Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) Review

geweldige-actiefilm-die-hard-with-a-vengeance-dinsdag-te-zien-op-veronica

Die Hard With a Vengeance

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Bruce Willis as John McClane
Jeremy Irons as Simon Peter Gruber
Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus Carver
Graham Greene as Joe Lambert
Colleen Camp as Connie Kowalski
Larry Bryggman as Walter Cobb
Anthony Peck as Ricky Walsh
Nick Wyman as Mathias Targo
Sam Phillips as Katya
Director: John McTiernan

John McClane (Bruce Willis) must enlist the help of Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), a local shop owner, to stop Simon (Jeremy Irons), a former colonel from East Germany, from detonating bombs across New York.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I remember Die Hard with a Vengeance being one of the best Die Hard movies, my favourite just after the original. I recalled that it was on a much larger scale from the previous two movies, and it had Samuel L. Jackson as well as Jeremy Irons as the villain. On rewatching it I can say that it is the best Die Hard sequel despite a couple of issues.

die-hard-3-2000

The story is suspenseful with a brisk and relentless pace, and it never lets up. It’s not the most original of stories for action movies, but it is well executed. The narrative is consistently engaging and really benefits from the central buddy dynamic with the main two characters. The initial plot having the lead characters racing around New York City trying to stop bombs going off was a great way to add tension. It is also quite funny, it’s probably the funniest of the Die Hard movies, mostly because of the dynamic between the two leads. Something about Die Hard with a Vengeance is that it isn’t a carbon copy to the first or second Die Hard movies. It scraps the idea of John McClane stuck in one location with terrorists or robbers running about and expands it to the entirety of New York City. It also abandons the Christmas setting of the first two Die Hard movies for Summer in the city. As a result, it definitely does more than just recycle the first film’s plot. The movie marked the biggest change of the series, for better and for worse. Even within this movie itself, the change does lose some things from the first movie, like it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic. Additionally, the third movie’s more expansive setting and complex plot does rob it of some of the simplicity of the predecessors. However, this change was necessary given that Die Hard 2 was already very similar to the first movie. There are a couple of changes that I wasn’t a fan of, some things were left off from the last two movies, mainly to do with John McClane. They explain what happened with him since Die Hard 2, but its all done in a rush. However, the biggest problem with Die Hard with a Vengeance is that the third act just doesn’t work as well as the previous two acts. It starts to lose steam when the mysterious villain is revealed even before his personal motivation becomes apparent. The ending feels especially rushed and tact on in a “here’s everything resolved now” way. It’s worth knowing that there was an alternative original ending which was much darker. While I usually would gravitate to it, that ending doesn’t work well either and would’ve needed a lot more work on it for it to be satisfying. Despite its issues, the disappointing theatrical ending is still fine and definitely an improvement over the alternate and more sombre ending that they abandoned.

Bruce-Willis-Die-Hard-with-a-Vengeance

There are some solid performances from the cast. Bruce Willis is once again ever reliable as John McClane. McClane in this movie is at a low point in his life, his wife left him again, he’s suspended and he’s an alcoholic. These additions are a double edged sword, it does make him more vulnerable and as a result more relatable, and again he’s really put through the wringer. However, there is also a sullenness to McClane here that can be off-putting, especially compared to his appearance in Die Hard 2. Samuel L. Jackson’s character of Zeus Carver is one of Die Hard’s best characters behind McClane, providing some great comic relief with his line deliveries. This movie wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without the chemistry between Willis and Jackson, they are a perfect on-screen duo, bouncing off each other so well. This movie also has the Die Hard movies’ second best villain in Jeremy Irons, who is thoroughly chewing the scenery, even when we don’t see him for most of the movie and only hear his voice. Unfortunately, the writing for Irons just wasn’t that great and the character in retrospect is a little lacklustre, especially when it reveals the character later in the movie. The rest of the villains are forgettable even by Die Hard standards.

Die-Hard-With-a-Vengeance-04

Original Die Hard director John McTiernan’s return to the director chair was more than welcome. As written earlier, Die Hard 3 takes a very different approach and is no longer the claustrophobic thriller the first one was, and I thought that change was handled well partially because of the direction. The action sequences are great as expected. I don’t think they come close to the first Die Hard’s action, but With a Vengeance comes closest to achieving this.

die-hard-with-a-vengeance

Die Hard with a Vengeance is a worthy third instalment in the franchise, and the best of the sequels by far. Despite some issues including the third act and some changes from the previous two movies, the fresh new direction in terms of scale and story really helped it. It is energetic, thrilling and entertaining to watch, and strongly benefits from the main duo of Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.

Jurassic Park (1993) Review

image-5

Jurassic Park

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough as Dr. John Hammond
Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon
Joseph Mazzello as Tim Murphy
Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy
Samuel L. Jackson as Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry
Martin Ferrero as Donald Gennaro
B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Director: Steven Spielberg

John Hammond, an entrepreneur, opens a wildlife park containing cloned dinosaurs. However, a breakdown of the island’s security system causes the creatures to escape and bring about chaos.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

With the third Jurassic World movie coming soon, I thought I’d rewatch the movies in the Jurassic Park/World series. To be blunt, I have no nostalgia for Jurassic Park. I didn’t watch the original until I was later in my teens, and I’m pretty sure I saw the second or third movies before it. While I liked the original, I just wasn’t as attached to it as much as others. Having revisited it, that remains the same case, but I still quite liked it and can appreciate the fantastic work here.

jurassic-park-1993-1

While I do have problems with it, the script of Jurassic Park is solidly written and well crafted; I was on board from beginning to end. The film is 2 hours long, but doesn’t waste time in setting everything up. The first half sets the mood by introducing the park, explaining why it was set up and how the dinosaurs are back. It allows many of the characters to be in awe seeing these dinosaurs brought back to life. Then in the second half, it turns into a thriller when the dinosaurs get loose. As that, Jurassic Park works. I do have issues with the film, nothing movie breaking but enough to prevent me from liking it more. It potentially might be an unpopular opinion, but the characters here weren’t all that interesting, and were a bit thin. That being said, it still has the best set of characters from the Jurassic series thus far. Whenever the dinosaurs are on screen, I think the film really works and succeeds, but a lot of the human drama is rather forced. I think it succeeds more with spectacle and chase scenes over the character moments, which is unfortunate because stronger character moments really would’ve made it so much better. Otherwise, it is a solid script.

o7LzVmlOSYc3EspyVMC9bsTTARc

As I said earlier, the characters aren’t all that great, but the performances make up for them. The main trio of Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are great and make their characters memorable. Richard Attenborough is also great as John Hammond, the creator of Jurassic Park. Out of all the characters in the film, Hammond is given probably the most amount of depth. The rest of the cast including Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight also bring it to their parts. The only acting that doesn’t work that well for me were the grandchildren of Hammond who were a little annoying, but I think most of my annoyance came from how they were written.

images-1

Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and his expert craft is on display here. The cinematography is stunning, and everything is perfectly filmed. The visual effects are fantastic, especially with the blend of practical effects, animatronics, and CGI together, which today appears more fluid than you’d initially think for a movie released in 1993. Speaking of which, the presentation and presence of all the dinosaurs were incredibly effective. Something that Spielberg does incredibly well is build up suspense, things which he brought over from his earlier movies like Duel and Jaws. There are some very memorable and iconic sequences, including but not limited to the introduction of the T-Rex. Finally, you can’t talk about Jurassic Park without talking about the memorable score from John Williams, ranging from triumphant and epic to tense and thrilling. I can’t imagine Jurassic Park without this music.

