Monday, March 31, 2014

Riddick (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Riddick (2013).

Bad news first. I learned too late, there is extended cut of this movie. I checked usual suspects and found, it is not released where I live. At least I could not find any information of it. I have to order it from abroad and it takes so long, it couldn't make by time I had to write this. I will post about it after I get it. This post tells about theatrical cut.

In my The Chronicles of Riddick post I told, how different premise this movie had than first two movies. That problem was easily solved. Movie starts after Necromongers have betrayed Riddick and left him on random planet to die. Riddick wanted to find Furya, but Necromongers had different agenda. Whole Necromonger angle was quickly over. After that, movie was Riddick surviving on hostile planet. This part felt little too long and disappointing. Luckily rest of the movie wasn't like that. Riddick realizes, he have to get off the planet. He sends distress call telling he is on planet. Two different bounty hunter teams answer the call. This is where movie really starts.

This time we don't have comic relief bounty hunters. All humor they provide is very dark. It is pointed our very clearly, these are not comic relief bounty hunters. First team is shady disorganized team of criminals. Second team is organized and honorable. Second team is led by father of Pitch Black's Johns. He want Riddick to tell what happened to his son. First team want to get Riddick by themselves without any help from second team. After Riddick kills enough them, they ask help from second team. They don't have much more success. They get Riddick only after he offers them deal, which would get all of them off the planet. Bounty Hunters don't know, they really have to get off the planet. When they realize, it is too late for some of them. Then they join forces with Riddick, but co-operation with different bounty hunter teams doesn't work.

Movie has really great moments. It is as well written as first two movie. It is again different kind of movie than previous movies. It is closer to first movie than second movie. Beginning feels quite slow, but it shows some thing we need to know later in movie. We just don't realize that until we see why beginning had those things. Beginning is still bit too long and some scenes feel too long. This was in theatrical cut. It wasn't extended cut, which sometimes have unnecessary repetitions and scenes extended too long. After bounty hunters arrive movie start to work.

It was really nice to see Katee Sackhoff as tough bounty hunter. This role makes Starbuck look like nice girl. I was curious to see Dave Bautista act. He will be in Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I wasn't convinced of his acting skills during his WWE run. He was good in this movie. I think he could be best wrestler turned to actor. Others feel like they are same guy as their wrestler character. Dwayne Johnson have learned to act later in his career. In his first movies he was like his wrestling character. Dave Bautista can act in his first movies. It would be nice to see both of them in same movie. After all they are both action movie stars. I wouldn't mind seeing Vin Diesel in that movie too.

Movie is worthy addition to series. It is not as good as Chronicles, but it is better than Pitch Black. Pitch Black may have been more even, but this has great scenes, which lift it above Pitch Black. We had to wait this movie for nine years and financial problems almost cancelled it. Movie made so much money, that we might get fourth movie sooner.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movies Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004).

First movie was interesting scifi survival horror movie. This went into epic scifi fantasy territory. This time Vin Diesel was big name actor and he was clearly in main role. They made right choice by not making Riddick too heroic, even when he was main character. He still cares only for himself and other survivors of first movie. He wants to be left alone, but bounty on his head keeps bounty hunters after him. This time bounty is set by Imam, another first movie survivor. Imam's planet Helion Prime is on eve of invasion of Necromongers. Necromongers are religious fanatics, who want to destroy all life from this universe to go to UnderVerse. All Necromongers are people, who have converted to Lord Marshal's religion.

Imam thinks Riddick might be able to stop Necromongers because he is Furyan. Pitch Black didn't have Furyan angle. It was made for this movie. Lord Marshal has heard, that he will be killed by Furyan. Because of this he has killed all Furyans. Riddick has survived Lord Marshal's attack and have forgotten it. His dreams try to remind him of what happened. Director's cut has 15 minutes of extra content. If I remember correctly theatrical cut didn't have these dream sequences. I can't remember what else director's cut added. It has been a while since I saw theatrical cut.

