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The Expendables

The Expendables

Directed by:  Sylvester Stallone

Written by:  Dave Callaham, Sylvester Stallone

Produced by:  Kevin King , Avi Lerner. Kevin King Templeton. John Thompson

Starring:  Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin. Mickey Rourke

Run Time:  103 Min

Sylvester Stallone knows what men want in a movie; men want brutal action, manly jokes and none of that emotional nonsense that tries to trick them into wear skinny pants with tight turtle neck sweaters.  Stallone said it best “‘I’ve done my ‘mind movies’ and I don’t think people are very interested in seeing me do that anymore. I think I’m past my prime in doing dramatic films; it would feel almost like a pathetic cry out to be recognized as a serious dramaturge.’ Now that’s what I want to hear from a guy who started off making the some of the most legendary action films and is content to stick where his roots lie.  He proved it in Rambo 4 and proved it once again in The Expendables.

The plot of the movie, a team of mercenaries is hired to take on a corrupt South American General, isn’t anything new or innovative.  What makes this movie special is it has almost all of the great action stars that people have grown to know and love throughout the years doing what they do best, kicking some ass.  No one who likes action films wants a long drawn out plot or an in depth look into the geopolitics of a corrupt country; just show the basic story then get to the action.  This kind of movie doesn’t depend on a plot that makes sense: it depends on things blowing up, one liners and the big name tough guys.

Needless to say The Expendables is full of explosions, fire fights and fists impacting people’s faces.  The action scenes are nearly perfect and are choreographed better than most mainstream movies that have tried to pass themselves off as action in the last few years.  The only problem I had was that Jet Li didn’t showcase his talents as much as I would have liked but honestly, most of his movies that have been made in America can’t compare to his older ones which were made in China.

If I had one word to describe The Expendables it would be “Brotastic.”  I’m certain that a lot of men who watch this movie will want to go to the gym or do some pushups.  This of course isn’t an artsy girly movie and unless you’re a woman who actually likes 80’s action movies don’t bother coming(there’s nothing worse than hearing “I don’t like this” or “We should have seen that Richard Gere movie” while you’re having a good time).  Every guy should go see The Expendables, sneak some booze into the theater and have an amazing time watching a movie that’s actually meant for a male audience.  Movies like this don’t make it to the big screen often and it’s our job as men to support action movies like this.

(4.5/5)

The Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

The Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Directed by: Jessica Oreck
Written by: Jessica Oreck
Produced by: Jessica Oreck (Myriapod Productions)
Run Time: 90 Min
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles

For thousands of years, mankind has been examining nature as a way to learn more about our self, our purpose and our destiny. The idea that everything in the world is somehow connected has inspired generations of Japanese philosophers, rulers and religious figures who look for answers in their quest to for the universal truths of mankind’s existence by looking at some of the smallest creatures on the planet: insects. The Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, even though it sounds like a B-Movie, examines Japanese culture and their fascination with insects, from the roles that these strange creatures have played in their ancient philosophies, to becoming modern day pets or collectors items.

The documentary primarily follows a bug catcher and several children, combining them with spectacular photography of Japan’s natural beauty as it tells the story of the insects influence throughout history. At the same time, the movie isn’t just about bugs or all of the deep philosophies passed down through the ages; it’s also about instilling the same sense of wonder and appreciation of nature that we all felt the first time we stumbled across a giant beetle on a hike or in our backyard. Even the tone of the movie is everything you’d expect out of eastern philosophy writings where calmness and being connected to the world around you almost makes the viewer forget the westernized world we live in.

The movie would be perfect except for that it might be difficult for some young children get into because they wouldn’t be able to read all of the subtitles. Luckily this flaw will be solved soon with the educational version of the film due to be released in the late summer complete with an English script. The $365 price tag of the educational version will however make it unobtainable for most people and is geared towards schools. Hopefully a more consumer friendly version of the film makes its way out so a younger audience or just those people who hate subtitles can enjoy it along with everyone else.

