Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quick Movie Review: Vol 29

Ponyo (2008)

It get’s to the point sometimes where I get worried about watching a movie. The sheer love that people have for movies makes me wonder if I’ll have the same reaction. Ponyo is such a movie. The amount of times I’ve heard people say that if you don’t love Ponyo then your soul is dead, is reaching into the triple digits. Coming from Hayao Miyazaki, a man who creates fantastical worlds with a lot of heart, I can see why people might fall in love with his work.

Visually the movie is beautiful, the animation work is outstanding and I love the how the ocean and its many creatures are visualized. Ponyo herself is a very cute creation and fits into both the human and ocean world. However this is a far from perfect film, while the plot itself is good enough to hang a beautiful relationship of a young boy and girl, there just seems to be something lacking. Unlike maybe his earlier works things seem more scattered. Still this is a great film to watch with the family, and while some inconsistencies it has happiness pouring from it.

Snowtown (2011)

A depressing story, based on true events where a16 year-old Jamie falls in with his mother's new boyfriend and his crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen, a relationship that leads to a spree of torture and murder. While this movie is brilliant, it’s definitely a hard watch considering the source material. It’s weird how a movie like this can get under the skin easier than a horror movie modelled on similar themes. Maybe it’s the fact that a horror movie is trying to scare you, while a movie like this is just reporting the incidents, so the horror is more grounded in reality.

Adding to the realism of the movie is the fact that the actors are local talent so they are very aware of what happened. Yet again it gives a realism that adds to the disturbing elements of the movie. This movie is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and in fact the entire movie seems to be carrying the scars of the incident in such a way that it’s hard not to turn away. If you’re up for a challenging but great film then go ahead and give this a watch, otherwise maybe move on.

Growth (2010)

There are some great ideas in this movie. Parasites used as a form of evolution, not only does it lend it self to some great horror moments, but it can lead to some interesting themes. However a great idea needs to be capitalised on and Growth drops the ball big time. Maybe for the first thirty or so minutes I thought that this movie was really going to be a gem, however there is a turn that just destroys any momentum.

There are essences of a superhero origin story, body horror, tortured soul, mad science, and other movies. Growth never really knows what it wants to be, it under uses some characters, also it doesn’t seem to be able to focus on who the main lead of the movie is. It is also hurt when story elements are introduced very late in the game. It is a big shame as there was something here, but at the end of the day Growth is just another straight to DVD horror movie that doesn’t do much at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick Movie Review: Vol 28

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

A unique Christmas movie that’s one part demented and one part charming father and son story. While I can’t recommend this for children as there are some very dark elements that might scare them, maybe if parents give a watch through first they would better be able to decide what to do. The darkness however is diluted thanks to the sense of humour, in fact I would go so far as to think that this movie could be a kid’s movie, but only for those kids that aren’t that sensitive. Also the father and son dynamic is very heartfelt and also goes along way to make the dark themes palatable.

So what’s the movie all about? Killer Santa Claus. You see the real truth about Santa is that if you get put on his naughty list you are doomed. Unfortunately some stupid miners unleash the real Santa Claus and it’s up to the father (Jorma) and son (Onni) to find a way to save the kidnapped children. From the names of the main characters you can probably tell that this is also a foreign film, so if subtitles are not your thing avoid, but if you after a dark Christmas film then go for it. As for me I can see myself watching this movie on an annual basis when Christmas comes around, especially back to back with my two other Christmas movies; Die Hard and Gremlins.

Whiteout (2009)

I’m not sure how this movie came to my attention, but it arrived in the mail one day and my girlfriend and I went about watching it.  With no expectations I was actually really happy with what I saw. Set in the Antartic, Kate Beckinsale plays US Marshall Carrie Steko. With the sun due to set for six months, she stumbles upon a murder mystery and needs to find out who the killer is before it’s too late. As much as I did enjoy the film I will admit that it’s a standard who done it, just placed in a very interesting setting. That setting does lend itself to some interesting scenes, and nasty scenes come to think about.

This movie won’t ever be on the top of people’s movie lists, but it should at least deliver a competent story that will kill two hours. Kate also plays her typical hero role; there are some complexities to the character, but nothing to stressing. Honestly I like Kate as the strong female hero and wish she got more offers for more high profile movies, maybe with the Total Recall remake I might get my wish granted. If you’re after a decent murder mystery, with some unique ideas you could do a lot worse than this movie.

