Hanna (2011)

zondag, september 22, 2013
Genre : Action/Thriller
Country : USA/UK

Cast :
Saoirse Ronan : Hanna
Eric Bana : Erik Heller
Cate Blanchett : Marissa Wiegler

Director :
Joe Wright

Hanna is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father, an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.
My opinion

Marissa, did she turn out as you hoped?
Marissa: "Better."

I had no idea what to expect from this movie. I'm not the type that reads opinions upfront as a guide. Usually it's the opposite of what I thought anyway.

Hanna, beautifully played by Saoirse Ronan, was trained for years by her father in Finland to perform a task which is to liquidate Marissa Wiegler. This cold lady was the one who killed her mother because she had to make sure that there were no witnesses anymore of a secret experiment with DNA. An experiment in order to grow a superior human being. A kind of super-soldier. Hana was the last witness.

Well, that's the whole story in a nutshell. I also expected  a kind of "Jason Bourne"-like spy thriller with lots of action and suspense. However, it didn't work out that way.

First there were a few things that I still had some questions about. If that was the only goal she had to fulfill, why didn't she just return to the snowy plains? What was Erik's goal in Germany? Why the hell would you inform your target about your actions by means of the transmitter? Was it just to start things up and it just was a trick so she would be detained? As a super-soldier, maybe I would have handled it differently. How come she reacts so frantic when it's about electricity, while she has an encyclopedic knowledge about all kinds of things? An itinerant family meets her in the middle of the Sahara and won't ask her any question? Wouldn't you as a teenager tell your parents? What happened to the family in the end ? And something what really was a bit odd was the fact that she could eliminate commandos in an extremely precise way, but the confrontation with two brainless skinheads and an asthmatic fag, suddenly appears to be a huge obstacle ?Clear. A story with plotholes as large as the galaxy.
But still ...
Yet this was a gem of a movie. Why? Because it's all shown, filmed and told in a different way like most action-espionage thrillers.
The opening
scenes in the bleak landscape of Finland were sublime. From there the movie attracted my attention and didn't let go. The images of the desert and Morocco were magnificent and desolate as they should be. The maze of corridors and tunnels in the underground base gave a disorienting feeling. The city of Berlin was shown in such a way you could feel the chaos and obscurity of that metropolis.
whole film has an art deco, experimental and surreal tint. At times I thought it was a complete freak-show and a split second later I thought it was brilliant.

The character Hanna is sophisticated. A fragile girl that DNA-wise was programmed into a cool effective killing machine. Her cold-blooded accuracy in actions is in contrast with those bright blue eyes that are sometimes shown in close up and shows just how vulnerable she is.

Erik is a former CIA agent and "That's it". He shows no emotions or feelings. A focal point in his life and a main goal to perform. Marissa is a weird twisted plastic figure who brushes her teeth until they bleed. A subtle detail to show that she pursues perfection in everything she does. A tough cookie to kill what is clearly noticeable in the underground base. She always was a step ahead. Knepler is a weirdo who just crawled from under a mushroom. A clown looking like Catweazle.
Isaacs and his two stupid hopping mad skinheads look totally wrong and ridiculous, but still fit into the whole picture.
Isaacs in his tracksuit and laughable tennis outfit looks totally ridiculous. And the family in the dessert is a parody of new-age parents with a snobby teenage daughter. Hilarious in a specific way.

So it is the overall picture of Kubrick-like surrealistic images, mixed in a dark and obscure "The Chemical Brothers" soundtrack, that made this such an interesting movie. A surreal tale full of symbolism in which the choreography and the camera-moves brings the whole to a higher level. The action scenes were not technical feats, but were not important in the overall scheme of the film. They were pleasant interruptions in this for the rest very arty film.
My rating 8/10
Link : IMDB
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I am number Four (2011)

zaterdag, september 21, 2013
Genre : SF/Romance

Cast :
Alex Pettyfer : John Smith
Timothy Olyphant : Henri
Teresa Palmer : Nummer 6
Diana Agron : Sarah Hart

Director :
D.J. Caruso

Extraordinary teen John Smith is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri, John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events-his first love, powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.
My opinion

