Saturday, July 31, 2010

Directed by P.J. Pesce
Starring Tom Berenger, Clayne Crawford, Tommy Flanagan, Maury Sterling, Vinnie Jones, Michael Parks, Ernie Hudson

Ah, finally a film I can award the first one statuette picture. Generally I try to avoid these straight to DVD releases on the count that they're usually total horse shit. And while we're on the subject of horse shit, let's diss Smokin' Aces 2.

A handicapped Walter Weed (Berenger) is being targeted by a number of crazy assassins and the FBI hides him in the reinforced basement of some shitty bar from the prohibition era and blaah blaah blaah..

Joe Carnahan's (Narc, The A-Team) original Smokin' Aces (2006) was a very entertaining mix of over the top and quirky characters all coming together in a Las Vegas hotel to go after the same poor guy played masterfully by Jeremy Piven. It had an especially nice all star cast and a great visionary director at the helm. The sequel is absolutely nothing compared to the original. It's low budget trash. The characters are built up to be eccentric like in the original, but they end up coming off as just fucking annoying and pretentious. The screenplay is horrible fodder that wonders aimlessly from doomed build up to another and.. and.. look.. it's just cheap crap and pointless with it's digitally created explosions and bad performances. I'd rather suffer through Wild Wild West once more to avoid this.
Todella kehnoa ja surkeasti toteutettua, suoraan DVD:lle tehtyä rahastusroskaa. Jätä väliin ja katso mielummin uudestaan alkuperäinen Smokin' Aces vuodelta 2006.

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball at IMDb


Directed by Nimród Antal
Starring Columbus Short, Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Amaury Nolasco, Skeet Ulrich, Milo Ventimiglia, Fred Ward

I read a review somewhere where it said that Armored was like Die Hard on wheels. That's not true. Die Hard is one of the most glorious action classics of all time with it's beautiful photography, music, career making performances and an class-A direction by John McTiernan. Armored has a brief chase sequence and a few gunshots.

Ty Hackett (Short) is a security guard working for the armored transport division. He's broke and he's about to lose the house he and his trobled younger brother occupy. Along comes a plan by his co-workers to pull of a heist themselves and blame it on made up criminals. The plan goes wrong and as Ty's conscience starts to knock he finds himself in danger among his devoted colleagues.

This movie is by the numbers from start to finish. The action is flat, the characters are irrelevant and the script offers literally nothing new. What surprises me personally is how they got such an ensamble cast to show up for this standard paycheck. The mystery is solved once you observe the performances which are mostly phoned in. It's not a complete disaster but the lack of passion is clearly evident.

If director Antal got his next job Predators (2010) on the count of this.. well, I've heard it's quite good, but whoever took the leap of faith on him, did so with balls matching those of Indiana Jones himself at the end of Last Crusade.

Armored on erittäin orjallisesti kliseitä seuraava toimintaleffa, jonka toimintakohtauksetkaan eivät oikein vakuuta. Koko leffa haiskahtaa väkisin väännetyltä välityöltä.

Armored at IMDb

Friday, July 30, 2010

Directed by Grant Heslov
Starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Robert Patrick, Glenn Morshower, Stephen Root

Well this was certainly a bag of something complitely different. This film is shockingly based on some actual events of US military experiments on psychic powers. Yeah that's right, psychic powers.

McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a journalist who almost accidentally stumbles on a story about a military unit that was subject to training for psychic powers that among other things would enable them to stop the enemy's heart just by staring intensely at them. The unit trained using goats, hence the title of the film. Wilton bumps into Lyn Cassady (Clooney) who takes him along his latest mission involving his paranormal abilities.

Seriously, this film is really based on actual events and theories conjured by Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon, a Vietnam vet who had the idea of a new military organized along New Age lines. The whole idea sounds so fucking ridiculous that for once you really hope the filmmakers would've been making all this shit up. It's quite scary to think that these military personnel were actually conceiving this shit as an actual weapon. Then again the Nazis had their superstitions and beliefs as well so what the hell, why not get in on the crazy wagon.It does bode well for the film though, as the filmmakers have created a film that is rightfully offbeat and funny.