Jurassic-Park (1)

I will admit that Jurassic Park is not one of my favourite Steven Spielberg movies and I have some issues with the film, mainly with some of the writing and the rather lacklustre human characters. As I said, I don’t hold the same love for it like most people do. Still, it is undeniably an iconic and monumentally impactful and influential film, and was truly a technical achievement.

1408 (2007) Review

1408-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

1408_mech_052407.indd

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
John Cusack as Michael “Mike” Enslin
Samuel L. Jackson as Gerald Olin
Mary McCormack as Lily Enslin
Tony Shalhoub as Sam Farrell
Director: Mikael Håfström

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences (John Cusack) checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. As he settles in, he confronts genuine terror.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I heard about 1408 for some time, I knew it as a horror movie based on a Stephen King book that starred John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson and involved a specific hotel room. Other than that, I had no idea what to expect from it, though I did notice some reactions to the movie to be a little mixed. I actually ended up enjoying it, even if I wouldn’t exactly call it a great movie.

weinstein-TWC1021-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1483993185333._RI_

The setup of the movie is pretty simple, and the plot moves at a reasonable pace, really picking up from the moment that lead character Mike Enslin (played by John Cusack) first enters Room 1408. The story is pretty fun and kept my interest, especially with the mystery of the room even if by the end it doesn’t live up to its potential and build up. The movie does fall into some typical clichés of the genre and doesn’t surprise too much. With that said, I can say it very much feels like a Stephen King story, for better and for worse. It’s not scary but it is suspenseful and creative as everything is thrown at Enslin and he tries to figure out what to do next. I can’t tell whether some of the scenes are intentionally funny or just unintentionally funny, but some scenes were so over the top that I had fun with them, and not necessarily in a bad way. A particular scene involving a very agitated John Cusack and a mini fridge does make me feel like there was some self-awareness while making the movie. At the same time, there are some genuinely effective scenes, especially in the second half of the movie. I should point out that there are two versions (and apparently somehow three endings) of the movie. Strangely enough, the director’s cut is now the version of 1408 mostly on display for people to watch on Blu-ray and streaming services. Also strangely enough, the theatrical cut ending ended up being superior to the director’s cut. While I liked the initial idea and different direction of the director’s cut ending, ultimately the execution just ends up being really nothing and was unsatisfying. The ending in the theatrical cut, while seemingly less dark, was actually a lot more effective; sadly, you’ll probably only get to see that version if you have the DVD copy of 1408. So in saying that, directly after watching 1408 (it’ll no doubt be the director’s cut), I would recommend looking online at the theatrical cut ending.

1408window2-1440x600

Much of the movie belongs to John Cusack, it’s basically a one man show for him and he does very well. His character is a strong sceptic about ghosts and hauntings as a writer, who is confronted with so much while inside this room and it’s very entertaining to watch him. He’s super into his scenes and embraces his character and all the emotions he’s tasked with delivering. Much of his acting can be hilarious at points, but I think that accompanies the tone of the movie very fittingly. On a side note though, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like if Nicolas Cage was in the role instead simply for the over the top insanity scenes (that aforementioned mini-fridge scene certainly felt like a moment right out of a Cage film). Samuel L. Jackson is second billed in the cast but wasn’t in the movie much. However, he’s very memorable and good as the manager of the hotel who warns Cusack’s character about the dangers of staying in Room 1408.

1408-John-Cusack-with-Noose

One of 1408’s strongest aspects was the direction from Mikael Hafstrom. The look of the movie outside of the hotel (and especially during the day) looks a bit off, but otherwise the film looks really great and is shot and composed well. Some strong atmosphere and tension are created early on, and again it shines particularly in the scenes in Room 1408. I don’t think the scares were particularly good, some the jump scares are honestly rather lame and ineffective, but the atmosphere and mystery portions of the film were good. The editing at points can be a little uneven but nothing movie breaking.

EEYKgKuXUAAvI87

1408 does have its issues and I wouldn’t place it as the top tier of Stephen King film adaptations, but I think it’s pretty good. The intriguing and entertaining story, the solid direction and the committed lead performance from John Cusack come together to make a decent horror movie. Don’t expect something at the level of like The Shining, but I do think it’s a movie you might have a lot of fun watching, worth a look.

The Protégé (2021) Review

Maggie Q stars as Anna in the new film, T Protégé.

The Protege

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Maggie Q as Anna Dutton
Samuel L. Jackson as Moody Dutton
Michael Keaton as Michael Rembrandt
Director: Martin Campbell

Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows. As Anna becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton), their confrontation turns deadly, and the loose ends of a life spent killing weave themselves ever tighter.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I was interested in The Protégé. Along with it having a main cast consisting of Maggie Q, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, it is directed by Martin Campbell, who made Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro. The premise on paper looked very familiar, but I was hoping for a decent action movie at the very least. For the most part, The Protégé was indeed an enjoyable action flick, but does have some flaws holding it back from being better.

49531916-1503500

The writing is the worst part of the movie, and the script really is at odds with Martin Campbell’s strengths. The story is not very original, it’s generic and we’ve seen many of these plots in plenty of other better spy and revenge thrillers. The story and characters aren’t that interesting, there aren’t any stakes or emotional payoffs, and the few twists it has are rather predictable. Not only that but the plot could get unnecessarily complicated at times. It was incoherent, and by the end I was still wondering what it was even about. It is also very tonally inconsistent, mainly with the attempts at humour which never really landed for me. The dialogue is to blame for this, it is honestly terrible at times. By the time it reaches the last third of the film, it starts to lose steam. Not only that but it starts to try to be about something, and if anything that brought the movie down for me. Up to that point it was just a B-level schlocky action flick that I was having fun with. The ending itself was quite abrupt and it felt like something was missing. The story felt unfinished, there’s lots of loose ends and I didn’t understand why certain things happened, or why certain characters chose to make certain choices. I still enjoyed the movie, but the ending left me feeling cold, and not in a good way. The movie is just under 2 hours at 109 minutes, I think it could’ve been a little shorter than that.

protege3000

The characters aren’t that interesting and are rather one note. However, the main three actors at the centre make up for it at least. Maggie Q is solid in the lead role as the assassin seeking revenge, both in her performance and the action scenes. Michael Keaton is great too as the bodyguard and right-hand man of the main villain, very entertaining to watch. He even gets some action scenes of his own, and it looks like he actually does take part in some of the stunts. While I did like Keaton here, I do feel like his role was supposed to be played by a younger actor, making some of his scenes with Maggie Q feel very out of place. I especially wasn’t really sure what was going on with the relationship with those two characters, it kept going back and forth, and not in the way where it keeps you guessing. Its more like the writers couldn’t make up their minds about where it was going. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t in the movie a ton and it is definitely a role that he can play in his sleep, but as expected he delivers on his part.

