A boring mash-up of 90’s plot and early 2000’s action.
In what is said to be Sylvester Stallone’s last run as Rocky Balboa (we have all heard that before), Michael B. Jordan is back in the ring as Adonis Creed in his quest for boxing immortality. But he is not alone in his return. Creed II brings back fan favorite Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, the man who killed Adonis’ father, and introduces his son Viktor Drago into the mix. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Florian Monteanu is cast perfectly as Viktor Drago. He is a mountain of a man. Very few people in this world could even come close to making Michael B. Jordan’s physique look small. Finally the Rocky Series has come back to the legendary intimidating opponents of the past. Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Thunderlips, Ivan Drago, and even Tommy “The Machine” Gunn all looked like a threat to Rocky. Mason Dixon, Ricky Conlan, and Donnie Wheeler may have been “real” boxers, but they never passed the eye test and are all forgettable antagonists. Their movies excel despite them. At 6’4″ and weighing in at 240 lbs., Viktor Drago captures the same awe-inspiring moments as his father. This guy looks like he could repeat history and kill Creed in the ring. Sitting in the theater, you can feel it when he lands his devastating blows into his opponents. It is awesome!
Creed II could have been easily turned into a movie called Drago. That would have been a very bold and interesting take, and all the components were there to make that happen. I love everything Michael B. Jordan does on screen, but in hindsight I would have been in full support of that choice. I was surprised how well developed the Dragos were with such little screen time.
Nearly all of the supporting cast of Creed is back for Creed II as well. Every single one of them turns in another stellar performance. There is a lot going on in this movie. If there is a criticism to be had, it is that. It is difficult to give weight and feeling to a situation when you are bouncing from one issue to another. While it is not distracting, a more focused direction could have been more beneficial. If you are a fan of the Rocky Series, Creed II does not disappoint. I am looking forward to the next 6 installments!
Outlaw King tells the tale of how Scotland won their independence from the English in the 1300’s. We have seen a version of this story in the 1995 Academy Award winning movie Braveheart. Outlaw King chooses to focus on how Sir Robert Bruce became the King of Scots, rather than on Sir William Wallace’s rebellion. It was a good idea to keep Wallace to a brief glimpse rather than someone attempting to do their best Mel Gibson impression.
Outlaw King has the impossible task of attempting to escape the shadow of Braveheart. Even over 20 years later, when you use nearly the same cast of characters as the greatest movie of all time you have to expect the comparisons. While Outlaw King may be slightly more historically accurate, it pales to Braveheart in every other regard.
Chris Pine does a fine job of portraying Robert Bruce despite his mullet and sporadic Scottish accent. I was most disappointed with Stephen Dillane. I was very much looking forward to him as King Edward. However, he was not as intimidating and seemed far less regal than he did as Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones. And of course you cannot have a medieval epic without a James Cosmo cameo (you will recognize him when you see him).
All in all, Outlaw King is a good Netflix watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but it won’t be winning any awards.
Overlord manages to provide all of the pulpiness of a B-movie grindhouse film while escaping the pitfalls of shoddy effects and terrible acting that usually accompany those movies.
From Dusk Till Dawn is one of the most underrated movies of the ‘90s. Robert Rodriguez brilliantly combines two ideas that each could have each been their own stand alone movie. The first 2/3rds of the movie introduces us to Seth and Richard Gecko (Clooney and Tarantino). They are two brothers who are bank robbers and on the run from the Texas Rangers and the FBI. They kidnap an ex-preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his family to help them get across the border into Mexico. The last third of the movie is where this this movie takes a very different twist into the horror genre.
This is by far the best George Clooney role that I have ever seen. He is excellent as Seth Gecko. The weird dynamic between the brothers is done very well. For Tarantino being such a poor actor, he plays a sleazebag perfectly. I also cannot say enough good things about how Clooney and Keitel worked together in every scene. The entire movie could have just been those two in a room going back and forth at one another and I would have loved it. Salma is worth a full star rating bump up all on her own.
From Dusk Till Dawn is not a scary movie. It is not creepy. There are no “jump scares”. It will not give you nightmares or make you afraid to walk around your house in the dark. It is an action movie. This fits into the horror genre only due to subject matter.
