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Pacific Rim : Uprising (2018)

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It does not matter who your parents are,
where you came from,
who believed in you
and who didn’t.
We are a family now, and we are earth’s last defense.

What amazed me the most was the fact that I couldn’t remember much of “Pacific Rim“, even though I thought it was an original-looking film years ago. No worries. Little by little everything is explained again in such a way that I partially knew it again. And even though “Pacific Rim” wasn’t high-quality cinema and simply a very expensive monster film with superb looking computer-generated images, the film impressed me at the time. “Pacific Rim” was brainless amusement with a high entertainment value. This sequel is simply a duplicate with other main characters in identical Jaegers. But it’s so irritating and annoying mostly. I was hoping this time the Kaiju’s took control and destroyed planet earth. That way we don’t need to be afraid of a possible sequel in the future.

 

Kids these days.

Since the design and subject are identical to that of the initial film, one could say that it’s thanks to Guillermo Del Toro the first film was kind of a success. But that’s a bit simplistic to state, in my opinion. I rather think there are several factors that ensure that you can’t really call this a successful film. This time the entire Jaeger program shifts from a mature world to that of teenagers. We end up in a cadet school where young people are trained to become Jaeger pilots. A bit like in “Ender’s game” but now it’s not in space. And of course, there’s one of the cadets who can’t stand the newcomer Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) and believes she doesn’t belong there. And who will be the hero in the end? Yep, not hard to guess. Anyway, it all feels a bit like a kindergarten. The Goonies in giant robots who save the world. Haven’t we seen that before?

Let’s focus on the acting first.

Also, the acting wasn’t something to get enthusiastic about. Cailee Spaeny was acceptable with her youthful enthusiasm and rebellious behavior. John Boyega sometimes played the indifferent Jake with reluctance. Scott Eastwood was again suitable for the character Nate. And not only because of that creepy resemblance to his famous father. But the acting by Burn Gorman, Charlie Day and Tian Jing was at times simply bad. Bad enough to make me squirm.

Ups-and-downs in graphics-land.

Only the graphical part remains. Just like the 2013 film, it’s a visual spectacle. And just like the acting, there are also ups-and-downs here. It’s fun to see huge robots and enormous monsters smashing into one another. But to be honest, it’s the same old thing as in the previous movie. And the final battle in a Japanese city close to “Mount Fuji” just looked ugly. It wasn’t as if this clash of the titans took place in between blocks of flats made from cardboard. Just like in those ancient Godzilla films. But it’s a close call. The duel on the ice, on the other hand, looked extremely great. A computer-graphic masterpiece.

The term “Power Rangers” keeps popping up in my mind.

Do you like to watch huge robots and by extraterrestrial created monsters battle each other? Then I guess this film is right up your alley. Have you seen “Pacific Rim” years ago? Then you can safely skip this one because you won’t be seeing something really new here. To be honest, I sometimes had the feeling that I was watching a modern version of the Power Rangers. Only the creatures who emerged from another dimension resembled those that the Power Rangers fought against a long time ago. Ridiculously long time ago.

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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Reviews

REVIEW: Horizon Line

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have shifted the way we watch movies but has kept the month of January intact. STX’s latest, Horizon Line, represents everything, oh, so well-known about “the dumping ground of movies”; it features a paint-by-numbers story with minimal character development, borrowed from infinitely superior pictures. After their pilot (Keith David) dies of a heart attack while on the way to a wedding, passengers Sara (Allison Williams) and Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) must now control the plane, without a GPS, compass and functioning radio frequencies. Sounds familiar? It absolutely is.

Horizon Line Trailer: We Have to Get Off This Plane – /Film

Nothing new and/or exciting is offered in Horizon Line that would justify an early PVOD purchase, save for one visually enthralling action sequence involving the plane flying through a thunderstorm. The use of lightning just poses itself perfectly with the dark menace of the storm, even if the entire sequence is completely unrealistic. Sara flies above the storm, which causes her and Jackson to have altitude sickness. The portion of that sequence is insanely silly, as it reduces a serious, potentially life-threatening condition to a joke. However, without it, the plane wouldn’t have looped in insanity through the storm which causes the best [and only] cathartic release you’ll get while watching the film.

Every action sequence is filled with fake-outs, in which director Mikael Marciman and screenwriters Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken will manipulate the audience into thinking the characters are in imminent mortal danger, but never are. Everything that goes wrong in every action scene…does go wrong, to try making the audience care about the characters, but a last-minute save always happens to keep the characters alive. Because of this, Horizon Line is devoid of any stakes and importance. Characters are put in impractical situations, always protected by a higher power (the screenwriter) with overzealous last-minute saves to keep them alive.

It also doesn’t help that Horizon Line contains poor performances from its leads, due to its mediocre script. The first half-hour of the film is spent on “character development”, yet it only introduces the protagonists’ worst qualities, which never once pays off during the “plane disaster” part of the movie. Sara is too hung-up on her job to move away from the corporate world of downtown London to pursue her passion, while Jackson is too hung-up on his love for Sara. None of what was established in the first act of the film ever gets mentioned while they’re on a plane since they face mortal danger at any moment (but not really). Alexander Dreymon’s native accent slips more than once on the plane, even though he uses an American accent for its opening act and during tense sequences. Allison Williams’ goal during the entirety of the film is to tell Jackson (and the audience) what she’s doing, even though the audience can clearly see what’s going on. Granted, some will argue that in a total state of panic, someone could talk to themselves to alleviate their state, but the use of descriptive dialogue feels like pure description: “I’m going to do ________ and ________” instead of “Ok….what do I do? What can I do?”, which becomes an annoyance instead of compelling dialogue.