The Protégé
Michael Keaton as Rembrandt

Martin Campbell is a good director of action, and his work here definitely elevates the movie. The action scenes are really good, its shot in a mostly clear fashion, the fights are well choreographed, and it was satisfying to watch. It is surprisingly graphic and gory at points, plenty of people get damaged and killed over the course of the movie. The action isn’t as memorable as some of Campbell’s other action work such as Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro or Goldeneye, but nonetheless it makes the movie more entertaining to watch.

theprotege3

The Protege feels like an action movie that would’ve come out decades ago, for better and for worse. The writing really is its worst aspect, the dialogue and plotting are very lacklustre, and it’s hard to really care about what’s going on with the story and characters. It’s the strong direction, action and the solid cast that elevate the movie, making it entertaining for the most part. If you are up for a decent but forgettable action thriller, then The Protégé is an entertaining enough 2-hour watch.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) Review

hitmans-bodyguard-2-scaled

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce
Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid
Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid
Frank Grillo as Bobby O’Neill
Antonio Banderas as Aristotle Papadopoulos
Morgan Freeman as Michael Bryce Sr.
Director: Patrick Hughes

The world’s most lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and hit man Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) — are back for another life-threatening mission. Still unlicensed and under scrutiny, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s even more volatile wife (Salma Hayek). Soon, all three are in over their heads when a madman’s (Antonio Banderas) sinister plot threatens to leave Europe in total chaos.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a relatively okay action comedy which I only checked out when its sequel, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, was coming soon. Going into the sequel I wasn’t expecting a different movie, just more of the same. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson would be fun to watch, there would be some mixed action, and a generic plot. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard was that, but just a little bit sillier, for better and for worse.

3000

I remember one of the main issues of the first movie was that it didn’t seem to know what kind of tone it was aiming for. It was either too serious and dark, or it was too silly and goofy, and it could’ve helped by leaning towards one or the other. So one thing that the sequel does well is that it sticks to one side, that being the silly side. It’s on a larger scale, with a rich Bond-esque villain with a plan for large scale destruction using some machine. That aside, for the most part it does seem to be going through the same motions as the first movie, more of the same but even messier. One disadvantage of this decision to go in this direction however is that the plot is just so over the top silly. As soon as I picked up on the what it was going for, I stopped paying attention to the plot at all. The plot of the first movie wasn’t that good, but having it be a simple “get the hitman to the court alive” plot worked well enough. With Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, it really just falls apart if you even think about it, and it is definitely less well constructed. The dumb plot is hard to ignore, packed with every dumb trope, including a weapon to blow up stuff on a large scale, flashbacks explaining characters’ backstories, you name it. Even the plot is surprisingly convoluted and barely comprehensible looking back at it, all the while still feeling like a plot is barely there. It’s clear that it’s the jokes that are the real focus. The characters are even more cartoonish too, it feels like literally every character is angry and screaming at each other at times, it really is such a loud movie. So while I’m not really the type of person to say to turn your brain off when watching a movie, I’d say try to not think too hard about what’s happening while watching. With that being said, I think the movie is deliberately parodying itself, and looking at the movie from that perspective does help. There is particularly a backstory for Ryan Reynolds which is so ridiculous that it’s actually quite funny, and I’m assuming that this was intentional. The humour is about the same level, mildly funny, however probably even more over the top and juvenile. Not all the jokes work out, but on the whole I was satisfied with the humour here. One of the best moments is actually the final moment of the movie, so if you’re two thirds into the movie and aren’t finding it funny, it’s worth sticking to the end at least.

body7

As usual the leading pair of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson return, and while not everyone likes their on screen chemistry, I do enjoy it and think it works. I will say that it does feel a little contrived that their characters are bickering so much in this movie, considering that in that both of them grew to like each other over the course of the first movie. However this time it’s not a leading pair, but rather a trio. Salma Hayek returns from the previous movie as Jackson’s wife, this time being upgraded to a co-leading role, and she definitely stands out among the movie. Her wackiness can get on the nerves at times but in all fairness, out of all of the cast she has the most energy and gives the most to the movie. There is a pretty strong chemistry between the three actors and once again this is the highlight of the movie. Antonio Banderas is the film’s villain, and he is committed to being intense, however a bit too serious in a movie this cartoonish. However character-wise, he does seem to work better in this movie as a D-level Bond villain compared to Gary Oldman’s dictator villain in the first movie.

345MTC6MU6IPGH66YJ2NQOC2QA

Patrick Hughes returns to direct this one, and the direction is at about the same level as the first movie. The action is mostly competent and gory, if too heavily edited and chaotic. It does go for more over the top comedy action, physics basically have no meaning in this movie. It is departing from some of the more grounded and serious action from the first movie, which even had some surprising tension. I remember that the first movie lingered on the grimness of some of the violence, which initially seemed out of place in a movie with that much comedy, however I think I still prefer the action of the first Hitman’s Bodyguard movie more. The CGI is quite bad, especially when it comes to the explosions. Still, I had some fun with the action in this movie.

bodyguard0616

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is another mixed bag really, better and worse than the first movie. It is more self-aware and silly, but sort of at the expense as itself. The chemistry between Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek was fun, and some of the action was enjoyable but that’s it. The ending of this indicates seems like there’s going to be a third movie, and I’m not really sure what they can really do with it. If you disliked the first movie, I don’t really see a situation where you’ll like the sequel. However, if you enjoyed the first movie and are interested in a sequel on the same level, albeit much sillier, then maybe check it out.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Review

610643770-lohnt-sich-kino-killers-bodyguard12-Uea

The Hitman's Bodyguard

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce
Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid
Gary Oldman as Vladislav Dukhovich
Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid
Élodie Yung as Amelia Roussel
Joaquim de Almeida as Jean Foucher
Kirsty Mitchell as Rebecca Harr
Richard E. Grant as Mr. Seifert
Director: Patrick Hughes

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a protection agent, is tasked with protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the world’s most famous assassins. The two must then set aside their differences to tackle several dangerous events.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I heard about The Hitman’s Bodyguard when it came out, an action comedy with the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. I didn’t watch it when it came out, it looked fun enough despite the mixed reviews, but it wasn’t something I was actively pursuing to watch. However with it getting a sequel this year, I decided I should probably get around to it. The Hitman’s Bodyguard was about what I expected it to be, it’s not that good and it’s a little generic but I had fun with it.

