Drop Down Menu

Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Review Sleeping Dogs (2024): Decent film noir but not for everyone!

genre: crime, mystery, thriller

For a second I thought this was an adaptation of the video game. Thankfully, it wasn't. I don't think it's possible to make a good video game adaptation for the sole reason, you can't translate gameplay to film. Sure story and event wise you can easily but the gameplay? There are so many OK games with average stories but with stellar gameplay. Some games don't even have stories. How to capture the emotions and thrills you experience during gameplay and then transfer those to a medium where you sit passively. You can't. So why even bother? Anyway, Sleeping Dogs is a different beast.

In large part, the thriller does a good job of making you wonder about events and how it's going to turn out. Unfortunately, me being a veteran film lover, I was able to deduce and predict most of what was happening, although to be fair, they did a good job with the red herrings, so kudos for the wonderful misdirection. It does keep you interested. Although, at a certain point, you can see where it leads, yet I had hoped some twist would put this upside down. Alas, this is not the case. The conclusion to the mystery is very anti-climatic and a bit underwhelming. The only reason you don't fully experience disappointment is because of good acting on the part of Russel Crowe and Tommy Flanagan.

The acting on the part of the other actors is questionable. Karen Gillan and Marton Csokas played their roles like they were characters in a parody of crime thrillers. Gillan's accent at times was very confusing and weird. If I had to guess, she was trying to mimic the femme fatales in film noirs like The Maltese Falcon or similar films. Let's just say she failed miserably on this front. Csokas, was overacting like a moron. I kind of got the idea behind it. He is supposed to be the key figure into solving the mystery, but instead of overplaying this, you should be subtle. He was the exact opposite.

I didn't mind it much, but I can understand that people won't like how long it takes for this film to get to the point. There isn't that much of a mystery, still you will have to endure some parts that obviously are put in place to put you on the wrong foot. This in combination with the anti-climatic ending will definitely make people dislike this film. I liked it, but can't help but feel it could have been far better.

Read more »

Review Forbidden World a.k.a. Mutant (1982): Decent Alien clone!

genre: science fiction, thriller. horror

Forbidden World a.k.a. Mutant is an Alien clone. But is it a good one? It definitely is a mixed bag. And let me tell you that is part of the charm. 

They probably must have thought what they lack in special effects and story, they could make up with sleaziness and overacting. The sleaziness is personified by June Chadwick and Dawn Dunlap. There was absolutely no reason for them to be naked and be dressed scantily, especially after some gruesome events have occurred, but director Allan Holzman seemed to think differently and to his defence, it's highly effective. Dawn Dunlap's character comes across as a bimbo and screams her lungs out whenever she is encountered with something out of the ordinary. But if she is so scared, why walk around with nothing on her to protect her from bad things. One minute she is calm and composed and the next she is this little schoolgirl being chased by a classroom of horny boys. At times, she is so loud it's almost amazing that none of the other crew members hear her. Although one could argue, they do hear her but choose to ignore her. Then there is June Chadwick. I knew I recognized her from something. I think she is most famous for her role in V: The Miniseries. A real shame that director Allan Holzman does a disservice to her. Her character actually makes one of the most logical points in the film but is undermined and mocked at. Not sure why. She is supposed to be a respected scientist. And she truly had the attitude and charm to be the Sigourney Weaver of this film. But not going to lie, she is hot as hell and I didn't mind seeing her naked and doing erotic stuff.

What causes a big contrast, is the fact that the horror is totally gory and nasty. It's almost like they snatched the leftovers from Re-Animator, The Blob and even Alien to create the Metamorph and other beings. Combine that with some decent set pieces and animation, and you have a visually compelling film. In theory, this really could have worked as a serious Alien clone. If only they told the cast to not overact. The biggest culprit is, Fox Harris as Dr. Cal Timbergen. Apparently, he went for the crazy comedic type of scientist and not someone who was unstable and evil. But his reveal never lands, because at a certain point it doesn't matter. The alien creature in the film looks ridiculous, and how anyone could be terrified of it is beyond. It worked better when it was hiding in the shadows. Why did they decide to have him out in the open? Unless, they really thought he could come across as scary. 