What else can I say besides I love this documentary? I know that not everybody likes bugs but I can’t picture a single person (even those squeamish people that hate spiders) who wouldn’t think some of the insects in this movie aren’t interesting. This movie is an awesome watch for anyone curious about exploring other cultures but I liked it for a completely different reason; it made me forget all of those things I don’t want to deal with in my everyday life. After a long day at work or just a day of watching the news, who wouldn’t want to leave all of that behind and go to a simpler place and escape for an hour or two? Now that I think about it, after watching this movie, I want to go outside with a net and see what kinds of weird bugs I can find. I hear you can make a good living selling them In Japan

(4.5/5)

Taxidermia

Taxidermia

Directed by: György Pálfi

Written by: György Pálfi , Zsófia Ruttkay, based on short stories by Lajos Parti Nagy

Produced by: Emilie Georges, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu

Starring: Csaba Czene, Gergely Trócsányi, Marc Bischoff, István Gyuricza, Piroska Molnár, Gábor Máté, Géza Hegedüs, Zoltán Koppány

Running Time: 91 min

Language: Hungarian, English Subtitles

The story of three generations of men, over two centuries, filled with oddities and cringe worthy moments is the only way to describe Taxidermia. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart nor is it for the typical foreign movie connoisseur. All the way from the beginning to the end, the viewer is taken through completely unique stories, each, leaving the viewer either traumatized, questioning who could possibly write a movie like this and where they got their inspiration. Taxidermia is the perfect movie for horror fans or for someone who craves a deranged story with a copious amount of gore and disturbing imagery.

The film takes place throughout three different generations and the settings reflect everything from a small Hungarian slum, decayed by years of neglect, to an old European sports ring, complete with everything one would picture from the communist era and finally the shops and markets modern society. The cinematography itself is beautiful and artfully done though the environments are visually unpleasant and strange which gives the viewer the best of both worlds. As dark as the settings are, there’s always a strange beauty brought out by contrasting colors, camera angles and special effects.

Just like the masterful use when it comes to settings and photography, the gritty and gory parts of the movie are just as brilliant. Taxidermia constantly and graphically depicts gore and bodily fluids in ways that haven’t been done in movies before. The slicing of flesh uses real meat, real (I think) inner organs, real vomit and other fluids which leave the viewer as disgusted as they’d be in real life if they’ve seen anything similar. The movie could never be made in the United States as it would violate numerous health codes not to mention the protests that PETA would bring for a scene where an animal is slaughtered. The imagery quite possibly makes the movie too extreme and graphic for the majority of people, let alone anyone under eighteen.

As if the imagery wasn’t enough, each characters story is extremely twisted and depressing. The grandfather works at a military outpost, where he lives in a small shack and is assigned menial jobs all while having deranged sexual fantasies. His son, a morbidly obese competitive eater, yearns to be with the one woman he loves. Finally we have the grandson, who runs a taxidermy shop and takes care of his father, who is too fat to move, and his giant cats. The generations of strange characters provide the viewer with an interesting story different from any that they’ve seen before.

If you’ve been having trouble finding a movie with a unique plot, strange characters, a mix of beautiful and horrific imagery, Taxidermia is for you. This movie proves that women producers can make a movie just as vile and gory as their male counterparts and that’s definitely a good thing for any fan of the horror genera. While the movie is way too much for most viewers, if you can bring yourself to endure the gritty stuff you’ll be treated to an entertaining and unique movie that isn’t common in a world of movie rip-offs and remakes. Taxidermia is absolutely worth a watch if you’re a fan of the horror, gory or off the wall movies.

(3/5)

Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Written by: Michael C. Martin

Produced by: Elie Cohn, Basil Iwanyk, John Langley, Avi Lerner, John Thompson

Starring: Richard Gere. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

Run Time: 132 Min

The best way to accurately describe Brooklyn’s Finest is every bad cop movie rolled into one film, with all of the personality, intrigue, comedy and likable characters sucked out of it. Brooklyn’s Finest offers nothing but stereotypical characters, bad dialog and a story that’s so predictable that the ending wouldn’t catch a 5 year old off guard. Now some people would describe this story as a tragedy but in all of those memorable stories and plays there’re actually characters that the viewers like. When you make a movie it’s important to remember that in every story you need to have a protagonist that the audience can identify with but that basic fact was forgotten by the writer Michael C. Martin. You’d think that since this really is a story about 3 police officers, that at least one aspect of the story characters would be interesting but Brooklyn’s Finest strikes out each time.

