Tag Archive: Adventure

Movie Review: Machete

R (for strong graphic violence, language and nudity), 20th  Century Fox, 105 minutes.

Written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Segal, Jennifer Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and Robert De Niro.

Machete is an expansion of the fake trailer that was shown in the Grind House movies (Death Proof and Planet Terror) from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in 2007.

Machete continues the B movie and exploitation style from Grind House and boy oh boy, does Rodriguez have fun with it!

If there’s a lady out there that enjoys this movie then my hat is off to you. This is definitely an over the top macho movie primarily for a male audience that is much like the recently released Expendables–yet far more ridiculous and fun.

Danny Trejo stars in his first lead role as the title character which he also played in the Spy Kids franchise also directed by Rodriguez. Trejo has actually had roles in almost every film directed by Robert Rodriguez and he is perfectly cast here. He gives a silent yet deadly performance as Machete an ex-Federale who’s family was murdered by the Drug Lord Torrez, (played by Steven Segal who still knows how to wield a sword).

The film exploits extreme bloody violence and beautiful naked women with so much style, that you just have to be entertained and at the same time it even manages to give a political message about illegal immigrants coming into Amercia, which actually gets you thinking.

The basic plot here involves Machete being hired by a ruthless businessman called Michael Booth, (Jeff Fahey who is just as good here as he was in Planet Terror) to assassinate Senator John Mclaughlin, (Robert De Niro who just has fun with his role) a man with a major grudge against illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. Machete soon finds he has been set up and gets caught up with Santana Rivera (Jessica Alba) a beautiful Immigrations Officer who is torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right and Luz, (Michelle Rodriguez) a taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and revolutionary heart.  Don Johnson shows up as Von Jackson a twisted border vigilante leading a small army but makes little use of his role.

Lindsay Lohan is actually fun to watch here in her supporting role as a socialite who becomes a Nun and has a penchant for guns.

I will not deny that Machete  is completely absurd. Yes, for the most part it is, but that is what makes it so wildly entertaining in the first place. Or at least, it was for me. I say: ladies stay away, (unless you like this sort of thing) and Men: flock in and crack open a beer.  3/5 stars


PG-13, Universal Pictures, 112 mins.

Directed by Edgar Wright. Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman.

Scott Pilgrim VS the world is an over the top, super cheese puff ball of a movie that plays like a computer game throughout the entire film. In fact only computer geeks will truly appreciate all the game references and I guess that makes me one of them.

I’m actually saying this as a compliment. The movie is dazzling and original and there is even some wit beneath all the corn.

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim a 22 year old geek that plays bass with his band “Sex Bob-Omb” and still manages to be a kind of babe magnet. While I actually like Michael Cera, I do feel his characters are becoming stereotyped. That said, he does a good enough job that you are still rooting for him.

The movie takes off when Scott meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is literally the women of his dreams. In order to win Ramona over, Scott discovers that he must battle and defeat her seven evil exes who are out to kill him.  As ridiculous as they are, the fight sequences done to a computer game theme are actually very entertaining. References to Super Mario Bro’s, Pac-Man, Street Fighter etc are just plain fun.  Chris Evans gives an amusing appearance as Lucas Lee the 2nd evil ex as does Brandon Routh (yes that is Superman), as Todd Ingram the 3rd evil ex.  Jason Schwartzman plays Gideon the 7th evil ex and mastermind of the battle of the exes.

Other notable appearances are from Anna Kendrick who plays Scotts younger sister Stacey Pilgrim and Kieran Culkin in a stand out role as Scotts gay room-mate Wallace. It’s nice seeing the Culkin family represent! Where are those guys?!

Scott Pilgrim VS the world moves at the speed of texting so it keeps you entertained throughout. I had honestly not planned on seeing it as the preview looked too corny, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a film that does not take itself seriously at all and that is its winning formula. Great fun. 4/5 stars

Okay, so I kinda cheated on this one, but it was the only way I could actually complete this list!  Below is just raw unadulterated action and adventure–all within the realms of reality. I have done another category titled “Science Fiction/Fantasy” and that list  includes other  films that will definitely be considered as “action” also.

