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The 80’s action genre is a simple one. Paper thin plot, charismatic one liners, and a lot of over the top macho action. And of course, who would know this better than 80’s action movie legend, Sylvester Stallone, right? Well, apparently not. This is one of the most disappointing films I’ve ever seen, and that includes that crappy movie with Jet Li and Jackie Chan in it and a stupid name I can’t ever remember. This movie is supposedly a homage to that 80’s action genre, and yet it lacks all 3 of its essential ingredients. It’s an absolute affront to the genre and everyone to have ever been involved in it.

Let’s start easy. The Expendables are a group of mercenaries composed of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and those other people in that poster, except Steve Austin and Bruce Willis. Willis gives them a job to kill some people (including Austin) on some island, and after a bunch of drama, they go and do it. And that’s the problem. Why is there drama? What, is Stallone getting senile and forgot that he and everyone else in this movie can’t act to save their life? (besides Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, of course, but their roles in the movie are so minor that they’re insignificant) The first 80 minutes of the movie is almost entirely drama and dialogue, where people change motives and facial expressions nonsensically, and ultimately, pointlessly.

But dialogue isn’t always a bad thing. Dialogue was what made Commando an instant classic. And yet, that charisma just isn’t there. The one liners are few and far in between, and they’re delivered with no charisma at all. Everyone sounds old, tired, bored, and boring besides Li. Sadly, he had about 10 lines for the whole movie. Even Mickey Rourke, who was lively enough for Iron Man 2, seems to have lost his energy for this movie, sounding much closer to his character in The Wrestler. That wouldn’t be bad if this was actually a drama, and if he wasn’t only in the movie for about 10 minutes. Except this isn’t a drama, and no one cares about him cuz his role in the movie is some pointless retired expendable who runs a tattoo parlor and adds nothing to the movie whatsoever.

Thanks to his old age, Stallone suddenly thinks he’s Pulp Fiction era Quentin Tarantino, and has replaced the classic one liner dialogues with long, extended, “complicated” discussions about completely irrelevant subjects. Let’s face it, Stallone was a great action hero, but he couldn’t write good dialogue if his life depended on it. What you get instead are long drawn out conversations about nothing delivered in a tiresome, tedious, and boring manner for 80 minutes.

And yet, I kept watching. Being an action movie of course, there has to be action, and I knew ahead of time from other reviews that this all happens in the last 20 minutes. RottenTomatoes has described it as hard hitting, but should hit harder with the cast. I don’t particularly agree. In fact, the action never hit at all. I even dare say that the atrocious AVP:Requiem had better action than this. At least that movie had decent looking special effects. Like AVP:R, almost all the action is shot by a cameraman suffering from epileptic seizures with a compulsive editor who isn’t satisfied with less than 10 cuts every second. Also like AVP:R, everyone is wearing all black and all the action takes place in the dead of night. The result is that, while there may be a lot of action happening somewhere and it MIGHT even be good, the fact of the matter is the audience can’t see jack shit.

And the special effects, my god. You’ll occasionally see some really cheap looking CGI blood that looks like it came straight out of the SNES port of Street Fighter II, and rarer still you’ll see some even worse CGI gore that makes the Genesis port of Mortal Kombat look like a Saw movie. The CGI explosions make the ones in direct to DVD Steven Seagal flicks look like Avatar. The effects in this look even worse than those in Last Action Hero, and that movie’s 16 years old and was a parody anyways, and it didn’t even work out there. And yet, Stallone somehow managed to delude himself into thinking that he can make crappy special effects work in his movie, and in the end, it’s us viewers who pay the price for it. Fans of this movie will say it’s part of the homage to the 80’s, and that really tells you a lot about what it takes to enjoy this movie, considering that, well, you know, CGI wasn’t prominent yet back in the 80’s. I’m not even sure if it was even invented yet. This is more a homage to Seagal direct to DVD movies if anything.

There’s also the amount of explosions. Yes, explosions are generally fun…just not when you try to fit about 60 of them in 20 minutes. It reminds of this one time a long time ago I asked my parents to buy more veggies, and they bought 5 pounds of it and tried to make me eat it all in one sitting. That’s what the explosions in this feels like. It deprives you of them until you’re begging for something to blow up, but long before the explosions are over, you’re already wishing you’ll never have to see another explosion again as long as you live.

