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Mortal Kombat (2021)
MMA fighter Cole Young seeks out Earth's greatest champions in order to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.
Directing: Who is Simon? If you can't afford a decent director then at least pick someone who has actually directed a movie before, or at least has some kind of connection to the story or a vision or something... The first act is great, when it started, I was really impressed and thought this will be a great remake. Then it all went downhill from there. I was excited to see the fight scenes, but it looks like the focus was more on the "Fatality" than it was on the actual fighting which felt bland, didn't feel like the characters were in any kind of danger.
Production: The production team is solid, regardless of the fact they had one too many executives, but the team is solid. I expected more from Kasanoff (was also producer in the 95 original) to at least influence some reality into the movie. One major flaw is the excess CGI in scenes that required none and made it look too gamified than an actual movie. I am sure the gamer fans enjoyed it but when you make it into a movie the whole purpose of it is to turn a game into reality which is not the case here.
Script: What kind of nonsense is this? Pick something and stick to it. Script is all over the place, and if you decide to combine a bunch of stories together then at least do a good job writing it. Bland, weak, and has no depth to it at all.
Acting: Credit has to be given to Hiroyuki Sanada for an outstanding performance and for basically carrying the whole movie. Joe Taslim also did a solid job as Bi-Han (sub-zero), as for the rest of the crew... Their acting felt as if I was watching cut scenes from a video game, like they were just standing there with no emotion, reading a transcript off a prompter. Even in the fight scenes, you can clearly differentiate between the CGI transitions and the real fighting, and I am not talking about the unrealistic parts but some of the actual one on one combat is also CGI.
Cinema and sound: Who decided that the best way to edit the fight scenes is by making as many cut transitions as possible? The excessive editing and cutting of the fight scenes is ridiculous. What bothers me more is that it's not needed, but I get why they did it, they needed to CGI the unrealistic parts, CGI half the fight scenes which I am guessing was to avoid using stunt doubles and to avoid showing how much of a mess the acting/fighting skills of the actors was.
Conclusion: What a disappointment, Bad script, bad acting with few exceptions and a pile of editing and CGI mess to top it off. The only thing I liked in it was the opening scene, the rest is a disaster.
I give Mortal Kombat a rating of 3/10.
Gripping Sci-Fi Movie
Directing: I must say that Neill did an amazing job not only directing but also writing and delivered a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Starting from the first act, building up to a steady second act and finish off with a great closure.
Production: Of course, Neill was also part of the production team, as if he had nothing else more important to do like writing or directing. Bill along with the rest of the production team, all worked with Neill on previous projects including District 9 and Chappi. Problem is that when it comes to this combination of outer space, rockets, robots, health crisis etc... extensive details are key and small mistakes can sometimes cause irregularities and plot holes. This movie has so many goofs and plot holes it's quite comic.
Script: Neill wrote a very impressive script, there is nothing much else I can say about the script except a few barely noticeable irregularities but other than that, the script was solid! Great work Neill.
Acting: Mat, Jodie, Fichtner all great actors, delivering a solid performance throughout the movie. A special praise goes to Copley for an exceptional performance as Kruger.
Cinema and sound: Lorn's opening Ghosst was out of this world crazy, and an impressive composition by Ryan Amon with a soundtrack to be remembered. The cinematography was on point, no shaky blurred scenes that make no sense, a solid job done with visuals and editing. I do have a few question marks on a few shots, like how is Elysium so clearly visible from earth?
Conclusion: Goofs aside, I enjoyed watching Elysium from start to finish, it was thrilling and entertaining.
I give Elysium a rating of 8.5/10.
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
General Note: We are in the year 2021 and we have at this day and age the technology to make epic CGI and Special Effects. This is no longer a choice and more of a given especially in fictional movies and movies that have "big scary monsters".
Directing: Adam is known for his horror movies and makes a great director. I would have preferred to see Peter Jackson directing this, but nonetheless, Adam did a great job. Having said that and while watching I didn't get the feeling of connection between any of the characters. There wasn't a single scene that popped out to me.
Production: It is clear as day that the investment in the production of this movie is substantial, also noting that they brought in many producers and co producers from the previous movies like Mary Parent, Brian Rogers and Thomas Tull who is known for his work in the 2014 Godzilla, Inception, and Pacific Rim. They delivered a cinematic wonder with Epic Visuals and attention to detail.
Script: I was especially disappointed with the lack of character emphasis and buildup. This, in my opinion would have taken this movie to a whole new level. Not only this, but the lack of emotional connection between the characters themselves.
Acting: This is where things become interesting, the acting is questionable when the script and directing are set to make a character seem emotional when in fact that is not the case. The problem here is not the actors' performances but more the roles assigned to them and their script that made them seem blander or for better terms mechanical.
Cinema and sound: No objections here, the epicness of the movie is based on the perfection of the cinematography and the CGI making it one of the best I've seen in a while. Amazing score by Tom Holkenborg that matched perfectly.