Phew! Okay, here goes nothing:

1. Die Hard (1988)

2. Bad Boys (1995)

3. Kick-Ass (2010)

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

5. Point Break (1991)

6. Top Gun (1986)

7. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

8. Face/Off (1997)

9. Braveheart  (1995)

10. Gladiator (2000)

11. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

12. The Karate Kid (1984)

13. The Goonies (1984)

14. Speed (1994)

15. 300 (2007)

16. Lethal Weapon (1987)

17. Tombstone (1993)

18. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

19. Leon (1994)

20. Desperado (1995)

21. Enter the Dragon (1973)

22. Wanted (2008)

23. Heat (1995)

24. Mission Impossible: 2 (2001)

25. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

PG-13, 148 minutes

Warner Bros. Director: Christopher Nolan, Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.

Inception is a mind bending roller-coaster of a movie that reminded me of the groundbreaking special effects and originality of The Matrix when it was first released in 1999. I won’t say that this is a better film but I will say that is a far more complex and intelligent one for sure.

A review after just one viewing of this film probably does not do it justice as this is a film that deserves to be watched over and over. What is clear is this: Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb a thief-for-hire who has the ability to enter peoples minds and extract information from them while they are sleeping.  The opening sequence gives us a taste of this form of dream invasion and is a thrilling spectacle, yet it is just the tip of the iceberg for what is about to come.

Cobb is hired by a japanese businessman called Saito (Ken Watanabe) to break up a rivals business empire through the use of “inception”,  a very dangerous method of implanting an idea in the mind of another rather than just stealing it. Cobb just wants to go home to his kids but he agrees to do this as his last job, so he forms a dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) his regular “Point Man”,  Ariadne (a fantastic Ellen Page) the “Architect” who can design the world within the dream and Eedie (a stand out Tom Hardy), the “Forger” who has the ability to morph into other peoples identities in the dream world. Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, also a stand out here) , the son of the ailing energy tycoon that Saito is in conflict with.

What ensues is a breathtaking spectacle of special effects, mystery, suspense and non-stop action as they go deeper and deeper into one another’s subconscious. We see Ariadne folding a city onto itself just because she can. There’s also a fight sequence in mid air, involving Arthur and an attacker which is a direct shout out to The Matrix.

Inception can get a little hard to follow at times, but this only makes it more captivating to watch every scene as the film unfolds. To add even more complexity to the storyline, Cobb has a secret of his own concerning his beautiful and haunting wife (a chilling Marion Cotillard), who keeps showing up in his own subconscious mind while he is on the job and attempting to sabotage him. The reason why is just all part of the mystery.

Dicaprio delivers another solid performance here and is backed up by a terrific supporting cast. Michael Caine also has a small role as Cobbs father in law, but is under-used.

However, the real genius behind Inception is Christopher Nolan, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing it. His breakthrough film, “Memento” was a head turning mystery which looks pale in comparison to the rich texture and complexity of Inception. This is a movie about the layering of dreams within dreams where you never really know what is reality and what is not and that is exactly where the film leaves you. In my opinion, this is the best movie of the year so far, hands down.  5/5 stars

Best in Television: LOST!

Season 1-6, 121 episodes, September 22 2004–May 23 2010

ABC Studios, Bad Robot Productions

Created by J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse.  Directed by John Bender and many others.

Cast:  Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, Henry Ian Cusack, Emile De Ravin, Michael Emerson, Jorge Garcia, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Jeremy Davis.

Music: Michael Ciacchino

Yes, I am a huge fan of Lost, or a “Lostie” as people like to call it. To try and describe a show like this is actually a tough job. It really is. For other “Losties” out there, I know they understand. This is a show that transports you into a whole different world and gets you so involved with the characters and what is going on, you literally feel like you are there with them.

This is a show that is part drama, part mystery, part adventure, part fantasy and part Science Fiction. It involves so many different characters and so many different plot threads, you truly do get LOST. That is the fun of it. You’re always wondering what the heck is going on. But you care enough to stick with it through to the end.

That’s what  I did. For all Six Seasons of this remarkable television show. When it started in Sept 2004 it was an immediate success both with viewers and critics. Almost 16 million viewers tuned in to watch the first season and although viewership did decrease over the years, there were still 11 million viewers by Season 6’s finale.  LOST! was consistently hailed by US Critics to be one of the top 5 TV shows of the year over the duration that it was on the air. The show has won numerous awards including an Emmy Award for Best Outstanding Drama Series in 2005 and a Golden Globe for the same title in 2006.

Lost was filmed in its entirety in the beautiful backdrop of Oahu, Hawaii.

