Tag Archives: Rotten Tomatoes

The Raid: Redemption. Action, Done Right.

And now we come to what has become one of my favorite movies of all time. The Raid Redemption is one of the most cohesive, brutal, action driven films I have seen since I first watched The Protector with Tony Jaa. And what makes it better is that a lot of people actually like it. For once, Rotten Tomatoes is right in giving it a 83% fresh rating. This movie is fresh as hell.

What should I start with in talking about this martial arts movie to the extreme? Well, its

Get your shoot on.

basis comes from some of the best. In an interview, I remember Gareth Evans saying he was inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and earlier films of the time. But when you see this, you know it shoots right into the vein of Muay Thai, no holds barred, stunt fighting with punches hardly pulled. People are getting worked in this movie (on and off camera). And when you introduce guns into the mix, you know things are going to get even more brutal.

And there’s a plot here as well! No running after elephants and single minded goals to be had here. There’s a raid, some character development, and then a twist. Everything you need in a movie like

Br00tal.

this. Basically, Iko Uwais, now one of my top 5 favorite martial artists of all time, plays Rama, a passionate SWAT team member with a wife and a baby on the way. His team leader, Jaka (Joe Taslim) is determined to do the mission with no losses and everything in order and justified. But with the sounding of the alarm, a 30 floor slum building crawling with hundreds of crime gangs, everything is going to go off.

Other than the adequate acting in this film, I was really impressed that some martial artists I hadn’t see before showed up in this one. Joe Taslim was quite the throw artist with his specialty in Judo. His fight with Mad Dog was literally redonkulous. And then there’s Mad Dog himself, played by Yayan Ruhian. That little greasy haired monkey absolutely destroys half of the people in this movie, and doesn’t even stop when he gets a light bulb shaft shoved in his neck. Unbelievably badass. Throw in the expertise of Iko Uwais and his Silat, and you have the best 101 minutes of my life.

What I was surprised about in this movie was how much weaponry was used in a classically martial arts movie. Guns,

Mad Dog, unleashed.

assault rifles, knives, police clubs, the environment as well as the weapons available created a more realistic situation than just fists and feet. (Watch out for the Machete Gang though…) People getting thrown into furniture and off of ledges, this movie becomes so brutal everybody is shouting “OH!” while watching it.

Now we come to the soundtrack. For the U.S. and English speaking release (I mean subtitled of course), Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park was recruited to make his own original electronic soundtrack to complement the movie in comparison to the Indonesian release. What is created is what I would consider a throwback to the first two L.P. albums which is far superior to the stuff they’re coming out with now. The drums and bass come in at just the right moments to escalate your emotions and really get your blood pumping. Just like a video game, you have this rising action as you get into unique fight after unique fight. Superb.

30 floors of Hell.

Throw together all these elements and you have a Welsh director in an English speaking country that gets Eastern martial arts cinema. If I could grow up to be like him, I’d do it. The Raid: Redemption just proves that martial arts action films can be explosive, entertaining, and dramatic. 9.8 out of 10.

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The Sitter: The Fat Before the Form

Okay, so by the title you might have noticed I’m gonna focus a lot on Jonah Hill in this review. The movie is basically about him right? But unlike the woefully misinformed Rotten Tomatoes that thinks that “groundbreaking originality” is the only thing that gets a high rating (along with “the reviews” it claims), I actually kinda liked this movie. Who says that sticking to a plot device that works so well with all those other movies

Close dat mouth, tubby.

(Superbad, Knocked Up, any sort of out on the town trouble film with hijinks) is all that bad? Sure it may not be “fresh” (what the hell does fresh have to do with movies anyways?), but it sure made me laugh, the whole point of comedies, remember?

So what clicked so well with me in this movie? This is the first film where Jonah Hill gets to stand alone. No Michael Cera, no Judd Apatow cast, it’s all him. And to see a sidekick comedian like Hill perform wellis a breath of fresh air. I admit it, Superbad was a flop of a film for me, couldn’t get into it. Ever since then, sorely disappointed with Judd Apatow & gang.

Never made Minivans look so ballin’.

