Prisoners: Survival of the Fittest

Rotten Tomatoes: 79% | IMDb: 8.4 | Metacritic: 73

My Rating: 4 of 5

Would I pay to see this movie again? Yes.

Rapid-Fire: Prisoners (2013) explores the consequences of our actions and motivations as a kidnapping sets the backdrop for a morality tale of good vs. evil. With great performances and shocking visuals, this film is powerful but not for the squeamish.

While I have not seen any of Denis Villeneuve’s other work, I was quite impressed by what could have easily become another Taken (2008) type movie. Instead we are presented with an intense struggle, which causes our loyalties to shift as new information is revealed. While the film hits all of the typical thriller conventions, there is a subtle play on them that keeps them fresh. One tiny gripe I had with the film is the few transitions that would dip to black, a device which slowed the pace way down. Also occasionally the dialogue was too on-the-nose, especially when the characters started talking about God. Even still, the performances all around including those from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano are outstanding. I particularly loved the introductory scene with Gyllenhaal’s character. If you’re not disturbed by graphic images and torture, than this is definitely a film worth checking out.

Riddick: Still Too Reddiculous

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Rotten Tomatoes: 58% | IMDb: 7.1 | Metacritic: 49

My Rating: 2.5 of 5

Would you pay to see this movie again? No.

Rapid-Fire: Riddick (2013) is the third live-action film starring Vin Diesel as the antihero who can see in the dark, but the film sadly doesn’t live up to the first movie.

Even when he tries to pay his first film homage, Director David Twohy still can’t seem to capture the correct mixture of amazing he discovered with Pitch Black (2000). Critic Adam Graham of the Detroit News says it best, “Twohy is trying to do something with his original character. It’s just not clear what that something is anymore.” It’s a shame that Katee Sackhoff plays the token T and A in this movie, with no important task except for taking off her shirt in one scene. There’s some cool stuff with a CGI dog, but it doesn’t compensate for the poor pacing, plotting, and pathetic use of one-liners. I will say that Twohy did a good job of making a dark film, every time a flashlight passes in front of the camera I feel like my head is exploding because it’s so bright (see, I can say something nice too). I highly recommend watching Pitch Black if you have not seen it. At least it’s a B movie that you can appreciate and enjoy. If for some reason there is another Riddick movie I’ll probably be passing on it unless there is some serious changes in the production keys.

The World’s End: The Last Cornetto Film

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%| IMDb: 7.8 | Metacritic: 81

My Rating: 3 of 5

Would you pay to see this again? No.

Rapid-Fire: The third film in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” The World’s End (2013) has its funny moments, but the old chemistry between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is dearly missing in this Sci-Fi parody.

Having been a total fan of Shaun of the Dead (2004), and being completely in love with Hot Fuzz (2007), I was quite excited to see The World’s End. Being the third collaboration between Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, I really was expecting a lot more from this film. The movie starts out with a great premise, getting the old gang back together to try and recapture youth and innocence, but is muddled rather than aided by the Sci-Fi body snatchers plot that is mixed in. The film doesn’t stick to its own rules and characters make dizzying transformations that are never explained. The more I think about this film, the less I like it. Ultimately these movies are supposed to be fun, but it’s hard to root for these guys, a similar problem with the film This is the End (2013). I’m somewhat surprised at all of the positive reviews. Either my expectations were too high, or critics are merely overlooking the flaws…

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Kick-Ass 2: Now More Funny

Rotten Tomatoes: 28% | IMDb: 7.5 | Metacritic: 41

My Rating: 3 of 5 

Would I pay to see this movie again? Yes

Rapid-Fire: Kick-Ass 2 (2013) is the follow up to the awkwardly violent Kick-Ass (2010), this time providing more dark comedy, great performances, but also less cohesion.

I’m actually a fan of director Jeff Wadlow’s extremely underrated Never Back Down (2008), so I was interested to see where a new director would take the sequel to a rather peculiar superhero film. What you get with Kick-Ass 2 is more of the same extreme violence paired with raging sexual hormones and insightful social commentary that is then tossed aside at the next possible moment. There are consequences for all of the actions taken, but yet this world still feels extremely distant from reality, in spite of all the time spent tackling the subject of real-life superheroes. The main characters seem to forget any lessons learned by the consequences of violence. The best parts involve the character of Hit-Girl played by Chloë Grace Moretz, who has a hard time coping with the death of her father, all while trying to blend in as a good high school freshman. The film would have been more aptly titled Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl, but maybe we can hope for that if there is a threequel. The Comic book creator Mark Millar said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times back in 2011 that he’s, “Known the last page of ‘Kick-Ass 3’ since I wrote Page 1 of the first series.” But for now, let’s take a look at all the bad press Kick-Ass 2 is getting from the critics…

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Elysium: This Film Is Not Exactly Heaven

Rotten Tomatoes: 66% | IMDb: 7.2 | Metacritic: 60 

My Rating: 3 of 5 

Would I pay to see this movie again? No.