"Grease in space"

I started watching this without any prior knowledge. Ultimately, it is not that special, but also not that terribly bad. It's obvious the makers played it safe. It's ultimately a mix of a high-school teen movie and a softcore SF. The high school section contains all the cliche ingredients: the jock (quarterback, of course), a cheerleader, a nerd who's constantly harassed by the hunks of the school, the newcomer John who's not bad looking but is seen as if he's an alien (what a coincidence). Off course John will defend the nerd and is immediatly attracted to the cheerleader at first glance (melt, sigh, swoon ...). How obvious. You can feel a romantic love relationship coming up. So the main and largest target group, the giggling teenage girls, is satisfied now.
And now we have to add something so the boyfriends are satisfied enough to accompany those teen girls to the cinema. John is one of the survivors (No.4 of course out of 9) from the planet Lorien who were exterminated by the Mogadorians. These Mogadorians are almost a copy of the Sith's from "Star Wars". They are chasing these Lorianen (Loriethers, Loriers ...??) to exterminate them. The reason why is unexplained. Of course there was in the infinite universe only one planet where they could hide : Earth. And on earth starts a battle between those two alien races.
Apparently this movie is an interpretation of a book. For me a decent adaptation is one you still can understand despite you haven't read the book and eventually you know what it is about. However, this adaptation leaves many unanswered questions: what is that damn box, why should they be eliminated in that order, what is the meaning of the necklaces...
There are also positive things to enumerate. John Smith plays a decent rendition. Sarah is a beautiful appearance and Nr. 6 looks so delicious I could eat her. The Mogadorians are tremendously funny sometimes and the film also contains other funny dialogues:

Sheriff James: Who the hell are they?
Mark James
: Big-ass linebackers?

The ending of the movie was fairly successful done in terms of effects and action. Even the swollen dog that had to fight against the bat-like hell hound
in the showers, was quite enjoyable.
Conclusion: A simple teenager feelgood movie with a portion SF action.

Het verdict 5.5/10
Links : IMDB , Moviemeter
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Dredd (2012)

zaterdag, september 21, 2013
Genre : SF/Action

Cast :
Karl Urban : Judge Dredge
Olivia Thirlby : Anderson
Lena Headey : Ma-Ma

Director :
Pete Travis

The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed. During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture - a 200 storey vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan.
My opinion

How the fuck are we gonna stop this guy?
"Call 911."

Connoisseurs of the eponymous comic know that Dredd is rough, raw and contains brutal violence scenes in a gray and dark society where there is no future for the average person and crime rules. Judge Dredd reigns in this petty and aggressive society with a strict and ruthless brutal hand. The figure Dredd can be seen as a Robocop-like person with anabolic inflated muscles whose face is covered by his helmet all the time so we can only see a bitter grimace with somewhat frightening-looking razor sharp teeth. He's blunt,rude and there is no room for negotiationThat's my vision on the comic.
And this movie corresponds accurately with the description of the comic as described earlier. Compared to this movie, Judge Dredd from 1995 with Sly is the Walt Disney version. The latter is terribly soft, clean, bloodless and suitable to watch with the complete family. This version on the other hand is full of action and straight-in-your-face violence with accompanying gore pictures and bloodshed. I admit, the story isn't really the epitome of subtlety and far-reaching inspiration. Dredd is accompanied by a mutant who is a rookie (the only notable acting performance) and send to a crime haven with three suspicious suicides. Turns out it's actually an ordinary execution in the drug scene where a certain Ma-ma rules.
This Ma-ma ensures, with the help of another mutant, a lock-down of the big mega skyscraper Peach Trees, to prevent a gang member being taken for questioning. What follows is a race to the top floor and confrontations with all local gangs (which I thought no longer existed) and eventually ends up in a end-fight with the supreme boss Ma-ma. Nothing earth shattering but the whole film is infused with action and ultra-hardcore violence. The slow motion images look "stunning" and gives a clear picture of the impact of the new "Slow-mo" drug.
The only minuses were:
- The fact that the corrupt judges knew they were going after the famous Judge Dredd, means that they should have known that he was accompanied by the rookie Anderson who had some psychic powers. The judge who went after rookie Anderson could have figured out that Anderson would know immediately what the plan was. Kind of silly.
- The end of Ma-ma could be better portrayed. A Slow-Mo free-fall with a spectacular splashing end. That would fit better into the overall picture of this movie.