Overall, it's a film that has the priorities all wrong focusing on things it shouldn't be focusing on, strangely enough, like I stated, it's what provides the charm. Within its wackiness, there is some terror hidden, but one that will also make you laugh. Make of that what you will, for me that is a good thing!

Also check:

Read more »

Review Battle Beyond the Stars (1980): Star Wars meets The Magnificent Seven!

genre: action, adventure, science fiction

Battle Beyond the Stars is not a simple Star Wars rip-off. It actually is more like The Magnificent Seven in space. The Magnificent Seven can be called a Seven Samurai rip-off. This is not the only film directed by Akira Kurosawa that has been ripped off many times. Another film of his called The Hidden Fortress was a huge inspiration for George Lucas. In a way, this is karmic justice in its finest form. However, you feel about it, one shouldn't just dismiss a film as a simple cash in if a lot of love and works has been put into a project. All the films I have mentioned demonstrated that a lot of films are stolen from or inspired by, but each of the titles here have something unique, and the same goes for Battle Beyond the Stars.

For one thing, this low budget film is pretty ambitious. Again, Roger Corman demonstrates to perform miracles on a dime. The dirty and unclean look of the spaceships actually help sell that space is a dog-eat-dog world, and you need to fend off pursuers every two seconds. The biggest crook of them all is Sador played by John Saxon. This gets demonstrated when he arrives at the planet of our lead, Shad played by Richard Thomas (most famous for The Waltons and IT the miniseries). Sador wants all their food, or otherwise he will destroy the planet. Naturally, a few people feel compelled to do something about it. And Shad is one of them. He volunteers to seek out warriors and weapons who can aid them in battle. It's actually quite entertaining to see how he rounds up these people and how they come together against Sador. Especially, when some characters come across as useless. St. Exmin played by Sybill Danning for example. She even gets mocked by her peers But from all the characters she is the most fearless, and she proves herself as one of the toughest Valkyrie in existence.

Perhaps the pacing is a little off sometimes, but in general you do get the sense that it's no joke to have to deal with Sador. He obviously is a force to be reckoned with and definitely won't be easy. The good actors certainly help to sell the events. Robert Vaughn, basically reprising the role of the outlaw he played in The Magnificent Seven and you have George Peppard as this version's Han Solo. He is always great. 

Overall, there is more good than bad. From start to finish it's a blast, yes pun intended! Even when some events are played out seriously, one thing you have to remember, you shouldn't take them too seriously. The film is immense fun and actually is very creative in the way they do battle and how some species operate. Besides, this is a very good space opera. And I personally, can't get enough of those.

Also check:

Read more »

Review Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and The Marvels (2023)

genre: comic book adaptation, action, adventure, science fiction

It was my intention to rewatch both of the films before I would review them. But honestly, I don't think these titles warrant that time, so I will do this from memory.

First, Thor: Love and Thunder.  After Thor: Ragnarok I thought Taika Waititi could do no wrong. I mean, I already appreciate him for his comedic stuff, But wasn't sure if he had what it takes to make a proper comic book film. And it seemed like that he was a fan. Well, turns out he is not. And like with many recent Marvel films, this one also is suffering from woke crap. When I read that Natalie Portman was returning as the female Thor my heart stopped for a few seconds. What on Earth were they thinking? Gradually, I was getting used to the idea and after having seen Jane Foster's arc I am not as opposed as I was in the beginning. But was her subplot even necessary? Did it anything new or creative in the MCU? Not really! Sure, some people got their wish concerning the cosplay gender reversal. Isn't that a niche thing? My objection to the female Thor is not that she is female. I mean, naturally a female version is sexier and more pleasant to look at. The fact that she can do everything better than Thor, who has been Thor for a long time, while she has been Thor for a few hours, is insulting. Set aside how she becomes Thor in the first place. The concept of it is beyond stupid. 

That being said, I could have lived with this had the film been fun and action packed as previous films. And for whatever reason, Waititi decided to go full comedy. Christian Bale is good when he is on the screen but is done such a disservice since his screen presence is pretty limited. He is just the villain of the week and apparently so powerful that he can slay gods. A figure like that deserves more and better.

Overall, this film is a big middle finger towards people who have enjoyed the Marvel film thus far. And as much as I liked Taiki Waititi I can't condone that kind of betrayal.