Rapid-Fire: Elysium (2013) is the second feature from writer and director Neill Blomkamp of the acclaimed District 9 (2009), but despite the amazing visuals, is weak in the story department.

The trailers showed off the best parts of Elysium, the idea that in the future humans would look to the stars and the privileged and powerful would lord advancements over the less fortunate. It showed off cool Sci-Fi tech, and the performances from Matt Damon and Jodie Foster looked solid. The trailer however glossed over the importance flashbacks were going to have, the strange Foster accent, the annoying Wagner Moura, and a number of other bizarre filmmaking choices. The music and the CGI were great, but ultimately the film was sort of a letdown for me. I was really looking forward to this movie and perhaps my expectations were too high. The main gripe I have is with the plot, the execution of how the filmmakers explored the core ideas of the film, that is weak here. Critics however seem to be split…

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2 Guns: Old School Cliché

Rotten Tomatoes: 58% | IMDb: 6.9 | Metacritic: 55 

My Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Would I pay to see it again? No

Rapid-Fire: 2 Guns (2013) is an uninspired buddy-cop movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington that lacks the humor of The Other Guys (2010) and the shock factor of Training Day (2001).

There comes a time in every moviegoer’s life where they inevitably pick that wrong movie to go see. This last week, a decision came down between 2 Guns and The To Do List (2013) and I made the unfortunate decision to take a chance on the former. I’m not saying that I thought 2 Guns was going to be an exceptional piece of filmmaking, but my blogging mind got in the way saying things like, “This movie is more current, it has great actors in it, and I’m sure it won’t be that bad.” Denial is one of the stages of coping with a bad movie decision. The movie never spends the proper amount of time building the relationship between the two protagonists. Having two characters riff and talk in the same room doesn’t mean they are developing a believable relationship. I think this movie suffers most from two miscast actors and questionable execution. I find it hard to believe any critic would champion the film…

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Let’s Review X-Men Part 6: ‘The Wolverine’

Rotten Tomatoes: 66% | IMDb: 7.3 | Metacritic: 61/100 

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Would I pay to see it again? No

Rapid-Fire: The Wolverine (2013) follows Hugh Jackman as he reprises the role for the sixth time, battling his demons from X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and dealing with the curse of immortality. Jackman does great in this darker but occasionally plodding superhero film.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and

As someone so eloquently put it, The Wolverine is not a superhero movie, but rather it’s about a man who also happens to be a superhero. My favorite parts of the film include the exchanges between Logan and the spirit of Jean Grey, reprised by Famke Janssen. Much like Iron Man in Iron Man 3 (2013), our protagonist is shaken by the things he has experienced; they’ve left their mark on his soul. Logan was a teacher at the end of The Last Stand, but now we find him alone in the wilderness having giving up his mantle. One of the biggest problems the movie faces is establishing a bond between Jackman and Mariko played by Tao Okamoto, in the face of his love for Jean. The film doesn’t really make us care for Mariko’s fate and so the third act drags despite the action. Even with all of the shaky cam used, this film will not entertain younger audiences either. And despite director James Mangold’s reservations regarding end credit stings, the short clip at the end of the movie is worth the price of admission alone for X-Men fans. Overall the superhero drama is enjoyable, but it has received split critical response…

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Let’s Review X-Men Part 5: ‘X-Men: First Class’

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Rotten Tomatoes: 88% | IMDb: 7.8 | Metacritic: 65

My Rating: 2.5 of 5 

Rapid-Fire: X-Men: First Class (2011) attempts to explain how a group of mutants attained the moniker by helping the United States during the Cold War.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1, 2, 3, and 4.

There’s a lot to like about First Class. The acting, the special effects, and the cinematography are all top quality. Director Matthew Vaughn certainly had a vision for the way he wanted the movie to feel and he definitely achieved that old-school look. I assumed that the movie was good because people always seem to have positive things to say about it. I was quite surprised when I finally got a chance to see it. I never imagined that the X-Men would be a government group gathered to stop a mutant from starting World War III with the Russians. So much of the canon is retconned that it was really hard for me to process a Charles Xavier with hair, a “good” Mystique, and Havok as perhaps Cyclops’ father. The movie serves as a litany of “isn’t it cool how this happened?” moments. I would have much rather preferred a film that really followed one character predominantly, namely Magneto played by Michael Fassbender. But there’s so much going on that I just started to check out. I can’t count the number of times mutants were asked to choose which side they wanted to fight on. I was constantly checking the clock. Although the film received many positive responses from critics, the one’s I’ve been following seem to share my overall dislike…

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