Tag Archives: Kevin Durand

[Review] – Resident Evil: Retribution

29 Sep

Title: Resident Evil: Retribution
Year: 2012
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Shawn Roberts, Aryana Engineer, Colin Salmon, Johann Urb, Boris Kodjoe, Li Bingbing
MPAA Rating: R, sequences of strong violence throughout
Runtime: 96 min
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Metacritic: 39

This whole week I’ve been all about watching these small indie movies that all played at Sundance this year: The Words, Bachelorette, Hello I Must Be Going, Keep the Lights On and For Ellen. Well, after those small films I decided to go in the total opposite direction to open up the weekend and watch Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment in the popular zombie franchise. Like it or not it really does look like these films are here to stay.

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[Trailer] – Resident Evil: Retribution

14 Jun

Yes, there’s a new Resident Evil film coming our way, the fifth in a franchise with not a single good movie in it. Anyways, after the cut you can watch the first trailer for that fifth installment, Resident Evil: Retribution.

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[Teaser] – Cosmopolis

23 Mar

 

David Cronenberg has been joined by Viggo Mortensen in each of his last three films (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and last year’s great A Dangerous Method). And while all of those films have been pretty damn exceptional, I think we’ve all been wanting for him to go back to his weirder, crazier roots; and by the looks of the just released NSFW teaser which you can watch above, it looks like his next effort, Cosmopolis, might be the one to achieve that.

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Real Steel

3 Nov

Title: Real Steel
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Shawn Levy
Writer: John Gatins, with a story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven
Starring: 
Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, some violence, intense action and brief language
Runtime: 
127 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
59%

 

I was full-on prepared to start kicking Real Steel around and to trash it a bit, the premise was just begging me to do so; this is, after all, a movie about the technological advances of a near future when boxing is now done by robots. A movie with a premise like that would suggest I would most certainly be  degrading it upon reviewing it, and yet I found myself enjoying Real Steel, because it’s just remarkably well-made, and the action sequences really are fantastic to watch and, what’s best, is that there is some actual character development here, not an awful lot because this is still a $110 million-budgeted Hollywood movie, but still, there’s enough of it to make us care for the character and elevate the film from the usual fluff fare like it we usually get. And that’s really how it balanced out, the script is unbelievably corny, but the fight sequences are really well executed, so that balances it out, and when you add the fact that the cast makes the characters and story work you find yourself thinking this is a film you can honestly recommend to people.

The real trouble that I thought was going to do Real Steel in when I first approached it was the fact that it was really aiming to have something for absolutely everyone and become a real crowd-pleaser. That’s really hard to achieve, when instead of going after your core audience you try to get about four or five different ones into getting to see and loving your film, so we got a film that in essence was combining the qualities of films like E.T. and Rocky, as well as the Transformers factor of robots being super popular, and the fact that worldwide audiences know and love Hugh Jackman from his turn as Wolverine and they have devoured the Night at the Museum films made by Shawn Levy. So yeah, this one apparently had a ready-made recipe for success, but I was really surprised that it worked this well, combining the classic story of an underdog, as well as a father-son bonding experience with that of battling robots.

That father I’m talking about is Charlie Kenton, Mr. Jackman’s character, a former fighter himself who never really made it big and now lives as a small-time promoter who has a battered old robot he tours with to make a buck. And you know that it’ll be a classic rags-to-riches story designed to really tug at your heartstrings, and what I thought was really awesome is that the robots just looked plain cool, the design and overall look of them just really added to my reaction to those fights. But, great aesthetic aside, what really made Real Steel work was the fact that it looked real, I mean, you look at the Transformers films with the billion-dollar box-office takes and their explosion-a-minute ratio and they all look like random metal robots just clumsily clashing into each other, rapidly edited to try and make it seem cool. But in Real Steel it actually looks cool, because these fighting robots look awesome and you could tell that a lot of thought was put into the choreography of its fights, with Sugar Ray Leonard acting as an advisor for these bits, and it looks like a real boxing bout and you can actually invest in the action sequences, I really appreciated that.

The fact that the fights look real doesn’t mean that Real Steel is a logical film because there’s still a lot here that isn’t explained and that’s okay, it’s okay because a) This isn’t the kind of film that would do so anyways and you go into it knowing that, and b) It’s okay because at least there’s some heart here, which is what sets it apart from the Transformers movies. And that heart comes in the form of Charlie’s son, Max, who’s one of those smart pre-teens who knows it all and who has a really crappy relationship with his dad who has pretty much ignored him all of his life. And Mr. Jackman is good at playing this kind of mean, uninterested parent to a kid who will be taken care of by Charlie’s sister but that first has to spend a summer with his dad.

So you know what will happen next, Charlie and Max will bond over that summer, as Max is just really good with technology and knows a lot about robots and then one day at a robot junkyard he discovers an old robot who he convinces his dad still has a lot of fighting left in ham. And so father and son work on that robot, named Atom, with Charlie teaching the robot the moves he knew from when he was a boxer. And of course it will all lead to that one climatic final battle with a robot named Zeus, and that fight is actual awesome and you’ll get really sucked into its narrative drive as you would in any fight involving humans, and that’s because it’s just super easy to love Atom, which really made this film stand out from its contemporaries, you actually got to care about the robot here.

