Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Numbers Station

The Numbers Station is a Netflix find. One of many unknown John Cusack and Nicolas Cage movies that have been on Netflix recently.  I like John Cusack, and love Malin Ackerman. So I watch it. Its not terrible, but not great either. Its a perfectly serviceable film about a secret CIA station somewhere in Europe where they broadcast numbers that are codes for CIA assassins and their targets.  If you got ahold of the code, and one of the stations, you could secretly assign the CIA to destroy itself and the United States.  Someone manages to do this and it's up to semi-retired CIA agent John Cusack and the girl who reads and decodes the numbers Malin Ackerman to stop it.  It's a small film, with only a few cast members, but it does manage to rachet up the tension to merit a watch. Check it out next time you think there is nothing good on Netflix!

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Kick-Ass 2

The original Kick-Ass was one of the most original comic book films of the last decade.  It was filled with humor, satire, violence, and action.  Is Kick-Ass 2 a worthy sequel? Yes, for the humor and action, not so much for the satire and violence.

This second film is directed by Jeff Wadlow, who does a pretty good job. He captured a lot of the tone and the spirit that was in the first film.  The film opens a while after the first. Kick-Ass is semi-retired, Hit-Girl is still running around, but soon retires while Kick-Ass comes out of retirement. Meanwhile, Red Mist is now the Motherfucker and wants revenge on Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl for killing his father in the first film.  Teams of heroes and villians unite, then fight.  All in all the story is nothing new to moviegoers or comic book fans.   What sets the film apart is the real world stance on all of the violence.  There are no super-powers, just regular people working out, using weapons and guns.  Actions have consequences. Some of the violence is a little amped up, but not too much. I don't know what Jim Carrey had against this film, as the violence in it is NOWHERE NEAR what was in the first film. This film is almost tame by comparison.  Almost tame, but still worthy of it's R-rating. 

All of our actors are good here. They are the reason to come see the film. Jim Carrey and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are stand outs. Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl are still great, funny characters.  All in all if you're looking for a fun follow-up to the first film, you won't be dissapointed.  If you're looking for this film to be on the same level of satire and violence as the first film, you might be dissapointed. 

3.5 out of 5 Stars.


Fast & Furious 6

I worked at a movie theater when 2 Fast 2 Furious came out in the summer of 2003. I saw the movie then, and the crowds of posers, wannabe car nuts, and silly dressed people that came out.  Then, it was all about the cars. Everything was new, had NOS, and had neon lights underneath the car. Neon Neon Neon.  Didn't that film take place in Miami? No wonder neon was everywhere.  I skipped the next film Tokyo Drift and came back when Paul Walker and Diesel returned with Fast & Furious.  That movie was alright, but I thought the series really took off with Fast Five. They brought in The Rock, and he was a great antagonist to our main heroes.  Plus, the scene involving the bank vault in the streets was phenomenal. Go check it if you haven't seen it.

So after the great Fast Five I had high hopes for this film.  It was by the same director as Five, Justin Lin, and the Rock was back. Plus, Liddy (Michelle Rodriguez) lives! In the end, Fast & Furious 6 doesn't live up to the hype.  No one goes to these films for the plot. Yes we have some relationship to the characters, but its mostly about the action.  What made the bank vault scene so great was that it was plausible. You can't really say that about any of the sequences Fast 6. Now, I know how to take movies less seriously, but since this isn't a superhero film or supernatural, it's hard not to apply the rules of physics to anything that happens.  A tank on the road? It wouldn't tear up the asphalt behind it? It would drive that fast? Probably not.  The jump across the bridges to catch Liddy? Maybe.  Pulling a plane down with a few cars and cables that weighs TONS? Not even close.

Fast and Furious 6 is only okay. It's not the best in the series. That belongs to Fast Five.

3 out of 5 Stars

Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain looks like a fun movie from Michael Bay.  It looks like it has humor and action.  Despite all the Miami sunlight, and the sheen of tanning oil, Pain & Gain is not a bright film. It's a dark tale. One that ultimately will disappoint.

Based on a true story of three knucklehead body builders who steal the money of one rich guy whom they are training, and then it all comes crashing down. Some of the things that happen in the film are absolutely true, some are beyond belief.  This movie is DARK. Its not an action comedy, its a dark crime movie that tries to be humorous.  Often it does not succeed.  The performances here by Mark Wahlberg, The Rock, and Anthony Mackie are all fine. But there are no real stand outs.  Some reviewers said that The Rock's performance was good, sometimes revelatory, but in reality it's just the Rock playing a goof, which he did in Be Cool, and that wasn't great either.  What ultimately brings the film down is the stark contrast between it's dark story and sunny cinematography. They never really match up.  If Pain & Gain does anything, it shows that Michael Bay has more range in directing than just the Transformers films.

2 out of 5 Stars

Awake: TV Series

Awake was a TV series that ran for one season last year.  It produced 13 episodes and they are all currently available for viewing on Netflix.  I watched the series in a couple of days/weeks and rather enjoyed it.  The first few episodes have a good hook to them, and like most TV shows it slows down in the middle. It's worth your time if you're looking for a TV series to watch but don't want to get bogged down in seasons upon seasons of episodes.

Awake's hook is that this man is always awake.  Not that he never sleeps, but that he travels between dimensions/universes each time he falls asleep. Following a terrible car crash our protagonist (Jason Isaacs) is one of two survivors.  He, his wife, and his son were in the car when it crashed. Here is where the timelines diverge.  In one world (orange tinted)  his son died, and his wife survived.  In the other world (blue tinted) his wife died and his son survived.  So every time he falls asleep he jumps between worlds. Also, in each world he sees a psychologist. Each psychologist has a different theory on what is going on. One treats it like it is really happening and asks probing questions, the other thinks its all in his patient's head and writes it off, telling our man that he needs to cut out the other world, because it is destroying his mind.

Intrigued? Check it out! Like any one season series, it doesn't tie up a lot of loose ends, but I think it's worth checking out.

Review Blitz Today

Hey Gang!

Yes, a lot of time has passed since I posted last, but there will be a review blitz today. All short and sweet, as I've posted drafts for the movies I've watched but forgot about them. So no long reviews, just short and sweet impressions.