• Kong: Skull Island (2017)

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

    Los Angeles, California. The world's capital of steel, plastic and glass. Including locations and people. After drinking too much booze in a shady strip club, two representatives of Warner Brothers Pictures are talking about the company's next blockbuster after a series of less popular movies in times when cinema can't compete with the growing streaming media industry. 

    "Let's make another blockbuster – any ideas?"

    "There is a monster movie revival. We could reboot the King Kong franchise."

    "But there are already seven different King Kong movies."

    "That doesn't matter. People don't like change, love living in the past and don't want to think too much. Imagine the commercial potential of such a reboot! We could let King Kong fight against Godzilla in a sequel!"

    "Well, there is already a movie where this happens."

    "Great! People are nostalgic and will like it!"

    "Do you have any ideas for a plot?"

    "Let the movie take place in the past. This will only add to its nostalgia. We could put some old rock music in the film. And some vintage vehicles and weapons. It could take place towards the end of the Vietnam War."

    "Why would we chose the Vietnam War?"

    "Even the most uneducated audience has already heard of the Vietnam War. Oh, and let's also include the Second World War in the scenario. Two wars are better than one!"

    "Do you have any ideas for precise locations?"

    "Geography is too complex for our audience. Let's just invent a fictional island. An island where any nonsense could happen. Let's include other monsters. Giant lizards, giant oxes and giant spiders! And dinosaurs! Let's just put plenty of big animals in the movie that make a lot of noise and look scary."

    "Alright, but what about an actual story?"

    "Who needs a story? A couple of people want to discover an island and must fight monsters. King Kong turns out to be nice and helps them. That's it."

    "Do you have any ideas for our characters?"

    "People like simple contrasts. Good and evil. Heroes and villains. Pacifists and warmongers. Let's also include some stereotypes to put everyone in their comfort zones. Some natives that worship King Kong. A crazy recluse who stranded on the island. Stuff like that."

    "We need strong antagonists and protagonists though."

    "Let me think... I got it. An evil military faces a good journalist. The former wants to kill all the monsters while the latter wants to save them."

    "The US military will hate us for this."

    "Awesome, we will get some promotion for free. Everybody will talk about it. And even the intellectuals will come watch our movie because they think it includes some serious pacifist message! Hahaha!"

    "What about the actors and actresses?"

    "Let's make sure to include people from every possible background even if it doesn't make any sense considering the historical background. Multiculturalism matters. Let's include exotic natives, a good black dude and a bad black dude, a crazy white dude and a clever white dude. Let's also put some random Asian chick in the movie that looks cute. We just give her ten lines of dialogue and that's enough. Some people just watch those movies for the action sequences and beautiful people! They are weak and can't get laid in real life, so they want to watch heroes that shoot everything and get all the hot chicks!"

    "Shouldn't we put some more profound emotions into this film?"

    "Profound is a word our target audience doesn't understand. People like simple and positive emotions. Let's make the good black dude fall in love with that Asian chick. Let our protagonist fall in love with the clever white dude. Let the recluse come back to his family. Let all the baddies die. That's the kind of stuff we need."

    "That sounds so shallow it might actually work out. But what kind of actor would participate in such a movie?"

    "Let's hire some unknown rookies that look geeky and trendy and who still dream of a Hollywood career. They will accept to do anything to get rich and famous. Let's also put one or two more famous actors in the movie that will attract older audiences. We will have to overpay them to make sure they participate in this nonsense but it will pay off. Imagine a name like Samuel L. Jackson! People will read his name and just watch the movie because of him! Anyway, we will put the biggest part of our budget in the special effects. We need a lot of crazy monsters, loud explosions and a dream island to sell our product. The talent of the actors doesn't actually matter. They just need to look cool."

    "You're so superficial that it's almost creative! But how can we connect this movie to a potential sequel?"