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But enough about its shortcomings. The movie isn’t ALL bad. Like I said, Jet Li’s one liners are actually decent. There’s also 1 or 2 other chuckles lost in this mess somewhere. Surprisingly, Jason Statham’s fight scenes are actually quite entertaining. It’s not so much his awesome moves, mind you, but for some reason, he’s the only one who had fight scenes that don’t take place in the dark with everyone dressed in all black with camera and editing work so spaztastic that it may as well be an ink blot test. But let’s not quibble over merits, I’ve always hated Statham, but I enjoyed his fight scenes in this movie nonetheless.

Sadly, everything else besides that small bit was pretty much unwatchable.

VERDICT: 1.2/10

The Expendables is an 80’s action movie homage bloated with bad testosterone drama, sorely lacking in humor and charisma, and finishes with what is best described as “abstract shadows” served with a side of the crappiest CGI you’ll ever see in your life. The best I can say about this movie is that it’s a cut above your average recent direct to DVD Steven Seagal flick. And, well, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s DVDs are usually at least 2 cuts above…so yeah, this movie is pretty much just marginally better than watching paint peel. Speaking of which, before this movie came out, I questioned JCVD and Vin Diesel’s decisions to not be in this movie. Now that I’ve seen what the movie ended up as, I totally respect their decision. Sure, they could’ve came in to pick up a fairly fat pay check like everyone else, but it would’ve been a pay check they paid for with their dignity.

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the stars in this movie (except Statham, never liked him…though strangely he was my favorite character in this movie), but honestly, this is easily the worst movie any of them has ever been a part of.

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There’s not much to say here, so I’ll cut to the chase. It is everything you’d expect from a Paul Anderson Resident Evil movie: really bad acting, dialogue that tries to be witty but constantly falls flat, a plot that’s neither interesting nor coherent, utter disdain for this thing called “character development”, and a lot of really cool looking sets, special effects, and fight scenes. There’s an overabundance of slo-mo in this one, but I’d honestly prefer an entire movie in slo-mo than another spazzy, frantic 0.5s cuts-fest like Salt, Pandorum, and Prince of Persia. The action appeals to the little 10 year old boy within us, and that’s all we really want from it. However, the lack of funny one liners and the surprising excess of clothing on the girls keep this from being a complete braindead action movie.

VERDICT: 5.2/10

Overall, this isn’t a great movie, as expected. Any time something/someone isn’t getting blown up or getting their ass kicked, you’re almost definitely going to be bored. Fortunately, there’s a LOT of action, and some of it may even be considered top notch. The Claire and Chris Redfield fight against Wesker alone is almost worth the price of admission. It’s easily the best action sequence in the whole series (though I guess that doesn’t say THAT much). Anyone looking to see great action and visuals needs to look no further. Anyone who wants anything else that goes into a good movie should skip this one. Either way, half the movie is almost guaranteed to strain your attention. If you survive it though, the other half is actually very fun and entertaining.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, it still doesn’t have anything to do with the games besides stealing their character names and monster designs.

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Originally, I wasn’t gonna watch this movie. However, Ebert’s review made it sound like the kind of movie I’d love: braindead writing and non-stop over-the-top action. I was sorely disappointed.

What Roger said is accurate. The plot is retarded and full of holes, and the bland dialogue really doesn’t help. Anyone looking for intelligence would find it wise to stay far away from this movie, or anything else Kurt Wimmer writes, for that matter. However, if there’s one thing Kurt does well, it’s that he’s not afraid to come completely over the top with the action, as seen in his other works such as Ultraviolet (Milla Jovovich) and Equilibrium (Christian Bale). All 3 of these movies are similar in the sense that the writing is completely nonsensical and fairly unimaginative. Salt is either a Russian spy or CIA agent, and no one knows which, so the movie just shows her taking turns fighting against the Russians and Americans in a shallow attempt to keep you guessing, but ultimately, you won’t really care due to severe lack of character development.