Hyperviolent. Hyperactive. Hyperbolic.
Timo Tjahjanto’s The Night Comes For Us is a visceral mashup of martial arts and gore that is the clear answer to the question “What if The Raid movies had as much blood as the Crazy 88 fight from Kill Bill?” It is frenetic in its pacing only taking breaks to give bits of a story that relies heavily on existing action movie tropes. But you don’t watch a film like this for its plot. You watch it in order to gawk at the action, laugh at the gore, and turn to the person next to you and say “holy $%*#!”
The comparisons to Gareth Evans’ The Raid franchise are unavoidable. Tjahjanto directs his action scenes in a manner that lands somewhere between being a complete Evans knockoff and “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Furthering the comparisons are the faces that anyone familiar with The Raid films will recognize. This film stars Joe Taslim (The Raid: Redemption), Iko Uwais (Both Raid films), and several other actors that appeared in The Raid 2: Berandal. Either of these alone would be enough to see the resemblance between the films, but when put together, it gives the impression that anyone still holding out hope for The Raid 3 probably just got the closest film you will ever get to that.
For all of the similarities though, The Night Comes For Us is simply not on the same level as either of The Raid films. Gareth Evans proved to have an almost incomparable eye for the ability to combine cinematography with the kinetic brutality of martial arts. Both Raid films reshaped an entire genre from a filmmaking standpoint. By comparison, Tjahjanto’s choreography feels slower and less fluid. It tries to mask this by distracting the audience with ultra-brutality and, for the most part, it works. But this sleight of hand doesn’t help build any tension despite a seemingly non-stop string of fights. The Raid was a violent action film, but it was grounded. By contrast, The Night Comes For Us is so aggressively exaggerated that it is hard to tell when any of the characters are in danger.
Anyone that watches The Night Comes For Us will most likely not put a lot of stock in its flaws — and rightfully so. It is an action movie masquerading as a gore-fest. Or perhaps it is a gore-fest masquerading as an action movie. Either way, it is an insane, should-be-X-rated bloodbath of epic proportions that basks in its own absurdity and dares you to watch without looking away or getting squeamish.
The Predator is a mess — plain and simple. It is bloated, unfocused, hastily assembled, and at the end of its runtime proves itself to be a wholly unnecessary movie. Arguably worse, it manages to degrade the Predator brand which was already in a state of freefall.
The quasi-return of Shane Black to the franchise held a certain appeal to fans who hoped that someone tied to the original Predator’s greatness would bring a long-lost respect to the franchise and recapture some of that good old 80’s action movie magic. And perhaps a recognition that what made Predator (1987) great was its small-scale tale of man vs. alien and hunter vs. hunted. It’s clear now that Black had other ideas in mind. A LOT of ideas. And every last one of them is crammed into this movie. Instead of a back-to-basics approach, The Predator tries instead to expand its mythos as wide as possible with super Predators, rogue Predators, Preda-dogs and much, much more. In the process, Black alternates between giving no explanation and giving unnecessary explanations through characters who somehow know or figure out everything there is to know about Predators. The latter of which seems to be the only reason Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown’s characters exist.
Everything in this movie is dialed WAY up. The ragtag group of mercs our heroes emerge from harkens back to the original Carl Weathers & Jesse Ventura group, but every one of them is given some sort of tic that is supposed to make them even more interesting or funny. Little quips are replaced with a barrage of one-liners and jokes that are tonally all over the place. It’s almost as if Black expected the comedy to be a close second to the action instead of a subtle companion. And even the action is ratcheted up. But instead of an uptick in violence, terror, and gunfights, we’re given more spaceships, technology, and questionable CGI. The old adage of bigger not always being better fits The Predator like a glove.
The Predator is the annoying bro at the party who talks over everyone else, screams his stories loudly all night, and tells vulgar jokes that only he laughs at (hysterically). Go ahead and put The Predator on the pile of failed attempts to reinvigorate a once proud sci-fi franchise. It will be the perfect complement in a bad movie tripleheader along with Terminator: Genisys and Alien: Covenant. The downward trajectory of these franchises can’t even be buoyed by saviors from the past — be it Shane Black or Ridley Scott. It’s officially time for these franchises to go into hibernation for a VERY long time.