Riddick doesn't see Necromongers as his problem. Imam mentions another survivor of first movie trying to make Riddick care. Jack, Riddick's fan girl, has gone after Riddick and ended in high security prison planet Cermatoria. Prison is underground and ground is molten lava on day side and cools down during night. Another world with interesting characteristics, which was used to its full potential during the story. Jack was sold to slavery. She changed her name to Kyra and become female version of Riddick. Except the eyes. She wanted same kind of eyes, but couldn't find anyone to do it.

Riddick's world has interesting prison system. Prisons are paid by how many prisoners they have. Maybe also by who they have. They put bounties on criminals and pay to bounty hunters to bring them prisoners. Movie didn't tell who decides, who is criminal and who is not. Prison guards at Crematoria were such a shady mob, that they could put bounty on light grounds to get prisoners. And bounty hunters doesn't care as long as they get their money.

The Chronicles of Riddick is one of my favourite movies. All pieces fell in their places in this movie. Riddick had clear role in this movie. He wasn't as mysterious as in Pitch Black. Bounty hunter Toombs provided just enough comic relief. Necromongers and their leader Lord Marshal  were interesting and different villains. There were enough angles and characters evolved during movie. Movie looked great. CGI dogs didn't look that great, but everything else looked great.

But there was one problem. That problem didn't make this movie any worse. It made us wait almost ten years for sequel. During first two movie Riddick has been lone wolf survival specialist. Only time he has lead anyone, was when he has let other follow him through dangerous places. This movie ends with him ruling over Necromongers, who killed only people he cared during these two movies. It made premise of third movie quite different from first two. Riddick didn't even want to rule Necromongers. He only wanted revenge, but in Necromongers say "you keep what you kill".

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pitch Black (2000)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Pitch Black (2000).

I have to complain about one thing.  Why Vin Diesel was narrator at the beginning? When movie was released, he wasn't big name actor. Him bein,g narrator set stage for him being main character. After that movie tries to make him look like he is the villain of the movie. Actually, there is no real main character. Fry and Johns are closest to that until Riddick takes the lead near the end. Until that he is unknown component of group.  He is wild card after that too, but no longer serial killer, who could kill everyone else.

Movie start with crash landing of commercial transport ship. Ship was transporting dangerous criminal Riddick among civilian passengers. Ship crashes to desert planet. Riddick, docking pilot Fry, bounty hunter Johns and few civilians survive the crash. Riddick escapes shortly after the crash. Fry and  Johns take the lead and start to search for Riddick. Riddick is caught after one civilian mysteriously disappears. Riddick was there and others think he killed the civilian. After closer inspection, everyone realizes, Riddick is not what they should worry about.

I liked, how there were no good characters. Everyone had their flaws. Maybe imam and his group were most flawless, but they had backseat throughout the movie. Fry tried to drop all civilian passengers to save herself. Another crew member managed to prevent that. Johns acted like police, but  he was drug addict bounty hunter. He was ready to kill one civilian to make her a bait for monsters. And Riddick was killer, who only cared for himself. He cared for others twice and he almost got killed because of that.

I also liked, how movie made rules and followed them. Ok, first time we saw the monsters, they weren't as sensitive to light as they were later. Some sensitivity was there, but not so much, that the lights people used last half of the movie, would have kept them safe. Light sensitivity was nice idea and it was used well.  Then to nitpicking. Planet with two rings moved quite fast. With that speed, night shouldn't have lasted that long. It was so close, gravity should make both planets to crash.  Less oxygen in air was forgotten quite fast. First half people used extra oxygen, but they adapted to it by half way point. It wasn't major rule, but could have been used more.

