Category: Action


The first time Steven Soderbergh saw MMA fighter Gina Carano on TV, his first thought was “wouldn’t it be cool if I built a big all-star Hollywood action movie around this girl, despite her complete lack of acting experience?” The first time I saw MMA fighter Gina Carano on TV, my first thought was “wouldn’t it be cool if I hooked up with her?” I guess what I’m trying to say is, Steven Soderbergh has a lot more clout than I do.

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I gotta hand it to The Avengers, it sure isn’t afraid to be “comic-booky.” And on one hand that’s pretty obvious – it is the fucking Avengers, after all. But man, this one is extra comic-booky, and damn proud of it. More so than any of the films that preceded it, this one asks, nay, demands that you accept all this silliness at total face value. Put all these guys (and gal) together in one room sitting around a conference table, and suddenly their costumes and super-powered status seem even sillier than ever before. And the movie doesn’t care! And, because it doesn’t care, you don’t care! That’s the real magic of The Avengers. There’s something to be said for the more realistic modernism of Nolan’s Batman series, sure. But this ain’t the place for that. This is The Avengers, damn it. Let’s get crazy.

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As I watched 21 Jump Street, the new comedic take on the cult-classic FOX show about undercover cops posing as high-school students, one critical thought kept floating through my head:

“Does this mean I have to like Channing Tatum now?”

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In all the speculation about why Disney’s John Carter failed at the box-office (poor marketing, limited mainstream appeal, lack of big stars), one potential explanation has remained curiously unmentioned – perhaps most folks just thought the story had already been told well enough in The Asylum’s 2009 adaptation, Princess of Mars.

Ha, I’m just fucking with you. Nobody thinks that.

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John Carter, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic series of sci-novels, arrives encumbered by 100 years of anticipation and unavoidable (though perhaps unfair and unnecessary) talk about its gigantic budget, piss-poor marketing and lack of mainstream appeal. I can’t remember any film in recent memory that has been more under a microscope than this one, and I certainly have my own opinions about how Disney has handled the film and its chances of actually launching a franchise as a result. But that’s a discussion for another day. For now, the question is simply how does John Carter fare as a movie, and I’m happy to report that, despite some undeniable flaws, the film works amazingly well more often than not, and rightfully earns its spot in the pantheon of enjoyable sci-fi adventures.

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In 2007’s Ghost Rider, daredevil turned supernatural hero Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) says “I’m the only one who can walk in both worlds.” I still have absolutely no idea what he meant by that, but I’m gonna steal the line anyway, and say that this new sorta-sequel-but-also-sorta-reboot Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance does indeed walk in two worlds – the world of “good-bad movies” and the world of “bad-bad movies.” The important question is how much time it spends in each.

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When we last left vampire Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her lover, vampire/lycan hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman), at the end of Underworld: Evolution (we can ignore the fairly unnecessary prequel film, Rise of the Lycans), they had successfully defeated both the sole remaining vampire elder Marcus, the first vampire, and his brother William, the first werewolf. What’s more, Selene had acquired new, somewhat undefined powers – we could assume enhanced strength and agility, and we knew for sure she could now walk in daylight. With the leaders of both the vampires and lycans dead, and what remained of the clans thrown into chaos because of their actions, Selene and Michael stood at a crucial turning point in the centuries-long war between the two sides.

Yeah, well, forget about all that.

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The best character in Steven Spielberg’s computer animated action film The Adventures of Tintin is the film’s camera, which dashes and careens wildly across every scene and locale with more energy and personality than any of the people it is “filming.” Meanwhile, the worst character in The Adventures of Tintin, unfortunately, is Tintin himself.

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I know this is like the very definition of “white people problems,” but, man, I cannot stand when it comes time for a film’s DVD release, and the studio bypasses a perfectly awesome movie poster in favor of photo-shopped nonsense for the cover art. It’s quite mind-boggling, really – these studios invest what I’m sure is a lot of money into hiring talented artists and designers to create eye-catching posters that will grab your attention in a theater lobby, but when they get to the DVD stage they just throw it all out and instead go with something that looks like the 31st highest-ranked entry in a “create your own movie poster” fan-contest.

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Here’s a sentence I never once uttered: “Boy, I sure can’t wait for a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie!” But, as I long ago realized, my opinions do not necessarily reflect the millions of other paying moviegoers. You know, the ones that the studios actually give a damn about. And so here we are, with yet another entry in the incredibly popular franchise based on a theme-park ride. Not too shabby for a series that many were predicting as DOA even before the first film was released.

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