Conclusion: If you want to see epic cinematic clash between two titans then this is a must watch! Just, don't expect any emotional or dramatic attachment with any of the characters except maybe with Jia, the little girl. Other than that, all characters seemed a bit mechanical.
I give Godzilla vs. Kong a rating of 7/10.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
The defiant leader Moses rises up against Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, setting six hundred thousand slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
Before I get into this review, I want to stress on a subject first. The storyline of this movie is based on the biblical story of Moses, but it is not his story and does not reflect the story as it is in the bible. I have seen a lot of wrongly based reviews and incredibly low ratings because of this.
Directing: Ridley Scott needs no introduction, but I must say that he took a noticeably big leap with this movie. I am not disappointed with his vision and the crucial changes he made to the original story because that his own vision and he has the right to do whatever he wants with it. When it comes to stories that have a deep historical and religious following one must be careful when relaying that story especially in a high budget international movie which is something Ridley did not take into consideration.
Production: One thing that jumped out to me was the numerous Egyptian producers and executive producers that worked in the team to make this movie as historically realistic as possible with extensive attention to detail. With Ridley on set, I would expect nothing less than perfection. The Hiring thought was not accurate to say the least and this showed drastically throughout the movie.
Script: The script plays the most important part in movies such as this one, especially when it is based on a true story and more importantly when it is referenced biblically. Extreme caution needs to be taken when writing such a script. I can't say the writers did a bad job, but what I can say is that they approached this movie as they would any other, and I suspect this was the intention of Ridely.
Acting: I am not sure what happened here, Bale is a phenomenal actor, so is Sigourney and Kingsley. I must say that the acting overall was bland. Throughout the movie I felt there is something missing, I can't wrap my head around what it is exactly, but I had this constant feeling that there is something missing in their performance. I am also not fully convinced that Turturo was the best decision here to take on the role of Seti. To be honest, I didn't feel any of the main actors fit their roles except Edgerton whom I think did an amazing job as Ramses.
Cinema and sound: The numerous nominations, the 140 million plus thrown at this movie should be the "enough said". Visually stunning, amazing sets, extreme attention to detail in everything and some of the best camera work I've seen. I would expect nothing less with Ridley on set and they deserve the praise. I especially like the score by Alberto Iglesias and felt it fit this movie very well.
Conclusion: I was excited to watch this movie, but I am saddened to say that I ended up leaving disappointed. Movies such as this need to have a deep emotional connection with the viewer, and the lack of it makes it bland and only watchable for the stunning cinematography.
I give Exodus: Gods and Kings a rating of 5/10.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Directing: Debra Granik attempts to tell a story that must be told and people need to know about, and it is crucially important for this message to come across from different perspectives that include his own, his daughter's and people they encounter. Debra did a phenomenal job at that, she managed to take the viewer to see and experience the world through their eyes which made it a great movie to watch.
Production: A thumbs up to the production team for picking Eagle Fern Park in Clackamas County to shoot this movie which is where the original story in the novel 'My Abandonment' takes place. It was shot in the spring of 2017 in Portland, it premiered on January of 2018 and was released on June of that year.
Script: Written by Granik and Anne Rosellini, the script is based on the 2009 novel 'My Abandonment' by Peter Rock which is based on a true story. To be honest, the script was not a masterpiece. Many improvements could have made it even better but imho these small details are hardly noticeable and can easily be missed.
Acting: Ben Foster outdid himself and did a great job taking the role of the father, as well Thomasin McKenzie whom I have been a fan of for a while now and see great potential in her future.
Cinema and sound: When it comes to sound and the atmosphere, I was in a way unmoved by the choice of music. I am just not a fan of this type of low orchestral tone. However, Dickon's music does fit the theme of the movie so no objections there. Camera work was as it was supposed to be, beautiful cinematography and nature sequences.
Conclusion: Do not walk into this movie expecting action which would normally be expected from a movie classed under adventure. It is a great story of a father and daughter going through challenging events that will change their lives forever. I really enjoyed watching it and would definitely recommend it.
I give Leave No Trace a rating of 9/10.
Directing: Ric Roman Waugh's dedication in this movie to deliver the storyline as intended without deviation was accomplished. I was, as was many others were expecting to watch an action filled disaster movie packed with action, but I was not disappointed with what I saw.
Production: My problem here was with the trailer, which I'd say was done deliberately as it is to draw in disaster movie enthusiasts and at the same time showing off the amazing CGI and camera work. But this was a huge mistake that backlashed and practically destroyed the movie's potential to be the great movie it is.
Script: The story is about a couple and their kid surviving a disaster event. Chris Sparling did much better than I expected writing this movie, and I must stress that even though we've been through many disaster movies, this one quite excelled because of the fact that its main focus was the story of the couple surviving the disaster than it is about the disaster itself and what comes with it. In addition, I admit that there are a lot of cliché scenes that could have been better written.
Acting: I expected nothing less from Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin, two of my absolute favorite actors. Their performance was not award worthy but definitely worth the praise.