(And that’s from someone who considers The 40 Year Old Virgin his favorite comedy, followed closely by any Jim Carrey film.) And why did I find Jonah Hill so funny now instead of all those other times?

He embraced his inner Farley. Plain and simple.

From the first time he gets sprayed in the mouth with perfume, to getting laid out by a black chick, he kept me laughing with never-gets-old slapstick. Something you don’t see in these gross-out, absurdist films these days. He went off the rails a little bit and he looked mighty comfortable in the role he was in. I know now he’s lost weight, but he was going after it as the fat man falling through quite a bit of this movie. And still gets the chick.

So let’s back this bitch up a bit and go back to the plot. Noah (Jonah Hill; I’ve always wanted to call him that for some

Gotta be jive to stay alive (one of my favorite scenes).

reason…) is a couch potato pansy that got kicked out of college. He doesn’t do anything with his life and disappoints everyone around him. He’s capable, he just doesn’t apply himself (sounds like myself…). His dad left his mom and him for a babysitter, and he has always had an attitude since then. But it’s all going to have to change if he’s going to cover this babysitting job his mom needs him to take.

The after lights out night life.

So after meeting all the tikes, Noah gets a call from his “girlfriend” asking him to buy some blow and head on over for some sex, the first time in his life (I think…). Without thinking, Noah heads out in the baller ass mini van and hauls it all over to Craig (Sam Rockwell) in order to get the goods. What happens in the course of that ride is what makes for some pretty sticky situations. Formulaic, they may be, but decently funny all the same.

This is one of those movies that I haven’t seen since Role Models that actually had good child actors. (Ronny will never be beaten though.) Slater is played by Max Records (ironic name, no?), the kid people may remember from Where The Wild Things Are. His panic attack of a character isn’t all that funny, but more of the straight man in the group (oh the

Kaah-Kaah!

puns…). Kevin Hernandez, a kid I’ve never seen before, plays Rodrigo, the bad boy in pajamas and cowboy boots. In some strange manner, he plays the Latino stereotype everyone is afraid of, or something… I wasn’t sure. And rounding out the group was Landry Bender as Blithe, the celebrity-slut in the making. She was adorable, and, like Ronny, said some things kids basically learn from rap music. Sad.

Throw in a hilariously psycho performance from Sam Rockwell and you have a well rounded out cast. All you gotta do is add the mass amounts of African American kids that Noah went to school with and you paint a picture of an unnamed town with a nice suburban feel and

Taking him back to El Salvador, eh Jonah?

a threateningly urban vibe. Because what film would there be if Noah didn’t run into some major problems with the homies? Oh, and a bat mitzfah (did I get that right? That’s the female one… right?).

So with all the language and kids there to hear it, Jonah Hill brings this movie above decent for me to a pretty damn funny level. All the parts I saw in the trailer made me laugh just as much in the movie, and there were some great surprisingly funny scenes thrown in there as well. If you like Jonah Hill or just a decent film to laugh at, this movie should probably be on your short list of recent films to catch. I enjoyed the 90 minute semi-gut buster, and maybe you will too. 7.5 out of 10.

 


Queen of the Damned

Now I’m gonna take the leap here and suggest (as it probably has been, being a film out for 10 years now) that Anne Rice didn’t understand where this film was coming from or going. A little later, I’ll explain why. But it is sad for me to see that Rotten Tomatoes (or any other reviewer) thought that this film was so poor. I have reasons for liking it, but there’s truly really only one. But plot first.

In a modern day world with the rise of Nu Metal in the early 2000’s, Lestat the Vampire (Stuart Townsend) rises to a new sound he had never heard before. A sound that rises him from the grave. Upon encountering the goth band making all the racket, Lestat

Townsend as Lestat. Anyone see Dorian Gray?

reveals himself to be a centuries old vampire comes to make all their wishes come true. Now he just broke the unspoken agreement all vampires tailor themselves to. Don’t talk about being a vampire, or that vampires exist. But he is doing this for a reason.