By the way, director Heslov is probably best known as an actor and especially as Faisil, the third member on Schwarzenegger's team in Jim Cameron's True Lies (1994). Just a fun fact.

Vuohia Tuijottavat Miehet on onnistuneen yliampuvalla otteella ohjattu koominen katselmus Yhdysvaltain armeijan aitoon projektiin 80-luvulta, jossa sotilaita opetettiin toimimaan psykologisilla aseilla, joihin kuului mm. vihollisen sydämen pysäyttäminen pelkällä intensiivisellä katseella. Siis ihan aikuisten oikeasti.

The Men Who Stare At Goats at IMDb

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Directed by Paul Greengrass
Starring Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Jason Isaacs

Green Zone is the third collaboration between Greengrass and Damon with the first two being the Bourne sequels Supremacy and Ultimatum. Those films were highly energetic and very well executed action thrillers. Green Zone doesn't disappoint. It's like Jason Bourne going to war.

Baghdad, Iraq 2003. The war begins as the US troops start bombing the capitol. Four months later the president announces that major combat operations have ended and that the effort has been victorious for the US and allied troops. This is of course only half the truth since over 98% of all casualties have occurred after that. Damon plays Rob Miller who's task is to find the weapons of mass destruction, but every target he breaches turns up empty. He begins to question the intel and starts to look into the situation which is looking more and more suspicious.

Again, a scenario of which it's quite difficult to give a more thorough description without giving something away, but what I can say is that the film has to praised for it's critique of the whole mess the troops are involved in. Where the real news media in real life functions as an unpaid PR-group for the army, movies like Green Zone and The Hurt Locker are important because they remind the public that even as these films are works of fiction, everything might not be as simple as they seem on CNN.

Ohjaaja Greengassin ja Damonin kolmas yhteistyö etenee vaivattomuudella ja varmuudella. Green Zone on Bourne- ja Jack Ryan-leffojen tapaan ensiluokkaista toimintaviihdettä, mutta yleistä tasoa huomattavasti älykkäämmällä käsikirjoituksella.

Green Zone at IMDb


Directed by Scott Cooper
Starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Jack Nation

Indie films can be a double-edged sword. On one hand you can get a really fresh and touching piece of cinema made comfortably outside the Hollywood studio system. On the other hand it can lead to a pretentious wannabe art house pictures that are just plain fucking boring and a huge waste of time.

Bridges plays a washed up country singer Bad Blake who has been eclipsed in the spotlight by his protege Tommy Sweet (Farrell). He's a boozer and falls for a reporter (Gyllenhaal) who's come to make a story of him. She is a single mom raising her 4 year old son and trouble ensues when Blake can't quit the bottle around the kid.

Bridges does a wonderful job with his seemingly doomed character and rightfully won the coveted Oscar for his performance. Gyllenhaal and the rest of the supporting cast are finely tuned all the way to Duvall who also produced the film. The problem for me at least was that despite all the hard work from the cast, I just didn't care for any of the characters. Crazy Heart is a film that will no doubt appeal to major audiences looking for an intimate human story, but something for me personally felt artificial about the script. The over the hill burned out has been tale has been done many many times before and though the end result is nowhere near pretentious art house fodder, it still somehow fails to be fresh.

Crazy Heart on vahvojen näyttelijäsuoritusten esimerkki, mutta tarinan tuoreuden puute syö tehoja lopulta efortilta. Joku voisi argumentoida että 99% Hollywoodin toimintarainoista on ennalta-arvattavaa tusinatavaraa ja vaikken sitä vastaan väitäkkään, niin sanoisin silti, että nimenomaan Crazy Heartin kaltaisilta elokuvilta se ON minimivaatimus.

