Tag Archives: Action

Review: Battle Royale

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Year: 2000
Score: 7.5/10

Shamelessly excessive but wholly compelling precursor to The Hunger Games. It doesn’t necessarily all make sense, and giving the audience a coherent explanation for what’s going on hardly seems a priority for director Kinji Fukasaku, yet it’s hard not to enjoy the ultra-violence even when melodrama threatens to overwhelm.

Some of the characters are extremely cool. Some of the dialogue – such as when a dying girl tells a dying boy who she has a crush on that he “looks cool” – less so.

The music is strangely old-fashioned and derivative, as though blending together the scores of Western (as in non-Asian, not cowboys) matinee specials from decades long past. At times I thought I could hear the strains of John Williams’ Star Wars theme.

Apparently Quentin Tarantino has cited this as his favourite film, and its influence (on his work and others’) is plain to see. Look out for a yellow outfit that I assumed was one of the inspirations for Uma Thurman’s get-up in Kill Bill, though apparently the inspiration actually came from the Bruce Lee film Game of Death.

The plot gets silly at times, and in some ways I think The Hunger Games is actually an improvement (sacrilege, I know), but it’s definitely worth checking out. Just try to ignore the parts that don’t add up or tip from the good kind of over-the-top to the embarrassingly bad kind.

Guest Review: Dredd

Director: Pete Travis
Year: 2012
Score: 7.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Dammit I ALWAYS cry at the end of Titanic!

Dammit I ALWAYS cry at the end of Titanic!

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Dredd. Tainted as the character was by the horrendous iteration that could best be described as Sylvester Stallone with a saucepan on his head, the only reason I actually watched it was because my wife fancied a film before she went to bed and we needed one of a specific length of time. With a sigh, I fired up the 95 minute long Dredd and sat back, preparing myself for what would no doubt be 45 minutes of being bored before falling asleep. As it turns out, Dredd turned out to be much better than I dared hope it would be.

In the violent near future, Judges dish out harsh and instant punishment to criminals on the street. The story follows Judge Dredd and a trainee as they find themselves trapped in a tower block, locked down by ruthless drug lord Ma-Ma. Rather than traditional coke or heroin, the drug of choice is called Slo-Mo; a futuristic reality altering psychedelic that slows down the user’s perception of time. This is cleverly utilised in a plot that builds to a crescendo as wave after wave are thrown at Dredd to try and stop him reaching the summit.

Karl Urban’s Dredd is very different to Stallone’s as there is little to no effort to try and create depth of character; he’s all about justice and PAIN. Cold and abrupt, Dredd is everything that he should be and his relentless progress through the tower block keeps you gripped and filled with suspense throughout.

Dredd feels like it could quite easily accommodate a sequel if the right plot was found; in the same way that The Raid and The Raid 2 build on each other I imagine the same could be applied here. It’s worth a gamble on if you fancy an action film, as it’s solid and it does what it says on the tin.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Predator

Director: John McTiernan
Year: 1987
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I've been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!"

“No seriously guys, who’s got the keys? I’ve been bursting since that last village and I am not in the mood to muck around!”

Before the hate, let me put this score into context. Predator is an action film. Action films are not known for intense emotional dialogue, heartfelt sentiments or character evolution. They are known for blowing stuff up and beating people up. That’s it; nothing else is particularly relevant. In this regard Predator is the best action film, as it delivers all that you could possibly need from the genre.

I could waste your time and mine by explaining the plot, but you know the score; Arnold Schwarzenegger et al. are dropped into a jungle and picked off one by one by the ominous be-dreadlocked alien Predator, until a final showdown. It’s not Tolstoy, but who cares? For its time the CGI is quite advanced, and although some of the effects are starting to look a little tired the majority is achieved through live action; something that looks as good now as it did then. What Predator does surprisingly well is generate a sense of isolation, a feeling of being stranded and preyed upon that plenty of films since have tried and failed to do.

Containing iconic pearls of wisdom such as ‘Get to da choppah!’, ‘Cause some damn fool accused you of being the best’ and ‘What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be someone I could trust’, there are enough clichés to make Shakespeare spin in his grave and almost enough testosterone to fill a swimming pool (gross), but you can’t help but enjoy what’s going on.

Many will disagree on this, but to me this should be the go-to action film as far as anyone is concerned. Compare it to later contenders for example; Transformers or Predator? Independence Day or Predator? It’s no contest really. Sometimes I want to be moved by a film, sometimes I just want to be entertained. For that, there really is only one choice.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Pompeii

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Year: 2014
Score: 6/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Rock paper scissors for the sword? Are you serious?!

Woo historical accuracy! As a proud member of the Archaeological Pedantry Society, there are moments in this film which are absolutely laughable. I would be prepared to bet that, given enough time, I could go through the entire film and not find a single fact beyond the limerick-esque ‘there once was a town called Pompeii’.

To paraphrase Futurama’s Robot Devil, however: this movie is as lousy as it is brilliant.