Movie is interesting scifi horror survival movie. It is not classic, but have many good things. It introduced us Riddick. It made planet look alien place. It had interesting monsters and characters. It doesn't have many flaws. It just lacks something, that makes movies classics. I can't pinpoint what it lacks. It would have been nice to see more Claudia Black, but that is not it. Sequel managed to put all piece in their correct place, but not without creating new problems. We get to that next time.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Punisher: War Zone (2008)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Punisher: War Zone (2008).

I didn't remember how rough and gloomy this movie was. It is almost overly so. If it wasn't stupid, this could have been classic like Dredd. I liked Thomas Jane's Punisher, because action was realistic. This doesn't put any effort to be realistic. Punisher doesn't take cover. Action scenes are like from shoot 'em up games. Rest of the movie is too gloomy for shoot 'em up action. Over the top violence worked, when Punisher met parkour guys. That is one of favorite action scenes. First Punisher shoots one guy mid-air with missile and then drops two other, before they realize what just happened. That was only action scene I really liked. Other were too unrealistic.

This movie is not sequel to Thomas Jane's Punisher. This time origin story is from comics. We don't see it as it happened, only flashbacks. Frank Castle's family was killed, when they were at park and saw mafia execution. That started Punisher's war on crime. He happens to kill undercover FBI agent. That makes Punisher want to stop. Guy kills people like nothing and first friendly fire is end of the world for him. He killed agent, when agent came out of the toilet wrong time. If he kills people as casually as he does in this movie, he should have accepted collateral damage or he hasn't spent any time to thinking about consequences of his actions. One death is important, every other death doesn't matter a thing to anyone. This is not only movie, which does that or the worst example. It always feels like lazy writing.

I don't know, what kind of character Jigsaw is in comics. In this movie he is like Joker in Tim Burton's Batman. They even have same scenes with minor differences. Some of Joker's madness is given to Jigsaw's brother Loony Bin Jim. He is more gory than Joker. The movie is more gory than Burton's Batman. To me pair works ok, but they are too much of Batman's villains for Punisher movie. Now, that I start to think it. This movie tries too much to be gory Batman movie. Movie has interesting lighting, but it suits better for Schumacher's Batman movies than Punisher movie, which should be more realistic.

Movie tries to be rough and gloomy action movie, which looks like Batman movie and have Batman's villains. That was the problem. It tried to be two things that doesn't work together unless you are Christopher Nolan and Nolan's Batman movies weren't are rough and gory as this was. I told Thomas Jane is my favorite Punisher. Ray Stevenson gets close. He is great in this movie. As good as script allows him to be. Internal struggle over collateral damage  was so lacy writing, that it made character look thin. Without Batman and shoot 'em up and with more meaningful internal struggle, this could have been action movie classic.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Supernatural - Season 1 (2005-2006)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils first season of tv-series Supernatural.

I am late convert. I started watching Supernatural on fifth season, when series' rules and characters were established. It was interesting to see, where this all started.  To be honest, I might have stopped during first season, if I started from beginning and didn't know where series will evolve. First really good episode was 17th episode Hell House.  It goes among my favorite Supernatural episodes. It has humor and intelligent twists, which make Supernatural so good. Other episodes were too serious.

Sam is studying in university, when his brother Dean tells him their father has disappeared. Sam is reluctant to get back fighting supernatural foes. Then his girlfriend is killed by supernatural entity, like his mother was. Then he decides to join his brother to hunt what ever killed his girlfriend and his mother. And to find his father. Episodes doesn't have much continuity between them until few last episodes. Episodes were too much like each other. Something kills someone. Brothers come to solve what has happened. Usually it is avenging ghost and brothers must burn his bones to kill it. There weren't enough variance between episodes and all of them were too serious. It was refreshing to have one episode, which didn't have anything supernatural.

Only continuity during this season is, how Sam starts to see things before they happen and how boys search their father. But very few episodes have anything on either of those. Searching father thing is usually Dean talking to father's answering machine, until they meet their father one episode mid-season and in the end, where they are with their father during few episodes. Father was quite uninteresting, when we finally saw him. On last episode we meet Bobby Singer, who will come boys' father figure later seasons. Bobby Singer is much more interesting character than the father.  Season ends with demon crashing boys' and their father's car. There wasn't real conclusion at season finale. We learn, there is powerful demon after boys and their father. Second season may really start that story.