You can't say much about the acting performance of Karl Urban. Any nitwit with a good posture and grim face could play this part. The only thing shown throughout the movie was the lower part of his face.
Amusing Friday night movie with bloody unfussy uncensored action.
Thumbs up from me anyway

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB
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Chain Letter (2010)

vrijdag, september 20, 2013
Genre : Horror

Cast :
Nikki Reed : Jessie Campbell
Betsy Russell : Sergeant Hamill
Brad Dourif : Mr. Smirker

Director :
Deon Taylor

A maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain mail.
My opinion

Flashback to an 80's teen-slasher movie.

Oops, and I've deleted so many chain letters.

If they kept the atmosphere like in the opening scene throughout the movie, it would have been
quite a great movie in its genre. The moment with all those chains reminded me of "Hellraiser" and gave me the hope for an entertaining horror. Vain hope eventually because after the beginning the movie collapsed like a poorly raised plum pudding.
Off course all known cliches are used in it : the ubiquitous fog, a bath scene with a nice college girl who,as the tradition dictates, won't survive, a gym, stupid detectives and dumb scared teens. It's something like "Final Destiny" but with a lame story, a totally disappointing ending (that's because the beginning was too strong) and a totally incomprehensible storyline. Afterwards you can only guess why it happened and what the actual reason was. Add to this a terribly bad amateurish group of actors and that damned drizzling rain throughout the complete movie. You surely would get depressed because of that !
A total stinker and unworthy for the slasher genre.
It's kind of weird because in the cast there are a few who had to know better, according to IMDB. The next persons were present in this flick :
Betsy Russell: Saw
Michael J. Pagan: See no Evil
Charles Fleischer: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Keith David: The Thing
Matt Cohen: Boogeyman 2
Michael Bailey Smith: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, and The Hills Have Eyes The Hills Have Eyes 2
Noah Segan: Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever

So much potential, such a tiny profit.
Better forget it as soon as possible.

My rating 1/10
Links : IMDB
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Tower Block (2012)

zondag, september 15, 2013
Genre : Thriller
: UK

Cast :
Sheridan Smith : Becky
Jack O'Conell : Kurtis

Director :
James Nunn,Ronnie Thompson

Several months after witnessing a murder, residents of Tower Block 31 find themselves being picked off by a sniper, pitting those lucky enough to be alive into a battle for survival.
My opinion

Actually I expected a movie with lots of suspense and a somewhat sadistic overtone, but in terms of brutality it was quite disappointing. Things looked promising at the start with the presentation of all the tenants. A colorful companionship.
Becky (Sheridan Smith) is a typical English blonde that radiated an unprecedented sensitivity and eroticism the way she was walking around in that wife-beater (in which here female forms played an important role) and Kurtis (Jack O'Connell) was from the beginning an irritating brat but evolved into a starring role: hard, big mouth and sometimes surprisingly funny. Brilliant role in other words. The rest of the company was filler and cannon fodder.

The story on its own was dead simple and meaningless. A group of tenants who lived on the same floor and refused to leave the premises were gunned down one by one by a sniper. (An H & K Semi Automatic seems)
Sometimes it was pretty realistic, but most of the times it was only pitiful and you could clearly see that this was a low-budget movie from the UK. The responses were sometimes downright ridiculous. For instance an occupant is blown away by a booby trap. First there is horror and panic about this situation. The next thing you see the victim simply being carried away with the blunt reply: We put him next to his girlfriend.

Also the moment Kurtis gets a solid punch of Neville and a crushing kick in his Easter eggs by Becky, I was like : "Why didn't the dummies acted like that already sooner and taught that blackmailer a lesson". It was really amateurish.

