Movie Discussion: Action movies

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How are you guys? Finally I am back with another movie discussion. Last time I did one I talked about the “logic” of giving Jamie Foxx a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in “Collateral” when clearly he was the main protagonist. But this time we are not really looking at one specific movie but rather a genre of movies. As you can read in the title this is going to be about action movies and what is going on with them. Now let’s quit stalling and get on with it! Time for a movie discussion… about action movies! (Sidenote: I will refer to action heroes as “he” for simplicity in writing).

Action movies as a whole is a genre I gladly watch simply for the expectation and deliverance of high octane entertainment. Seeing a hero (or heroes) solve a problem through any means necessary. But what I have noticed recently is a decline in what makes action movies as awesome as they are not only as simple popcorn entertainment but also as really good movies. Let’s start with one of the main factors of an action movie, the hero. In an action movie you want a hero that is cool, can handle tough situations but yet is vulnerable and relatable in a sense. In most action movie these past 15(ish) years the hero is an invulnerable jacked dude who dodges everything harmful perfectly yet delivers a major smackdown on thebad guys without a single problem. Sure, the scene might be entertaining but since he is so unstoppable it looses its appeal and we will not care for the guy. A few perfect examples of badass action heroes who can take care of trouble yet are vulnerable are John McClane from “Die Hard”, Riggs and Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon” and more recently John Wick in… “John Wick”.

                    A relatable hero is a requirement for a more engaging action movie.
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Another thing to take into account in an action movie is… the action (duh!). For one it has to be intense to really get our blood pumping and show how badass it is. Of course I am not saying the action scenes should be shooty-bang-bang and explosions galore, but they need to have a lot of flair and intensity. We need to feel like the action is awesome and we need to know that it means business. I also feel like the action needs to be memorable. And by that I mean it have to sort of dig itself into out memories by being great. Some of the best examples of action scenes that you’ll remember after seeing them (for me at least) include any action scene from “The Matrix”, the badass action scenes from “The Rock”, the awesome highway action from “Speed” and of course every awesome battle in Ridley Scott’s classic action-epic “Gladiator”.

 Memorable action scenes, they are not always easy to make but damn, are they awesome!
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Next up that I wanted to discuss was something relating to the previous part and that is visibility of the action. What do I mean by that? Motherfucking shaky-cam. Whoever thought it would make every action scene better if they weren’t visible should get a slap in his face! Sure, sometimes it can be used in a way where it actually works in the movie. A good example of where the shaky-cam works are the “Bourne” trilogy, terrific action movies that still has shaky-cam. A few bad examples of shaky-cam however are movies such as “The Hunger Games”, “Alex Cross” and (unforunately) “The Bourne Legacy”. Shaky-cam… stop it!

Great cases of shaky-cam.
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     Fucking awful cases of shaky-cam.
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Now of course I feel like I need to lay down my two cents on something that a lot of people (including me) have complained about when it comes to modern action movies, editing to achieve a certain rating. And what do I mean with that? Well by that I of course mean that they edit the movie and film it to be PG-13. Now that shouldn’t be such a big deal. But when they do it simply to get the movie more accessible to people because Hollywood likes money it kind of pisses me off. Of course I kind of get it with some movies like “The Hunger Games” where they maybe wanted to keep the movie within the intended demographic brought in by the books and the fact that seeing kids murder each other is kind of terrible. But sometimes you wonder “Why the hell is this movie PG-13?”. That is the reaction I got with movies like “Life Free or Die Hard” when the previous movies were rated R and with even more recently than that, “World War Z”. The final one is a fucking action movie with zombies and in zombie stuff we want our blood and gore! Of course I am not saying an action movie needs tons of blood and gore to be great, but watering an obvious originally R-rated movie down to a PG-13? Fuck you Hollywood! Now of course there can also be action movies that are PG-13 as well. Some good examples are “Inception”, “Taken”, the “Dark Knight” trilogy and of couse “Bourne”. PG-13 isn’t that terrible unless it’s used to only make more money… then it is stupid.

The bad side of the coin we call PG-13.
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    But there is still a valuable side to this coin.
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Rememebr earlier when I said you’d need a vulnerable action hero? Well that isn’t the only thing that is needed when it comes to the actors. You also need an actor who can sell the role to us. They need to give off the feeling of “Yeah I am just a guy kind of like you, but I can do cool stuff too”. It would also be great if they maybe did some of their own stunts. Some prime examples of actors who can sell action roles perfectly who also do their own stunts (mostly) include Keanu Reeves, Harrison Ford and of course, Tom Cruise! These people have dedicated themselves to the action scenes they’ve done and done a lot of their stunts all by themselves. And when you have actors who can’t really do stunts yet they end up in an action movie, that’s one of the reasons we get the previously mentioned shaky-cam. The best example out of the ones I mentioned of actors doing their own stunts is Tom Cruise. The guy does everything by himself and never use a stunt guy (damn, dude). The best example of how awesome Cruise is like that is to look at his infamous scene from “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” where he climbs the Burj Khalifa. That is actually him climbing it, without a stunt guy. Also, in some pictures from the set he has been seen climbing the ourside of a plane because… he is a fucking awesome idiot I guess. I am not saying people should risk their fucking lives like that, but it would be fun to see them do the stunts a bit on their own and not just say “NOPE! Stunt guy, get over here!”.