When they had announced The Marvels (long before the trailer) I honestly thought that Marvel was going to send off Captain Marvel. Quite a lot of rumours were suggesting that they weren't happy with Brie Larson and with two other Captain Marvel persona's around she could have been replaced by them. In my mind, they would have to deal with a galactic threat and the only way to stop it was Captain Marvel sacrificing her life. I think this would have been a good solution if there was any truth to those rumours.

What we got instead was not even close. The story is so bland that it's hard to make out what they were going for.  It was pretty generic. I can appreciate female power from time to time. But not if it is boring and bland. Why not give these three threats unlike they faced before and where they truly had to work with each other to fight the evil forces. They kinda do, but not satisfyingly. The whole powers switching gimmick got on my nerves pretty quickly.

I am probably one of the few who likes Ms. Marvel. I do think that the show did more than the usual superhero stuff. It actually put attention to the separation of India and Pakistan. It showed how impactful and disruptive this was. But it also gave us a very sincere origin story. Kamala Khan provides most of the comic relief, and again her sincerity is what fuels most events. Too bad that the other Marvels had different ideas. 

Still, I can't say that the overall viewing experience was horrible. For the most part, I found myself entertained while it lasted. It's not a memorable film, nor does it feel like it has any meaning in the grand scheme of things. But that is more due to the lack of foresight and world building Marvel had in the first three phases. It's decent once you are able to let go of the wokeness and lack of story.

Also check:

Read more »

Review Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987): Eddie Murphy classics!

genre: action, comedy, crime

For most, Beverly Hills Cop is a classic. I don't necessarily disagree. But having rewatched this many times, I can say it does lose you after several viewings.

This original is a comedy first and action / crime film next. For the most part, the comedy elements do hold up. Eddie Murphy definitely brings a unique style to policing. As he as stated himself, he wasn't always a policeman. It makes events far more compelling than they ought to be. Since the crime story is pretty predictable. I wished it had been a little deeper and complex. I also would have liked it had they focused on the differences between Detroit and Beverly Hills a little more. Because they way I see it, Axel Foley is at odds with both police forces. He seems to be a rebel no matter where he is. They really could and should have amped up the bizarre world of L.A. and it's inhabitants. 

Of course, one can't avoid the musical score, composed by Harold Faltermeyer (Axel F. and The Discovery as the standouts). Combine that with some classic Eighties tunes, and you will be transported to that decade in an instant. 

Overall, without a doubt an Eddie Murphy classic!

Beverly Hills Cop II for me is the best film in the franchise. In large part because of director Tony Scott. The action and spectacle is increased considerably, and I thought there was better chemistry between the characters. Although it does rely on you having seen the original. 

But I think even if you haven't seen it, you will find a lot of enjoyment with this sequel. Since, it's fast-paced and full of raw energy. Combined with Eddie Murphy's comedic antics, it's truly exhilarating. I also think the comedy is a lot better in this. Very wisely, they also let Judge Reinhold up the comedy game. From all the characters, I think he is the only one who actually has had some real character development. He went from shy and scared cop to no holds barred Dirty Harry. No explanation is given. But I bet Axel had a lot to do with it by showing the way to be a badass cop. I also liked it how these characters have bonded off-screen. They are friends through and through!

Jürgen Prochnow, Brigitte Nielsen and Dean Stockwell are serviceable villains but have not that much to do. But very likely you won't forget Nielsen. She is super stunning as the tall but dangerous blonde woman. Like with the first, I wished that the plot was a little deeper and more complex. It's all too predictable with no surprises whatsoever. Still, the action is better than in the first, and in my opinion that makes up a lot for what is lacking plot wise.

Overall, a sequel that is bigger and better!

Read more »

Review Di Ambang Kematian a.k.a. The Verge of Death (2023): Lacking in dread and terror!

genre: mystery, horror, drama

The Verge of Death doesn't waste much time to begin events. Within seven minutes of the film, you are witness to some true horror. Naturally, my interest was piqued. For a little while. I am very aware you are supposed to wonder what is happening. But if you have seen as many horror films as I have, you kind of can predict the story. This is not a good thing.