Shortcut to Happiness (2004)

Let me role out the list of some of the actors in this movie. Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall, Amy Poehler. With a group like that I thought that this would be good, I was wrong. This is a really bad movie. Bad acting, bad direction, bad script, bad pacing, with maybe the only thing that made it at least somewhat bearable was there was at least some money behind it so it didn’t look like crap.

Based on a stage play, Alec Baldwin is the brain behind adapting this movie to the big screen. Not only is he the main star, but he is also the director of this monstrosity. I should also point out it’s his first and last movie he directed. Personally I think a lot of the blame has to go to him as this is such a mess of a movie, it’s obvious he has the passion for this movie, but he just doesn’t have the discipline or real vision to be an apt director. It doesn’t help that most of the actors seem to be phoning it all in. Avoid this movie; don’t even watch it for the its so bad its good factor.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: The Avengers (2012)

“Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson
Writers: Joss Whedon

So somehow the nerd gods were smiling down on me and I managed to get preview tickets to The Avengers a week before it’s coming out. As I sat down and waited for the movie I couldn’t help but start to feel excited. This movie is the culmination of five movies (by my count), and is a risky venture to bring comic book continuity to films. A lot is riding on this movie as it is going to set the course for Marvel and its movie division. Boiling it all down, the question is does it live up to the hopes and dreams of nerds everywhere?

Long answer is yes, short answer is yes. Everyone behind the film should be proud of what they have managed to accomplish with this film, its impressive how many people they have in the cast and yet they manage to give everyone adequate time. Sitting down I was laughing, enthralled with the character interplay, cheering, and having a blast. This is pretty much how popcorn movies should be. It isn’t dumb enough to become insulting to the audience (I’m looking at you Tranformers 2) yet it never tries to be smarter than it is and drain all the fun away. It’s going to be interesting to see how people rate this movie alongside The Dark Knight Rises which is definitely going to be more serious fare.

Visually the movie has enough effect money shots to make anyone smile, oh and the trailer doesn’t spoil everything which is always nice. Whedon also manages to use the 3D in some interesting way, especially when it comes to mirrors. Still despite some interesting flourishes, I don’t think the 3D is necessary for the movie and if you want to save money and catch it on 2D then do so. Overall Whedon infuses the movie with a visual dynamism that really gives the movie an incredible energy. Also on the Whedon front he’s put enough of his writing touches to make the Whedonites of the world happy. Dialogue, character moments, comedy and darker tones are all there for those familiar with his work. Those that aren’t will find a light and breezy movie that does have some emotional peaks and valleys but shouldn’t expect anything too taxing.

Finally we come down to probably the biggest draw in this movie and that’s the cast. Barring maybe one or two exceptions everyone is on form and they really dig into the witty dialogue that is distinctly Whedon. I don’t think it would surprise anyone that Robert Downy Jr and Chris Evans are great in the film. For Downey he basically can just switch on Stark whenever he wants, Evans is given room to grow as he now gets to play up the fish out of water aspect of Captain America. Mark Ruffalo makes it three actors who’ve portrayed Bruce Banner in the current crop of Hulk outings, and in my opinion like Bana and Norton is great in the role. Add in Bixby and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor fail at playing Banner. I was also overjoyed that Clark Gregg got more play as Agent Coulson in this movie, and I loved every moment he was up on the screen. I could be going on about the actors for several pages so instead I’ll move on to the two actors I had problems with.

First actor it wasn’t actually his fault, in fact if you take him away from where he came from Tom Hiddleston was yet again fantastic as Loki. However if the script has one big flaw it has to do with the personality change of Loki. There are good reasons for the change, there is some lip service paid to his new mentality but it does feel like we’ve missed a big chapter of Loki going completely insane. Still this isn’t too much a thing as Loki is still a really fun villain for the Avengers to play off. In my opinion the weakest link in the actor chain is Samuel L Jackson. I like his brief appearances in the previous movies, I like the look of Nick Fury and how it ties into the ultimate universe, but there is just something about Jackson in this movie that just wasn’t at the same level as the other actors. Personally I think that Samuel L Jackson has got such a reputation for being a badass on and off screen that this performance is a tad phoned in. Still it’s not the biggest of problems as he’s not an Avenger, he just brings that group together and as such he never gets the spotlight like others.

Despite some small flaws the movie is still a brilliant example of a popcorn movie done right. Go in, sit down and watch the next two hours fly by. It does give me hope for the future of Marvel developments, and if anything it’s definitely a successful experiment in serialised cinema. People get out there and see this movie. Chances are it’s going to be on my top 10 at the end of the year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Marine (2006)

“I hate cops and rock candy.”