The story starts out with Sal, the bad cop, talking to a man who explains the “righter and wronger” reasons why people do the bad things (which may be the plot of the whole movie). The writer of this movie would like you to believe that Sal is a good guy who’s in a bad position in order to justify his actions but that doesn’t really stick. The problem with Sal is that he’s just a dumbed down version of an interesting character. His whole story revolves around his poor family that lives in a house with wood mold in the walls which endangers their health. Sal already has 2 children and has twins on the way because he isn’t smart enough to use birth control when he already can’t support the kids he has. Since a police officer can’t make money by taking side jobs or working overtime; the only solution to Sal’s problems is for him to rob drug dealers and to buy a new house with the fruits of his labor.

Things to look for in Sal’s story:

His confessional, he talks to a priest about how he needs help from god.

The lamest poker game scene in a movie ever made.

Next we’re introduced to Tango, the undercover cop who’s in way over his head. Tango is the closest we have to a likeable character but he still falls short in that department. After a short stay in prison, where he gains street cred, Tango’s back on the street tasked with infiltrating the cities inner city gangs posing as a drug trafficker. The stress of working undercover starts to effect his view of the world and his job to the point where he’s worried he’ll become a criminal himself. His boss gives him a deal where he can get off the street but he has to get evidence about a man who saved his life while he was in prison, leaving him struggling between loyalty and his desire to leave the undercover life behind.

Things to look for in Tango’s Story:

He’s in too deep maaaannnnnn.

The shady FBI woman.

His friend dies as a result of their drug dealing.

His supervisor gives him a “This is what you wanted” speech.

As if two lackluster characters weren’t enough, enter Eddie, the 22 year police veteran who’s about to retire in 7 days. Eddie is quite possibly the most useless and uninteresting cop character ever created. His own boss tells him that he’s basically a failure and Eddie only proves that to the viewer throughout the whole movie. In his first scene, Eddie wakes up and puts his revolver in his mouth but the gun doesn’t go off as he slowly pulls the trigger back(later we learn that he doesn’t keep his gun loaded). How lame is that? Why would anyone care about a boring, unmotivated depressed police officer who isn’t even man enough to shoot himself? It’s pathetic. You might be thinking to yourself that since he’s suicidal, he’s going to end up proving himself in some blaze of glory that will make up for having to watch him for 2 hours but, even in his shining moment at the climax of the movie he proves himself to be quite frankly, worthless and unexciting. Maybe the audience is supposed to be moved by his staring into space and walking away from conflict. Eddie is one character whose role would be better left in a garbage can next to the writer’s desk.

Things to look for in Eddie’s story:

The stupid look on his face which makes him look like he’s constantly in deep thought but we all know he’s completely useless.

He’s assigned to teach a rookie cop the basics of the job but the rookie course messes something important up like all rookies do.

His only love is from a hooker who doesn’t even want him.

He can’t even kill himself.

The presentation of this whole movie is horrifically bad. Throughout the entire movie there’s always some dramatic music playing which is meant to emphasize the internal conflict that the characters are supposed to have. If you can get past the music, you’ll have to deal with the story itself which is full of holes and defies logic. Even if by some strange miracle you can stand the story, the characters come to your aid and quickly ruin anything that’s likeable left in the movie. Just for a bit of overkill, if you try look past all of the flaws with the music, the main characters and the bad story the writer has an ace up his sleeve: all the supporting actors who are all rip offs of characters in better movies.