    "Let's include a scene after the credits. We can throw in the discovery of more monsters from other remote places! What about Godzilla? Or some other Japanese monsters. That three-headed dragon, King Ghidorah! Or the giant butterfly, Mothra! Or some dinosaur, like Rodan!"

    "Isn't that a little bit too exaggerated?"

    "Hell, no! We could make dozens of sequels and reboots with those connections. And more importantly, we will make a shitload of money!"

    "Sounds good to me. One last thing. What kind of title could we use? ''King Kong returns''?"

    "No, it needs to be something cooler to get more kids interested. Let's use the name of the island from the original movie. Skull Island! That sounds badass! There it is: "Kong: Skull Island"."

    "You're a genius. How much time do you need to write the script?"

    "Give me some more drinks and I would say I can write it in two hours. Maximum! Let's start the casting and promotion. We will be heroes! Here we go!"

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  • The Chase (1994)

    "The Chase" is a highly entertaining action-comedy b-movie that offers a fast-paced story inspired by the Stockholm Syndrome. It also exposes a cynical satire of yellow journalism, the vice of the rich and famous and disorganized, overtly sensational police work in the United States of America. This flick surprises with a vivid rock soundtrack, solid actors and actresses like Charlie Sheen and Ray Wise and a few stunning cameo appearances by pop culture icons from Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to adult movie actor and director Ron Jeremy. In addition to this, the numerous action sequences and a purposely over-the-top love scene spice this movie up until the explosive and satisfying ending.

    All these diverting elements pardon for a few low budget special effects, somewhat superficial dialogues, a couple of laughable plot holes and a predictable story line with ridiculously flat characters apart of the surprisingly convincing leading roles. Even two decades after its original release, this movie is still absolutely entertaining and fully enjoyable despite its obvious flaws if you switch your brains off for ninety minutes of power. In addition to this, the movie perfectly represents the cinematic stereotypes of the nineties such as explosive action sequences hiding vapid plots, charismatic anti-heroes who fight their desperate fates and lots of colourful clothes and haircuts, enthusiastic, juvenile and at times silly rock and pop songs and numerous flashy cars, merchandise articles and television shows that almost evoke nostalgic feelings nowadays. 

    In the end, you will adore this film if you are looking for a memorable diversified action-comedy flick that represents all the shameful yet entertaining pop culture elements of the nineties. If you are looking for an innovating and profound film, forget it but you will have to admit that the movie is good for what it is. 

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  • 007 Spectre

    ''Spectre'' is an entirely entertaining above average action- thriller but only an average part of the famous James Bond franchise that I know by heart. While I enjoyed watching this movie at the cinema, I still felt somewhat disappointed and won't revisit this film anytime soon.

    The main problem of the movie is that it tries to arrange an odd mixture of the more recent films characterized by a more fragile main character, more personal plots and a sinister atmosphere on one side and the reintroduction of antiquated gadgets, classic characters from the seventies and the waffling of the usual trademark sentences on the other side. Instead of being an intriguing mixture of both styles, ''Spectre'' feels directionless, odd and surprisingly predictable.

    This has to do with an extremely weak story line. While the first hour of the movie is promising and builds up a mysterious tension around the main villain, the last ninety minutes fall flat from any point of view. The movie rehashes all the old stereotypes that aren't credible anymore in a contemporary setting. The love story between James Bond and Madeleine Swann isn't credible and feels forced. The main villain makes the most stupid mistakes such as torturing his victim instead of killing it at several moments. Even exploding watches and flame-spitting cars are back and add some unintentional slapstick humour to a film that starts in a serious manner. The problems don't stop there. Many parts of the movie are directly copied from several previous films of the franchise. The fighting scene on the train is a cheap copy of ''From Russia with Love'' for example. The character of Mr. Hinx is a cheap copy of Jaws from ''The Spy Who Loved Me'' and ''Moonraker''. These elements lack so much originality that they can't just be excused as simple tributes to the past.