This was exactly what I was expecting, so so far so good. Disappointment came in the action scenes, unfortunately. While Kurt had no problem having Bale gun down hundreds of fodders by his lonesome, or Milla kicking and slicing up close to 1000 fodders by herself, he seemed quite timid to have Jolie do anything remotely similar. She had her moments, such as building a rocket launcher out of cleaning supplies, or driving a car by tazering the unconscious driver in the head, but mostly she just does physics defying jumps and an occasional very slow kick. It’s stuck in this limbo where it isn’t over the top enough most of the time that you just go “wow, what”, and yet, it’s too over the top to have it be at all believable (all credibility flies out the window the second she jumps off a high speed subway and doesn’t suffer a single scratch, or even roll due to momentum).

Sadly, what she actually does is the best part of the movie. What the movie actually shows is much worse. Like many action movies nowadays, the action scenes cut at least 5 times per second while the cameras shake spaztastically. To make things worse, they’ve hired the worst special effects crew known to man since the days of Citizen Kane. There’s a scene where Jolie jumps down an elevator shaft by jumping side to side, sort of like Jackie Chan in reverse. Apparently, they also have the worst action director in the world, because they decided to show this scene perfectly clear without quick cuts or a shaky camera. The thing is, her fall trajectory is in perfect diagonal lines. I’m not against wirework, but for fucks sake, don’t be so lazy to just attach the back of her shirt to a clothesline and have her slide down when you’re trying to make us believe that she’s jumping. I’ve seen more realistic fall trajectories in old Atari 2600 games. Though to be fair, that scene was consistent with the rest of the movie in the sense that none of the laws of known physics actually apply, so I suppose gravity not causing any acceleration is the least of your worries if you’re still trying to make sense of anything.

That still isn’t the end of the problems though. The other major problem is Jolie herself. She does her own stunts in this movie, and it really shows in a bad way. Quite frankly, I’ve seen Kathy Bates run faster than Jolie. Not even the horrible camera work can hide just how out of shape she is (contrary to what fashion magazines tell you, being incredibly skinny is NOT HEALTHY). She runs slow, punches and kicks slow, jumps slow, and the most impressive physical feat she performs in the entire movie is taking off her panties while standing without lifting her skirt. I don’t have anything against action heroines (I’m a fan of Milla Jovovich, actually), but the point of an action star is kinda for them to be action packed, and you don’t really get that sense of action from Jolie in this movie. Her running for her life in this movie looks like someone trying to beat the “don’t walk” light when crossing the street. She’s terrible.

VERDICT: 3/10

While it does have a few great moments of awesome ridiculousness, it’s essentially a watered down C-level semi-superhero movie. They may as well have named it Ultraviolet 2: Plainpurple in Modern Day Minus Physics (the fact that Jolie wears a wig and clothes that make her look surprisingly similar to Violet makes me wonder if this was the original intention). Ultimately, I don’t feel the 4 or 5 great Wimmer moments make sitting through the mundane and terribly written other 90 minutes of the movie worth your time, let alone the price of admission. Quite frankly, I’d rather watch Ultraviolet again, and that movie was terrible in most of the same ways, but at least Milla can actually kick ass. The only person Jolie can out-action is present day Steven Seagal, and at least he knows his own shortcomings enough to use a stunt double for every action scene now.

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As a completely unrelated note, I’ve removed the “Upcoming Articles” page, as I realize I never actually do what it says anyways.

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Video game movies always gets the worst of reputations, and often justifiably so. I must say I haven’t played this series (outside of a PS2 demo disc), so maybe that contributes to my surprise, but this movie honestly isn’t that bad. As surprisingly good as it is, it still isn’t what I’d call a good movie. However, if you were interested in seeing this for whatever reason, hesitate no more, because what this movie isn’t, is boring.

It does suffer from quite a lot of flaws though. The plot is told almost entirely through exposition from a miscast cast of actors, many of which have heavy British accents for some reason. The fact that it’s based on the premise of a knife that can turn back time kinda nerfs what’s at stake too, though that didn’t stop them from adding copious amounts of pointless melodrama, like Dragonball Z. The dialogue in general is overly simplistic, and the princess’s dialogue is mostly annoying whining. Disney one liners and cliches are also liberally littered throughout. All this gives this movie a very childish cheesy feel to it.

While the special effects look great, the action is a bit hard to follow due to massive inconsistencies, very quick cuts, and a shaky camera. However, I’ve certainly seen much worse, and while not impressive, the action is still quite entertaining to watch. Though simplistically told, the plot does still sport quite a few twists that’ll keep your interest in what happens next. The ending is rather disappointing, and being a Disney movie, quite predictable, but all in all, not enough to ruin the experience of the other hour and a half of the movie.