And that’s why I will go ahead and really recommend Real Steel to you readers of mine, because it actually has characters and those characters actually matter, their actions actually matter in regard to the plot they’re thrown in, and that’s much more than you can say for your average popcorn-ready blockbuster escapist entertainment. This is one of those cases in which I go see a film with really low expectations and leave it being really pleasantly surprised, and I have a feeling the young moviegoers who decide to check this one out will eat it up, as well as they should, I can only imagine how much I would have adored this film as a ten year-old. And adult moviegoers will be able to enjoy the realistic fights and how well done they are, and the relationship between humans and machines it presents, in which apparently machines have taken the spotlight and now humans are relegated to watch them do all the work as they sit idly by in the sidelines, I guess that’s something to think about this movie leaves you with.

Grade: B

I Am Number Four

7 Apr

Title: I Am Number Four
Year:
2011
Director:
D.J. Caruso
Writers: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon, based on the novel written by Jobie Hughes and James Frey as Pittacus Lore
Starring:
Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, Jake Abel
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action, and for language
Runtime:
109 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
30%

I Am Number Four was heaps better than I expected it would be. I thought it would be a completely senseless science fiction-y teen adventure, because what else can you expect when a film lists Michael Bay as a producer on it? But instead we got a very solid film. I mean, the story is nothing that’s impressively original, and once the year is all said and done with we won’t really be remembering this one, but still, for what it was, I thought it was really solid.

And it was made quite enjoyable, I think, because of the actors in it. Alex Pettyfer takes on the leading role, his second stab at starting a sci-fi franchise aimed at teens after he starred in 2006’s Stormbreaker. And even if this one doesn’t get a greenlight for a sequel, which is certainly not a given by any standards, the guy is likable enough, and seems to now be finally making his mark in Hollywood, having upcoming roles in Beastly (which has already been released but I haven’t seen yet) and the October release Now, which I have high expectations for.

Mr. Pettyfer is cool in the leading role, I mean, I wasn’t impressed by his acting chops or anything, but he has the presence to carry a film of this sort, so at least there’s that. But the rest of the cast is made up of some pretty cool faces, especially those of Dianna Agron and Timothy Olyphant. Ms. Agron is of course best known for her role in Glee, but this, her first big role since breaking out in the series (she had smaller appearances last year in both Burlesque and The Romantics), has her going in a direction I think fits her quite well. As for Mr. Olyphant, he just has a knack for elevating everything he’s in, he’s consistently unbelievable in Justified week after week, and he brings something really cool to the table here, too.

So yes, count me amongst the ones who liked I Am Number Four a fair bit. Yes, even if you take away from it whatever sort of mythology it has, and even the one it does have isn’t that neat to begin with, all you’ll be left with is your typical high schooler movie. But it worked for me because of the actors who I thought did a fine job, and because D.J. Caruso is a very capable director and here, much like he did when he directed Disturbia, he shows he really knows how to build up some really cool atmosphere, and the job he does with the action scenes in I Am Number Four is pretty darn rad.

No matter what people tell you, this isn’t Twilight. Not because the Twilight films are bad, because they have been getting better and better and the last one was pretty good, but because it just isn’t. I mean, it has a lot of the same element, teenage angst prime among them, and the romance and yeah, the comparisons are fair enough, but this one isn’t as pined down on the angst and the romance, as it pays more attention to the action stuff in it, which I found truly amazing.

But in any case, to keep comparing the two, Mr. Pettyfer is the Robert Pattinson of this one, with the British passport and everything, and Ms. Agron is a sweeter version of Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan. And of course there’s the difference that Mr. Pettyfer’s character, John, is not a vampire but rather just a guy from another planet.

Because, you see, he’s a refugee from this other planet. Much like a couple handful of other guys who are all looked after by some sort of guardian, which is the role Mr. Olyphant’s character plays to John. And as refugees they are ever on the run, as they are picked off one by one by those who want them dead. The film opens with Number Three in peril and, as you’ll remember from the title of the film you’re watching, the main guy here is Number Four, so he’s number will be called sooner rather than later.

This is good stuff because a lot happens here, a lot of action and a lot of love, and the pace this one has feels really awesome, and when you consider the screenplay is intelligent considering the sort of film this is, you’ll realize this one’s quite a good film.

Yes, there’s love here, and there’s Teresa Palmer who’s awesome as Number Six and is great at providing a lot of the sexiness you’ll see here, but there are a helluva lot of really nifty action pieces, and they’re noisy as hell, which is no wonder considering who’s the producer, but they’re also really really well done, and shot gorgeously by Guillermo Navarro, who’s work has had our jaws dropping in stuff like the Hellboy franchise and Pan’s Labyrinth, the latter of which won him an Oscar.