To break the monotony. His silken and brooding voice (sung by none other than Jonathan Davis of Korn) charms all the goths in the entire world, a la Deathklok from Adult Swim. Pronouncing proudly that he is a vampire, Lestat hopes that other vampires will come out of hiding, even if it is only to get him. He has the world on a string, and he’s shaking it to find out where they’re hiding.

The beautifully frightening Aaliyah.

Meanwhile, at the London paranormal research building, Talamasca…

Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) is a young researcher, looking into whether or not Lestat is actually a vampire. Analyzing his lyrics, she feels she’s stumbled onto something real. With a colleague of hers confirming that it’s true, David Talbot (Paul McGann, you Dr. Who fans out there may know him as the 8th Doctor… personally, I don’t care.) hands her a diary of Lestat’s pasts and beginnings. When the two intertwine, a evil, ancient presence arises, leading to a new world order. Unless it can be stopped. I’m talking about Aaliyah as Akasha, the vampire Queen of Egypt. Word.

So you have your wondefully sexy and fierce R&B singer that I said I loved from Romeo Must Die. She takes on this role with as much grace before her tragic end (this film is dedicated to her). You have Stuart Townsend, the man who was almost destined to play Aragorn before Peter Jackson up and said he didn’t want him. You may ask, where have I seen Townsend before in a similar film? Look no further than the suave Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary

Some pimpin’ old vampires.

Gentlemen. Badass. He was a great addition to the film and really had the whole “Metal Sex God in Leather Pants” look going on. And Jonathan Davis backing him up on vocals. He’s Irish too, so you can’t hate. Marguerite Moreau was beautiful as ever in the film, giving Lestat a reason to fight for humans. And can I say again that Jonathan Davis makes a cameo in the film? Look out for him.

The Moreau factor.

And this is where I come to why I liked the film. Nu Metal. The early 2000’s framed my pathway into teenagery. That means I was frustrated and awkward. And what better music to listen to than Deftones, Static-X (my favorite bands), Disturbed, and the almighty Korn? Nothing in the world soothes my soul more than death metal. And you get all new hauntingly original songs from Korn? This movie is a package deal. It could’ve almost worked out as a rock opera. I’d be down.

And this is also the point where Anne Rice doesn’t get it. Goths/metal have forever been linked with vampires. It’s a fact now at this point. And a woman who was 58 at the time of this movie should’ve keeled over dead at the use of music in this film. New age music that’s not from my early years? Noooooooo! Understandable response. The movie is nothing she’s seen because it’s meant for the goth scene. The punk and metal scene. Because that strain of music has adopted the vampire image and feel. And, in that way, this movie works for me as a metal fan.

Jonathan Davis on his throne of Korns.

There are those out there who think that Korn is a hack band. They’re original, true, that can’t be denied. But, for some people, they’re washed up, or not hard enough for a lot of hardcore metal fans. They’re like Limp Biskit (I don’t even care to look up his name…) But that’s all wrong. And they hate old Limpy boy. Korn has been around since 1993. It is now 2012. They are infusing techno methods now, into their music. They were ahead of the curve when it came to electronic music back in the day, before all this started. They’re metal, they’re rap metal, they’re nu metal. They. Are. Korn. They can do whatever the shit they want. They are the original when it comes to everything. They are groovy and they are hard. And they hate the world. What could be better?

Now that you know my secret obsession with Korn, you know why this movie works for me. But it’s just my opinion. The acting was fine (I thought Stuart Townsend really stood out), and I pooped myself the second I heard him sing and I knew it was Jonathan Davis. It just

Can’t get enough of the sexy darkness.

clicked with me. It doesn’t have to with you. That’s why I specially recommend this to fans of Nu Metal and all things dark. For those of the 90’s and 2000’s who want to relive a bit of angst. And maybe suck some blood. 7.1 out of 10.


Bunraku: Paper Punishing Dolls

Suck it, R.T...

