Sunday, March 1, 2009


My main problem with Taken is that I have seen this same exact movie multiple times before.  But I can’t deny that it was fun to see Liam Neeson doing the standard heartless ass kicking.  Does it make up for the fact that I could call out the scenes before they happened?  Not really, but still Liam Neeson was torturing and murdering fools!

I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  If you are offering me 2 hours of Liam Neeson running around France leaving bodies in his wake, there is no reason to turn that down.  Lots of Jack Bauer style beatings, threats, torture, and killings.  That’s always a good time.  The action wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was all well done.  Sadly, Neeson was the only likable character in the entire story.  I was actively rooting against everyone else.  I wanted his daughter to be kidnapped; I wanted his ex-wife to be put through that ordeal; I wanted her friend to be killed.  Everyone was stupid and got what’s coming to them.  Who the hell lets their 17 year-old daughter trail a band through Europe without adult supervision for a summer?  How is the father in the wrong for being completely against this reckless bullshit?  As for her friend, you get what’s coming to you if you are just giving out your personal information to random dudes in foreign countries.  Still it was fun to see Xander Berkeley pop up as rich step-dad.  I miss George Mason.

Taken was a solid 24-style action movie.  Will I remember it come December?  I doubt it.  For now I don’t have strong enough objections to be negative about it.  And really who doesn’t like Liam Neeson?

7 our of 10


Good lord, Dakota Fanning is a teenager and now I feel way too old.  Not only that but she was nearly single-handedly responsible for me enjoying Push.   The key word there was nearly because sadly Push was a barely a step above Jumper.  Drunk Fanning can only take you so far.

I already mentioned Jumper and the reason for that is Push is disturbingly similar to that embarrassment.  They both were dumped on the public in the dead period of Ferbruary, had stories based on people with super powers in the “real” world, gloriously ridiculous back stories, starred wooden young actors (Anakin Skywalker and The Human Torch), had Sam Jack and Djimon overacting to the limits of their ability, and were obviously created with a franchise in mind.  Don’t hold your breath on that last one.  Push gets my vote because of Dakota, better action sequences, and special effects.  I’m actually serious about praising Fanning; she had solid timing throughout the movie.  The powers, telekinesis, seeing the future, mind control, tracking, shadowing, material manipulation (or what is better known as shit you see in the X-Men) all looked good onscreen.  Except the screaming idiots, Banshee’s powers seem much cooler in a comic book.   Don't ask me to break down the story because I ain’t smart enough or I didn’t bring my bs to English translator.

I am mildly disappointed with Push.  Not that I was banking on it being my favorite film of 2009, but it looked like it had a solid upside.  But action movies are dumped in the first quarter of the year for a reason; the numbers don’t lie.

6 out of 10   

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

It’s been 3 years, which makes it just about time for more vampires and werewolves (sorry lycans) fighting while speaking in British accents.  The only difference with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is that Kate Beckinsale has been replaced with Rhona Mitra or to be more specific a less expensive Kate Beckinsale.  Besides that there is nothing new here.

For a substitute, Mitra does an admirable job.  With this and the equally ridiculous Doomsday from 2008, I hope she does become the next Lara Croft as has been rumored.  She is hot, has a knack for action, and speaks British; I believe those are all the requirements.  Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy collect a paycheck and overact to pass the time.  Still its fun to seem them reprise these roles even if the last thing I saw Sheen in was Frost/Nixon and now he is running around shirtless like Leonidas in 300.  It’s very confusing.  Oh yeah, if you were still losing sleep over why werewolves and lycans are warring in the Underworld universe well this does answer that crucial question.  You can now sleep easy. 

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is just a copy of a copy.  That does mean if you enjoyed the original it’s a good chance you will enjoy a slightly lesser version of the same movie.  And really isn’t that what we are really looking for out a movies.

5 out of 10    


So, raise your hand if you thought a biopic of Christopher Wallace would rise above straight to BET level?  Yeah that’s what I thought.  Who knew?  Is saying something is the greatest movie about hip hop damning it with faint praise?  Even if that is the case, Notorious was surprisingly good. 

Notorious never broke the mold of your basic bio flick but it was fun to see all the usual stuff but this time it was about a hip-hop artist.  Something inspires a kid, he struggles to find his voice, makes it, troubles, overcomes troubles, dies.  Biggie’s story is different only in that all of this took place in about a 3-year time frame.  Still I can’t complain when for nearly 2 hours I got to hear the Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest hits and a bunch of actors portraying Lil Kim, Lil Cease, Lil Puffy, and Lil Tupac.  The actor portraying Biggie, Jamal Woolard, did an admirable job.  I wouldn't call him a dead ringer, but he never made you laugh when he was spitting famous rhymes.  The more I think of about it, the more it becomes obvious that I was swayed by hearing some of my favorite tracks of all-time.  Still, nothing strongly negative comes to mind while writing this review.  Hopefully this leads to more copycat hip-hop biographies, like The Life and Times of The Lost Boys or Shook Ones: The Story of Mobb Deep.

For a boilerplate biography released in the wastelands of January, Notorious was shockingly solid.  There aren't many actors running around who can pass for Christopher Wallace but Woolard got the job done and the music did the rest.
7 out of 10