The special effects are as grand and spectacular as you would imagine a volcanic eruption to be and the gladiator battles are so glorious that you understand why the Romans loved them so much. The plot itself is quite weird; the story follows this guy who gets captured by the Romans, but who happens to be an unbelievably good gladiator who can talk to horses. That second fact is strangely incidental to the plot, but is enough to make a rather pretty girl fall in love with him. Sadly Jack Bauer is there, accompanied by the worryingly named Proculus (allegedly played by Sasha Roiz but is quite obviously Bear Grylls), and he decides that he’s going to marry her instead. Then a volcano goes off. It’s hardly Hamlet, but as an action film it’s quite entertaining. Drenched in bravado and testosterone-fuelled fight scenes it’s easy to enjoy, even if it is found wanting for things like substance, subtlety, character development, plot, historical accuracy, originality and suspense. It does however have a volcano, which makes up for a lot of those shortcomings.

Is it as good as Gladiator? No. Not even close. Does it have the epic story of Ben-Hur? No. Even so, it’s hard not to like Pompeii; it’s a good old fashioned historical action thriller that delivers on what it promises: a volcano.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Predators

Director: Nimród Antal
Year: 2010
Score: 7/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"I'm flying, Jack! I'm flying!"

“I’m flying, Jack! I’m flying!”

The Predator franchise has taken a bit of a pounding during its lifetime; the lowest point for both the series and anyone who chose to watch it being AvP: Requiem. Happily, Predators gives it a nice warming shot of adrenalin, despite some very ropey casting and even ropier dialogue.

Having been dropped into a jungle, a collection of planet Earth’s most baddest asses group together and, having initially taken shelter under Adrien Brody’s nose, find themselves being hunted by a group of Predators on a jolly to their local planetary game reserve. The character roster is taken from The Children’s Book of Stereotypical Bad Guys; ranging from the Black Ops guy, through Yakuza, all the way to Machete (yes, the actual Machete; nope, I don’t know why either), and some of the dialogue is just awful. Of particular note is Adrien Brody’s character; it’s like he got the part at short notice, panicked, googled ‘how to look hard’, watched 25 seconds of Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and thought ‘yep I’ve got this, let’s shoot us a movie!’. It’s so dreadful it reminds me of a badly dubbed ’70s kung fu movie.

Ignoring the dialogue and focussing on the action for a moment, Predators is in my opinion the best in the franchise since Arnie was directing people towards a helicopter. The action is clever, and whilst there’s rarely anything surprising it isn’t as predictable as the dialogue suggests it might be. You don’t build empathy with the characters, you’re only marginally interested in the plot, but it doesn’t matter; it does what an action film is supposed to do. Even Lawrence Fishburne’s bizarre 15 minute appearance doesn’t detract from the enjoyment, and it’s hard not be pleased that the Predators finally have a half decent film again.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Review: Waterworld

Director: Kevin Reynolds
Year: 1995
Score: 6/10

Alas, I wasn't the first to spot the fact that these jet skis are already on fire before they actually collide and explode; someone else already listed it in IMDb's Goofs section.

Alas, I wasn’t the first to spot the fact that these jet skis are already on fire before they actually collide and explode; someone else already listed it in IMDb’s Goofs section.

I went in with such low expectations – which is difficult not to do, given this movie’s legendary status as a terrible flop – that its general adequacy quite impressed me. It’s often hokey and silly, there are some glaring plot holes and nonsensical premises (Enola can’t swim? Seriously?! And some humans will evolve gills and webbed feet within a few hundred years??!), Kevin Costner’s accent is just weird, Dennis Hopper is a cartoon, and some of the action set-pieces are pretty lame. Putting all that aside, it’s easy enough to just go along for the ride, with some reasonable action and a unique setting. I admit I laughed every time Gregor’s airship was conveniently framed just out of shot; despite the enormous budget, apparently it was too expensive to show the airship most of the time, so instead we get hilarious glimpses of its edges and ropes and shadows. The brief appearance by Kim Coates – later of Sons of Anarchy fame – is quite entertaining. Also look for Jack Black as a pilot in Hopper’s employ.

Review: 13 Assassins

Director: Takashi Miike
Year: 2010
Score: 7/10

Traditional samurai weapon #441: flaming bulls.

Traditional samurai weapon #441: flaming bulls.

Solid if slightly overrated samurai movie with good action scenes and excellent production values. The story offers very few surprises and the inevitable deaths of many of the titular assassins don’t pack much of an emotional punch. The antagonist is extremely one-dimensional; he’s sadistic, abusive of his power, and ultimately overconfident, but I couldn’t tell you anything else about him or his motivations. However, the real draw here is the samurai action, particularly in the spectacular battle that takes up most of the film’s final third. It’s also an interesting counterpoint to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies in that it shows how to better overcome the challenge of introducing and making the audience familiar with thirteen similar characters on a quest.