    The acting of the movie is also rather underwhelming. It's Daniel Craig's least emotional performance of James Bond as he feels somewhat shallow and like a hollow shell of his former self. I was severely disappointed by the underused talent of the outstanding Christoph Waltz who is one of the best contemporary actors around the world but limited to a predictable character and a very short screen time. Monica Belluci's role is even completely unnecessary since she only has about five minutes of screen time, ten lines of dialogue and her role seems just to be a weak pretext for showing off some skin.

    Obviously, there are still several positive elements. Léa Seydoux is a confident, smart and tough incarnation of a Bond girl that contrasts the more traditional characters in the movie. Ralph Fiennes as M is convincing as a cold, loyal and serious boss. The geeky reinterpretation of Q portrayed by Ben Whishaw reaches a new high quality peak as well.

    The action sequences of the movie might not be original but they are definitely stunning. The chase scene in Austria is bombastic, breathtaking and well-edited. The costumes and settings of the movie are diversified but always appropriate. The soundtrack is on the same elegant level as the previous ''Skyfall''. 

    Some elements of the plot are truly promising, especially in the first hour of the movie. The longer the movie gets, the more ridiculous the story becomes and especially the closing scene is really weak in my opinion.

    In the end, ''Spectre'' is a slightly below average James Bond movie. Die-hard fans of the franchise should go to the cinema while anyone else can simply wait for a release on DVD/Blu-ray. You will probably be entertained while you're watching this movie but in the long run, it's a rather exchangeable film that you will soon forget.

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  • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)


    On an objective level, both critics and fans don't seem to know what a good movie is anymore. "Mad Max: Fury Road" may be filled with nearly two hours of breathtaking non-stop action sequences and a couple of great special effects, settings or locations and some solid camera and light techniques in the few calmer moments.

    The problem is that there is literally nothing more than this in this reboot of another legendary series. There are no real intrigues going on and creativity is literally non- existent. There are almost no dialogues and the few that are there are quite weak. There are no surprising elements or twists and therefor no tension whatsoever in the whole flick. The plot is so shallow that even the increasingly bad "Fast and Furious" feel like intellectual masterpieces if compared to this laughable excuse of a story.

    One gets introduced to an epic number of characters but none of them has any real depth. The biggest problem is the uncharismatic main actor Tom Hardy and his shallow character that doesn't create any antipathy or sympathy among viewers. I rarely cared less about a leading character in any movie than here. Another problem are the numerous villains that aren't fleshed out either. It feels as if the characters of the bad guys were randomly borrowed from some of the trashiest action flicks of the seventies and eighties. Sometimes, they appear pretty much out of nowhere and die as randomly a few minutes later. The only actress who did a decent job and managed to add some depth to its character is Academy Award winner Charlize Theron. I feel sad for her to be acting in such a disastrous movie.


    Even two hours of non-stop action end up feeling boring and stretched if there are no truly stunning scenes or any degree of virtuosity in the high amount of exaggerated explosions and endless gunfights. Even as a homage to the original series or a worthless movie to switch your brains off and have some fun, this movie has nearly no merits. Apart of the few objective positive elements which are basically due to the impertinent budget and some obvious inspirations from the original cult movies and which barely justify my extremely generous rating, this film is extremely overrated and not recommendable for anyone.

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  • John Wick (2014)

    "John Wick" is another fast-paced and graphic revenge movie with some entertaining action and black humour, a fitting soundtrack and the usual stereotypical characters from the Russian mafia. When it comes to gripping revenge flicks, you should rather watch South Korean movies like the intense "The Man from Nowhere" which is twice as good as this film, "I Saw the Devil" which is probably one of the most brutal movies ever made, the emotionally heart-breaking "Blood Island", as well as the philosophical trilogy around "Sympathy for Mister Vengeance", "Oldboy" and "Lady Vengeance" if you are looking for some originality, depth and character development. "John Wick" is only a hollow entertainment for genre fans. If I wasn't a fan of this kind of movies, my rating would be much lower than it is.