So, to describe the show itself?

Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles crashes on an unknown island. The survivors all gather together and wait for rescue, but it soon becomes apparent that nobody is coming. There are so many central characters with their own story lines that it would take too much to write it here, but I will cover the most important ones. Jack Shephard is a doctor with a penchant for “fixing things” and  is the hero of the show. The first episode begins with Jack opening his eyes on the island where they crashed. Kate (Evangeline Lilly) is a fugitive who was being transported to prison when the plane crashed. Sawyer (Josh Holloway) is a con-artist with a secret of his own, who throughout the show becomes a very popular character. There is a love triangle involving these central characters that goes back and forth for the duration of the show.

Then there is John Locke (Terry O Quinn) a man who was in a wheelchair before he arrived on the island, but now can walk. Due to this he believes fate brought them to the island and that they are there for a reason. Hurley (Jorge Garcia) is the overweight lovable dude who brings most of the comic relief to the show. He also won 21 million dollars using numbers that appear on a hatch that they find in season 1 and which appear throughout the rest of the show as a central mystery. There’s Claire (Emile De Raven) the pregnant teenager who falls in love with Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) the former rockstar and heroin junkie. Sayid, (Naveen Andrews) the bad-ass who used to be in the Iraqi Military and Sun (Daniel Day Kim) and Jin (Yunjin Kim) an estranged couple who find love again on the island.

With the very first episode you are hooked in with the characters and the mystery surrounding the island. The plane was ripped apart but somehow they survived. There appears to be some sort of “monster” on the island. A polar bear attacks them — on a tropical island. They discover a recording by a french lady which has been playing on a loop for 16 years. As Charlie says, you wonder: “Where are they”?

The story of the show is told in several different ways. There is the continuing story line on the island itself and all the mysteries that unfold while they are there. Then there are flashbacks which tell you the story of each character before they got to the island. By the end of Season 3, that all changes and an entirely different direction is taken in the shows storyline. I’m not going to spoil that one for you. Watch it and find out for yourself.

While the survivors are on the island they become threatened by the mysterious “Others”, a group of apparent natives who already inhabit the island.  Notable characters from the Others are Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) who is pitch perfect as the deliciously sly leader and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), a fertility doctor who is on the island reluctantly and gets involved with both Jack and Sawyer.  There is also a man called Desmond (Henry Ian Cusack), who has been living in the hatch for 4 years, typing in numbers so as to “save the world”.

As the show propelled toward its finale I will proudly admit that I was completely obsessed. I had watched all previous seasons 3 times through to try and dissect and decipher all the various mythology and mysteries that the show had to offer.  Now there may have been some disappointment from fans that not all of the mysteries were solved. Yes, this may be true. However, all of the relevant ones were tied up and more importantly is that the show went back to the characters themselves. What resulted was the single most powerful and moving finale for a television series that I have ever watched.  I Don’t think the creators could have done a better job of wrapping everything up.

A true phenomenon was created with LOST! in 2004. Watch this series from beginning to end and you will know why.

LOST! The full collection will be released on DVD August 24 2010. 5/5 stars.

PG-13, Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning.

When the first Twilight movie came out, I had no idea what to expect. I had not read any of the books and did not know there was already a rabid following of 20 millions fans (majority female).

That said, I walked out of the cinema pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the movie and I ended up watching it another 3 times. I bought all the books and read them before the next movie, New Moon came out.

Twilight is infectious. It pulls you into a whole new world and involves you with characters you start to really care about. Some people may say its lame, but I understand all the commotion over “team Edward” and “team Jacob”.  The author, Stephanie Meyer is to thank for creating a world where Vampires and Werewolves really do exist.  In the footsteps of Star Trek and Harry Potter, we have another truly global phenomenon.

Eclipse starts off where New Moon ended. Bella (Kristin Stewart) is reunited with Edward (Robert Pattinson) much to Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) disdain. Edward is trying to convince Bella to marry him and in turn she wants him to turn her into a vampire.

Meanwhile, Victoria is still out for revenge and has been building an army of new born vampires in Seattle, which she intends to bring to Forks to destroy Bella and the Cullens. When Jacob finds out that Bella is in danger, he agrees to protect her. The werewolves and Vampires unite to engage in a climatic battle against the new born army and Victoria.