I Am Number Four is a film I’ll recommend, even to those convinced it’s just more good-looking young actors jumping on the Twilight bandwagon. Because it’s not. Ms. Agron’s character isn’t as conflicted as Bella Swan, which gives turn to less opportunities for her to shine (though she’s still great) but does give way to a really cool amount of action. The first half is slower and sweeter, but trust me that once you get over that you’ll be rewarded with a tremendous final half that will actually leave you hoping this one gets its sequel.

Grade: B

Robin Hood

17 Jul

Title: Robin Hood
Year: 2010
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland, based on the story by himself, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Durand, Mark Addy, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Max von Sydow
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content
Runtime: 140 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

In press junkets or interviews we heard time and time again that this Robin Hood was completely different from the ones we had seen before, that Russell Crowe had nothing to do with Sean Connery, that Cate Blanchett had nothing to do with Audrey Hepburn, and that, it turns out, was exactly right, this version of Robin Hood is unlike any version we’ve seen before, it’s a prequel, Robin Hood isn’t the folk hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor yet, we just see Robin lead an uprising, forming an army to fight off the French, which, as we were told in the trailers, is what will build his subsequent fame.

This is indeed action-packed, and there’s a helluva lot of CGI action sequences that look great, but I just think we should have seen the story we all know, when instead the movie ends and tells us that that was how the legend began, but seriously, we should get the legend and not the prologue to it, we know the legend, that’s how we fell in love with this character, this telling isn’t bad, it’s just not that great, Mr. Crowe gives it his best but that’s just not great enough, and as for Cate Blanchett who plays Maid Marion, well, firstly let me just state that, to me, Ms. Blanchett is one of the five greatest living actresses, but Marion isn’t a maid in this story, this is all set before that, and as such this is a completely different character, and because of that she’s played differently, and that threw me off, I loved the Maid Marion character from all the past films, this one I liked because it was played by Cate Blanchett, but that’s about it. When this film was still in the speculation stages the many names that were thrown around for this character included Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Kate Winslet among others, Sienna Miller was actually cast at one point I believe, and from that all I can say is that actress-wise we would have always had a great Maid Marion, it’s just that without the “Maid” part of her title, I didn’t feel I knew her.

And there’s nothing bad with introducing characters in new ways, I just didn’t love what they did to them this time around, I mean, it’s extremely well-done, the action is shot really well and the violence is quite cool, we’ve come to expect that from most Scott/Crowe collaborations, but I will say that I would have probably liked the film more had it not been named Robin Hood, sure, naming it that gave them a whole lot of better marketing options, but it also gave the audience expectations, expectations that weren’t necessarily shattered, but rather, I would say, they were avoided, and you can’t do that when you have such a heavy name as your title.

The film is a bit too long, that’s also very true, but I didn’t mind that much, I just liked it that we were given one seriously beautifully photographed film and a very intelligent actor in the lead role, yes, I have my troubles with the film and I have listed them above, but they’re mostly troubles with what this film did to the Robin Hood name, but as a stand-alone outing, this one, for me, worked well, plus, there’s a scene in which Will Scarlett says to Little Jon that he should never go for the most beautiful girl but instead go for the more plain-looking one, he uses the exact same words Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind used when describing his theory to get girls, I thought that was a pretty genius nod to a previous film of this one’s lead actor.

Grade: B

Legion

30 Mar

Title: Legion
Year: 2010
Director: Scott Stewart
Writers: Peter Schink and Scott Stewart
Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton, Jon Tenney, Kevin Durand, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Dennis Quaid
MPAA Rating: R, strong bloody violence and language
Runtime: 100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%

Blegh, what a horrid disappointment Legion was, I remember when I first heard and saw the sneak peek of it, I though I would be in for a thrill ride when I finally got around to seeing it, but instead what I got was a really uneven flick that even though does provide a great cast and does indeed give us some thrills is, for the most part, over-thinking and over-estimating itself, thinking it can try to be smart by confusing its plot, when in the end it just makes it all a mess, and thinking it can be more than it is by filling the film with completely unnecessary dialogue instead of more cool action scenes, and I don’t mean that in the good Tarantinoesque excessive-dialogue way, I mean it in the bad Legionesque excessive-dialogue way.

The film throws in a couple of really cool references to movies it attempts to emulate in one way or another, Terminator, Evil Dead and Aliens were the referenced films I took notice of, though I reckon there are plenty more. The film has that whole apocalyptic vibe, although in this one angels have descended upon us and all hell breaks loose (like the divine pun there?), its us against the angels as we have a group of humans trapped in the diner where the girl who apparently bears that child that will save us all is located.

See? That’s what I mean, this could have been a fucking cool action film with more than a few thrills in the middle of it all, but instead the horrible script made it be a film where more than a few good actors go to waste, even though Bettany is actually quite okay, but then again he always is, and fill this one in with way too much stupid dialogue. Yes, there are some moments that are pretty fun to watch, and it’s not totally bad, but the thing is that it could have been really good, but it thought of itself more than it should have. A real shame.

Grade: C