Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Film Review: As The Light Goes Out (2014)

As The Light Goes Out (Review)
China/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...some glaring flaws with the story and storytelling, but I was ultimately entertained."

Hong Kong firefighters fight a vicious fire as it approaches a natural-gas power plant...

As The Light Goes Out starts off a little rough. Immediately, the film tosses you in the middle of a firefight while simultaneously showing the consequences; three friends disobey orders and end up disciplined, only one is promoted. A year later, Yip (Fai?) (Andy On) is captain, Sam (Nicholas Tse) is waiting for his transfer, and Chau (Shawn Yue) is a regular firefighter. As Christmas Day looms, a fire hits a winery near a natural gas pipeline. Sam warns his superiors, they don't listen. The boss of the power plant is warned, he doesn't listen. So, as you'd rightfully guess, the forewarned fire occurs and the firefighters race to fight it. That's about it. The film ends as one would expect, but it was emotionally effective.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Film Review: Animal (2014)

Animal (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...severe lack of ambition gives us a bland and generic experience."

A group of friends enter the woods for a weekend vacation, but find themselves hunted by a vicious creature...

Animal is a very straightforward and cliché creature-feature -- what can you really expect from a film generically titled Animal, anyway? A group of cardboard characters enter the woods, deliver some obnoxious jokes, then stumble upon a horribly mutilated body. The group are hunted by an unidentified creature, which corners them in a cabin in the woods. There, this vacationing group meets up with another trio of survivors. At this point, it kind of follows the same formula: try to escape, someone dies, try to help, someone dies, and so on. It ends like almost every other horror film in existence.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Film Review: Collateral Damage (2002)

Collateral Damage (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...its action is more than enough to warrant a rental or stream."

When his wife and son are killed in a terrorist attack, Los Angeles firefighter Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) hunts down the person responsible...

Collateral Damage is a fairly straightforward plot. The film starts almost immediately with the terrorist attack that kills Brewer's wife and son. In turn, this leaves little time for effective character and relationship development. Then, the film gets into the politics of the search. Since the government won't search for the terrorist responsible, Brewer decides to take it into his own hands. So, he heads to Colombia, where El Lobo – the terrorist responsible – is hiding, and begins his vengeance. The climax isn't half-bad, but the ending was a little cheesy.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Film Review: V/H/S: Viral (2014)

V/H/S: Viral (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...worst of all, this "horror" film is lacking horror!"

An ice cream truck is the center of a police chase. When the ice cream truck miraculously abducts his girlfriend, Kevin chases the truck around town, along with others looking to capture viral videos...

V/H/S: Viral is a horror anthology. The frame story is titled "Vicious Circles," and it follows the ice cream truck. "Dante the Great" follows a magician named Dante, who acquires inexplicable magic powers from a mysterious cloak, and his assistant. "Parallel Monsters" follows Alfonso, who creates an inter-dimensional portal that allows him to interact with a parallel version of himself. Finally, "Bonestorm" follows a group of douchebags skaters as they head to Tijuana to finish their skate video; they are subsequently attacked by a mysterious cult. Unfortunately, the film's ending is as disappointing as the rest of the film.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Film Review: The Silence (2010)

The Silence (Review)
Germany/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...will stay with me long after I finish this review – that's saying something."

In the summer of 1986, a young girl was raped and murdered in a wheat field. 23 years later, the exact crime is committed again...
 
The Silence primarily follows unstable detective David (Sebastian Blomberg) and senior detective Krischan (Burghart Klaußner), who investigated the original case, as they race to track the suspect. In the meantime, the film also follows the family of the victims and the family of a suspect. It's not necessarily a surprising or twisted plot, but it's definitely well-executed. The ending, however, left me questioning the overall competence of the cops. The film takes place in 2009, it shouldn't be that hard to link the pieces – then again, maybe I'm nitpicking.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Film Review: Red Dawn (2012)

Red Dawn (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

When the United States is invaded by North Korea, a group of young people unit to protect their backyard...

Red Dawn primarily follows U.S. Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), his brother Matt (Josh Peck), and a few others after the invasion. Jed trains the young group and they form the Wolverines -- a group fighting the invaders. So, the group miraculously learn how to flawlessly handle their weapons and outsmart a military that somehow invaded mainland U.S. That's about it. The group attack an outpost, escape the invaders' clutches, attack again, and repeat. It makes for a decent blockbuster action film for the first hour, but becomes too repetitive and exhaustive towards the predictable ending.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Film Review: The House At The End Of Time (2013)

The House At The End of Time (Review)
Venezuela/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...works perfectly with its ominous atmosphere, unnerving suspense, and well-timed jump-scares."

In 1981, Dulce (Ruddy Rodríguez) was convicted of killing her husband and is suspected of killing her son, although his body was never found. 30 years later, Dulce is returned to the home on a house arrest program...

The House At The End of Time is a very interesting film. The story is told in non-chronological order, meaning it frequently hops between past and present. In the past, Dulce and her family experience a bizarre haunting amidst a barrage of other family issues -- we know from the beginning that his ends in death, but we don't know why, how, or who. In the present, Dulce experiences a similar haunting, but begins to unravel the mystery, as well. There's quite a bit to unravel, too. This is a story where the less you know, the better, so I'll leave it at that. The ending is clever and effective.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Film Review: The Haunting of Whaley House (2012)

The Haunting of Whaley House (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a film with a lot of boring and uneventful moments."

Penny (Stephanie Greco), a Whaley House tour guide, uses her position to give her friends a private tour of the infamous home...