The soundtrack to the film is a highlight as it has been for both previous films and the action sequences are shot with awesome camera angles and slow motion effects to build the suspense. There is also a cool sequence where Jaspar is training the Cullens on how to kill the new borns.

You get a bit of history behind Jaspar and Rosalie in this movie, which had not been explained before. There is also more history behind the wolf tribe of which real Twi-hards will appreciate.

The only thing that I found annoying (as I did in the book too) was the back and forth love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. Bella who is meant to be the heroine of the series, becomes more and more obnoxious in this one and unfortunately Kristin Stewart plays it just a little bit too well in the film.

Dakota Fanning is deliciously evil in her small role as Jane a member of the Volturi and I wished that there had been more written into her character.

We are now ready for the adaption of the last book Breaking Dawn which is being released in two parts.

If you’re one of those people who is just not “into” Twilight, I would recommend that you give it a shot. Its pure escapist entertainment and the whole reason that movies exist in the first place.  Why miss out on all the fun? Especially since your lady is likely to be a fanatic anyways. 4/5 stars.

PG-13  Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Paul Dano,  Peter Sarsgaard.

First of all, I have to say that I have been a huge fan of Tom Cruise since his first performance in TAPS. Yes, he has done some great action films (notably the Mission: Impossible franchise) but for me, where he really shines is when he takes on a more meatier role. Magnolia, Rain Man and Jerry Maguire are films where he just got to act his pants off and I think we need to see more of that again.

So with that said, there is nothing wrong with Knight and Day, but in my opinion it is also nothing that we have not seen before.

Tom Cruise plays a special agent who has gone rogue and who may also have a few screws loose. He “accidentally” bumps into Cameron Diaz at the airport, who plays a ditzy hot blonde on the way to her sisters wedding.

While on the plane they both engage in flirtatious banter and then before you know it Cruise is shooting up everyone on board while Diaz is fixing herself up in the bathroom. From here the movie pretty much continues a fast pace with Cruise and Diaz on the run from agents and arms dealers who are trying to get ahold of a nuclear device that Cruise has in safe keeping.

Paul Dano has a small supporting role which he does well as the young scientist (who developed the nuclear device) being protected by Cruise. Peter Sarsgaard plays a secret agent that used to be Cruise’s partner and is now trying to bring him in.

The film has a number of spectacular action sequences, the highlight being a motorcycle chase through the streets of Spain also involving a herd of Bulls. The film is also nicely shot with interesting camera angles from James Mangold (who directed Walk The Line) that caught my attention.

The chemistry between Cruise and Diaz is a winning factor and there is plenty of amusing dialogue between them.

As I said, the film is entertaining enough and a nice date movie. But I doubt it will stay with you for long.  I personally am longing for the film where Tom Cruise will finally win the Oscar that he has deserved for a long time.  2 /5 stars

PG-13 Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharpo Copley, Jessica Beil.

This is a remake of the hit TV show from the 1980s about a group of 4 american soldiers who are set up and wrongly charged for a crime that they did not commit. They escape from prison and form themselves into the “A team” for hire to solve any problem, at a price.

There is not really much of a plot to the film, the real fun is in the characters themselves and the outrageous action sequences which are almost non-stop.

Our heroes fight their way out of all kinds of scenarios while attempting to clear their name.  During the course of this, there are helicopter chases, a scene involving an army tank falling through the sky and plenty of large explosions.  You can almost see how much fun the director (Joe Carnahan who also directed Narc and Smoking Aces) is having behind the camera.

However, what really makes this a winner is the characters. Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as the rogue leader Hannibal. Bradley Cooper has all the cocky charm needed to take on Faceman. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is certainly no Mr T, but he still plays a convincing BA Baracus. The real scene stealer here is Sharpo Copley as Murdoch, (who was brilliant in his debut as an actor in District 9).  He plays his role with such gleeful abandon that you cannot help but laugh. There is a particular sequence involving Murdoch and blue paint that was comic genius. I wish there had been more scenes like that.

Jessical Beil does not do much in a supporting role as the love interest of Faceman, but still remains a sight for sore eyes on screen. Patrick Wilson is also effective as a crafty CIA agent who help break the A team out of prison and has a pivotal role in the films plot.

I don’t know if we’ll see a sequel coming, but this is pure popcorn entertainment and the reason we go out to the movies in the first place. The movie does not take itself seriously at all and thats the exact reason I had so much fun with it.  3/5 stars