical climax, but I was still entertained watching it.

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Most of the cast are good in their parts. Wesley Snipes is pitch perfect in the role of Blade. He’s got a great screen presence and vibe around him, really selling the lines (including the really cheesy one liners), and even the way he moves and poses is great. He definitely knows what kind of movie he’s in, and he owns it from start to finish. Kris Kristofferson and N’Bushe Wright both work playing allies to Blade. The weakest link is Stephen Doriff, who is rather weak as the villain Deacon Frost. He’s not bad by any means and he definitely plays up the role, but it’s just hard to take him seriously as a threat.

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Blade is directed by Stephen Norrington, who did quite a good job. The movie is full of style, which really helped the movie work as well as it did. The visuals are slick for a late 90s flick. A big standout part of the movie are the martial arts fight scenes which still hold up today. The choreography is great, and almost Hong Kong inspired. Much of the action are captured in wide shots, so we can see all the fighting on screen, without any annoying zoom ins or close ups. We get to see how great the stunts are. As previously mentioned, this movie is R rated, and there’s a lot of blood (as there should be in a Blade movie). The movie really benefited from this rating, and it allowed the filmmakers a lot more freedom without any restrictions. There may be a Blade movie in development by the MCU, but I don’t see how it’s possible to do a non R rated version of it as a movie. A lot of the effects are a little dated to say the least (especially in the climax), but you can look past it. The music accompanying the movie is well fitting, with a lot of breakbeats and techno riffs that goes well with the face paced vibe of the action scenes. It is definitely a very 90s movie, with the lead character in all black leather and sunglasses, the exaggerated fighting sound effects, the visual effects and soundtrack, but I guess that’s part of its charm.

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Blade is a really fun action and horror hybrid comic book movie that mostly holds up. Stephen Norrington’s direction makes the movie really entertaining, the script is gloriously cheesy and entertaining, and Wesley Snipes is outstanding as Blade. About that new Blade movie in the MCU, I love the idea of Mahershala Ali as Blade. However I’m not sure if a Blade movie in the MCU would reach its fullest potential. Nonetheless, I’m still excited for it. If you haven’t seen the 1998 Blade yet, I highly recommend checking it out, it really was ahead of its time.

Max Payne (2008) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Detective Max Payne
Beau Bridges as B.B. Hensley
Ludacris as Lieutenant Jim Bravura
Mila Kunis as Mona Sax
Chris O’Donnell as Jason Colvin
Nelly Furtado as Christa Balder
Kate Burton as Nicole Horne
Donal Logue as Alex Balder
Amaury Nolasco as Jack Lupino
Olga Kurylenko as Natasha Sax
Director: John Moore

After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with beautiful and deadly Russian mobster Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), Max journeys into a dark underworld to find the truth, but forces — both worldly and supernatural — align against him, determined to silence Max forever.

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I remember hearing about Max Payne when it came out, it was based on some video games and it looked like it had potential, the trailer was actually good (much better than the movie). However apparently it wasn’t very good. In terms of accuracy to the games, I’ve only played the third instalment of the game series (which I liked). As the movie is based off of the first two games I can’t say how it adapted the story, but whatever the case it’s still not a good movie. Max Payne is a pretty dull, poorly made movie, that won’t be enjoyed by people unfamiliar with the games, and I can imagine it only comes across worse for those who are.

As far as video games go, Max Payne is actually not that bad of an idea as a movie. The premise of a main character’s family being killed and him out for revenge is a simple enough story, and that could be easily adapted into a movie. Although I played the 3rd Max Payne game, I heard that this movie is based on the previous 2, so I can’t comment on how they handled the adaptation overall. Whatever the case though, whatever they were going for didn’t work as a movie on its all at all (and I heard that it really doesn’t do the games justice at all). The plot is rather dull and generic, like a run of the mill action flick. It’s just so uninteresting and you don’t care what’s going on, not with the characters, not with the story. Maybe on paper the plot isn’t terrible but they don’t make it engaging at all.

Most of the acting really wasn’t anything that good but it doesn’t help that every character is one dimensional. Mark Wahlberg can be good in some movies and on paper he didn’t even sound like a terrible casting choice for the title role but he feels kind of miscast here. You don’t really buy him in this role as someone who’s family is murdered and he’s out for revenge. It feels like the most boring version of Crime/Revenge Mark Wahlberg (if you’ve watched a lot of his movies I think you can tell what I’m meaning). It’s like ‘family murdered’ is the only characteristic given to Payne here, and Wahlberg doesn’t really feel believable in the role at all. Mila Kunis can be good in some movies but I really don’t buy her in her action role here, doesn’t really have much to do here. The rest of the acting is nothing impressive either, with actually the more stand out characters/actors being killed off pretty early on.