Alright, first off, death to Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not really sure where this website gets off giving this film 16% (why the hell a percent?) “approval” rating or however they go about rating all films. I’m just assuming at this point that they shit all over action films and take no account of the true purpose of an action film. Action. That’s what the damn genre is called and that’s what I expect. So this critique websites that don’t really go too hard into giving the least bit of credit where credit is due, need to re-evaluate what’s going on. Maybe I should rename my blog “Reviews from the Silver Lining,” cause there’s rarely a film I can’t take something away from and appreciate it for that fact. Even if it’s horrible, there are a lot of people whose blood, sweat, and tears went into that film. And they deserve at least a worthwhile evaluation of, I would suppose, a life’s pursuit. Come off it.

And I found a damn lot right with this movie. The title of the film coming from the Japanese art of paper doll plays, this movie created a landscape in which the actions and scenarios displayed on film could be believed. From one

The Drifter (Hartnett) and Yoshi (Gackt). A dynamic duo.

direction of town comes The Drifter (Josh Hartnett). The other, a Samurai named Yoshi (not Nintendo related) without a sword or honor. In a world without guns, an all out brawler and sword expert come together to absolutely Tech Deck wreck a bunch of foolish thugs.

And why do they come to this town? They come to kill the Woodcutter, Nicola (Ron Pearlman). With a debt to repay and a talisman to recover, these two must join forces in order to conquer the evil

Word Ron Pearlman. Choke a Demi.

that has taken of the East. Without a specific location, this movie took on a whole new post-apocalyptic world in which, finally, sissy-ass guns have been laid to rest. The only movies I ever want to see guns in are The Matrix and Equilibrium. Enough said. Upon this landscape of raised paper houses, anything and all can happen when you can swing like a prizefighter and run house like Kurosawa.

For a half arthouse, half action packed punch, this movie brings out the action side with a lot of action stars. From Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, and

I gotta say Hartnett worked shit in this one.

Lucky Number Slevin comes Josh Hartnett. His no talk, just rape (in whatever sick and twisted good way you can talk about utter destruction) this guy lays waste to those who would doubt him. Next up, and most notably, is Gackt, Japanese singing sensation and all around beautiful face. Among other talents, Gackt can speak English far more fluently and clearly than say, Ken Wantanabe in Inception (what happened between Last Samurai and that?). His sword skills are a bit jumpy at parts, but who wouldn’t expect that from a pretty boy singing prodigy? He is in his late 30’s…

Kevin McKidd as Assassin #2. What a character.

Throw in Ron Pearlman, face of Hellboy and a handful of other well known action films. There could have never been another soul alive who could have played Hellboy half as well as he did. And he wasn’t the worst at Nicola either. Give another little toss to Woody Harrelson of Natural Born Killers and more recently Zombieland. Not a big fan, but he did his part as The Bartender. He just never really stands out to me… Demi Moore for the old woman looks, and here’s the surprise. Kevin McKidd. This Scottish bastard had a cocky, yet strange way about him in this film that I found almost endearing. In quite a few period pieces and my favorite, Hannibal Rising, this is the first movie I think… (other than Trainspotting) that I knew this guy was from Scotland. A little bravo your way, McKidd.

Lovin' that background layout right there.

So we got the cast, the setting, and the situation. It’s all coming together. And what ties it up in a neat little bow? It for sure wasn’t the 2 hours this movie was allotted. It felt more like 3… It was the special effects. provided by Snoot FX, the locations and shooting styles felt action-y (?) and the fluidity of the fight scenes and the transitions (especially Hartnett’s fight scene in breaking out Yoshi from prison) was just top notch. It just gave such an interesting and non-retarded Sin City feel to it that I was hooked.

As Dennis Harvey of Varietysaid of the film about its fake flower feel, all color and no substance/life, I’d have to say he missed the point of the film. He was definitely batting from the ballpark of critical art film acclaim, when he should have been coming from what the essence of a Samurai/Western would be. Include the feeling of a theatrical Japanese paper doll show, and you have Bunraku. Not something tacky, but a whole new way to tell a story that I truly appreciate. That was its best part. A solid 7.6 out of 10.

Could it get better?


A Serbian Film: Those Serbs are Crazy

I have to say this right at the beginning as a disclaimer. If you are squeamish, if you find sexualized violence to be perverse and disturbing, or if you find horror in the 1st degree to be mortifying, this movie and this review are not for you. A Serbian film is the tale of an ex-porn star, Milos (Srdan Todorovic). A man of stamina and skill, Milos (pronounced Milosh) is down to no money and has a wife and child to feed. So what does this absurd bastard do? He decides to take one last job. A sort of “final bank job” if you will. What he doesn’t know is what comes to destroy him.

