Hercules, the Brett Ratner directed, Dwayne Johnson starring film is in theatres now, and that line alone should give you everything you need to know about the film. A flashy action film with as much dimension as The Rock’s loincloth on the surface, but it has some decent potential. So how does it do? Is it worthy of the legend, or should be exiled by the Gods?
Dwayne Johnson as Hercules is definitely an interesting decision, first off. Sure, hes good at punching stuff, but the majority of his acting range begins and ends with that. Maybe he just hasn’t had a shot at more serious things, or maybe he just knows what he’s good at. While this film won’t change many minds, it shows to me that he has potential. His effort actually shows, and feels genuine. While not a typical choice, I think it was a good one.
The the plot is a bit different than most Hercules fare thats been put to screen. After the gods decided to mess his life up pretty good, he’s taken up leading a group of mercenaries. They’re approached by a King, with quite a generious offer for training his troops. After doing so and leading a campaign against a bunch of barbarians, the deepness of the plot kicks in. Backs will be stabbed, truths will be exposed, and the landscape of the kingdom will be changed forever. Is it anything revolutionary? Hell no. It’s a pretty decent backdrop to move Johnson from one place to another, in search of more faces to punch though. It’s entertaining, and thats the defining point.
Brett Ratner is usually a hit or miss director, with a decent amount of near misses. He comes close to decent filmmaking quite often, but so many little things keep that from happening. I think with this flick, he hit his sweet spot. Easy plot, tons of action, and no concepts to grasp. Its super straightforward, and he did a pretty good job with it. Hercules is a pretty well rounded character, and feels like a demigod. The atmosphere and look of the film isnt over the top, and is pretty well done. There are some visuals that are a little jarring, but those only last a moment. Not to say there isnt some problems, like an underwhelming supporting cast for one, but overall? It’s an empty headed action flick with a good heart in its chest.
All in all, its a decent flick. Its entertaining, and most importantly, fun. If youre in the mood to see people get punched in the face and squished by big things, check it out. Id love to see more films out of this group.
4 out of 5
The Purge: Anarchy is in theatres now, and expands on a lot of the ideas presented in the first film. The first film had some mixed reviews, but as Hollywood would have it, a sequel was made anyway. So how did it do? Is it a good sequel, or should it be hunted in the gardens?
I wanted to like the first Purge flick. It had an interesting concept, and it seemed like it was going to be an interesting film. In practice though, all the interesting bits got thrown into the background as nothing but cover for a wildly mediocre home invasion film. I was hoping a sequel would touch more on the politics and motivations of the purge, and even maybe expose some of its seedier side. Thankfully, it does all that, and more.
So the plot of the film is handled pretty uniquely. We are shown the prospective of a handful of characters, and events of the night of the purge that lead them all together. Once together, they get thrust into a seedy underbelly to the purge, and work together to escape, and survive. I’m being as vague as possible, because honestly, the plot is excellent. It’s everything I wanted in a sequel, and more. It expands on the societal side spoken of in the first film, and it shows the dark side of super rich weirdos with a twisted sense of well doing. It really shows how fucked up the purge is, and how much deeper it is than it appears.
While the plot is a great part of the film, the cast however, isn’t so lucky. I don’t think I can narrow it down to the writing, or how the actors portrayed the characters. The group of characters just feels really generic, and that makes it hard to feel for them sometimes. Theres the stereotypical couple, with the man trying to to protect the woman. Theres the stereotypical family group, and the stereotypical guy hellbent on revenge. All the characters fit their mold to a T, to the point where their actions are so predictable that nothing seems surprising.
Theres no surprises that arent telegraphed a mile out, so in the end you don’t really feel any attachment. Honestly though, as weird as it is, it doesnt really take away from the film much. The focus is much more on the events of the purge itself, and exposing how messed up the whole thing is. So bland characters in a sense help that, so the focus isn’t entirely on them. You can better focus on the background things and secondary characters. Its an odd approach, and whether it was intentional or not, it works.
To me, this is what a great sequel should be. The first film had an interesting concept, but it was used as nothing more than a simple plot device. This film takes that idea, and expands on it. Turns it from a reason things happen, to a fully fleshed out event, with background and quirks. Its well directed, and the aesthetic of the film just feels seedy sometimes. You’ll know things are going to go pear shaped, just by the atmosphere. The tension is well done, and while not inherently scary, there is a fear factor that will make you edge to the end of your seat. The best part? Its all really well done.
All in all, its a great sequel, and a great film. If you didnt like the first one, don’t let that stop you from seeing this one. Its nothing like that film.
4.5 out of 5
The newest Micheal Bay helmed Transformers film is plaguing theatres now, and there is no doubt that it will drag in boatloads of cash. These films have always done a balancing act on the edge of totally ridiculous and most hated films of the year, and always seem to really piss off fanboys. So how does this one do? Does it finally do the property justice, or is it just another huge pile of crap that can transform into an even bigger pile of crap?
I’ve cut some of the Transformers films a lot of slack. The first film was kind of fun, and they just kind of went down hill from there. I can appreciate a big, dumb action flick, but there’s a point where it just stops being fun and turns into a bad movie. I don’t hate the Transformers flicks as much as some, hell I even gave the third one a decent review, but I think thats because I never had a super close connection with the franchise. I loved Beast Wars, and I watched a lot of the old cartoon, but thats where it stopped. To me, they’re just not good movies. To others, its a hated pile of filth. And this film will sway even more people into thinking the later.