    The story is simple. John Wick was a hit-man working for the organized crime in New York City. He retired from his job and started a new life when he met the love of his life. Roughly four years later, John Wick loses his wife to cancer. He receives a posthumous gift from her in form of a puppy with a letter from his wife saying that she is gone and that John Wick should cope with her demise by loving the dog. Coincidentally, he encounters the son of his old boss who doesn't know him. The young Russian mafioso wants to purchase John Wick's vintage '69 Mustang but the grieving man refuses. A few hours later, the Russian mafioso breaks into John Wick's house without any problems as there seems to be no alarm system at all. With a few friends, the young criminal kills John Wick's beloved puppy, steals his car and is bright enough to take off his hood to show his face so John Wick surely knows who he is. The victim survives and goes on to kill around eighty criminals in the next ninety minutes of the movie. Of course, killing the naive culprit is not enough, he also kills his partners, colleagues, bodyguards, his old boss and a few guys in a church. In the end, everybody but John Wick is dead and he goes to the next veterinary hospital, walks off with a new dog and goes home as if nothing ever happened.

    This story is so bad that it could have been written by a twelve-year old. First of all, there are too many coincidences concerning the encounter with the Russian criminals who want to steel John Wick's car. In the entire movie, everybody is talking about John Wick's incredible reputation and everybody knows him wherever he goes but the son of the most influent criminal is the only one who has never heard of him. It's not credible that a smart hit-man doesn't have any alarm system to protect his home. One can understand that the killing of the puppy his wife gave to him really hurts John Wick but taking this event to justify eighty or more murders is not credible at all. In the entire movie, there is no police or anything despite all the shootings in downtown New York City. All of John Wick's enemies are extremely stupid, unexperienced and wooden. Even thirty men in one building can't manage to fight him. I could go on for hours as this movie is filled with so many coincidences, plot holes and unrealistic scenes that it's amusing. If you tell me know that the story doesn't matter in a revenge action movie, just watch any of the movies mentioned in the introduction that prove that even the grisliest revenge thriller can have some depth. Even "The Raid" franchise is more realistic and has better plots. "John Wick" rather feels like a simplistic ego-shooter for video game consoles than an actual movie. I must though admit that the last Splinter Cell games had better story lines than this film.

    Another thing that feels out of place is the fact that fifty-year old Keanu Reeves is playing the unbeatable hit-man. The fighting scenes are somewhat wooden but he still manages to fight off his enemies because their acting is even slower. On the other side, Keanu Reeves also has a certain charisma to fit this role. Fifty-nine year old Willem Dafoe as veteran hit-man who has to kill John Wick is also a questionable choice in my opinion. Still, he is a respectable actor and has charisma. The most annoying thing is the fact that the evil guys are Russians again but that they are portrayed by actors from all around the world like England, Sweden and even Switzerland - except Russia. One can feel that these are wannabe Hollywood Russians and not real Russians.

    You may now ask yourself why I still gave a favourable rating to this flick. It's actually simple. This movie never gets boring. The action scenes are sometimes wooden but most of them are just shootings so it doesn't really matter. These scenes are well directed and include no annoying shaky cameras or overloaded special effects. The settings of the movie are well chosen and vary from dirty chop shops over elegant bath houses to Orthodox churches. There are a few memorable lines in this film as in many other action movies. Some graphic content is related to some dark and dry humour which made the whole thing easier to digest. I actually liked this combination of contradictory extremes and had to laugh quite a few times during the movie. The soundtrack of the movie is also enjoyable and fitting. For genre fans, there are enough entertaining and well-executed elements to enjoy this movie despite its obvious flaws.


    If you are looking for some fast-paced and superficial entertainment to switch your brains off, you will like "John Wick". If you are actually looking for a good movie that has more to offer than stylish violence, go for the movies mentioned in the introduction.

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