Director: John Bonito
Starring: John Cena, Kelly Carlson and Robert Patrick
Writers: Michelle Gallagher and Alan B. McElroy

Transferring a wrestler from the ring to the big screen seems like a logical idea. They have to act throughout the year, do all their own stunts, and the best of the best have a charisma that can shine through even the crapiest of writing. So why despite this logic, does it seem almost impossible for a wrestler to make the leap. The only one that comes to mind as successful is The Rock. Sure Rowdy Piper had a few good movies (They Live is a personal favourite), but he never reached the heights of big action stars. So with all that in mind we come to The Marine, a movie that shows us what the wrestler known as John Cena is made of.

Well to tell you the truth he certainly looks like an action hero, but John Cena while having a natural charisma in the ring, doesn’t really have the acting chops to make it in Hollywood. It’s not exactly the biggest of shocks. Thankfully what John Cena lacks is more than made up for with the ham acting that is Robert Patrick. I’m a fan of his work, and I like how he can take small roles but bring enough character to at least make him memorable. In this movie he’s almost the main star and I loved every minute he was on the stage. At one moment he makes sure to get his cable television hooked up, while on the run. It funny and awesome all at the same time. When an actor is having this much fun playing the villain, you can’t help but have fun as well.

Still we aren’t here for acting, we’re here for action, and action is what we get. It’s well shot, and has some interesting ideas behind it. Sure things can get really ridiculous; the number of explosions in this movie is mind blowing, but there is a certain charm to it all. The Marine actually is a throwback to all the crazy action movies of the 80’s. If this was filmed during that time I could see a Schwarzenegger, Stallone or even a Seagal (on seconds thought please god no) in the lead role. Sure it would have been one of their lesser movies but people would still be watching it in marathons or torturing themselves with internet reviews.

Story wise the movie is a mess. There are so many plot holes this movie could be swiss cheese (I’m sure I’ve used that joke before). But if only that was the only problem, as the movie suffers from characters doing the complete opposite of what has been previously established all in order to move the plot along. The story also suffers from some horrible tonal problems that just make the movie rhythm hard to follow. It obvious that this script was churned out quick so it WWE could put a wrestler into the movie as soon as possible.

Yet for all its faults, its gloriously bad faults, I still had fun with this movie. Yeah I was surprised too. If anything its how the movie taps into a form of action movies that seem to have faded from popularity. Robert Patrick is a blast, and while Cena is certainly not the best he isn’t god awful like Hulk Hogan. If you are a fan of 80’s action movies then you may want to give this movie a watch, just be warned it’s bad but stuffed with ridiculous fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quick Movie Review: Vol 27 (Special B-Grade Trash Edition)

Sometimes we make decisions that we come to regret. No matter how much we actually think it’s a good idea we only find out the true horror when it’s all over and the damage can be assessed. The pain I’ve gone through for this blog and my wonderful readers is phenomenal. And so with this overly dramatic beginning I get to the point finally.

I picked up a five pack of DVD’s that only cost me five dollars. Of course why would someone do such a thing? Isn’t it obvious that the movies are bad? Well yes but I have a soft spot when it comes to bad made for television disaster movies, and four of these movies were in that vein. So here we go, five movies, one post, and now it’s time to review.

Alien vs Hunter (2007)

First movie and we have to deal with the non disaster film and what a doozy. From the masters of cashing in on other big movies, Asylum; we get a movie that’s trying to con people into thinking its Alien vs Predators. They try and give their alien the same head as the Xenomorph and on the cover they make the hunter look like the Predator but in the actual movie it looks nothing like it. Why am I pointing this out? Not only is this movie crap, but it is nothing more than a money making exercise and therefore has nothing of value about it. Moving on.

Lava Storm (2008)

At the end of this movie we are told that everything we’ve just seen is based on science fact, and it all comes from a worst case example that scientists think could happen. All I could think was ‘wow, this was supposed to be realistic’. But honestly it’s not the idea, acting, or special effects that made me want to scream at the television, it was the family drama aspect. This isn’t a disaster film; it’s a family drama that plays out during a disaster. The director really does shoe horn in the family dynamic and just in case you’re not getting it then there are these still frame moments, that focus on the family posing in what is supposed to be wistful and meaningful but just comes across as hackneyed. Probably the biggest disappointment, as it promises a lava storm and gives us Full House.