Conclusion :  a movie that, despite the lack of budget, sometimes still entertains with funny conversations and some exciting situations, but with an incredibly faint end. Ephemeral entertainment!
My rating 5/10
Links : IMDB
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World War Z (2013)

zaterdag, september 14, 2013
Genre : Horror/Actie
Country : USA

Cast :
Brad Pitt : Gerry Lane
Mireille Enos : Karin Lane
Daniella Kertesz : Segen
Fana Mokoena : Thierry Umutoni
David Morse : Ex CIA-agent

Director :
Marc Forster


Gerry Lane, a family man and researcher at the United Nations, and his family have a carefree existence. Suddenly the world is ravaged by a plague caused by a mysterious infection, turning whole populations into mindless, bloodthirsty zombies. After escaping the Apocalypse one can convince Lane to investigate how the disease could occur. What follows is a relentless global search and Lane has to defy terrible dangers so he can find a solution before the whole human race is doomed.
My opinion

Quote : Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature.

The movie looks like "
I am Legend", but on a higher level. I thought it was an exciting and wonderful action disaster movie to sit back and watch it from your couch, with a bowl of salted peanuts, on a Friday night. The zombie concept plays a major role but ultimately it's not a real zombie movie. Where a zombie movie emphasis on bringing the pictures as gross as possible (dismembering human individuals f.e.), WWZ emphasis on the visualization of the mass hysteria that was caused by a rapidly spreading deadly virus. In my view, these shots were magnificent visualized at certain times. The mass moving like running water and how a group of brainless zombies are jumping at everything while chattering with their teeth. For me, the term zombie was shown in a very different way. And it was a very successful way eventually.

The difference between WWZ and "I am legend" is not that mankind is the cause of the whole disaster, but Mother Nature made sure of this. The ultimate weapon against the calamity in the form of a terminal illness causing the creatures to leave you alone, was a new and refreshing idea. Also, it was made ​​credible by saying that this was also applied in the animal kingdom to avoid sick targets. I compare WWZ rather with a movie like "Outbreak", but on a larger scale.
Pitt played a more than creditable role. I found him masterly in "Se7en" and "Inglorious Bastards" but this interpretation may be added to his list of the better performances. He continues to keep that boyish look and always plays with such nonchalance. In WWZ the coolness in which he approached certain situations was overwhelming. The family situation wasn't a reason to go all corny and mellow and a female Israeli soldier ultimately became the ultimate co-protagonist.
There were some weak points for me :

1. The totally unnecessary part with the young scientist who shot himself
through the head after a slip in a rather dorky way.
The role that Israel supposedly played. First I thought it was a critical look at the state Israel. It looked as if they premeditated completed
the protective wall. Sounds a bit the same as the rumors that apparently they warned their employers in the Twin Towers before the disaster happened. I must admit that the images of the accumulating zombies provided hallucinatory images.
The seemingly impossible quest for Patient Zero by Brad Pitt goes
quite smoothly.
Despite these minor reservations, most images were tremendously exciting and nerve wracking. The final scenes in the WHO building reminded me several times of the game "Half-life". Beautifully imaged with those destroyed labs and deserted corridors.

ClearlyI found it a very fine film. And if it would ever come to a global pandemonium, but not with zombies but a kind of Ebola version that rapidly spreads
around , I already have a bit of a visual view of how things will turn out then !
My rating 7 /10
Links : IMDB

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Monsters (2010)