When I first heard of this film, my roommate had just come back from England. His roommate there told him about this film and told me to check out the trailer. I can’t post it on here due to graphic content, but I’ll post the tamer version below:

Anyways, this trailer blew my mind. From the look and sound of what it was about, I figured it was real. This is classified as a “snuff film”. That’s not a joke. The scenes depicted in the film are designed to look as real as possible. And throw in the ridiculous amount of pornographic content and you have one of the most messed up films since Hostel. Wait, scratch that. Since… Ever.

Should I even delve into the mind of this film? Should I tell you this contains quite a few of the most absurd fetishes to grace humankind? Let me reiterate this. There is the issue of child rape in this movie. That alone should say this movie is not for the weak. This movie wasn’t even for me. I consider myself a reasonable guy. I feel I can handle some of the images the world has to offer. But I have opened Pandora’s box of horror. And this isn’t all of it. There is an entire following of “snuff films” out there. This is just… one among many.

See?

A big thanks to ScuptingFragments for posting these videos on Youtube, opening me up to an entire genre of films I didn’t realize existed. You can tell, even from the length (and there’s a Part II to this video) that there is an unlimited amount of films out there about gore/torture/snuff. The names are ridiculous, the premises are absurd, but my eyes have been opened.

There are very few things I can show...

A Serbian Film is just the latest in a series of films that have been coming out for quite some time. Also identified as “torture porn”, this film is meant to unsettle the mind… and the stomach. And, you’ll hate me for this, but… It wasn’t as gory/horrifying as I thought it would be. Despite the ridiculousness of Serbia and the ability for a repressed country to finally make this film shocks me. And yet at the same time, there are films out there that would curb the sex and go for the same amount of torture and violence. I feel, with American films, the pornographic aspect is shunned (but what the Hell? Americans love porn and the sexualization of women…) due to the uncomfortable feelings it brings. A sort of taboo, if you will.

And what surprises me the most is that this film wasn’t trashed by reviewers or critics. Harry Knowles of Ain’t it Cool News said, “This is a fantastic, brilliant film – that given time, will eventually outgrow the absurd reactions of people that think it is a far harder film than it actually is. The film is an incredibly great film, where everything feels correct in the context of the film. It is never exploitive.” He even gave this film his Top 10 of 2010. Others said it was a movie with no substance. A film that defies you to find any deeper meaning. The director of the film, Srdan Spasojevic, said, “”As much as we try to deal with our life in this film allegorically, and with the corrupt political authorities that govern it, we are also dealing with today’s Art and Cinema and the corrupt artistic authorities that govern them in a similar manner here. The films that preach and enforce political correctness are the dominant form of cinematic expression today. Nowadays in Eastern Europe you cannot get a film financed unless you have a pathetic and

There are no words to describe the evil of this film.

heartwarming ‘true story’ to tell about some poor lost refugee girls with matchsticks, who ended up as victims of war, famine and/or intolerance. They mostly deal with VICTIMS as heroes, and they use and manipulate them in order to activate the viewer’s empathy. They make a false, romanticized story about that victim and sell it as real life. That is real pornography and manipulation, and also spiritual violence – the cinematic fascism of political correctness.”  Using the medium of realistic, pornographic violence, Spasojevic attempts to break the drabness of the former “Eastern Europe” in a way that will shock the world. I feel he achieved that.

Now I’m not gonna say whether or not I liked this film. It’s a basic plot. The acting, as far as I could tell from the Serbian language, was decent. The scenes are disturbing and I couldn’t comprehend how they made the sex look so real. But I commend them for going there. At the same time that I condemn them for exposing me to a horrid side of a world occupied by terrible human beings. It’s like a car accident you can’t look away from. Now, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 4.9 out of 10. I’m not gonna judge and allow you to find out for yourselves, if you dare. All I’ll say is… Newborn infant porn.