Brooklyn’s Finest is the worst cop movie I’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing original or interesting about the characters and while the writers should be sued for plagiarizing every aspect of the story from better movies, they even manage to ruin the stereotypes we’ve grown to love over the years. Even the ending to the movie was disappointing. Why this movie is getting a 7.4 rating with 3353 votes on IMDB mystifies me. We all know how the movie ends, all the characters end up in the same place at the same time. If you want to watch a cop movie you’d be safer going on Netflix and renting Lethal Weapon, where the suicidal cop does something exciting, or Dirty Harry instead of a two hour long bore fest like Brooklyn’s Finest.

(1/5)

Alice in Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland

Directed by: Tim Burton

Written by: Linda Wolverhampton(screenplay), Lewis Carroll

Produced by: Tim Burton, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Joe Roth, Richard D. Zanuck

Starring: Mia Malinowski, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonhomie Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crisping Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry

Run Time: 108 min

Most of us remember the old Disney version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland from the simpler time when we were much younger and for most people it would difficult to picture the story in any other way then that early animated version. When I saw the ads for the new version, directed by Tim Burton, I was openly bothered with the bill board sized pictures of Johnny Depp as the mad hatter and the overly large balloon head of the red queen which to me at least, was as annoying as a festering mosquito bite that I couldn’t scratch. Honestly, I didn’t want to see this movie from the moment I saw the first advertisement.

For those people who’ve lived under a rock for the last 100 years and don’t know the basic story; Alice in Wonderland follows a young English girl through a psychedelic underworld after she falls down a magical rabbit hole. The underworld is full of strange and curious creatures, like the Cheshire Cat, waging a war between the good white queen and the evil red queen who currently rules over wonderland with an iron fist. The story itself is simple enough but what makes it unique is that the characters and world in which it takes place are a mixture of a fairy tale crossed with a hefty dose of hallucinogens.

This movie is everything you’d expect if you mixed the Alice in Wonderland with the direction style of Tim Burton. The imagery is extremely dark and twisted like in all of Burton’s movies but he still managed to keep the innocent Disney feeling that the Alice character should personify to the audience. Burton is quite possibly the only modern director who could attempt to make Alice in Wonderland and make it work.

Alice in Wonderland features an all star cast who are, quite frankly, amazing at what they do. Mia Wasikowska, who isn’t well known compared to the rest of the cast, delivered a stunning lead performance as the innocent and pure Alice. Johnny Depp, who has always excelled at playing eccentric characters, was the perfect fit as the Mad Hatter and one can’t forget Helena Carter as the Red Queen.

One big problem with the movie is that character and set design relied heavily on the inconsistent quality of the computer animation. Sometimes the animation was done extremely well and other times I couldn’t ignore the way the characters looked which left me debating their artistic merit rather than suspending my disbelief and enjoying the story. On the other hand, I was surprised that I was able to enjoy the hated Red Queen, giant head and all, even though my first impression of her from the advertising had made her the bane of my small world.

Does Alice in Wonderland live up to the legacy of the earlier animated movie? No. The first Alice in Wonderland was a movie that could be watched by anyone, especially children, but this version left me struggling with the question of whether a younger audience or even someone who wasn’t a fan of the story could enjoy it. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland seems as if it was made for those hardcore fans who have grown up and want a darker version of the original movie.

After seeing the movie it became incredibly apparent to me that Disney was relying on the name, since most of us grew up with this story, and the stars to sell the tickets instead the movie itself. In the end, I’m still trying to figure out if I liked the movie and I’m sure most people who see the movie will ask themselves same thing as well. There aren’t any memorable moments that stick out in one’s mind upon retrospect nor are there memorable characters, since we already knew them from older versions of the movie. Alice in Wonderland isn’t a movie you’ll like or dislike; this is just a movie that is there.

(3.5/5)

Twin Sitters

Twin Sitters

Directed by: John Paragon

Written by: John Paragon

Produced by: Yoram Pelman

Starring: Peter Paul, David Paul, Christian Cousins, Joseph Cousins, Rena Sofer

Run Time: 93 min

Some films, much like cheap beer, lose their luster over the years and become completely stale and bitter but on rare occasions some things get better with age. Fine wines for example can be aged for up to 50 years before their seal is cracked for only the wealthiest of people to enjoy. Twin Sitters, much like its expensive wine counterparts, has done nothing but ripen and age over the years leaving us with an artistic masterpiece. The Barbarian Brothers bring us a moving tale of environmental justice, family and love that we can all afford in Twin Sitters.