That all said and done, none of its flaws are that severe that it should impede on anyone’s enjoyment of the movie. It’s better than average, and certainly better than most of the crap that’s been coming out for the past year and a half.

VERDICT: 6/10

While not good enough for me to recommend, I can say with certainty that you shouldn’t hesitate on watching this purely on the bad reputation of video game movies, because this is easily the 2nd best video game movie ever made (Silent Hill taking first, and not counting Advent Children). While it doesn’t follow the game exactly, it has more or less the same feel and roughly the same plot, unlike Resident Evil and Doom, which hardly had anything to do with anything. However, don’t expect to see anything new or impressionable from it. This isn’t Inception, but it still is entertainment, without a doubt.

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I’ve always said that the first Ip Man movie was pretty much a lesser version of Huo Yuan Jia (aka Fearless), starring Donnie Yen instead of the much higher acclaimed Jet Li. The sequel is more or less the same, except better. By the latest great martial arts movie director, Wilson Yip (Dragon Tiger Gate, SPL, Flashpoint, Ip Man), and co-starring Sammo Hung (not just to get killed by Donnie this time), Ip Man 2 is easily the best martial arts movie since HYJ with excellent fight scene choreography and a not very original plot.

It follows the same basic plot as the first movie and Jet Li’s HYJ. There’s some foreigners that belittle chinese people in a poverty-stricken simplistic village somewhere in China, and our hero goes and kicks their ass with kung fu (Wing Chun, in this case). That said, it isn’t all that well written. One of Ip Man’s students (Huang Liang, in my fansub) gets a lot of face time and character developement, but his involvement with the plot gets progressively less throughout the movie until he’s almost entirely forgotten. Oddly, Sammo Hung’s character developement is fairly rushed, which is odd, since his character is actually pretty deep and complex, and he’s central to the main plot. Side characters aren’t really developed at all, and returning characters changed so much and are yet so undeveloped that you’ll probably struggle to remember who they actually are, but end up just not caring.

Then there’s the events themselves. There’s a lot of subplots that are just there but never developed. Ip Man’s wife’s pregnancy just seems totally thrown in for no reason and we learn very little about Huang Liang, who was central to the plot for the first half of the movie, for example. Fortunately, the main plot suffers from none of these issues.

As I was unable to find an undubbed cantonese version, I can’t really comment much on the acting. Their facial expressions and body language look fine though.

A long awaited rematch between martial arts movie superstars, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. This time, Sammo isn’t just a punching bag.

That all said and done, none of that actually matters much, since most of you watch these movies for the fight scenes, and they do not disappoint. There are bad things you can point out about all of Wilson Yip’s movies, but the fight scenes are never one of them. The ones in this movie are just epic. It cuts a bit more than we’re used to from Donnie, but the action more than makes up for it, from showcasing Wing Chun against several other traditional kung fu styles, to Donnie fighting off a hoard of rival school hooligans armed with choppers using one side of a large shipping crate, to Sammo Hung’s fat man drop kick while lifting himself with one arm in his rematch against Donnie. There’s no shortage of dramatic slowdowns either, giving this movie a very epic feel.

VERDICT: 7.7

Surely, it’s still no match for the exceptional Huo Yuan Jia, and the writing is a bit sloppy (though not nearly as bad as Flashpoint), however, it does the job of keeping the viewer entertained in between the fight scenes, and then blowing them away during. You won’t come away with much, and will probably skip to key conversations and fight scenes on a second viewing, but this is still a must see for anyone who likes martial arts movies.

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Another short review, another generic movie. Fans of the old Freddy Krueger movies will almost invariably hate this re-imagining. What they’ve basically done is taken one of the most unique slasher personalities ever, and turned him into just another angry dead guy. For the newbies of the franchise though, the awesome concept Freddy was based on will make this movie entertaining for you, but ultimately, you’re better off just watching the original.

Basically, the premise is that Freddy can invade kids’ dreams and kill them in their sleep, which kills them in the real world also. There’s going to be a bunch of retarded teenagers (played by middle aged people in this horribly miscast movie), and they get killed off one by one while trying to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. There’s going to be quite a few plotholes, a lot of bland dialogue (delivered in a tired dreary way), and some pretty weak acting, as you would expect from a slasher.