First season of Supernatural is quite average. To be honest I liked Dresden Files more than first season of Supernatural. Dresden Files was cancelled during first season and Supernatural is going 9th season at the moment. Makes you think, what these cancelled shows could have been, if they had their time to evolve. First season doesn't have all pieces in place. Hell House was only really good episode of season. It was not only good episode, but it was above other episodes. It was only episode that had clever story. Others were average ghost stories.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Punisher: Dirty Laundry (2012)

No spoiler warning this time. Just watch the video before reading any further.

There is also this one. I don't know what to call this. It could be fan film. Usually fan films don't have actors like Thomas Jane or Ron Perlman. This short film showed, why Thomas Jane is the best Punisher. I'd like to see him as Punisher again. Scene with Jane and Perlman made this film worth watching. Other actors are amateurs, who provide the world, where Punisher can't just look how the strong abuses the weak. Even if he tries. Contrast between professionals and amateurs is big, but just not too big. Director has made films before and that shows. You can see cheap budget, but talented director can make movie look good.

I don't know what is the story behind the film. It seems like group of friends have made fan film and group had few professionals in it. Film looks cheap, but professionals show their talent and others hang with pros. End result is entertaining short film. We need Dredd sequel, but another Punisher movie with Thomas Jane would be nice too.


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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Punisher (2004)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Punisher (2004).

Some people say, they don't like this movie, because it doesn't have spirit of the comics. That sounds bit strange to me, because I have read the comics where the scenes are taken from. To me this movie felt just like those comics. At least as close as movies could come. Neighbors are straight from the comics and many scenes are from comics. Origin story doesn't follow comics, but most of what happens after Frank Castle becomes the Punisher is from comics. Of course there are some changes made to fit the story for origin, but the feel is from the comics. However, I can understand why some feel this doesn't have spirit of the comics. If you expect one man army to kill criminals all the time, this won't have spirit of the comics. Dolph Lundgren's Punisher is closer to that. It has been a while since I read the comics. I can't check them, because I have sold them. When I watched the movie first time I remembered scenes from comics.

This time Frank Castle was undercover cop. Crime boss Howard Saint's son was killed during his last case. Saint revenges that by slaughtering the whole Castle family, including his parents, son and everyone who happened to be there. Frank Castle survives the attack. After he recovers, he comes back to revenge his family. He doesn't want to just kill Howard Saint and his gang. He has more complicated plan. This could feel un-punisher-like. But that is from the comics. First Punisher attacks Saint's business and make him lose a lot of money and his customers. His more complicated plan is to make Howard kill his wife and best friend by making it look like they are having a relation ship. Best friend is actually gay, but Howard doesn't know that.

Two gimmicky hitmen were also quite un-punisher-like, but at least The Russian was from comics. I am not sure about Guitar man. I think in comics, there were more hitmen and Guitar man could have been there. Neighbors are from comics and everything that happens to them is from comics. Both torturing scenes are from comics too. To me Thomas Jane was best Punisher we have seen. He looked like he could be having one man war.  Action was more realistic than in other movie. Punisher wasn't one man killing machine no-one can hit. That is disappointing for some Punisher fans. For me it made this movie my favorite Punisher movie. I was disappointed, that Thomas Jane wasn't in next movie and they made Punisher one man army.

One last good thing about this movie is, Thomas Jane is Punisher fan. This wasn't his last time as Punisher. More about that tomorrow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Punisher (1989)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Punisher (1989).

I have waited for a long time to see this movie. Now it became available. Movie has some sort of cult status. Some say, this is the best Punisher movie. I wouldn't go that far. Two other movies are quite solid action movies. I might get back to them later. This time we check 80's Punisher.