636387564348166253-083-HBSG32

The plot doesn’t really have much to it. I didn’t care much about what was happening, but it was simple enough and not overly convoluted. It’s also not particularly original, two people who have a lot of differences between them are stuck with each other but put their differences aside by the end. It’s very similar to the plots of other buddy action comedies. It’s very familiar, by the numbers and predictable but it’s still quite enjoyable. The movie does exceed when it’s the two characters getting in shenanigans, more so than its actual generic plot. The writing can be funny. Not all of it worked and for the most part I didn’t find it to be laugh out hilarious or anything, but the comedy was alright. One unexpected issue was that tonally, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a bit inconsistent. It has the goofiness as expected but also has its fair share of tonal shifts into dark moments and plays some scenes a hair too seriously. I’m not saying the mix of the two can’t work, but they certainly don’t pull it off in this movie. It probably would’ve been better leaning into the silliness. Finally, the movie does run on for too long. It’s around 2 hours long and you do feel that length, and the inconsistent pacing doesn’t help matters.

esp-cin_resena-the_hitmans_bodyguard-0jpg

The main draw of the film is Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles, it’s what most people who watch the movie are here for, and thankfully they deliver. The movie plays into the personalities that each lead has cultivated over their careers, and it certainly felt like each of them were playing themselves. The two of them are funny, have good chemistry and play off each other well. However I do feel like the writing wasn’t quite all there to utilise them the best and it could’ve been a bit better. The rest of the supporting cast are fine but they all feel wasted in a way. In fact, when it’s not focusing on the two leads, the majority of the characters are just sitting down and waiting for stuff to happen. Gary Oldman plays a generic dictator villain, and all he does is just sit down looking menacing and giving out orders to kill Samuel L. Jackson’s character. Salma Hayek is a standout in her scenes as Samuel L. Jackson’s character’s wife, but generally she spends much of the movie just in a prison cell and doesn’t do anything really. Elodie Yung is a disgruntled former lover of Reynolds’s character and doesn’t do a massive amount in the plot outside of waiting for Ryan Reynolds to show up at the final location with Samuel L. Jackson.

O859037-d9b1d

Patrick Hughes is the director of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and initially I was sceptical going in since his last movie was The Expendables 3, which I found to be quite lacklustre. I will say however that the action here is definitely better than the action in Expendables 3, if only because it doesn’t feel forcibly toned down to get a PG-13 rating. The fight scenes are pretty decent and overall, the action is fun and entertainingly dumb, if nothing unique or special. However, some aspects take away from them. It has a little too many cuts and edits, the visual effects aren’t that great, and the scenes weren’t shot the best. I previously mentioned about the tonal inconsistencies and that especially is the case when it comes to the action scenes, specifically the violence. The violence at times can be surprisingly graphic and bloody and even lingers on gruesome images, but there’s also some very silly and comedic action scenes. Again, gore aside, I think the issue is that some of those scenes are played a little too seriously that they feel out of place even if they are going for dark comedy.

THB_1856.NEF

The Hitman’s Bodyguard was pretty much what I expected, a very flawed action comedy with some mildly entertaining action and the highlights being Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Much of the plot is very generic and underwhelming, and even for a standard buddy action movie could’ve had more to it (or at least been a little more fun). However, the chemistry of the leads completely carry the movie. I’m just hoping that The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is better than the first movie.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) Review

Chris_Rock_Spiral

Spiral From the Book of Saw

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Torture & sadistic violence
Cast:
Chris Rock as Det. Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks
Max Minghella as Det. William “Will” Schenk 
Marisol Nichols as Capt. Angie Garza
Samuel L. Jackson as Marcus Banks
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Working in the shadow of his father (Samuel L. Jackson), Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of an investigation into grisly murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Spiral: From the Book of Saw was one of my most anticipated movies of 2021. Having only seen the first three Saw movies last year when it was originally set to release, I was only mildly interested in it. However, I got even more excited for it when I watched the rest of the movies in the series. For all of their faults (and there’s a lot), the movies were quite enjoyable, even considering the lower moments of the series. With this new entry being based off an idea from Chris Rock and having a different approach, it looked like what the franchise needed. Despite some flaws, Spiral is quite a good horror movie and a well needed revival of the franchise.

Screen-Shot-2021-03-30-at-9.30.34-PM

First of all, getting the obvious out of the way. Spiral may be a Saw movie, but you don’t have to have watched the Saw movies (even the first movie) to enjoy this one. I do think that it is worth knowing what Saw is about at the very least, regarding Jigsaw’s games, the traps, etc. It takes place in the same world, and there are references to John Kramer and his impact is present in much of this movie, but that’s as far as it goes. If you’re a Saw fan, don’t expect to see any past Saw characters or anything, you’ll just be disappointed. Spiral does have some differences from many of the Saw movies. First of all, the plot goes back to basics and doesn’t get convoluted like the sequels did. There’s a serial killer targeting corrupt cops, and much of the movie is Chris Rock as a detective investigating with his partner. It is the first Saw movie to not have an ongoing game running throughout the movie, even the first Saw which had a good amount of the movie being flashbacks while the main story focusing on the game in the bathroom. In some ways it takes more from Se7en than Saw (ironically the latter took a lot of inspiration from the former). There is definitely more humour in the mix especially in the first act, particularly within the dialogue. It actually does work quite well all things considered, and it does give it a distinct tone from the other movies. Another way that this movie is different in the series was the social commentary and themes. Saw VI made itself stand out with its take on health insurance, and no other Saw film had been that clear about being about something until Spiral, which this time takes on corrupt cops. It was refreshing to see, and I really liked the angle. However, don’t expect a deep dive or analysis about the subject matter, if anything I wish they went deeper into that and spent more time with it.

spiral-2

Something Spiral does have in common with the first Saw was the use of traps, with traps being the most (in)famous aspect of the movies. Now there isn’t a huge number of traps in Spiral, instead focusing more on the actual investigation. With that said, the traps are definitely prominent in this movie. Unlike some of the sequels, the traps in Spiral are purposeful, and they actually have a meaning behind them. Overall, I was invested with the story and interested to see where things would go, even if I do feel like it could’ve been a little more. However, there are some story and writing faults. The dialogue can either be a bit sloppy, or very expositional and forced. It does fall on some familiar tropes, both for Saw and cop/crime thrillers, it even has the classic trope of the older cop who gets a younger partner. As said earlier, this could’ve done a little more with its take on corrupt cops, the runtime is 90 minutes, so it could’ve spent more time with that. Some parts of the plot are predictable, and you can figure some twists out, especially if you are familiar with previous Saw movies and twists. All I’ll say is that with regards to the killer, I was more interested in the why than the who, and I kind of wish more time was spent with that. As for how it serves as a soft reboot, I’m interested in where the series could go from here, especially with where the film ends on.

eswdms8uwaiov5e

The acting is pretty good generally. Chris Rock leads this movie as lead character Zeke Banks, and he’s yet another case of an comedic actor taking on more dramatic work. Despite some moments of overacting, he actually does a pretty good job and is believable enough. Yes he acts like how you’d expect Chris Rock to act as a cop, but he does make for one of the more energetic and standout Saw protagonists thus far. Max Minghella plays Zeke’s partner, and the two actors are great and have a strong dynamic on screen. Samuel L. Jackson is also in this movie as Zeke’s father, who was once a police chief. He’s not in the movie as much as you’d think he would, but he does play a vital role, and he acts his part well.