David and Peter Falcone, played by Peter Paul and David Paul, are two regular muscle bound guys with dreams of opening their own restaurant. Their dreams are harshly squashed by a lowly banker who refuses to give them a small business loan leaving them depressed while they pass their days at a local playground feeding the growing homeless population of Los Angeles’ as they struggle to make a future for themselves. Luckily it doesn’t take too long before their good deeds are recognized and the two brothers are hired to protect the children of a powerful EPA whistleblower after they heroically save him from a murderous gang of thugs.

Alright, so maybe this isn’t the best movie ever made but what exactly do you expect from a kids movie from the 80’s? Needless to say, the acting isn’t very good, the story is extremely simple and the writing is horrible but that’s all for the best. Twin Sitters comes from a time where kids movies were fun to watch and you didn’t have to worry about what’s politically correct. You can’t go wrong with steroid jokes, monster trucks, torturing kids with pasta and some of the worst outfits in the history of film.

I look for a lot of things when I watch movies but the most important part of any movie is that I enjoy watching it. If a movie expresses some heartfelt story that touches the watcher or if the movie reveals some of the deeper truths that we’re all looking to explore it’s safe to say that the movie is good. I would have loved this movie when I was a kid and I love it now. Twin Sitters isn’t a movie with a heartfelt story or one seeking the truth to one’s own existence; it’s about having fun and that makes it a masterpiece in my eyes. Now I know there are always those naysayers who wouldn’t enjoy this movie but since this is my movie site those naysayers can go screw and watch a movie like When in Rome to fulfill their sissy desires.

(4.5/5)

A+D

A+D=Garbage

Directed by: Amber Sealey

Written by: Amber Sealey

Produced by: Amber Sealey, Gabriel Fleming

Starring: Amber Sealey, Anton Saunders

Run Time: 82 min

There are a lot of artsy people out there who believe that because a movie is independent, it’s automatically art and better than some drivel you’d see in a normal theater or on T.V. Then there’s some people who know that no you much you polish a brown nugget into a gold one. A+D is the epitome of rubbish filled with emotional nonsense that left me literally drinking a gallon of water so I had an excuse to step out and use the restroom every few minutes.

A+D is a self described “universal story of relationships” but it’s not. A+D is a movie about a mentally unstable woman who thinks nagging is witty and how miserable a man would become who’s stupid enough not to notice the telltale warning signs that she’s totally insane. Was there romance in the story? No, there was artsy romance which only appeals to lonely old women. Was there conflict in the story? Yes a lot of it but it was all passive aggressive emotional nonsense that just makes you want to hit someone with a baseball bat. A more accurate description of the story should be: “An in depth look at why men don’t want to talk, listen or respect the female gender.”

Alice, played by Amber Sealey, is a witty artist who finds love in a passive aggressive man named Dave, played by Anton Saunders. Their relationship is strange as Dave mysteriously finds Alice’s complaints about his eyebrows and her statements saying that his work isn’t art witty and attractive instead of a huge red flag. They spend their days making love and repeating the same words to each other as they look at each other’s naked bodies in the mirror of the bathroom in the flat.

It doesn’t take long for Alice and Dave’s blossoming relationship to sour. Alice begins to ask questions that she obviously doesn’t want the answer to (“Do you think about having sex with other women?”) and when she gets them she’s obviously bothered and begins to pick at Dave’s fragile ego. Alice constantly hounds Dave into doing things he doesn’t want to and gets upset when he doesn’t go along with her ideas. Not all of the problems with the relationship are Alice’s fault though, most of the problems could have been prevented if the Dave had an ounce of will power and self pride but if that was the case the movie would have only been 20 minutes long as he would have booted her out of the flat. Instead of standing up to Alice, Dave spends his time getting frustrated with their relationship and using his almost super human powers of passive aggression to deal with the situation.