In comics Frank Castle's family was killed in park, when they where in middle of fire fight. They were collateral damage. In this they were intentionally killed, when someone set bomb to Castle's car. No mentions why bomb was set or what Mafia had against Frank Castle. Family was killed and Castle went underground. He became Punisher, vigilante, who kills criminals. He has killed 125 criminals in five years. New kills doesn't seem to change that number.  Mafia is so weak now, that Yakuza is coming to their territory. Castle decides to take break, when Yakuza and Mafia start to fight over territory. Yakuza kidnaps Mafia bosses kids. Punisher's informant talks Punisher to save the kids. This starts the stupidity, which make you wonder, how Punisher has survived this long.

Punisher attacks Yakuza's bar to send a message. He kills couple guys and uses couple minutes to destroy the bar by shooting his machine gun. He stands on pool table in middle of bar during this time. No cover what so ever. Any criminal with any brain could have easily taken him out. Because he survived this, he test his luck even further. He goes to amusement park to free kidnapped kids. He takes his informant with him and leaves him outside amusement park. It was Yakuza's ambush. Yakuza catches Punisher and informant. How could they catch the informant? Where did they found him?

Punisher tells Batman sent him, when Yakuza tortures him. Batman is DC character and Punisher is Marvel character. How they got away with that is beyond me. Punished escapes Yakuza and gets real location of kidnapped kids. He saves all of them except one, who is a kid of only surviving mafia boss. Yakuza kills other bosses in café. They poison bosses. Then shoot their henchmen and tell bosses they are poisoned and watched them die. Why create such a complicated plot? Shooting everyone or poisoning everyone would have had same result. Police catches Punisher after he saved the kids.

Surviving mafia boss breaks Punisher free and forces him to save his kid. They attack Yakuza's hideout. Punisher takes informant with him and shows him to mafia boss. No need to hide his identity. If boss survives, surely he won't tell anyone who is punisher's informant. Punisher caries easily breaking guns with him. He can't use them after he drops them. They have to be broken, because they can't be out of ammo, since he didn't fire a shot, before he drops the gun. All his guns seems to be like that, because this happens with all of his guns.

Boss and Punisher kill all Yakuza members. Then boss tries to kill Punisher. Boss' kid sees the fight and how Punisher kills his father. He says he will kill Punisher. Punisher urges him to do that, so he won't become bad man. Kid can't kill Punisher. Punisher tells kid he won't become bad man like his father, if he become, Punisher will be waiting him. That line alone is worth watching the movie. Dolph Lundgren is awful actor in this movie. He talks like he did as Ivan Drago, Dialog is often bad. Characters are bad stereotypes and do stupid things.  But that line made movie worth watching. I can understand why this has cult status. Lundgren's over the top tough guy Punisher is unintentionally comical at times. Why he was naked in sewer, when he talked about god and punishment?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007).

This is the best Uwe Boll movie I have seen. That doesn't say much. This is entertaining at times. Uwe Boll is still Uwe Boll, but actors make this work. This has interesting cast of actors. Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, Ray Liotta and John Rhys-Davies make this movie work. It could be because I like them almost in everything they have done. Burt Reynolds and Matthew Lillard also have their moments. Kristanna Loken is better in this movie than in Bloodrayne. Other actors also do solid performances. Statham probably brought his fight choreographers with him. Fighting scenes are most entertaining part of the movie. And there are enough of them. Statham is good on them and there are ninja warrior, who bring more kung fu to movie. This was fantasy movie with ninja warriors and hero had boomerang.