OD_D07_01586.RAF

This film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who previous directed Saw II, III and IV. It is interesting that one of the main people who shaped what the Saw series would become would be the one to return to helm the entry which would revive the series with a distinctly different take. His work in this movie is quite good, it’s probably the most polished Saw movie on a technical level. The look of the movie is great. The original 7 Saw movies had this grungy 2000s look to it. Jigsaw in 2017 did give it a new and modern look, however it almost looked a bit too separated from the previous movies. Spiral has a happy medium of the two, looking modern and also looking grimy and gritty. The use of colour is also pretty great and makes it stand out from the rest of the series in a good way. The editing is also balanced well. It is fast paced especially during the trap scenes, as per usual for the Saw movies. However it doesn’t get obnoxious. I would be lying if I said that the traps in this movie would rank among the best or most memorable of the entire series. However they are good, creative, and fit the tone and overall story incredibly well. They are definitely on the more realistic side (more Saw 1 than Jigsaw or Saw 3D) and are more grounded. It’s also no slouch when it comes to the gore, with some truly gruesome moments, and the use of practical effects is great. Charlie Clouser, who composes the scores of every Saw film, returns to compose the score of Spiral. The score is good, and sets itself apart from the other movies, and yes, some familiar sounding themes from the series do make a comeback.

MV5BOTQzNzdkMjQtNzFkYy00ZTc5LWE3YWYtYmU2ZDdhYjQ5NzQ2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEzMzQzNTIx._V1_

Spiral: From the Book of Saw is really good. It has a fresh take on the series, it’s solid on a directing and acting level, and I was interested throughout. It’s not the best movie in the series, there’s at least a few Saw movies I would consider to be better (including the original film). However it is one of the better movies in the series for sure. As for whether you’ll like it or not, long story short, if you watched some of the Saw movies and you didn’t like them any of it, this won’t change your mind. If you are a Saw fan, I don’t know for sure how you’ll feel about it (definitely depends on what you’re expecting/hoping for), but it is definitely worth watching. If you haven’t seen the Saw movies but are familiar with the concept and want to watch Spiral right now, you can jump right into it without a problem. As a fan of the Saw series, I’m pleased with the movie and I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes from here.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Retrospective Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescues Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) pursues a new threat, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine, and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Revenge of the Sith was already the best of the prequel trilogy, so when I was going through my rewatches of the Star Wars series, I knew I’d still like it. However I ended up loving it even more, to the point where it’s one of my favourite movies in the series, flaws and all. After the past two disappointing prequels, George Lucas handled the final film in the trilogy greatly, delivering on a satisfying conclusion and one of the highlights of the series.

Revenge of the Sith at 2 hours and 20 minutes had my attention all the way through. The dialogue is better, with some occasionally bad lines that go through, however they don’t detract too much from the movie. It’s a much darker story, and it really needed to be that, with it being the chapter of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. This movie was the first Star Wars movie to be given a PG-13/M rating, and it uses it to great effect. Revenge of the Sith starts out on a high note, with an entertaining action sequence as Anakin and Obi Wan are in fighters as they try to rescue a ‘captured’ Chancellor Palpatine. The CGI and action are good, and it gets you really into what’s going on. The rest of the rescue was great, as they encounter droids, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, and manage to land half a ship. It’s pretty much classic Star Wars.

If there was a weakest section of the movie, it would be the one where Obi Wan is hunting Grievous, not that it’s bad or anything. It’s entertaining and all, but that’s all it really is. It doesn’t really help that Grievous wasn’t that great as an antagonist. While they really only got to shine in the third acts of their respective movies, Darth Maul and Count Dooku still got to show off. As unique as an antagonist as Grievous is physically, he ends up being a mostly normal physical threat. His lightsabre fight with Obi Wan was the most disappointing part of it, with it only lasting 30 seconds and with Kenobi seemingly easily cutting off two of his hands. Nothing bad about this section necessarily, just pales in comparison to the rest of the movie.

Surprisingly I was more interested in Anakin’s story, but that needed to be the case, with this whole trilogy being about him becoming Darth Vader after all. There had been much criticisms about the portrayal of The Jedi Council, and how unheroic and sometimes unlikable they are seen in the prequels. The portrayal is deliberate, and that’s even more so the case with Revenge of the Sith. The part where Palpatine tells Anakin about how the Jedi and the Sith are quite similar in the opera house scene, he really didn’t have to lie all that much. Much of the Jedi don’t exactly stick by their code, a chief example being Mace Windu trying to kill Palpatine even when he pretty much had him already beaten. Also remember back to after Anakin and Obi Wan’s conversation after the mission, where Kenobi lists the killing of Dooku among some of the successful things he did on that mission, whereas Skywalker didn’t feel like it was right and wasn’t the Jedi way, and only did it because Palpatine pushed him to do it. Anakin’s questionings of some of their dealings aren’t unfounded. The Jedi were also very paranoid and distrustful, especially when it came to Anakin. Mace making the point directly by himself that although Anakin was on the Jedi Council, he wouldn’t be a master (which turns out has never been done before), just solidified their distrust for him, aside from Obi Wan of course. A mix of these, along with fearing about Padme dying, would all lead to him on the path to the dark side.

This would all build up until Palpatine is revealed as the Sith lord behind everything, and there’s a direct confrontation. The scene where Palpatine and Windu fight is rather disappointing considering the skill and power of both, but the way Palpatine just kills the other 3 Jedi within like 5 seconds is so silly. It’s not that he’s shown to be quite powerful (that’s what we’d expect) but 2 of them practically let themselves get killed. I noticed that some people really had issues with how quickly Anakin makes the decision to join Palpatine, especially as it’s done right after he says “What have I done?”. Personally I saw this as Anakin reluctantly joining since there was no turning back after being involved with killing Mace Windu and helping Palpatine, mixed with his genuine disillusion with the Jedi Council, and of course still his desire to save Padme. I do remember when George Lucas once said that in this movie you’ll get to learn why he was given the name of Darth Vader. He must’ve forgotten to do that because it’s not explained anywhere here (unless you know that Vader in German means father), not that it really matters though, it’s a small detail.