Solar Destruction (2008)

You know it’s about this point I’m noticing there aren’t a lot of disaster happening in these disaster films. I don’t care if the special effects are bad I want to see cities wiped out. I can remember plenty of bad television disaster movies made in the 90’s that had more disasters in them. It can’t be about budget as the 90’s movies were cheaper. Oh well in Solar Flare we get flickering lights and some explosions but that’s about it. Yet again we have a movie that focuses more on the family dynamic and how they have to escape the clutches on an evil business man who wants the research to save his company. Of course let’s not look too closely to that plot as already plot holes are starting to form. At least this movie finally had a character who I liked, Michelle Clunie as the mother Jamie as to be given some credit as she is likeable, and her characters is an interesting, strong female character that is kind of rare. She gets a thumb up; the movie though can go to hell.

Nuclear Hurricane (2007)

So there is a hurricane, and there is a nuclear reactor that could meltdown, but not once do we get a god damn Nuclear Hurricane! I would feel ripped off if I didn’t pay so little for it. Instead we get a movie where a smart computer goes haywire and those trapped in the nuclear power plant have to figure a way to turn the reactor off before the hurricane hits, and so they must do battle with HAL’s little sister. Oh and while this is happening we get a side story of a lady giving birth in the storm. What does this have to do with the major story? Absolutely nothing. Great writing there. The only thing that I will give credit to this movie for is it didn’t do the cliché thing of having characters speak of the evils of technology. Well kind of. Still with no actual visible hurricane this movie also belongs in the fire.

Magma: Volcanic Disaster (2006)

I had almost given up hope with this set, but then Magma came along and praise be to the flying spaghetti monster we finally get a movie that focuses on the global disaster in this disaster movie. Surprise, surprise, even though this movie is bad I still had fun. This is exactly what I wanted, bad special effects, cities getting trashed, stupid government officials making things worse and outlandish ways of solving the crisis. It helps that the two leads played by Amy Jo Johnson and Xander Berkley are also good and have an incredible amount of charm. It’s still a bad movie but it’s enjoyable and that’s more than I can say for the other four movies. If there is one thing that kind of let me down with this, it was the anti climatic ending; still this movie at least gave me my five dollars worth.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Battleship (2012)

“Prepare to fire.”

Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson
Writers: Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber

Damn it you sunk my Battleship! Well at least I hoped to hear those words being uttered by Liam Neeson. It was a small hope, but honestly I had very little expectations going into this movie. Not wholly sure what kind of plot can be formulated from a game, and a pretty simple game at that. I still wait with baited breath for the Monopoly movie. Any I digress a little, time to get back on track and sink this thing.

I’ve been known to love cheesy movies, in fact I can’t get enough of Armageddon, but there are levels of cheesiness that even get too much for me. Most cheesy movies try and manipulate your emotions in the broadest of ways, heroic sacrifice, underdog overcoming the odds. You can watch stuff like Independence Day and many disaster movies to recognise the cliché beats of a cheesy movie plot. It really all comes down to how the movie is manipulating you. Most emotional manipulations can come from the situations, but those that come from characters are often so blatant they can destroy the pleasure in watching the movie. A good example of this is characters being overly patriotic in their celebrations because they all come from the same country, rather than just celebrating because they all lived.

This all seems like a long way to get to the point that Battleship is a cheesy movie, but it veers into some of the more insulting emotional manipulations that really hurt the movie. There seems like a desperate drive to manipulate the audience’s emotions even if they have to go to the extremes, and it’s a gigantic shame as there are some good things in this movie, things that could have made it a really fun summer popcorn movie that overcame its board game stigma.

Visually the movie gives you your monies worth, and actually makes sure to really show you the effects. I can’t say the 3D added anything but it’s certainly not the worst use of the technology. There’s not much to go on about with this movie as there is no real style to it all, it just wants to get from point A to point B, show you the pretty pictures and make you cheer at the set pieces. Part of me wishes I could go into detail but even after only a few days the memories of the movie are starting to fade.

Acting wise I can’t really say anyone was bad. In fact Taylor Kitsch was pretty good as Alex Hooper and really played the more comedic elements well. Also Alexander Skarsgard was endearing with the small screen time he had as Stone Hopper. The real problem for the actors was the schizophrenic tone of the movie. It never really allowed them to get a rhythm with their characters. Oh and while I love Liam Neeson, he never said the line, and he hardly appears in the movie. Boo I say. Boo.