zondag, september 08, 2013
Genre : SF/Drama
: UK

Cast :
Scoot McNairy : Andrew Kaulder
Whitney Able : Samantha Wynden

Director :
Gareth Edwards

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"...... Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
My opinion
Post-apocalyptic movies normally attract my attention and enchant me in general. It shouldn't necessarily be a movie where you are treated all the time with images of total destruction, oncoming hordes of aliens or virus mutated zombies. But this movie really was a slow nerve provoking film that looked more like a road movie or a travelogue on Travel channel that was poured into a cinematic form. 
A large part of the film is used to show how the two main characters, a press photographer and the daughter of a newspaper magnate who somehow ended up in South America, are moving from place to place to reach a secure America lying behind immense walls. This travel-images are then interspersed with images of them staring to the horizons, beautiful nature images and impressions, inadequate conversations with the locals and the interplay with Mexican soldiers and mercenaries who sometimes act sometimes in a really hilarious way.
The monsters reveal themselves from time to time. Either it's in a CNN-like way with television reports and eventually close ups at the end of the movie. Mostly you can only hear them making sounds like whales in the distance. The aliens look like walking squids on stilts with an arsenal of disco balls stuck to their bodies. In appearance it was quite something that originated from films out of the years 60-70. Not exactly terrifying.
The acting was at times touching, but several times it was just plain boring. The daughter Samantha is a real babe and seems to move around like a model in the jungle. Her acting is limited to an engaging smile, sadly wiping away a tear and walking around in total amazement. A kind of Paris Hilton and someone who, despite her engagement, is attracted to someone else real quickly and starts to get feelings for that person.Photographer Andrew is a very confident guy who constantly tries to be funny and attempts in a terribly predictable way to fall within the grace of his lovely traveling companion . 
Spending $5000 on a ferry ticket and then they can't take this ferry because Mr. photographer got drunk and ended up in bed with a beautiful local girl who stole his passport. This seemed so stupid to me that I couldn't even believe it. They were forced to pay $ 10,000 then and take the most dangerous road to cross the country.
The end at the petrol station was the highlight of the movie. Apparently the aliens have abandoned the infected zone. That wasn't so difficult when you look at the huge gateway in that immense wall. I got a "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" feeling at the gas station and thought that the aliens would start singing after they were fed with the light and suddenly would embrace each other warmly.

In other words
pretty disappointing for me, but Mexico does look beautiful at times .....

My rating 3/10
Link : IMDB
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Pain & Gain (2013)

zondag, september 08, 2013
Genre : Comedy/Action
Country : USA

Cast :
Mark Wahlberg : Daniel Lugo
Dwayne Johnson : Paul Doyle
Anthony Mackie : Adrian Doorbal
Tony Shalhoub : Victor Kershaw
Ed Harris : Ed Dubois

Director :
Michael Bay


Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle. Their kidnapping and extortion scheme goes terribly wrong since they have muscles for brains and they're left to haphazardly try to hold onto the elusive American dream.
My opinion

You know why habit rhymes with rabbit? Because your life goes down a rabbit hole.
Irrelevant quote from Lugo and an indication what to expect from this movie)

Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie and especially Dwayne Johnson in a movie about three body-builders who are involved in a kidnapping which they screw up completely.
A great action picture that can provide some distraction on a Saturday night. That's what I imagined since that was the only thing I knew about this movie. And judging the poster it could be an entertaining movie with three mindless hulks (Wahlberg in a lesser degree, but that's compensated by Johnson).
After fifteen minutes I actually began to wonder what I was watching and it seemed to me as if those 3 guys wanted to make an absurd comedy. With the emphasis on "seemed" because I really had to look hard to find the so called humor in this movie. It's nothing but three steroid inflated balloon heads experiencing slightly absurd situations. The situations and acts were more and more retarded as the movie progressed. The only positive was the excellent caricature of an arrogant businessman played by Tony Shalhoub. Even when his situation looked dire and hopeless, he still retained a big mouth.
The rest was bland, incomprehensible and totally unbelievable. Those three guys better just stick to decent hard-hitting action movies and as soon as they read the word comedy in a script, run it through the paper shredder. It was as unbelievable as a movie with Pee Wee Herman as an unbeatable action hero who defeats a complete horde of ferocious warriors. Apparently it should be an ironic satire. Apparently there's something wrong with my taste and interpretation, because I didn't see it like that at all. The fact that it was based on a true story puzzled me more. Was it really so or just an ironic untruth ?
Towards the end, I fell asleep for 5 minutes and eventually watched it till the end. I had nothing else to do.

Biggest plus in this
corny movie was Bar Paly, Keili Lefkovitz and Vivi Pineda along with a battery of beautiful women sitting in sharply cut bikinis and swimsuits so you were repeatedly treated by dry-trained appetizing looking rosy bums. More of that and I certainly had watched the whole movie.
More or less funny : the whole problem of impotence and penis-problem of Anthony Mackie with those snappy one-liners regarding that.

Most boring item :
Johnson shooting his big toe of his foot and the dog eventually nibbling on it.
My rating 1/10
Links : IMDB

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