The third act showing the fall of the Jedi order was really great. The Order 66 is indeed a fantastically handled sequence and one of the highlights of the entire series, as it cuts around to the Jedi being killed by the clones that they were fighting alongside minutes ago. You really feel the weight of everything going on in this last act. The final fights are also really good, with Obi Wan against Anakin and Yoda against the Emperor. With the former you get a bunch of large scale fight scenes in the volcanic planet of Mustafar, and the latter you get both parties using the force plenty as well as using the lightsabres. I do think they went a little overboard with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight, where the fight is so long and they two of them seem to be keep being placed in every ridiculous scenario possible, but the movie seemed to be leaning into the whole space opera thing, and on that end it mostly worked. Outside of that, the only slight problem I had with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight was that I was hoping to see was at least some attempt from the latter to bring Anakin back from the dark side at the beginning of it, given that just before he told Yoda that he can’t do it. I would’ve liked that instead of Kenobi just pretty much going in knowing that he’s already gone at this point. The moment of Padme giving birth being paralleled with Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader was pretty much perfect, and I was even fine with Vader’s freakout over hearing that Padme is dead, it would make sense. But I’m with everyone as not being such a fan of his giant “NOOOOOOOO” at the end of the scene, it was a little too much and rather silly. The rest of the ending is great and set things up well for the next movie. Side note but I never picked up till my most recent rewatch that C-3PO and R2-D2 had their memories wiped at the end of the movie, that made so much sense as to why they don’t recognise some of the other characters in the original trilogy.

Ewan McGregor is once again pitch perfect as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he gets better with every subsequent Star Wars movie he appears in. He resembles Alec Guinness even more and is completely believable in the role, he’s particularly great towards the third act. Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap for his performances as Anakin Skywalker in these prequels. Indeed, I had some problems with him in Attack of the Clones. In Revenge of the Sith there are a few lines of dialogue that aren’t all that great. However most of the writing for him works, and I don’t actually have any problems with his performance here. The dynamic between him and Obi-Wan for instance was what I wanted more of from the two of them in Attack of the Clones. You just get the first act of them during the rescue, as well as some other scenes involving the council before Kenobi leaves to go after Grievous, but they work so well. It feels so natural, none of these forced “You’re like a father to me” lines from Attack of the Clones which you don’t believe. You can also really see the conflict in Anakin, and that’s something that Christensen nailed as well. Sure, Anakin is moody again, but unlike Attack of the Clones, it doesn’t come across like some whiny teenager. Christensen’s visual acting is fantastic, while I struggled to see him as Anakin in the previous movie, here I buy it. And of course when it came to him as Vader, I really bought it. Of course he does have some pretty lame lines at times that most actors would struggle with (“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy”, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil”), but he also delivers them as best as possible.

Natalie Portman gets to do more acting-wise here in this movie, it’s a shame though that her character of Padme is just relegated to being pregnant, being worried, crying, giving birth and then dying, especially considering that she actually did some things in the plot of the other two prequels. It’s really annoying hearing that originally in the script, Padme was involved with forming the rebellion, and that would’ve been perfect for her. Given some of the things she says in the movie, it would’ve made sense, like in one scene where she seems to be doubting the war. Surprisingly the romance between Padme and Anakin actually works here. Sure you get a few bad lines between the two (“You’re so beautiful”, “Only because I’m so in love”), but you are able to stomach it, not to mention the soap opera lines seem a little deliberate, with Star Wars being a space opera after all. You can actually buy their relationship, even with the scenes with less lines. The rest of the supporting cast also do well. Ian McDiarmid is always fantastic as Emperor Palpatine, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones gradually showed Palpatine’s rise to power, but in Revenge of the Sith he’s at the centre of the story. His scenes with Anakin are great as he’s slowly bringing him towards the dark side, the highlight being the opera house scene, where he tells him the story about Darth Plagueis the wise. Now McDiarmid does go incredibly over the top at points (even more than in Return of the Jedi) and maybe he’s a little silly, but even those moments are just glorious to watch too. McDiarmid and McGregor are the MVPs of these Star Wars prequels, they’re fantastic in their roles. General Grievous was a character that was introduced in the animated Clone Wars series. He was quite a unique villain, a cyborg who had 4 arms, each wielding lightsabres more often than not. So he was known even before Revenge of the Sith came out. It’s unfortunate then that he’s rather underwhelming in the movie. Sure he can pose a bit of a threat, but his fight with Obi Wan was rather disappointing, and there’s not much to him as a character.

I think George Lucas did a great job at directing this movie. While the movie has its fair share of exposition, Lucas seemed to allow the movie to breathe and told the story visually at points. One of the biggest examples is when Anakin and Padme are seemingly looking at each other across buildings, which takes place right after Mace Windu and a few other Jedi go out to arrest Palpatine. Along with the great facial acting from both Christensen and Portman, it’s such an eerie and powerful moment, and manages to convey so much about both characters at that moment without needing a single line of dialogue. There definitely is a lot of reliance on CGI, but the visuals themselves are definitely better than Attack of the Clones. There are so many spectacular sequences that work really well, from the lightsabre fights, to the space battles, and so on. There are plenty of moments that are really over the top, especially some fight scenes, but again, this is a full on space opera, and seeing the movie as that certainly made it make sense. The worlds are also greatly designed and thought out, same with the robots, costumes, etc. John Williams has always been good at scoring Star Wars, but I’m pretty confident in saying that Revenge of the Sith is his best score for a Star Wars movie. It’s large, epic, emotional, tragic, and just fit perfectly with the whole movie.

I always liked Revenge of the Sith, but the more recent viewing of it made me love it even more, and solidified it as one of my favourite Star Wars movies. Its issues are noticeable and hurt the movie a lot, but it’s only because the rest of the movie works so well. It generally accomplished what the movie needed to do, and although the prequels were mostly disappointing, it’s a relief that the final film at least managed to stick the landing.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Retrospective Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Creator: George Lucas

Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) discover there is more than meets the eye behind an assassination attempt on Naboo Senator Padme Amidala’s (Natalie Portman) life. Meanwhile a Sith Lord orchestrates events between the forces of good and evil, all the while waiting to play the final move that will ensure him control of the galaxy.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Despite much of the dislike for The Phantom Menace, many consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst Star Wars movie. I’ve always considered it to be the second worst, but decided to give it another go to see if that changed. After rewatching it… I came to the exact same conclusion, although like with my most recent viewing of The Phantom Menace, I liked it slightly more than the last time I saw it. It’s got some good things in there and could’ve been great, it’s just there there’s equally as many bad decisions that prevent it from reaching that level of greatness.