The setting of the movie is a London flat that the characters both live in. The flat itself is run down and has paint and plaster pieces falling off the wall which is an important feature for any independent love story. The flat is too small which gives the entire movie a cramped feeling and ensures that the main characters can’t escape each other no matter how much they want to. The entire flat is used in the production of the “film” including emotional scenes in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and even the living room. This setting stinks; can’t the characters at least go out once in their relationship so the viewer isn’t stuck watching the characters mindlessly complain in the house for most of the movie?

Amber Sealey and Anton Saunders played their roles extremely well and after seeing this movie I don’t think I could picture them as anything other than their characters. During the entire movie I didn’t question how genuine either character was which was quite an amazing feat. Both Amber and Anton could indeed have a successful career as actors. The problem with being convincing was that they played characters that I didn’t care about and was extremely disgusted by that there was no way that I could enjoy the quality of their performance.

As I think back, I’m still at a loss to what A+D was actually about. I’d like to say that it’s a social commentary about how men and women secretly hate each other but I know that isn’t the greater meaning behind the film. The movie could be about the differences between male and female communication and the way it affects relationships but I doubt that’s it either. Maybe it’s just a sadistic creation meant to cause the viewer of the movie pain. Well whatever the movie is about it is imperative that the viewer must enjoy being tortured by the emotional drivel that most people wouldn’t put up with in real life.

A+D is like watching a slow motion train wreck and not in a good way. This is a train wreck where the passengers know it’s going to happen an hour and fifteen minutes before the crash. In a desperate attempt to stop the train the conductor tries to hit the brakes but for some reason they don’t work and just make an annoying high pitched squealing noise as the train passive aggressively makes is way down the tracks. Once the train finally hits the little pink artsy Vespa that’s been carelessly left on the tracks it gracefully nudges it, leaving a small dent over the flower decals before it stops. Even the train wreck was a failure. There is nothing redeeming about the story and writing of this movie. The actors portrayed their characters well but it could never make up for the utter rubbish that is presented in the story as the acting is completely overshadowed by the sheer disgust that I had for the characters. The only thing that saved me from slitting my wrists during the movie was that I had other things I could do while it played.

(0/5)

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man

A Dangerous Man (DVD)

Directed by: Keoni Waxman

Written by: Keoni Waxman

Produced by: Deboragh Gabler

Starring: Steven Seagal, Marlaina Mah, Vitaly Kravchenko, Terry Chen, Jesse Hutch

Run Time: 94 Min

Action, action and more action! That’s what I want when I watch a Steven Seagal movie. I don’t want any of that artistic stuff, a plot full of learning about the inner child of characters nor do I want a sappy love story. When it comes to cheesy action movies all I want to see is ass kicking, sexy women and a fast plot where I don’t have to think. A Dangerous Man is exactly what a Seagal movie should be.

The story starts off with Shane Daniels, Seagal, attacking a random mugger who attempted to rob his wife. Soon after the incident police find the mugger dead and Shane is interrogated about his past in the Special Forces. The evidence is damning and Shane is condemned to a life of prison. While he’s serving his sentence tragedy strikes as Shane’s young sexy wife leaves him to move on with her life. After 6 years of hard time, Shane’s luck changes and he’s released when neglected DNA evidence proves he wasn’t the killer. This scene is just long enough to get all of the information we need about the character for the movie.

Now that the first 7 minutes of the movie is over, including the credits, Shane is back on the streets and trying to make a life for himself. Being alone in the world is hard for a recently released convict, as one can imagine, and Shane finds himself dealing with his problems and loneliness at a local liquor store. As Shane leaves the liquor store with his cheap bottle of bourbon he’s confronted by two thugs looking for some easy money. Shane doesn’t take any of their guff and after some colorful words, gives them a lesson in the art of implanting his fist into their faces.