My main gripe with the writing is what they’ve done to Freddy’s personality. The old Freddy was sadistic and wicked, and really enjoyed tormenting his victims and indulging in bad puns and one liners. He was campy, creative, energetic, and rotten to the core, making him probably the second most recognizable slasher icon after H.R. Giger’s alien design (which hasn’t been a slasher after the first movie anyways). This new Freddy is dead and angry, so he seeks revenge. That’s about it. He talks in a slow hypnotic deep gravelly voice like an angry zombie. He’s still not scary, and now he’s not likable or unique either.

What this movie really falls short on, though, is the direction. More accurately, the lack thereof. Almost all of the new scenes are completely uninspired, and to make it worse, reshootings of old scenes are just randomly tossed in without any rhyme or reason. The result is a whole lot of predictable annoying jump scares while characters move and look around really slow. One of the things that made the old one so great was that it’s often hard to tell what’s real and what’s a nightmare. These new guys completely missed the point, and have to make it obvious as day when it’s a nightmare, which eliminates all suspense and tension. Then, as if this movie wasn’t random enough, they just had to throw in random quotes from old Freddy movies which end up feeling totally out of place and…well, thrown in.

In fact, the only thing this movie has over the original is the CG effect when they’re fluctuating between the real world and nightmare world. It’s nothing new in cinema, and quite frankly it doesn’t look that good (Silent Hill did it much better). However, it is something that you won’t see in the old series.

VERDICT: 4/10

Really, it’s just your average modern day slasher flick, albeit, with one of the coolest concepts in slasher history. This nightmare death concept isn’t gonna be new to us old schoolers, but for the new generation, it will intrigue them somewhat. Ultimately though, this re-imagining is pointless, as the main attraction of this series has always been Freddy’s personality, and they’ve utterly neutered it. It’s like a Joker who isn’t insane and doesn’t ever tell a joke. They’ve completely missed the point.

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This one is gonna be short since there really isn’t much to say. Case 39 is a horror movie about Emily, a social worker who saves a little girl named Lilith from abusive parents. You can probably guess the entire plot right now, especially with a name like Lilith. Yep, it’s another one of those movies.

The acting is generally plausible, though not very powerful. Character developement, dialogue, and screenplay are mediocre. It uses copious amounts of jump scares and some occassional disturbing imagery. There’s also no shortage of the heroine moving slow as hell while the bad guy can just teleport in and out at will.

Jodelle Ferland. The only reason to watch this movie unless you’ve never seen ANY of those little girl horror movies over the years.

The only thing to set it apart from being another generic evil little girl movie is Jodelle Ferland’s exceptional performance as Lilith. Best known for playing the little girl in the Silent Hill movie, where she was great at it anyways, it seems she’s grown into the role further, because her performance was easily some of the best child acting I have ever seen in my life. Unlike that loser from Sixth Sense, or that other loser from The Ring (who acts just like the loser from Sixth Sense), Jodelle displays an incredible range and strong affect, instead of just coming off as having autism. You can sense her fear when she’s frightened. You genuinely feel for her when she’s being sad and hurt. She is absolutely adorable when she’s happy. And of course, she’s disturbing as hell when she’s being evil. Her performance in this movie almost deserves to be mentioned in the same vein as performances by people like Tom Hanks, John Cusack, and Morgan Freeman. It’s that good. An easy 10 for her acting from me.

Sadly, it’s the only thing that’s really worth watching in this movie, albeit it’s essentially a must-see for anyone interested in good acting.

VERDICT: 5.7/10

Watching this movie has made me a big fan of Jodelle Ferland, but other than that, there’s nothing to set it apart from every other movie that follows roughly the same plot. My suggestion? Orphan, The Ring, One Missed Call (J), Dark Water, Silent Hill, Shutter, take your pick. Watch one of those instead if you haven’t already. Case 39 is better than The Grudge and Ju-On series, but not much else.

Still, thanks to Jodelle’s efforts alone, this movie will probably be enjoyable anyways. You just won’t come away with much. Whether that’s worth spending 2 hours is up to you to decide.

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At this time I would like to clarify that I am not a pedophile, at all. Jodelle is just that awesome in this. Right, I think I should shut up now. =/

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