The writing is a mixed bag. I liked pretty much most of the plot and character decisions made, the execution however had much to be desired. The dialogue had the same problem as in The Phantom Menace, still sounding rather unnatural. However, most of the characters does feel slightly less stiff, even if it still comes across as forced at times. While it would take till Revenge of the Sith for the Star Wars series to start receiving M ratings and start being truly dark, The Phantom Menace is the only movie in the series that feels like it was actually made for kids, and not to say that it’s a bad thing inherently, but it seemed to be at the detriment of the movie on the whole. Attack of the Clones does take the plot a little more seriously, and outside of some cheesy moments (that the original trilogy had too), I liked the tone of the movie generally. The political angle definitely improved since The Phantom Menace, it’s very present but shown in small bursts and wasn’t as heavy handed. And again, it’s also interesting seeing the rise of Palpatine. The Phantom Menace in the beginning took a little while before you began to notice the awkwardness creep in, but Attack of the Clones immediately starts feeling quite off. It has a bit of a clunky start and doesn’t really pick up until the chase scene between Obi Wan and Anakin with the assassin, which in itself was a pretty thrilling and entertaining sequence.

From this point until the third act, the first two acts mainly consist of two main storylines, one for Obi Wan, and the other for Anakin and Padme. I’ll start with Obi Wan’s storyline, which is mostly good. After the assassination attempt on Padme, Kenobi investigates the assassin and discovers Kamino, Clones, and more. Not to say that there weren’t some odd moments, like when Kenobi couldn’t find anything about Kamino in the Jedi databases, he had to go to a class being run by Yoda to ask for help, and then a student had to point out the incredibly obvious that maybe someone erased that information. However, for this movie it’s pretty typical to have random and pointless moments like these, and I’m probably just nitpicking. Once Obi Wan actually gets to Kamino, it really picked up and I was generally interested in what was happening. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I actually liked the introduction and formation of clones, who would eventually become Stormtroopers. Maybe linking them to being clones of Jango Fett was a weird and unneeded choice, but it’s one I just went along with. From there it takes him all the way to Geonosis, where his and Anakin and Padme’s storylines would join up in the third act.

The other main storyline is with Anakin and Padme, and the first half of that which takes place on Naboo was easily the weakest portion of the movie. I get that it’s supposed to be building up their relationship, and I’m more than fine with that. The problem is that the writing for them is absolutely terrible. It can range from being cheesy (like that scene in the field), or just ridiculously cringe worthy (when they confess their love to each other and talk about whether or not it should happen). Had the writing here been even just as average as much of the rest of the movie, I probably would’ve liked the movie slightly more, but that portion sticks out as being really bad. Once Anakin has a nightmare about his mother and the two of them head to Tatooine, their storyline noticeable improves, even if it still has some issues. It seemed like the natural way of progressing his story, especially with Anakin’s mother being particularly quite important to him in the previous movie. I will say that I always found it weird how easy it was for Padme to overlook Anakin’s outburst about him killing the sand people. Indeed the actual outburst doesn’t come across as impactful, as a result of a mix of Christensen’s performance and the writing makes him come across as whiny and throwing a tantrum more than anything. Anakin and Padme would then make their way to Geonosis to try to rescue Obi Wan, with a pretty good action scene at the factory, however Padme doesn’t really get to do anything except to get saved by R2-D2, and I have no idea why C-3PO was in there at all.

The third act is even more of a CGI fest than The Phantom Menace was, but I can’t deny I had fun with it. It starts off with a fight at an arena with Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme, and it already was a good setup. Then it introduces the Jedi, the droid army and the clones into the mix. So much of the movie doesn’t feel real and it really doesn’t allow you to get immersed in these scenes, but after a while you do get used to it, and I started to enjoy it. One thing that does irk me particularly however was that they really made way too many CGI clones, especially when it came to actual human actors having to interact with them, it was just way too distracting and just felt rather lazy. The fight with Obi Wan and Anakin against Count Dooku was pretty decent, as well as the one between Yoda and Dooku. I know some people didn’t like the idea of Yoda having a lightsabre and fighting and all that, but I personally liked it. I also liked how the movie led the way for the Clone Wars, I really wished that there was an episode that took place during the Clone Wars as the next episode would take place at the very end of it, but I guess that’s what a lot of the expansion novels and animated shows are for.

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the younger Obi Wan Kenobi. He showed potential in The Phantom Menace but he resembled Alec Guinness even more here and has improved even more since then. Even with some of the odd lines he’s given, he absolutely sells each of them perfectly. Pretty much no complaints with him here. Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker in this movie is… a very mixed bag. There is so much here that doesn’t work. To be fair, he’s not got much to work with, from some of the terrible dialogue he’s given, to the writing in general, and to how he’s directed. People have said this many times before, but he really does come across as whiny, even when he’s supposed to be angry, and it’s hard to take these moments seriously. Not to mention the rest of the time the performance and line deliveries are rather bland. Some of the romantic moments between him and Padme come across as creepy more than anything else, and most of that comes from Christensen, from the line deliveries to some of the unnerving looks he gives her. It’s a shame that both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith keep separating him and Obi Wan, since that’s quite important. However, Revenge of the Sith would at least have shown a solid dynamic between the two, in Attack of the Clones however it wasn’t really all that convincing, outside of Kenobi being frustrated that he padawan wouldn’t do what he says and Skywalker whining about how he keeps holding him back. Then there’s that throwaway line that Anakin says about how Obi Wan is the closest thing to a father that he has, although you don’t really believe it. Christensen does get a few good acting moments, such as when he finds her mother before she dies, and then when he starts killing the Tuskin Raiders. Still, you get the idea that he could be better. Thankfully, both the writing for him and his acting certainly improved in Revenge of the Sith. Natalie Portman returns as Padme, for the most part I liked where they took her character, though I wish she got to do a little more. Much of her character is overshadowed by the romance between her and Christensen, which was handled rather badly. On paper, the idea of the romance sounds great and fitting, especially for Anakin (though this might just be from knowing what happens with them in Revenge of the Sith). The problem is that the writing for them and the dialogue between them is disastrously bad. I get that it’s been like 10 years since the two have seen each other and they’d be a little awkward, but you really don’t believe their romance at any point in the movie. It’s at best fine and at worst creepy and cringe-worthy. With that said, like their storyline, their dialogue and writing slightly improves after they leave Naboo, and becomes much more bearable.

On the antagonist side it’s about the same level as The Phantom Menace, but maybe slightly better. Ian McDiarmid of course delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, and the movie shows his rise in power even more. This movie has Jango Fett (played by Temeura Morrison), related to Boba Fett, the fan favourite bounty hunter. To get it out of the way, Jango Fett is much better than Boba Fett, though to be honest it was never much of a competition. I never found Boba Fett to be that good in the original series, the only credible thing he did in those movies is track down Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, otherwise he just looks cool, and ends up dead in the most embarrassing way. Here you get to actually see Jango do things, holding his own against Obi Wan, killing at least one Jedi in the final act, and being killed in battle by Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). I’m not really sure why they decided to have Boba being a clone of Jango instead of just his son but whatever. The prospect of Christopher Lee as a Star Wars villain in Count Dooku sounds extremely exciting to say the least. Lee really does own the scenes he’s in but unfortunately you really only get to see him in the last third of the movie. It’s also a shame knowing that he doesn’t last very long in the next movie. Like with Darth Maul and General Grievous, Dooku is a Star Wars villain who seemed to shine more in a lot of the spin offs and shows than in the live action movies, and at least had a lot more to do.

