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31 Mar


The Wrath of Vajra is…different. Anti-Japanese films are nothing new from the Chinese, but this film is about a rogue WWII martial art master that began a cult of warriors that worshiped the God, Hades. His recruits would come from stolen children from around the world to become unstoppable warriors. After WWII, the master is imprisoned and his former students are left to carry out his vision. Escaped student, K-29 returns to fight to the death against his “brothers” in a series of tests that include a battles against a “giant-like” master and “demon-inspired” fighter, until the final show down with the disciple/leader, K-28. The kung fu and action sequences are good, but the story is too outside the octagon for me and has too many predictable plot choices to make it a great film. However, die-hard kung fu fans will appreciate the skill sets of Yu Xing and Sung-jun Yoo. Everyone else pales in comparison.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

I, Frankenstein is going to leave a scar

31 Jan


It’s alive! Well, it is happy to be breathing at this point because the newest interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic character has many noticeable imperfections that are going to leave a scar. At times, the film is entertaining, but then it falls into a familiar sounding story line, “There has been a war…” and basically the Frankenstein monster is going to have to choose a side because his soulless body has the potential to change the face of the conflict. The film is on life support because the acting, directing and story telling falls short of the magic Kevin Grevioux’s created in the Underworld franchise. Aaron Eckhart’s stick wielding becomes repetitive and Yvonne Strahovski’s character is asked to make unrealistic leaps in a short amount of time in order to push the story forward. It just doesn’t work. However, this is NOT the worst Frankenstein film I have seen and maybe Grevioux bring it back to life in a sequel.

Chuck’s Grade: C-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

LEE DANIEL’S THE BUTLER serves a up sentimental story

27 Jan


The most striking aspect of Lee Daniel’s The Butler is Forest Whitaker’s (Cecil Gaines) in the title role. It was a beautiful performance about a man, a father, and a husband attempting to provide for his family while attempting to come to turns with his role in life and his place in history. At the center of the film is a story about a father and a son at odds with one another about what actions should be taken to make a positive difference in the world. The film begins with the embarrassing truth of America’s most shameful behavior and follows Mr. Gaines as he becomes a butler at the White House, while his son, Louis grows up to become an activist fighting for African-Americans’ civil rights at most of the major points in history. It is a sentimental story that takes on too much at once, but Whitaker should not have been ignored by the Academy Awards.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A


22 Jan


Audiences do not have to be too familiar with Greek mythology to keep up with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The film follows the title character and his friends on another quest to save Olympus from destruction. Percy Jackson is a little older, but not wiser when it comes to dealing with teenage adversity. He feels doubt, loneliness, and does not know how to accept his unbeknownst cyclops brother. Director Thor Freudenthal does a good job taking the source material and highlighting the adolescent lessons of acceptance and confidence along with a very straight forward and fast moving plot. Everything about the film is positive, except the predictability of the story. It looks great and everyone does a good job, but like Zeus himself, audiences know what is going to happen long before the characters do. Percy Jackson’s is not immortal and neither is the second installment of the Rick Riordan’s books.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adma’s Grade: N/A

THOR: THE DARK WORLD hammers out an unsatisfactory ending

18 Jan


The sequel, Thor: The Dark World finds the title character tackling the all-to-common villain that wants to destroy the entire universe for some illogical reason that is never fully explained and never full thought out. However, it does not matter because Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Jane (Natalie Portman) are re-united for a meet the parents episode while Loki (Tom Hiddleson) broods in prison for his past offenses. Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is a formidable arch-rival for both Thor and Odin who will ultimately need Loki’s help to confront Malekith. The film is entertaining and I prefer it over the original because the characters are able to delve deeper into their relationships with one another. However, like most Marvel products the ending does not do the rest of the film justice because it hammers out an unsatisfactory ending that cannot control the balance between action and comedy.

Chuck’s Grade: B-
Adam’s Grade: N/A

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG does not live up to its title

13 Jan


Many people exclaim the second installment is much better than the first film, but I do not think that justifies a favorable review for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I do not know whose greed is worse, the dwarves trying to steal the Arkenstone, Smaug and his liar of stolen goods, or Hollywood’s penchant for drawing out this modest size story into an unnecessary trilogy length of films. I am angry at Peter Jackson  and this franchise in general. The first film was boring and the second film accomplished absolutely nothing accept ticket sales for Peter Jackson and the addition of characters that do not belong and a storyline that do not exist. I’m serious. I am angry with this irresponsible greed.  However, at this point I feel obligated to see the third film because the first two films have not given me a satisfactory movie to enjoy. The Desolation of Smaug does not live up to its title.


Chuck’s Grade: D

Adam’s Grade: B


9 Jan


Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was a disappointing interpretation of the Grimm fairytale to say the least. The mixture of humor and horror could not match the coolness factor of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) as witch hunter siblings hellbent on revenge. There were many great ideas in director/writer Tommy Wirkola’s script, but he could not maintain a consistent voice and look throughout the picture that could convince audiences to believe in his story. I could accept the exploding witches (to an extent) and kind-hearted trolls that seemed to be the only creature that could actually kill humans for some reason, but I could not swallow the anachronistic scenes of witches duking it out with Jeremy Renner, as well as the Van Helsing-like modern weapons used in the film. For me, the film was a complete letdown, but I am sure there will be  a sequel with a lesser known cast in the future.

Chuck’s Grade: D-
Adam’s Grade: N/A

LOVELACE doesn’t go deep enough

8 Jan


The life of Linda Boreman is dramatized in the biographical film, Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role.  Her performance along with Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor and Sharon Stone as her mother are outstanding. At first, audiences are invited to witness the events that lead to Linda becoming an overnight sensation in America, but the film concludes with events that went on behind her 15 minutes of fame. The strategy works and forces audiences to realize the darkness that pollutes this industry built on sex, drugs, and abuse. However, the rest of the moving parts are mediocre because the film is unable to delve deep enough into any particular event. The film moves quickly, but since it plays the same story twice it seems like it stands still in time like a record skipping on a scratch.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C


6 Jan


I have not read the books, but everyone tells me the first film was water down when it came to the politics. As for the second film, the same people told me the second installment was closer to the book’s true intention. From an objective point of view, the politics come from  the same oppressive position found in most science fiction films. It was suggested in the first through an ideological state apparatus, whereas in the second film it manifests itself into a repressive state apparatus through military force and law enforcement, which makes it easier for audiences to identify. Both films were good, but the second film is entertaining because the antagonists’ intentions are blurred, making a more complex film for audiences to enjoy. Winning is not the only thing that is important in this film, which creates opportunities for Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) to build and explore their characters’ darker side.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: B

OLD BOY (2013) has some new tricks

1 Jan


Spike Lee’s desire to re-interpret the critically acclaimed 2003 South Korean film, Old Boy for domestic audiences was a bold move because of the amount of criticism he would receive from audiences familiar with the original. I was eager to see how he would negotiate certain scenes and particular parts of the story that have made Old Boy a memorable, but uncomfortable film to watch. Technically, everything is in the movie, but done in a way that is more like a jazz musician riffing on a familiar melody than a replay of an old song. Some things worked really well, while others things did not. This version had more of back story, which made it easier for American audiences to understand, but it was too much because those moments of discomfort did not have the same impact. However, I enjoyed this movie and the choice to cast Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen as the principal characters was a strong choice.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A