Jason Statham is farmer called Farmer. He doesn't do anything else than farm is farm. But he is best warrior on land. Ron Perlman is his friend. Burt Reynolds is old king. Matthew Lillard is his no good nephew, who will be next king. Lillard is plotting against king with Ray Liotta, who is evil wizard. Liotta has army of Orcs called Krugs. Liotta can control creatures, who are like Nazgûl from Lord of the Rings. This movie takes a lot from Lord of the Rings. Probably more than it takes from the game it is based on.  I haven't played the game. I can't tell if it had warrior ninjas or were they Uwe Boll's idea. John Rhys-Davies is king's mage and Kristanna Loken is leader of female warriors, who live on woods.

Statham's son get killed on Krug's attack and his wife disappears. Statham goes searching for his wife with Perlman and wife's brother. During their adventure Statham finds out he is king's lost son. He and others find that out just before king dies and nephew is made new king. Then we get into final battle. That is actually two battles, which happen at same time close to each other. Other at night, when it is raining and other daytime under cloudless skies. At same time. Kristanna Loken went from daytime battle to nighttime battle by foot. Night time battle was between King's army and Krugs.

Daytime battle was first between Liotta and Rhys-Davies. Rhys-Davies tried to talk Liotta away from the dark side, before they fought to find out, who was more powerful with the force. Liotta shoots lightnings from his fingers during fight with Statham. He obviously is using dark side of the force. Liotta beats Rhys-Davies. It is up to Statham to stop Liotta. Shockingly Liotta kills Statham with his magic and evil rules the world. Or Statham manages to kill Liotta with help of his wife and Rhys-Davies' daughter, who is now powerful mage even, when she hasn't used any magic before this point and no-one has trained her to use magic. Can you guess which happened? I can give you hint. Sun starts to shine after final battle.

Movie is not complete waste of time. It looks good, has good fighting scenes and some good acting. Uwe Boll surrounded himself with talented people, but he is still Uwe Boll. Dialog is awful. Phasing is strange. But you see interesting cast and ninja warriors. Jason Statham fans will find this entertaining. This probably works for fantasy movie fans too.

There is sequel directed by Uwe Boll. I haven't seen it. Based on Wikipedia and IMDB, it seems like it has nothing to do with this movie.

Monday, March 3, 2014

End of the World (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie End of the World (2013).

Before watching this, I considered this to be one movie in Bad horror february. I chose other movies instead and watched this later. There are two reasons, why this couldn't be in Bad horror february. This is not horror and this is a good movie. Actually good Syfy original. Not so bad it is good, but actually good Syfy original. World really must be coming to an end. It has Syfy original budget and production values. But most important thing, the script, works. This movie shows, where you should put your efforts. It is not perfect movie, but something I have expected from Syfy before. They made Sharknado and this movie last year. Maybe they have figured out how to make good movies.

This movie tells disaster movie nerds, who work at video store. They have prepared for apocalypse and know all disaster movies and scifi movies. This movie is nod to typical Syfy fan. It knows how stupid Syfy movies are. Itself included. It knows, what it is and makes fun of that. Like Sharknado did. Nerds can put their knowledge to test, when electric balls start falling from the sky. They can survive on their own, but there is only one man, who can save the world. Scifi Author, who is locked into mental hospital. Scifi Author has prepared for all kinds of end of the world scenarios. Nerds must go to rescue him from mental hospital.

Movie manages to mix comical element of nerds with serious end of the world scenario. People act like end is coming. It is law of the jungle, when strong take what they want. Among all this nerds are referring to scifi and disaster movies. They are exited that world is coming to an end and they can finally use all their knowledge. When one of them loses hope, others are there to motivate him. Whole movie is like scifi fan's wet dream. Nerds get to do things they have seen in movies. For once they are heroes. Movie has also darker moments to remind us, world is coming to an end. Twists keep you guessing what happens next. There are things that come out of the blue, but nothing that wasn't introduced earlier or could not be expected based on movie's rules.

I don't want to spoil this too much. Movie is worth checking, if you are genre fan. It is low-budget tv movie, with Syfy production values, but it works, if you can get past cheap CGI. Sharknado and this movie showed, what Syfy originals could be. I hope they keep making more of these kind of movies.