The story continues, we’re about 10 minutes into the movie now, we find Shane reminiscing about his former wife in an almost empty park (some car thieves stop there to use the bathroom). His wife really is way too sexy for him, which explains why he’s so lonely as he remembers has flashbacks of their love. Aside from being dangerous, Shane is also very emotional.

Alas, his time alone is too good to be true when a police officer pulls into the parking lot and begins to question some Asian Mafia gentleman for an unknown reason; maybe it was speeding, in the same park where Shane is trying to sort out his emotions. We all know what happens from there, the mafia members kill the police officer and attack the car thieves. As a peace loving man, Shane sees it as his duty to get involved and thoroughly explains why violence is wrong by giving the mafia members some tough love; like any good step dad would give his red haired son.

After a quick search of the mafia member’s cars, Shane finds a duffle bag full of drug money and another sexy girl in the trunk. Shane, being the humanitarian that he is, decides to help the woman get back up on her feet and save her family from the Asian Mafia while keeping the drug money for himself as kind of a payment for his services. And this is still in the first 20 minutes!!!!

A Dangerous Man is a far cry from the movies he’s released in the past few years. The film quality and production is better than some of his movies that actually made it into theaters in the past. The plot is fairly bad and doesn’t make very much sense for example; the Chinese military is trying to capture a man who did the accounting for their large drug organization and the most of plot revolves around saving him. There is some dubbing in the movie but it’s not nearly as bad as the sound was in one of Seagal’s recent movies called Kill Switch, where a majority of camera work was shot from behind Seagal to cover up the bad dubbing. For the most the action scenes were done well aside from some bad editing here and there.

This movie has everything, the Asian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, corrupt police, the Chinese military, strippers that can’t dance and of course lots of action. The movie doesn’t go into any real depth since that would get in the way of the action but honestly what do you expect from a Seagal movie? When you watch the movie you call the main character Steven Seagal instead of the characters real name, these kinds of movie aren’t about the characters or story as much as they’re about the star.

A Dangerous Man is made for a younger male audience and isn’t the kind of movie I’d recommend for women, since some are objectified in the movie. For those people who like Steven Seagal movies this movie is a solid mix of everything that we’d expect from him but for the people who like movies with a well laid out plot, realistic circumstances and a story that is believable the movie scores a meager 1.5 out of 5.

Rating for Steven Segal fans: (4/5)

Rating for everyone else: (1.5/5)

Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Universal Soldier:  Regeneration
Directed by: John Hyams

Written by: Victor Ostrovsky

Produced by: Craig Baumgarten, Moshe Diamant, Peter Hyams

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski

Run Time: 97 min

Jean-Claude Van Damme is back in the latest instilment of the Universal Soldier series and is…. well the same he always was except older. Who could resist a straight to dvd movie starring not only Van Damme but Dolph Lundgren and UFC’s Andrei Arlovski. This movie has all of those old great “actors” that I watched when I grew up and spent countless nights staying up all night eating bad fast food, drinking soda and watching bad movies.

The story takes place in modern day Russia where a separatist group has kidnapped the president’s son and daughter and is holding them for ransom at the famous nuclear reactor in Chernobyl. If that isn’t scary enough, the group has threatened to destroy what’s left of the reactor which would doom Russia to a nuclear holocaust. As a response the US military reactivates the secret Universal Soldier program in order to save Russia from the separatist group and nuclear disaster that would bring generations of mutated children with amazing math skills (well the mutants aren’t part of the movie but it should be).

Luc Deveraux, Van Damme, has been out of the Universal Soldier program for years and is in the process of being rehabilitated in order to be reintroduced back into society. Luc’s progress seemed to be going well even though he can’t remember what happened to him the day before, suffers from swollen knees and is confused most of the time. The army knows that Luc is the only man for the job, after their first plan fails, and his rehabilitation is stopped so he can save the world.

All famous heroes need an insurmountable super villain which is where the NGU, played by Andrei Arlovski comes in. The NGU is the newest super soldier created by a mad scientist who dreams of taking over the world. The NGU is emotionless which makes it an easy role to play; all the Arlovski has to do is fight and walk around and look tough, which he does well.