Crazy Heart at IMDb

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Pete Postlethwaite

It's hard to ignore your expectations when they are clearly very, very high. This was the case with Inception and thankfully the film exceeded even my wildest expectations. Unless something hugely unexpected happens, this film will easily be the best film of 2010.

Cobb (DiCaprio) is a highly skilled thief in a world where the technology exists to enter a human mind through dream invasion. He is given a chance to right the wrongs of his past by pulling a final and very dangerous job involving inception.

It's almost impossible to describe the film further without giving some of it's precious gold away. Nolan has been touted the Kubrick of his generation and by every new movie he proves that to be a very good and valid argument because since Memento launced his career to the big leagues, every new film has been an improvement over the previous. After his Batman sequel The Dark Knight it was almost laughable to think he could top the effort, but with Inception that miracle has happened. Starting with an ensamble of genius character actors especially in the supporting cast from Murphy to Caine and a script so well thought out that it is simply a profound joy to marvel what has been put on screen. 

Then there are the visuals. The dream sequences are nothing short of astounding. Imagination has been allowed to run wild and it has conjured some of the most brilliant ideas ever given to an audience to ponder. A special commendation must be given to Gordon-Levitt for his amazing hallway fight sequence that takes place in shifting gravities. Fucking brilliant.

Go see Inception. Now. FASTER.

Ohjaaja Nolan on Memento-elokuvan jälkeen pistänyt jokaisella leffalla edellistä paremmaksi ja trendi jatkuu Inceptionin merkeissä, joka sentään joutui seuraamaan heti klassikoksi lyötyä Yön Ritaria. Mutta ihme on tosiaan tapahtunut sillä tämä filmi ei ole mitään muuta kuin tuoreita ideoita, mahtavia visuaalisia taikoja, nerokasta käsikirjoittamista ja A-luokan näyttelijäsuorituksia. Erityinen kunniamaininta täytyy myöntää Gordon-Levittille taistelukohtauksesta joka tapahtuu muuttuvissa painovoimien pyörteissä. Käsittämättömän hieno leffa.

Inception at IMDb

Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Travolta, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden

Luc Besson who wrote the script for this film has made several succesful and very entertaing action screenplays in the last decade or so with movies like Taxi, Transporter and most notably Danny The Dog (aka Unleashed).

James Reece (Rhys Meyers) is a low-level spy working at the US embassy in Paris, from where he executes minor tasks of attaining information. He dreams of bigger assignments and one day he's ordered to escort an American operative Charlie Wax (Travolta)around town. Little does he realise at first that Wax is actually on a mission to hunt down Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who are targeting a very high profile conference taking place in Paris.

Besson also wrote the script for director Morel's previous film, the greatly underrated Taken, starring Liam Neeson. Taken was an action packed, fun and very geniusly cast whereas From Paris With Love is only action packed minus the fun and spot-on casting. On one hand Travolta must be thanked for trying something different with Wax's character and he's not bad in the role, but he is in the wrong movie. Wax would've been good in Face/Off 2. There are plenty of jokes written into the movie, but they just don't spark enough to get any actual laughs. From Paris With Love is a rare missfire from the golden goose that is Luc Besson.

Yleensä kaikessa yksinkertaisuudessaan niin nerokkaita toimintakomedioita kynäilevä Luc Besson on tehnyt tällä kertaa väliinputoajan. Travoltakaan ei ole huono ja vaikka hänelle täytyy toisaalta nostaa hattua tuoreesta perspektiivistä, on hänen tulkitsema Charlie Wax väärässä elokuvassa. Yritys on kova, mutta kun ei toimi niin ei toimi.

From Paris With Love at IMDb

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Directed by Joe Carnahan
Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Henry Czerny, Brian Bloom

The A-Team is definitely the kick-ass summer popcorn movie of 2010. And for it's purpose, it's loud, dumb and SO much fun!

 A team of US Rangers is framed for the muder of their commander and the theft of money printing plates and they break out of prison to clear their names and find those responsible.