The plot, if you can even call it that it by far the dumbest of the series. Transformers are hated by humans after the battle in Chicago, and go into hiding. Marky Mark finds out a big rig he has is Optimus Prime, and half assed exposition catches us up on the last few years, and tries to make us care about the human element. Secret military forces show up to try and destroy Optimus, he and the humans escape only to continue to be hunted. Its shown that a Transformer bounty hunter is leading the secret military force, and they have a deal to deliver Optimus to him for some artifact. Another company comes into play, a company that has been building their own transformers after discovering Transformium (I seriously cannot make this shit up) and reverse engineering Transformers tech.
To save you from the mind numbing details, from there stuff explodes, people die, robots fight other robots, and it all becomes a giant mess. The plot is at points literally nonsensical, and it literally only exists as a way for Transformers to meet up and punch each other. Of course theres a few half assed surprises, and some dumb backstabbing, but it literally makes no difference to the overall film. If you the plots of the last batch of Transformers movies were bad, be prelared to have your mind blown.
The one thing I had hope for this time around was the human element. They brought in a hand of good actors, and I thought it sounded really promising. Well, you can firmly throw that into the pile of crap Bay messed up. Again. After the opening exposition, there is literally no reason for them to be around. They are literally a hinderance to the Transformers, and constantly mess stuff up for them. Unlike the Witwicky family, their ties begin and end with Optimus was in my barn. They should have stayed very far away from the majority of the flick after that, instead of popping up and spewing one liners.
From a fan standpoint, this film had so much potential. Introducing characters like Galvatron and the Dinobots should make any fan of the series drool uncontrollably, not shake their heads in disgust. Theres so many cool little nods to the universe that you might actually think that Micheal Bay cared for a few minutes, before seeing something shiny or an explosion that disrupted his concentration. I think thats what is such a bummer about this series, theres little glimmers of what the franchise should be, what it could be, you just have to sit through a crapfest to find them. Theres portions and influences that shine through that show that somewhere, someone working on the film cares about the property, but it ultimately gets buried behind Micheal Bay’s crapfest. But hey, it sure is pretty to watch, even if you can’t tell what the hell is going on.
All in all, its not a good movie. Short of a few minutes that show potential, the rest is really bad. Unless you have a disease where you need to see as many explosions as you can in an hour or you’ll die, theres better out there. Hell, starring at a brick wall smeared with crap would be an overall better experience. The only reason Im giving it even a small score is for the people who cared about the flick, and made a small part of it enjoyable.
1.5 out of 5.
The newest game in the Wolfenstein franchise is out now for consoles, and brings the name to next gen consoles. But how does it do? Is it a decent game, or should it have never escaped the castle?
You should know the drill by now. B.J. Blazkowicz hates Nazis. He kills Nazis in an attempt to save the world. The formula hasn’t changed a whole lot. This one does pump up the plot some, in a weird alternate timeline. Its the 1960s, and things are a little different. The Nazis won World War 2, nuked New York, and now rule the world. Blazkowicz meets up with the resistance, and tries to take out the crazy weapons the Nazis use to keep the world in its grasps. Pretty straightforward. Of course theres a good handful of forgettable secondary characters, and at least one of them will stab you in the back over the course of the game. Thats where the game makes its first fault. The secondary characters aren’t all that important, and they never really get fleshed out enough to care about them. They just seem to be there in between missions. The game itself has a good narrative, but with good characters, it could have been way better.
And with the game itself, the developers didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The controls are tight, simple, and easy to get used to. You can take cover, lean around it, and slide into position. The slide isnt nearly as helpful as it could be, and I forgot about it quite often. Protip - it is a good buffer for explosive damage, though. If you can’t outrun a grenade, slide right as it goes off. But it’s overall tight controls, and it feels natural. It definitely has more of a Halo feel over Call Of Duty, but it works. There are some context actions sprinkled around, and they do feel sluggish for the most part. The melee attacks are also a bit hit or miss, but you don’t get a chance to use them all to often. Stealth kills on the otherhand are swift, but the stealth sections are few and far between.
The game definitely puts running and gunning at top priority, and it does a great job of making it fun. The weapons are varied, fun, and can cause massive damage when dual weilding. Most levels are huge, and are designed to make big, massive firefights that much more fun. Enemies come at you from every direction, and cover only helps for so long. Some of the later levels are pretty frantic, but it always stays fun. Some areas are very frustrating unless you get the rhythm down, but replaying where you failed never gets boring.
The overall design of the game is pretty cool, too. The nazis and the tech all have a really cool retro futuristic vibe, and the bigger enemies later on are awesome to fight. And there’s so much detail to everything. They really created a big, full world and it’s beautiful from top to bottom. The enemy bases, and even the resistance headquarters are fun to run around in and explore, and chocked full of easter eggs and fun stuff to reward you for exploring.
How they handled health and ammo also add to the frantic fun of some levels. You have set health, and need to find health kits to get it back. Health kits aren’t litered around the levels either, so later on in the game it gets pretty intense. Along with ammo, it is a valuable commodity. While it does take a little getting used to, i think it adds a little to the difficulty. It’s a welcomed change, at least for me.
All in all, its a great game. Tons of fun, and it honestly feels like a throwback to FPS’s of days past. The campaign length is great, and even though its all pretty simple, it never gets boring. Fun levels, fun guns, and fun enemies.
5 out of 5