One thing that I knew going into this movie is that the director of Max Payne, John Moore, also directed A Good Day to Die Hard, and so I really wasn’t really looking forward to watching Max Payne because of that. One of the things I actually do like about Max Payne is that some of the environments are very noir-ish and snowy, I really like the aesthetic and it is by far the best part of the movie. Max Payne is a video game and so you’d can expect a lot of action – except the action actually happens an hour into the movie. While one could say that maybe they traded out the over the top action with a good mystery, the mystery wasn’t even that good. It’s a shame that much of the action when it’s on screen at times is rather incomprehensible with a lot of quick edits, and when you can tell what’s going on, it’s rather boring and like a generic and mediocre action movie . One of the highlights of the Max Payne games are the bullet time moments, where Max can slow down time to shoot enemies. The movie oddly doesn’t really take advantage of the bullet time and the one time that it does, it’s this really boring extreme slow-motion moment where he jumps backwards to shoot some guy behind him with a shotgun, bizarre moment to have that one bullet time moment. It really was a wasted opportunity. This movie is PG-13 and I didn’t really understand why. It’s a movie about a guy’s family getting murdered and the games were sort of R rated, so I don’t understand why they didn’t go all out with the violence. Apparently there is an R rated cut but it was originally planned to be PG-13 in the first place.

Max Payne isn’t even good enough as a basic action movie, it’s uninteresting, not that entertaining and all around not a good movie. Really the best part of this movie is that this it has a pretty great snowy aesthetic when it shows it. There’s actually some potential, especially with the video games its based on but its not on display here. A ton of people absolutely despise this movie but I’m not hating it. It’s a bad movie for sure, but it’s just rather dull and mediocre more than anything.

Zodiac (2007) Review

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Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi
Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery
Anthony Edwards as SFPD Inspector William Armstrong
Brian Cox as Melvin Belli
Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax
Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow
John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen
Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee
Director: David Fincher

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.

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By 2007, David Fincher was already a well received director with film like Se7en and Fight Club. When it comes to his films, Zodiac is one of his most underrated and it also might just be his best. Fantastically well-paced, greatly and efficiently written and brilliantly acted by its cast, Zodiac is a captivating and fantastic movie that is finally receiving the love and acclaim that it deserves over a decade after its release.

Zodiac also takes place throughout the 60s and 70s and many moments jump to different moments (like weeks, months and years later), it really spans over quite a large amount of time. The mystery itself is fascinating. It’s not just the mystery that’s interesting though, it’s also the people investigating and obsessing over it, particularly Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo’s characters. Fincher really does a great job at making you as obsessed with finding the identity of the Zodiac Killer as our protagonists here. The movie really gets better and better the more it progresses. The part where two characters near the end seem to piece together what may have happened is really satisfying. The movie isn’t quite like Fincher’s other serial killer movie, Se7en, it’s certainly not as dark and grotesque. However, all the events that you see really happened, which you could argue could make this film more disturbing. Also, unlike Se7en or Fincher’s other serial killer movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s never clear who the actual killer is. There is a theory and a strong implication by the end of the movie but that’s it. This movie is Fincher’s longest to date, around 2 hours and 40 minutes, this is possibly why Zodiac isn’t as popular as some of his other films like Se7en. There is a lot to take in and you have to really be into a mood to sit down for over 150 minutes to watch an investigation of a serial killer, for me it really did it for me.

The whole cast of Zodiac do well in their roles. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo are particularly great in the movie with Gyllenhaal as a cartoonist, Downey as a reporter and Ruffalo as a cop. All of them are obsessed with finding the Zodiac killer, and they convey their real life characters convincingly. Gyllenhaal’s performance here is particularly overlooked, he really carries with him this silent obsession that he shows with such subtlety that was effective. We are really seeing the movie from his eyes and we becomes as obsessed with the case of the Zodiac Killer as Jake’s character Robert Graysmith. Downey was also great here, with his character going through some more blatant changes as the case of the Zodiac progresses. Ruffalo also proves himself once again as being yet another one of the best underappreciated talents working today. They all give some of the best performances of their career. All the supporting cast were quite good but if there’s one who stands out, it’s John Caroll Lynch as a primary suspect in the Zodiac case. He is so unnerving in all his scenes and is very memorable, even within his small screentime.

David Fincher’s movies always look great and Zodiac in no exception, his direction of this film is immaculate and full of detail. Most of this film is focussed on the investigation of the murders and the mystery by our 3 main characters and Fincher really did a great job at showcasing it. The cinematography by Harris Savides was also great. The intense scenes (most of them consisting of the Zodiac killings being shown) are handled very well. A certain basement scene also stands out at being very creepy, Fincher handled the tension and the unsettledness perfectly. David Fincher also uses CGI effectively to enhance the scenes to make it look better. I wouldn’t know that he was using it just from watching the movie, it’s been released for over a decade long and nothing indicated that CGI was being used. The music from David Shire was also quite effective.

Zodiac in an underrated and fantastic film that I think everyone should see at least once. It is a long movie, full of detail and it’s a lot to take in, so it’s not an easy movie to just watch, you have to really be in the mood to watch it. However, having seen it a few times now, I can’t help but love it every time. Fincher’s attention to detail is absolutely incredible. On top of that, the performances (particularly from Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo) were great. It’s probably Fincher’s best put together movie in all honesty and having seen almost all of his films, it might just be his best movie yet, which is really saying a lot. Zodiac is one of my favourite films and it gets better the more I watch it.