 Something even close to a real plot is of course nowhere to be found, but The A-Team falls comfotably under the "fuck you critics"-lable anyway and luckily so because films like this are just as valuable as artsy French films from the 70's. Why? Because sometimes people just love and need to be entertained. They want to walk into a theater and for two hours forget the fucking mess they call their lives and just laugh and be thrilled that at least in movies the bad guys get what's coming to them. Neeson, Cooper, Jackson and Copley all enjoy their hero roles and are clearly having fun and Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces) is at ease directing adrenalin fuelled destruction. Perfect marriage of talent, execution and understanding of the genre.

The A-Team on puhdasta kesäviihdettä parhaimmillaan. Kieli on pysyvästi ja tukevasti poskessa alusta loppuun ja hauskaa on. Tosikoiden ja "intellektuellien" snobien *ysk* Tapani Maskula *ysk* kannattaa pysyä kaukana, mutta toisaalta kukapa heidän mielipiteitään tällaisista leffoista haluaisikaan kuunnella?

The A-Team at IMDb

Sunday, July 4, 2010

To go see this film on it's opening night and report on it on the same day. I swear this by the almighty Optimus Prime.

For in Prime and Christopher Nolan we trust :)

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway, Matt Lucas, (and voice only:) Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee

It's a good thing to go into a film without expectations, but this being a Burton/Depp-collaboration I could hardly do so. Burton has been one of my absolute favorite directors and Depp my hero as an actor. They both continue to be just that, but Alice In Wonderland is sadly a misfire on an otherwise bright path.

 Alice (Wasikowska) is a young adult and is about to be proposed by a douchie rich lord. She panics and follows a rabbit to a hole by a tree in which she falls in. Alice finds herself in a strange and fantastical world where her help is gravely needed in order to overthrow the evil Red Queen (Carter). On her quest she befriends strange characters such as the Mad Hatter (Depp).

 The film should've been called Return To Wonderland because just like Steven Spielberg's Hook, this Alice In Wonderland is actually a sequel to the original tale. And this being a Tim Burton film, there's lots and lots of eye candy and weird details, but that's also part of the problem. Burton's films of late have been much more about the visuals and not so much the substance. Where has the brilliant gothic vision of masterpieces such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetle Juice and Batman Returns gone? Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) was a sign of things to come because it suffered from the exact same problem. Another disappointment is Depp who very rarely misfires, but sadly this film is such an example. It wouldn't be a problem if his Mad Hatter wasn't such a crucial character in the movie, but he is and it just doesn't work. Full points to the character of March Hare though.

Yleensä niin upeasti toimiva yhteistyö Burtonin ja Deppin välillä tuottaa Alice In Wonderlandin kohdalla harvinaisen pettymyksen. Elokuva kärsii samasta ongelmasta kuin kaksikon aiempi yhteistyö, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, eli silmälle on karamellia jos jonkinlaista, mutta itse sisältö on unohtunut pois matkan varrella. Mikään katastrofi ei silti ole kyseessä, mutta keskinkertaiseksi ja jähmeäksi jäänyt fantasia tämä on joka tapauksessa. Sitä paitsi kyseessä ei edes ole se vanha tuttu Liisa Ihmemaassa vaan itse asiassa jatko-osa.

Alice In Wonderland at IMDb


Directed by Martin Campbell
Starring Mel Gibson, Bojana Novakivic, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Jay O. Sanders, Denis O'Hare

Well, Mel Gibson's back.. finally. He hasn't made a starring role since 2002's Signs which honestly wasn't much of a send-off. And because The Passion Of The Christ put so many people off of his acting (he never even appeared on screen, but the idea of him as a religious nut did the trick), Edge Of Darkness is the first real role he's done in front of the camera in 8 years.

 Gibson plays homicide detective Tom Craven who's activist daughter is gunned down on his door step and as Craven begins to look into the case himself, the findings  lead him deep into the world of politics and conspiracies.