The direction by George Lucas like with The Phantom Menace is a little mixed. The movie generally relies more on CGI than The Phantom Menace did, and it was really distracting a lot of the time, from Dexter’s Diner all the way through to the third act. After a while you just sort of accept it for what it is. There’s even some really good action, from the chase of the assassin by Obi Wan and Anakin, to Obi Wan fighting Jango Fett, to much of the third act. Even with some distractingly fake and empty CGI at times, Lucas generally creates some creative scenarios and makes the sequences at least somewhat entertaining. With all the prequels, the new worlds were always great to see, and Attack of the Clones continued this the likes of Kamino and Geonosis, and it was even nice going back to familiar places like Coruscant, Naboo and Tatooine. The designs of everything, from the costumes, to the production design, the worlds, creatures, etc, were also handled quite well. The score by John Williams is great once again, introducing even more iconic Star Wars themes. Across the Stars in particular is fantastic, and deserved to be used for a much better on screen romance than Anakin and Padme’s.

Attack of the Clones is a very flawed movie. There are plenty of problems, with the overreliance of CGI, the writing, some of the directing decisions, there are so many things that were handled disappointingly and at times badly. At the same time it has some potential, I liked most of the ideas, generally the plot was pretty good, I was invested in some parts of the story, and some of the cast and characters work (mainly Ewan McGregor as Kenobi). So while it’s disappointing and I’m not likely to revisit it often, I don’t think it’s without some merit.

Shaft (2019) Review

Time: 111 Minutes
Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft
Jessie T. Usher as John “JJ” Shaft Jr.
Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, Sr.
Alexandra Shipp as Sasha Arias
Regina Hall as Maya Babanikos
Director: Tim Story

John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher) may be an FBI cyber security expert, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education that only his dad can provide. Absent throughout his childhood, the legendary John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson) agrees to help his son navigate the heroin-infested underbelly of Harlem, N.Y. Besides, the locked and loaded Shaft has his own score to settle — both professional and personal.

full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I haven’t seen the 70s Shaft with Richard Roundtree, but I saw the 2000 Shaft titled Shaft with Samuel L. Jackson in the lead role, and I liked it quite a bit and had fun with it. I’ve heard some not so good things about the sequel also titled Shaft (not confusing at all), but I wanted to check it out for myself. Having 3 generations of Shaft in one movie could be something entertaining at the very least. I was expecting something somewhat entertaining, but it really was a chore to get through. It’s not surprise that it was picked up by Netflix.

The biggest problem with the movie is the screenplay, which is embarrassingly bad. Much of my problems comes from Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft, but I’ll get to that soon. Even without that aspect, this movie is trying way too hard to be edgy, and it just comes across as being cringe more than anything. It’s trying so hard to be anti-politically correct, so I guess if you wanted that in a movie, it might be up your alley. It honestly feels like this movie would be more suited being released a couple decades ago. And if you’re wondering if the movie is some kind of commentary or satire poking fun at both millennials and out of touch older people, I highly doubt that’s the case. It’s actually rather mean spirited and hard to watch at points, and it seems like it was trying to be funny during those moments. The 2000 Shaft was a semi-serious thriller with some comedy. For whatever reason 2019 Shaft is a full on comedy, which wouldn’t be too bad if the movie was actually funny (though Richard Roundtree has some good moments). If we’re just talking about the actual plot, it’s a generic and dull crime thriller, with boring villains and very little actual thrills. You’re not really following what’s going on, not because it’s necessarily complicated, but because you just don’t care. By the time I was half an hour into the movie, I just wanted to give up on it. When it gets to the third act it picks up, as it becomes a standard action climax, still better than what came before.

There are two leads, Jessie T. Usher as JJ Shaft, the son of John Shaft, and Samuel L. Jackson, who reprises his role of John Shaft from the 2000 movie. Usher wasn’t good but I can’t blame him too much considering how little he had to work with. There was a dance/fight scene that happens in a club, and at that point I’m not really sure anyone would’ve been able to play that role with some form of credibility. His character is also quite bland and uninteresting. With all that being sad, I’m glad that he’s one of the leads, because at least it means that we have one protagonist who isn’t absolutely unlikable. When I talk about this movie being very mean spirited and all that, most of it involves Jackson’s Shaft. I really liked him in the 2000 Shaft, but here he’s just really hard to watch. It’s honestly an achievement when a movie can actually make it unbearable to watch Samuel L. Jackson in a movie. I really don’t get whose idea it was to make his Shaft a bigot who spews off sexist, homophobic and in general offensive lines, but it really made the movie all the more worse and feel out of touch. The chemistry between the two characters is so familiar and typical, it’s the whole generational boomer vs millennial dynamic. You know that it’s going to end with them finding that they have more in common than they thought. Richard Roundtree appears for the last 20 minutes and he’s easily the best amongst the cast, really wished that he appeared more in the movie, he’s a lot more bearable than Jackson’s Shaft in this movie. Also something to note, the 2000 film had Richard Roundtree has Samuel L. Jackson’s uncle, however they’ve retconned it so now he’s his father for whatever reason. The villains in the movie aren’t good at all, there’s literally nothing to say about them. The two prominent female actors of Alexandra Shipp as JJ’s girlfriend and Regina Hall as JJ’s mother and John Shaft’s ex-wife basically have nothing to do in the movie and considering the rest of the movie it’s not really surprising.

I only know Tim Story as the director of the 2000s Fantastic Four movies, and I was less than impressed with his work there. His direction of this movie is really stylistic here, but it tries way too hard. No matter how many times the movie plays that classic Shaft theme, it doesn’t improve the movie at all. The action is actually not terrible, just rather generic and underwhelming, at least it was comprehensible and wasn’t full of cuts.

Shaft is one of my least favourite movies of the year, it was way worse than it had any right to be. As a thriller it’s very weak, as a comedy its embarrassing, and as a Shaft movie it’s not a Shaft movie. Really Richard Roundtree was the only part of the movie that I fully liked. I’m honestly not sure who this movie was made for, I don’t think it’d be fans of the previous movies, and I don’t think it’s newer audiences either. If you haven’t seen any of the other Shaft movies but are reading this review, just watch Shaft from 2000. Or even watch the Shaft with Richard Roundtree, it’s no doubt way better than whatever this movie was supposed to be.