Now, this doesn't mean the film has nothing to offer. I mean, I am not entirely sure if I can recommend it, but it did not feel like a waste of my time. I think there is enough here to keep watching until the end. To be honest, I was expecting this mad, bizarre twist that would blow me away. Kind of like the one in Impetigore. A film I have watched and liked immensely, but still have to write a review for. Speaking of which. This film seems to tap into the atmosphere of that film a tiny, but never is able to achieve the dread and terror of that film. And I think this is the fault of how the story is told. The father is very aware of what is going on, but for some reason doesn't tell his children. Yet he never truly hides he is doing shady stuff. At one point it's obvious of what he is doing. First thing I went to was what every character in every book, play or film wants. Still, I had hope that the father was more creative and original. Two minutes later, we find out he is not.

After this, the mystery is basically solved, and we are left to deal with the supernatural. Some sequences certainly were effective, but most of them lacked to instil fear. Thanks to the actors, you still feel something until the ending. It's implying what you have figured out for yourself at the start. I wished they had more imagination and gives a better ending. The film was begging for shock, and it never delivers on that, apart from the opening sequence. 

Overall, it's not bad, but not good either. It's disappointing really, since it absolutely had the potential to give you the true horror goodness most of the fans, like me, crave. 

Also check:

Read more »

Review Casablanca (4K UHD / Blu-ray / 1942): A classic masterpiece!

genre: drama, romance, war,

Obviously, Casablanca is a well known film. Not all people might have actually seen it, but they know about it and can quote some famous lines from this film. I am pretty sure I had seen it a very long time ago in my youth and forgot about it. Not surprising since the film is clearly a film for adults and not children. My real awareness came after I had seen tributes, parodies and rip-offs of the film. The first one was Armaan (1981), a Bollywood film. Again, something I watched in my youth and didn't quite understand. Then there is the video game called Grim Fandango developed by Lucasarts. It's here when I realized how huge Casablanca was. 

Now, many years later I saw a good price of the 4K UHD / Blu-ray disc and purchased it. Connoisseurs were claiming it's the best version out there. Since I don't own other copies, I gladly believe this is the case. And I can confirm that the disc is worth it. The image is crisp, and I can see that the HDR has a real impact on the colours. The sound is also amazing. While the film is in black and white, I can definitely say that the visuals pop. I had seen an enhanced and colourized video of a particular scene and even while it was defined it came across as weird. It didn't seem to represent the right colours, and in such cases they should not even bother and leave it in black and white. I think this 4K disc even could be used as a demo to convince people of this fact.

As for the film itself. I was pleasantly surprised to experience that it still holds up. It moves in lightning pace and is filled with iconic quotes and moments. Humphrey Bogart steals the show every time he is on-screen, but also demonstrates to have good dynamics between other characters. And there are a few colourful characters who might not be in it long enough but who still leave an impression somehow. If that is not peak storytelling, then I don't know what is. From start to end, I was enjoying the film wholeheartedly, almost making me sad about contemporary films and how they don't even come close. 

Overall, if you are a cinephile and are collecting physical media, this 4K UHD / Blu-ray seems like a no-brainer. A must own!

Read more »

Review Baby Assassins a.k.a. Beibî warukyûre (2021): Underwhelming and i.m.o. a waste of time!

genre: comedy, action

Finally, I brought myself to watch this. Before I actually did, I had skipped through some scenes whether it was going to be fun or not but found too many scenes where the energy was too low. This really didn't motivate me. 

And I hate to be the bringer of bad news. But my gut feeling was on point. I know what the film was going for, but spectacularly fails, since it didn't make me laugh once. Not going to lie, my expectations were a little different. I wanted 80 percent action and 20 percent quirky comedy. Instead, it's 95 percent quirky comedy with 5 percent action. Granted, the little action that is present is of a high level. But the comedy? My god, it's so juvenile and unfunny that I simply couldn't bare the shenanigans. I do appreciate it if a film offers more than action, especially if this enhances the action and the overall viewing experience. In this case, though, it's so mind-numbingly bad you will get bored with it long before it's over.

Some people have been praising the hell out of this film, and usually I manage to see their point of view. But in this case, I simply can't. What is even more preposterous is the fact that they made a sequel to this. They say it's an improvement on the original. To be honest, that is not really an accomplishment. For the sake of fairness, I will review that title once I manage to get a hold of it. 