 The less said about the plot, the better because it's an intriguing and complicated one, but while the film itself is masterful suspence, the real cream of the crop is the man himself. Gibson is as powerful as he ever was as the father seeking revenge for the murder of his only child. The script is based on a BBC TV-series from 1985 which was also directed by Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask Of Zorro). This is a good old fashioned thriller that deserves to be seen.

 Besides, the film has one of the best one-liners of recent years: "You had better decide whether you're hanging on the cross or banging in the nails". Classic.

Mel Gibsonin ensimmäinen pääosa kahdeksaan vuoteen on hieno ja voimakas suoritus isänä, joka selvittää ainoan lapsensa murhaa ja halajaa kostoa vastuullisille. BBC:n mini-sarjaan pohjautuva elokuva on juoneltaan harkittu ja vaikka itse filmi onkin mestarillinen, on paluun tehnyt Gibson kakun kerma.

Edge Of Darkness at IMDb

Directed by David Slade
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dakota Fanning, Jackson Rathbone, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed

The first two Twilight-movies were directed by directors who both had one good and succesful hit on their resumés, Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) and Chris Weitz (About A Boy). Enter David Slade who not only directed the critically acclaimed Hard Candy, but also 30 Days Of Night, the best vampire film to come out of Hollywood since Blade II in 2002. It's like for the first time in this series a grown-up was hired for the job.

 Eclipse continues the love triangle between human girl Bella (Stewart), a vampire boy Edward (Pattinson) and a native American werewolf (or whatever the hell he is) Jacob (Lautner). A vampire called Victoria is still looking for vengeance on Edward for killing her life mate and she intends to do so by killing Bella. To get close, she creates a new born vampire "army" to attack Edward and the rest of the Cullen family. In order to stop this the vampires and werewolves, natural enemies, must combine forces to stop this invasion into their little town.

 That's a surprising amount of plot for a Twilight-film, let me tell you. At least considering the horrible dribble the first films were piled from. Eclipse is definitely a step up in the series that has been filled with incredibly bad dialogue and hammy acting to say the least. The film is no masterpiece by any means because both of the previously mentioned problems make several cameos throughout the movie, but as a whole Eclipse IS a far more working and solid film. The pact between vampires and werewolves is an interesting one and brings some much needed real tension to the characters and the script. The wolves themselves continue to be the most magificent and visually arresting part of the saga. Also, director Slade has managed to bring something into the mix that has been absent from Twilight and New Moon which are good performances and genuinly good scenes in the script, although there are only some of them and not as many as preferred. At times the script even reaches self parody as Edward sees shirtless Jacob (of course!) and utters  "doesn't he have a shirt?!".

 A separate mention must be given for the most campy moment in movies of 2010 so far.. Bella and Edward are about to get it on and he blurts out "No, I wanna wait until we're married". WHAT'RE YOU, FUCKING KIDDING US?! The whole Twilight franchise is marketed to teen girls using S-E-X with posters of the hunky werewolf guys with their shirts off and six-packs glistering and trailers compiled of glamorous shots of good looking guys. And then they have the fucking BALLS to say that these movies promote abstinence?! That's quite sanctimonious and as Penn & Teller would put it, BULLSHIT.

The Twilight Saga: Epäilys on huomattavan suuri askel ylös laadun suhteen elokuvasarjassa, jota on tähän mennessä dominoineet luokattoman huonot ja kornit käsikirjoitukset, sekä surkuhupaisat näyttelijäsuoritukset. Tämäkään elokuva ei millään muotoa ole taideteos, sillä edellä mainitut puutteet tekevät useita cameoita läpi filmin, mutta kokonaisuus toimii silti paljon paremmin mielenkiintoisten vastakkain asetteluiden ja kypsemmän ohjauksen ansiosta. Edelleen siis tyttöjen leffa, mutta kenties kundeille hieman siedettävämpi julkaisu kuin edelliset Twilight -Houkutus ja Uusi Kuu.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse at IMDb