Cinema and sound: Amazing work done that deserved more than just one nomination for not only the sound and effects but the cinematography and CGI as well. Another thing that I liked while watching is that there was no excess use of shaky camera work which is the one thing I absolutely dislike in these types of movies.
Conclusion: I must say that I enjoyed watching it, the story might not be as some had expected with much less action scenes, but it was enjoyable to watch.
I give Greenland a rating of 7/10.
Girl in the Basement (2021)
Directing: Elisabeth Röhm did a great job with this small budget movie and delivered the message she intended to send, although there were many flaws and mistakes, but the message did go through as intended.
Production: Again, this is a low budget movie and have as a result some limitations that were obvious. I genuinely believe that with some extra effort this would have been an amazing theatrical piece but sadly it's not. Nevertheless, they did a great job.
Script: Although the movie is classified as Crime and Thriller, the story is based on the real-life events of Elisabeth Fritzl and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, Josef. Even though the story is well documented, it took 3 writers to write it and did so horribly. The script is a major setback imo.
Acting: Stefanie Scott did great and so did Judd Nelson whom I did not even recognize at first. Almost all did a good job but what disappointed me the most was that the horribly written script that clearly showed in their performance.
Cinema and sound: To be honest, while watching, neither the music nor the camera work bothered me. They did a better job than I expected.
Conclusion: These kinds of stories need to have a weigh and a certain play on emotions as well as balance of power. On one hand would be the abusive power the dad holds against the daughter and her own power to withstand and live through it. Sadly, the latter was not as evident.
I give Girl in the Basement a rating of 5/10.
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Directing: Augmented? Really? I was disappointed in this movie from the first scene with Linda Hamilton till the end. I cannot comment on the why without spoilers but damn! After Tim Miller's masterpiece directing of Deadpool I was really looking forward to see his vision in this movie but I must say, he blew it. At least add something, not just copy paste from previous movies!
Production: I expected more, especially with the amount they invested. James Cameron for god's sake!
Script: Great work by Goyer, the screenplay was as good as I expected it to be and Ray as well. Also, Justin Rhodes? I am intrigued to know more about his contribution to this movie!
Acting: Linda Hamilton did not disappoint! She practically carried the whole movie. Mackenzie Davis did a great job as well. Natalia Reyes' performance was better than I expected.
Cinema and sound: I expected nothing less than perfection! Especially with Cameron in production. The CGI was on spot, the cinematography was short from perfection, and composer JXL to top it off.
Conclusion: I really wanted to like this movie. I won't lie, I enjoyed the fighting, shooting and all that stuff so the movie is worth watching for fun, if bored and have nothing else to watch.
An underrated thrilling sci-fi
Directing: William Eubank delivered. Underwater is not a masterpiece, but it did deliver from start to finish. Production: Underwater was shot in 2017 and was released in 2020 which says something. Taking that into consideration, before watching the movie I had some doubts, but after the first act I was surprised and well invested. I enjoyed every minute of it. Script: Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad did a great job; the script was very well written and very well executed. The storyline was thrilling from start to finish. There are some things that bothered me but overall, it was great. Acting: I was extremely impressed by Kristen Stewart's performance; it is one of her better performances, as well as Vincent who also did a great job. Cinema and sound: Yes! The cinematography excelled in their work and maintained it throughout the movie. I was a bit disappointed with the score, Marco Beltrami is an excellent composer, but I didn't feel he put in as much effort into this as he should have. Additionally, the Music department work and sound effects were fairly good. Conclusion: Usually, movies that include this type of storyline, isolation and survival plot draw my attention, and I tend to have a more optimistic mindset before watching them. This movie did not disappoint, it is not a masterpiece, but I really enjoyed watching it. Rating: 8/10.
Directing: Wolfgang Petersen did a not bad job directing this movie, but he did miss a few critical aspects at the beginning of the movie when Poseidon flipped over. His vision of the movie was more focused on the personnel survival which caused some minor hiccups in the storyline. Production: There are 5 producers, 4 executive producers, 3 co-producers and 1 associate producer. The investment, energy and resources put in this movie were so extensive that it made the movie watchable. I hail the production efforts and team for what they did in this movie. Script: having Mark Protosevich as a screenplay writer was nowhere near being a good idea. So much investment was put into this movie, the least they can do is hire a good screenplay writer not someone who has never written a screenplay before. The movie started with a dull script, and it all went downhill from there. I am sure this was a major reason why the movie failed to deliver. Acting: Acting was fair, I would argue that the actor selection was not to the point, but the overall acting was not that bad. Kurt Russel could have done a much better job than he did. Josh Lucas and Emmy Rossum would have had some impressive scenes with a better script. Cinema and sound: This is where the movie excelled! The visual effects, the sound, the cinematography was impressive to say the least. Klaus Badelt Did an awesome job with the score, a great pick by the production team. Conclusion: I was extremely disappointed with how the movie ended up and I genuinely believe it had the potential to be a great remake. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable to a degree even with the dull script and messed up storyline. Rating of 6/10.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Loved every second of the movie. All the actors in the movie outperformed themselves and the directing was spot on by Gibson.