But overall, Baby Assassins is underwhelming and in my humble opinion a waste of time!

Read more »

Review The Untouchables (1987): One of the best gangster films ever made!

review: crime, drama, thriller

Pretty sure The Untouchables is historically inaccurate. Like most Hollywood films are. But it doesn't matter. The Untouchables is epic and still holds up today!

This is a title I can watch over and over again and never get bored by it. Everything clicks in this film. Top-notch camerawork, superb direction, fantastic performances, real good action and killer soundtrack. I would say that the soundtrack from Ennio Morricone is quite pivotal in enhancing the events. It's so good that it intensifies almost every scene. The music gets you pumped for what to come. Even if you have a pretty good idea what is going to happen. Brian De Palma does a good job of making you root for characters you barely know. What you know is enough to make them likeable. They want to fight the good fight, knowing very well that will have many consequences. Real dire consequences! It's what makes them heroes.

It also helps that Al Capone and his goons are super evil. Naturally, some nuance in their characterizations would have made the film more realistic. Then again, this is clearly an old school take on cops and robbers. And then you never sided with the robbers. One could argue that presenting Capone as this almighty figure is fair. But I think people forget how cruel and ruthless these gangsters are. If you ask me, you can't emphasize that enough. 

Sean Connery very rightfully won the Oscar for best supporting role. He elevated a pretty by the numbers crime film into a masterpiece. Some people claim this film is too romanticized and dramatic. Well, yes. But in this case highly effective and to the point. There is an emotional component to this film that holds up even today. In my book, that is a good thing. Overall, I would say that this is one of the best gangster films ever made and a true classic. A must watch for sure!

Also check:

Read more »

Review Carlito's Way (1993): Underwhelming with some good moments!

genre: crime, drama

Both Al Pacino and Brian De Palma team up once again in perhaps the spiritual sequel to Scarface. And while I like Carlito's Way for what it is trying to do, I don't like it as much as Scarface.

Let me first by saying that the performances of the pivotal characters are top-notch. Pacino is as great as he can be, but I would say that Sean Penn basically steals the scenes whenever he is present. Arguably because his character is far more complex than Carlito. Klein (Penn) obviously is a pretty shady lawyer. I mean, anyone with a haircut like he has, is not entirely right in the mind. Apparently, he finds his life too boring and wants to become a gangster himself. Carlito mentions that Klein used to be afraid of his clients, but not any more. This could be the consequence of not having Carlito around and that he had to man up. Who knows? But the way he carries himself is infinitely more compelling than Carlito's arc.

 I get that Carlito has seen the light and wants to retire from the criminal life. But what does he do to get out from there? He keeps hanging with former members of his crew. He even has a monologue stating that bad things come to him, and it's not him going to them. Sorry to say Carlito, but that is not true. He had opportunities to opt out from them. Like for example the pool scene. He goes along with his cousin for a pickup. Granted, he is not too fond of the idea, but he caves. Bad things ensue. Klein does the same thing, Carlito protests but eventually caves. Now, I do know what that is like. I will usually do my best to help people out, but if it is something shady and there are too many things that are beyond my control, I will opt out. Carlito could have done this. Perhaps he was fooling himself, he would still need some of the old life to enable the new one. But was it really that impossible for him to make money outside the life? If he was at the top of the food chain, couldn't he have ensured some money in case he would get locked up or something? He is supposedly to be intelligent and not someone to mess with yet the people don't see him that way.

The whole romance angle makes sense in relation to Brigante wanting to start a new life. But there was zero chemistry between Pacino and Penelope Ann Miller. If you remove this romance, it wouldn't have changed a thing. So why even bother? Especially if that has impact on the duration and pacing. Yes, Carlito's Way is too long and boring. It's too predictable and never goes deep enough exploring the struggle that Carlito has. I was expecting more, so much more, but instead it's a slow brooding narrative that never leads to anything interesting. 

Overall, an underwhelming film with some good moments. Contrary to general opinion, I don't think this is underrated. In fact, I would say it's quite the opposite.

Also check:

Read more »




Join us for free and get valuable content delivered right through your inbox.


Reviews Netflix Originals


Popular Posts