If you’re looking for new “content” to watch, that’s an amalgamation of transport disaster films such as Airport meets the framing device of Hany Abu-Assad’s The Mountain Between Us, with sprinkles of Cast Away (+a Jaws/The Shallows fake-out), then maybe Horizon Line is the film for you. If you’re looking for a transport-disaster film that has any sort of value to it, watch Airport (or The Poseidon Adventure) instead. You won’t feel like you’re wasting your time instead.

Horizon Line is now available to rent on premium video-on-demand retailers.

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Action

Outside the Wire | Review

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Outside the Wire is the latest action, sci-fi film from Netflix that’s set in the future and it’s full of robots and plenty of action. You’d think all this makes for an exciting film when in fact it’s the complete opposite.

Outside the Wire takes place in the year 2036 when a drone pilot named Harp, played by Damson Idris (Snowfall) goes against orders in launching a missile attack and as a result, he’s forced to work for an android officer called Leo, played by Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hurt Locker). The two of them are tasked with going into a deadly militarized zone in order to locate a doomsday device before the insurgents do.

It happens all too often now that Netflix come along and release a below average action film but viewers continue to lap them up. It happened with The Old Guard and Project Power to name a few recent examples and it’s beginning to get a little tiresome. Outside the Wire is yet another messy, bloated action film devoid of any life or excitement.

There was definitely potential for something half decent to have come of Outside the Wire but it all just gets lost in trying to be a slick action film. Every other line in this film seemed to be exposition trying to explain something that’s been needlessly over-complicated by all the futuristic things going on. It’s an action film so you might be able to give all the expositional dialogue a pass if the action is alright and entertaining. But even the action feels boring and a chore to sit through. There are just too many action scenes that become far too confusing to follow because of choppy editing and poor CGI.

The opening scene throws you straight in with a fast-paced action scene but when the first few minutes are intercut with text trying to bring you up to speed with what’s going it all becomes too much. Within a few minutes you’re already struggling to keep up with all the information that’s been thrown at you and you’re not really interested in the action either. The sound design was quite good however and that’s one of the few redeeming factors of this film; all of the action scenes sounded really gripping and exhilarating. They just didn’t look it.

As the film goes on it tries to be much cleverer than a film like this needs to be and it results in feeling far too long. The film comes in at five minutes shy of two hours so it isn’t a long film at all and yet by the time the end credits start rolling it feels like an eternity later.

If Netflix slowed down the rate at which they’re churning out all these films they might end up with some good films but that’s not how Netflix work, they’d rather have quantity over quality as the number of people that stream their drivel always seems so high. Perhaps I’m being a little over-critical here as there are some good Netflix action films such as last year’s Extraction which was excellent but it just seems to be so often that you go to check out the latest original action offering on Netflix only to be bored and disappointed two hours later.

Overall, Outside the Wire is a bloated, messy action film, with very few redeeming qualities that will leave you bored and isn’t worth your time.

★★☆☆☆

Outside the Wire is streaming on Netflix from January 15.

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Action

The Doorman | Review

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The Doorman is the latest action film from cult director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, The Midnight Meat Train). It’s the same old classic Die Hard-esque set up, this time with Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2) trying to save her estranged family when villain Jean Reno (Léon: The Professional, Ronin) takes over their apartment building. Rose plays ex-Marine Ali taking a job as a doorman of a high-rise in New York City, now traumatised after an assignment went wrong. She soon has to protect her loved ones and save the day.

It’s the same old tried and tested action film that will inevitable be compared to Die Hard and the many other similar films. The one big thing this had going for it is the fact that it’s female led. Of all the Die Hard rip-offs there doesn’t seem to be a single one with a female lead so it’s very refreshing to see the kick-ass lead action character be a woman for a change. But that’s about all The Doorman really has going for it. There’s nothing else fresh or new to this film and so the female lead is all it has. And even then, that’s not a whole lot.

In terms of acting for the most part it felt very bland and wooden. Ruby Rose just wasn’t a great choice for the lead. Rose is good when it comes to playing a smaller action role without many lines like in John Wick 2, but she just wasn’t strong enough to carry this film and she just really didn’t feel like a good fit for the more character driven scenes. She was good when it came to the action scenes but for the moments in between she just felt really out of place. French acting legend Jean Reno was very clearly there just to pick up his pay check and then get going again; his performance felt very bland and he has definitely done much better in his career. He had potential to really elevate his character to be a very menacing villain like Hans Gruber but he just wasn’t all there and his villain just didn’t feel threatening in the slightest. In fact, he’s even outshone by the secondary villain played by Aksel Hennie who seemed to be the only person in the film giving a good performance, trying to carry as much of the film as he could.

In terms of action, it did a decent job and that’s really the main thing that you’re watching a film like this for. It had some choppy editing and some questionable CGI in places but ultimately if you just sit back and enjoy the action as it comes and for what it is you can definitely have a good time with this flick. There’s plenty of action to keep you going through the whole runtime right from the start up until the very end and it’s enjoyable and you can definitely have a good time with some of the action in this film. If you’re a fan of this type of action film, you’ll be able to find entertainment in it.

The Doorman is a totally passable 93-minute action film that’s entertaining enough but it doesn’t bring anything new to the Die Hard rip-off genre other than a female lead.

★★☆☆☆

The Doorman is available on Digital Download 18 January and DVD 25 January 2021 from Lionsgate UK

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