The movie is blatant in its attempts to get a rise out of the audiences, and this hurts the great cast. Visually the movie lends itself to being a fun popcorn film and in some cases it can be. It really comes down to your own personal tolerance. Take a look at the trailer and if you feel like you could have some fun then go for it, otherwise just avoid it as I doubt you’ll find anything for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Wrath of the Titans (2012)

“You're sweating like a human... next it will be tears.”

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Rosamund Pike
Writers: Dan Mazeau and David Johnson

When I was but a wee lad I can remember watching this movie called Clash of the Titans on a wonderful Sunday with my dad. I loved the stop-motion effects created by Ray Harryhausen. Yet it wasn’t just the effect that charmed me, but the story of mortals trying to define their own path away from the gods was probably the first seeds planted for my own beliefs. In 2010 Clash of the Titans was remade, and in my opinion it was an extremely lazy movie, and saddened my how bad it was, especially considering the actors that were involved. Well this year Wrath of the Titans has been released and the over arching question is, can this sequel rectify the mistakes of the remake?

Not surprisingly this movie is better than the original, but that doesn’t mean too much as it wasn’t too hard to be better. Still it’s a flawed film that just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Which is a shame as there is potential to be a good action movie. If anything like the first movie the acting is better than a movie like this deserves. Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades are a blast, unfortunately some of their more interesting scenes have to be interrupted by the plot. Stupid plot pissing on one of the best things in the movie. Still there is something awesome about watching Neeson and Fiennes walking through a battlefield together, laying the smackdown on the monsters. Sam Worthington is what you would expect, I’m not really sure why he’s become popular as to me he comes across as a more boring version of Russel Crowe (growly voice and all), still he’s far from awful. There are some nice new characters for Bill Nighy and Toby Kebbell to latch on to. Rosamund Pike probably comes off the worst in the movie as Andromeda, but it’s not really her fault as the script throws her into the movie but gives her nothing to do.

Visually the movie delivers CGI beasties by the bucketful. In particular Cronos was a sight to see, and was probably one of the biggest villains I’ve seen in a while. The other monsters were well done and I liked some of the details they used. For instance the chimera has one head that breathes acid while the other one sets that acid on fire. It’s a nice touch. Also while I didn’t watch Clash in 3D, I did hear that it was shockingly bad. Well the 3D this time is a lot better, though I’m not sure if the movie really needed it other than to boost box office. Still Liebesman has a good handle on action, which is good as this is the main reason will see this movie.

Story wise we have some interesting themes that come up, the relationship between fathers and sons, and mortals and gods. It’s a shame the movie script wants to really do the bare minimum, but honestly expecting anything great from the movie is going to lead to disappointment. It knows what it wants to be, and the story can go to hell as long as the visuals please the audience. Funnily in such a hollow script, the movie does have pacing issues, and it does seem to drag, which is amazing considering its only 99 minutes. Yet again the term, still it’s better than the remake, comes to mind but that’s not a ringing endorsement.

So if you’ve watched the trailers to this movie and thought it looked cool and can spare the money for the tickets, then I don’t think anything should stop you. Visually the movie is good, it’s a step up from the original, and yet there is no drive to make it any better than competent. Any interesting interaction between actors is quickly diverted by the plot. There could have been something great here, with it’s themes but it’s never taken advantage of. You really don’t need my recommendation for this movie, cause you’ll know if you want to see it from the get go.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

“Hey, you try making love to a complete stranger in a hostile, mutant environment, see how you like it.”

Directors: Donald G. Jackson and R.J. Kizer
Starring: Roddy Piper and Sandahl Bergman
Writers: Randall Frakes

I’m a big wrestling fan and not just with the current stuff, but I was introduced to WWE when I was a kid and grew up on Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Million Dollar Man and of course Rowdy Roddy Piper. One day I managed to catch They Live and saw how great Mr Piper was as an action star. Since then I’ve always heard about this little film about frogs, but I could never find a copy. I have finally rectified that.

The movie has a really cheesy post apocalypse story going for it, which could have only really been made in the 80’s. Basically after a war the world has gone to hell. Most males are now sterile and to top that off you have frog mutants running about and they really don’t like humans. In this world of chaos comes our hero Sam Hell (Roddy Piper), one of the few men who is fertile. Captured by the government his junk becomes their property and his put to work repopulating the human race. Well first he needs to go to Frogtown and rescue some females. Yep the plot is bloody ridiculous and pretty much is the first hurdle to whether you will like this movie or not.