I expected the action to be slightly better than it was and the main draw of the movie was seeing my favorite B-movie stars in action. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention Lundgren’s role and that wasn’t by accident; his role was pathetic and it seemed as if it was there just to get his name on the credits. In the end this movie wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it wasn’t very good either but that’s why the movie is straight to DVD. This movie is best to watch when you’re in the mood to relive staying up all night and watching movies on TBS when you were young.

(2.5/5)

America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful
Directed by: Darryl Roberts

Written by: Darryl Roberts

Produced by: Michele G. Bluthenthal, Roderick Gatlin, Stela Georgieva

Run Time: 105 min

The beauty industry encompasses almost every aspect of our daily lives and there’s no escaping it in the modern world. We’re surrounded by fashion magazines, bill boards, advertisements and television shows depicting what beautiful people look like. America the Beautiful investigates what effects the perception of beauty has on women, the consequences of trying to fit the image of what we think is attractive, how the fashion industry works and seeks an answer to the question of what true beauty is. While the documentary does ask some very important questions it also has many flaws ranging from bad camera work, a lack of information on important issues, emphasizing issues which any somewhat intelligent person already understands and includes segments which should have been cut out of the film completely.

The part of the documentary Darryl Roberts focuses on most chronicles an aspiring 12 year old model, Gerren Taylor, who has the potential to be the next big super model. At her age, Gerren must juggle her school work with her modeling career which is an insightful look into the fashion business. Ultimately this is left an incomplete portrayal of her personality; for example as her work takes off she also has problems at school to the point where she is forced to sign a behavior contract in order to return to her classes again. While the school segment gets a lot of time the film isn’t clear about exactly what her problems are. Did she miss too much class or was it her attitude that resulted in her being kicked out of school? Another aspect missing from her story is how her mother’s greed directly coincides with the downfall of her modeling career by taking Gerren away from the modeling agency she worked with. Her mother states that she has a vision of where Gerren’s career should go but her inexperience and attitude gets her virtually black listed in the United States.

The documentary also features interviews with editors of fashion magazines, modeling agencies, people on the street, parents who have lost their daughters to eating disorders, plastic surgeons and victims of botched surgeries. The interviews give a lot of information which for the most part is common sense but manages to remain informative for those people who haven’t put much thought into how the beauty industry works. Even though most of the interviews were informative, there were some that should have been cut altogether. One of these interviews is with Dr Stephen Marquardt showcases his lack of a grasp on human evolution and how society works making all of his points moot but for some reason this was kept in the film with a little blurb at the end informing us that he’s bipolar. Other interviews that should have been cut are the ones with school children who seem to have the perfect answers to the director’s questions making the segments seem rehearsed.

In the most impressive segment of the documentary, the director investigates the toxins in cosmetics and the lack of oversight over the chemicals that are in every day products. Roberts takes the time to interview chemists who make the products as well as get them tested for cancer causing pathogens. He finds out that the FDA doesn’t really regulate these products they test and they turn up positive for cancer causing materials. With his findings in hand he compares the way Europe and the United States regulate chemicals used in cosmetics showing the lax rules of the cosmetic industry in the United States.

One of the other flaws in this film is the unprofessional camera work which is rampant throughout the movie. There are numerous occasions where the camera is in too close and cuts off the top part of the person in the interview’s head or the shot isn’t centered well. The camera work does get better but unfortunately the viewer gets distracted in interviews by the sound equipment bobbing down into the shot frequently. Since the same interviews are cut apart and presented in different segments of the film these problems occur during the entire duration of the documentary.

The subject of beauty is so massive that it would be impossible to get all of the aspects covered in one film but with that in mind the documentary still doesn’t achieve what it intends to. While it does show the evils of the beauty industry it fails to go in any real depth of what true beauty is. Instead of showing what it intends to the director interviews celebrities about what they think is attractive and repeats sappy things like “everyone is beautiful in their own way.”

(2.0/5)