The Haunting of Whaley House follows Penny and her friends as they tour the house and conduct some amateur ghost hunting. Things go bump in the night, the group make some “bad” decisions (i.e. stupid), and the bodies start piling. I thought the first half of the story was at least tolerable, but the rest felt like it dragged and reached for any idea – no matter how ridiculous or poorly-fitted. The ending was weak, too.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Film Review: Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)

Pinocchio's Revenge (Review)
United States/1996
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It may not be frightening, but I enjoyed it."

Attorney Jennifer Garrick (Rosalind Allen) unwittingly brings home a wooden puppet belonging to a child murderer. Jennifer's daughter, Zoe (Brittany Alyse Smith), grows oddly attached...

Pinocchio's Revenge follows Jennifer and Zoe. Jennifer's most recent client, a child murderer, is put to death. On Zoe's birthday, Jennifer unwittingly brings a Pinocchio puppet home -- the puppet belonged to the child murderer. Zoe, who's already distraught from losing her father, grows attached. Zoe's behavior becomes more aggressive and Jennifer eventually begins to question her daughter's well-being and the puppet's influence. It leads to a well-executed climax and a decent ending -- I liked the pinch of uncertainty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Film Review: Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014)

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Deltamac HK)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

 "...slick, wall-to-wall, edge-of-your-seat battles around every corner. "

While Shishio Makato's (Tatsuya Fujiwara) warship heads towards Tokyo, Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) trains with his old master to learn his final technique...

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends picks up right where Kyoto Inferno ended. It begins with Kenshin's old master conveniently finding Kenshin washed up on a shore. Kenshin begins training with his old master until he learns his final technique, which he'll need to defeat Shishio. Meanwhile, Shishio continues on his path to overthrowing the government. Also, Aoshi, captain of the Watchers, continues his hunt for Kenshin. Although it's a little less full than the previous installment, The Legend Ends leads to an action-packed climax and satisfying ending.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Film Review: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014)

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Deltamac HK)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the definition of exhilarating and epic."

Kenshin Himura (Takeru Satoh) has settled into a life of peace with his newfound friends. Soon, he's called upon by the government to stop a new evil that threatens Japan...

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno continues to follow Kenshin Himura after his important meeting with the government. Makoto Shishio (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a former assassin like Kenshin, was betrayed by the government -- stabbed, lit on fire, and left for dead. Shishio, however, survived the brutal betrayal. Consequently, Shishio plans to overthrow the government and watch the world burn -- particularly, watch Kyoto burn. Reluctant at first, Kenshin eventually agrees to aid in the hunt for Shishio. The film leads to an epic climax and a good ending -- if I didn't have The Legends Ends waiting for me, I probably would've been a little disappointed, though.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Film Review: Triad (2012)

Triad (Review)
China/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...has a lot of ambition, but not enough time or skill to execute it properly."

Three friends join the triads and find themselves rising through the ranks one violent altercation after another...

Triad is a film with a large scope squeezed into a comparably microscopic runtime. The film primarily follows William (William Wai-Ting Chan) when he joins the triads in order to protect his mother from other harassing gang members. He joins the triads with his friends, Derek and Edward, although they hardly have any development or interaction. Anyway, William graduates from college and continues to rise through the ranks. You'll see practically everything here: violent triad fights, cheesy romance, corrupt business, legitimate business, some backstabbing, and so on. The ending was disappointingly cliché and predictable.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Film Review: The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007)

The Deaths of Ian Stone (Review)
United Kingdom/United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Despite the disappointment, this was a refreshing horror film."

Ian Stone (Mike Vogel), a seemingly regular person, suffers from a violent death every day, but keeps waking up in new lives...

The Deaths of Ian Stone is a very interesting horror film. The story takes some time to get started, but it really starts moving after 15 minutes or so. The story follows Ian Stone as he continuously dies and awakens -- each time, he learns something new about the phenomena -- each time, the death becomes more violent and gruesome. It started to lose me again towards the end. The final act (i.e. the explanation) was off to me. The ending was mostly disappointing, at this point, it almost felt less like a horror movie and more like a fantasy movie.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Film Review: Robocop (2014)

Robocop (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...an incredibly inconsistent film with hit-or-miss humor, repetitive action, and ineffective drama."

Detroit policeman Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is injured in an explosion. Raymond Sellers (Michael Keaton), CEO of OmniCorps, and Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) rebuild him as a human in a robot -- Robocop.

Robocop is a remake of a film with the same title. Unfortunately, this Robocop is suffering from an identity crisis. The story follows Murphy when he's rebuilt as Robocop. He initially struggles to cope with the idea, but finds himself stopping crime in no time. After some tinkering from the higher-ups, Murphy starts to struggle with the classic "am I man or machine?" dilemma. Meanwhile, Sellers attempts to repel the Dreyfus Act, which prevents him from placing his crime-stopping robots on American streets. It leads to a humorous but underwhelming ending.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Film Review: A Good Marriage (2014)

A Good Marriage (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...more like a psychological-drama."

After a very lengthy good marriage, Darcy (Joan Allen) uncovers her husband's disturbing secret...

A Good Marriage primarily follows Darcy and her husband, Bob (Anthony LaPaglia). Life is great for Darcy at the moment. Her marriage is wonderful, her children are growing up and succeeding, and so on. One day, while her husband leaves on a trip, Darcy conveniently finds Bob's secret. This shouldn't surprise anyone in the audience: Bob is a serial killer known as Beadie. The rest of the film follows Darcy as the tries to cope with the news and tries to find a way to live a normal life again. It leads to a predictable yet satisfying ending.