Do I really need to get into acting? I mean can you tell from the premise that subtlety is a word that’s not really known. What’s that? You want me to be a proper reviewer and cover all the point. Okay. So everyone on set has obviously been given orders to ham it up. This makes everything a bit of a crap shoot, as the over the topness might not really appeal to everyone. Having said that, Roddy Piper proves yet again that he could have been a great action star, it’s a shame his career never really hit the highs of a Stallone or hell even a Segal. He’s got charisma to burn and can make you like a character even if he has some shady edges.

Special effects are laughable but then what do you expect from an older movie, and one that was shot on a budget. Still the frog get ups are better than the sequels (remakes), and there is a certain bit of nostalgic lovability that comes through in the movie. Also the movie makes the most of its settings so it does seem like a wasteland. Everything else is pretty much standard direction, Jackson and Kizer seem focused on just getting the movie shot and allowing for the weirdness of the story to really drive it.

Hell Comes to Frogtown hasn’t really aged well but there is a certain amount of nostalgic charm to it. This movie relies on the charm of Roddy Piper and the weird premise to really push it along. If you like the idea of the story then you’ll probably like the movie, if not then it’s probably best to avoid. Personally if you are interested in this movie then I suggest you watch this with They Live to make a Roddy Piper double feature.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: The Raid (2012)

“Go to work and have a fun.”

Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ray Sahetapy, Joe Taslim and Doni Alamsyah
Writer: Gareth Evans

Action movies are a genre that I used to love, but I must say of late I’ve really had problems getting into them. It really has to do with how most movies are shot with the ‘shaky cam’ approach or the ‘rapid editing’ technique. I understand the theory behind them and how they are supposed to help in conveying action, but they seem to have gotten out of control in my opinion and completely ruin action movies these days. It annoys me when movies put all this effort into creating exciting set pieces and then destroy them through the visual aesthetic. It came as a relief then when I sat down to watch The Raid and found a movie that not only used these approaches correctly, but also managed to put on one of the most exciting action movies I’ve seen in a while.

Gareth Evans creates a simple story in which to build the action around. Honestly there is not a lot of this movie wasted, with it either giving us action set pieces or short focused jabs of story. Being 101 minutes it’s shorter than most 2 hours action epics and yet tells a better story than most. The first five minutes sets up the three main character points of the main lead Rama (Iko Uwais). We know he’s a husband and soon to be father, we know he’s an honourable man and we know that there is a secondary reason for him to be going on this raid. The audience doesn’t need any more to go on as we have everything we need to give a damn.

There are plenty of characters in this movie that are no more than villain or good guy as there is a big body count and Gareth Evans pretty much makes sure that time is only spent on the characters that are necessary. So yes it is obvious which characters are going to survive to at least the third act, but the movie isn’t really trying to trick you into guessing who’s going to live and die, instead it wants you to go along for the ride and quickly get to know the characters that are important. Seeming that it’s so important to get to know the characters quickly it’s a good thing the actors do a great job.

Iko Uwais is great as the central lead, his character comes off as very noble, and he has a charisma that is easy to get behind. Joe Taslim as lead police officer Jaka also does a great job as the leader who’s trying to get his men out of a really bad situation. The villain side is also made up of some excellent acting with the highlight being Ray Saheptapy as Tama, the crime lord who owns the building where the raid is taking place. He never hams it up which would be easy to do in this role, instead he creates a bad man that simmers with a quiet intensity that is really disturbing. When he does snap it’s a sight to behold.

Throughout the movie there are some impressive action set pieces that are brutal. A number of times I saw audience members wincing at the violence and a few walk out. It’s not that the blood is over the top, but more that the action is played out as realistically as possible. While this might turn some viewers away, it does create a pervading tension that won’t let up; as you know that the police officers are in one of the worst situations you could be in. Gareth Evans also makes sure that we can see all the action, and even in the most hectic scenes it is easy to know exactly what’s going on. Finally he uses shaky camera techniques, but instead of using them to make the scene seem kinetic, he uses them instead to create disorientation in audiences so they are experiencing what the main characters are going through. It’s never over used and is just one of many tools to create an excellent action movie.

As you can tell I’m very high on this movie. There are chances that this will appear on my top ten list of 2012 as it’s that good of an action movie. In an era where the art of creating action movies is fading away, it’s nice to see a movie show everyone how it should be done. If there is one thing that will turn away audiences, it is the brutality of some of the scenes. How ever if this isn’t an issue for people, and they are after one of the best action movies out there, then stop reading this review and get out there and watch this.