 Doing their own stunts? Hell yeah!
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Where do I want to get with this? I love good action movies and it is sad to see a lot of not so great ones arrive these days. So I wanted to discuss action movies for that. Let me know what your thoughts on action movies in our modern age are. Also, what is your favorite action movie of all time?

To end this off I will share a link with you guys to a video by awesome youtube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann where he talks about action movies. He is very good at explaining things and I hope you will enjoy his stuff.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eac0lXfMs9c

See ya!

My Top 13 Action Movies

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Hello, hello, hello! Nice to have you here, my friends! Let’s start by saying thank you to you guys who have been sticking around for my weird shenanigans for a longer period. Not mentioning any specific names because… well, I don’t remember who have been with me since early on. And you who arrived here recently I thank as well because you decided to start following me, it warms my heart. Now that we got all that fluffy shit out of the way, let’s talk about macho stuff! Action movies! They are awesome and provide a lot of entertainment (mostly) and are really fun to just watch since they rarely make you feel bad or make you think too much. And today we are here to talk about my 13 favorite action movies. Now before we begin we have to establish some rules.

#1: This is my list, so don’t start bitching when a movie you like isn’t on the list or if a movie you dislike is on the list. My opinion and ego is the center of attention here.

#2: As much as I would love to put movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” on this list I am not going to. This is a list that is made up of movies mainly focusing on action, so sci-fi is not fit for it. I can say now though that a few movies with sci-fi elements in them will appear but they don’t rely on it overly much. Westerns are (unfortunately) out of the game to. And while you would expect me to put “Drive” on this list, I can’t. I see “Drive” more as a drama/thriller with action bits in it.

#3: This list will not look the same in the future, I am sure of that much. There will be more action movies added to it (not editing this post for that). So while this list isn’t forever definitive, it is like this as of when it was made.

And finally I want to mention any good action movies I didn’t, feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.
So let’s stop standing on the same spot, let’s go… My Top 13 action movies!

Number 13: Sherlock Holmes: A game of Shadows (2011)
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Kicking off the list the sequel to the pretty successful movie “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Downey Jr. This is one occasion where I think the sequel is more enjoyable than the first. I seem to be the only one thinking that though. Trust me, I really like the first one too, but I think I prefer this on an entertainment level and as an action movie. Plus, this movie has more of James Moriarty (Jared Harris) than the first movie. And I like that. Now this is as low on the list because, well I think the other movies are better action movies (and movies in general) than this. But I do like this movie a good amount.

Number 12: Batman Begins (2005)
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I’ve always loved that picture of Batman, it looks so cool! Oh crap, right… action movies! Putting a Batman movie in the list is a bit of a no-brainer. But which one? Most people would probably choose “The Dark Knight” and I can respect that. But my pick is my favorite of the Nolan Batman movies, “Batman Begins”. And while I think the title is a little funny “Batman Begins”, a sequel should have been called “Batman Continues” and then “Batman Quits”… hehe. Sorry, getting off track. But despite the somewhat silly title I love this movie. Sure, I love the entire trilogy but this is my favorite of them all. The action is nothing short of great and it helps that this movie knows how to tell a great story as well based on everybody’s favorite flying rodent. Plus, Christian Bale is perfect in this movie as Batman. To be honest, everyone in the movie does a great job with their performances. But I love this movie and think it is a great action movie.

Number 11: Die Hard (1988)
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Yippee ki-yay motherfucker, it’s “Die Hard”. The movie that solidified Bruce Willis as not only an actor, but also an action star. And man is it a good one! And some of you might be thinking “Die Hard so low!? Fuck you man!”. And then I will have to refer you to rule #1: No bitching. Second of all, I really love “Die Hard”. It is a great action movie. Plus, be glad it is on my list in general! It is here for a reason and that is that I think it is a great action movie… and it’s set during christmas. So it’s a great action and christmas movie!

Number 10: Sin City (2005)
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This movie is pretty violent. But the violence in this movie is one of the things that makes it so unique. Another one is the badass color palette. I am aware “Schindler’s List” used a similar style, but “Sin City” did it in a way that gives it an edge. This movie is big, bold and badass, which happens to be something a critic said about 2014’s “The Guest”. But this was big, bold and badass before that so… “Sin City”! The action in this movie is brutal and awesome. And like I said before, the color palette makes it so much cooler. This movie is awesome.

Number 9: Cowboy Bebop: The movie (2001)
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In my rules, I said that extreme science fiction and westerns were ruled out… I never said anything about animation. Sure, this has sci-fi and it has a bit of western in it’s title, but it is more of an action movie than anything. I am a huge fan of the “Cowboy Bebop” television show. I would go as far to say that it is my second favorite anime show of all time. But back to the movie! It got (like the show) excellent animation by Studio Sunrise, a kickass soundtrack and the best dub in animation history. Steve Blum IS Spike Spiegel! The action is also really kickass, like the show. I love this movie so much and thought it was a good tie-in to the show. It isn’t a sequel, it is set during the show…ish. But I do still recommend that you watch the show first to get to know the characters and then come back and watch this movie because it is so awesome!

Number 8: Casino Royale (2006)
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Yeah, a James Bond movie made it to the list. And damn is it a good one! Not only did it eliminate my doubts about Daniel Craig being Bond, but it was also a lot better in general than I thought it would be. It had a great plot, a fucking awesome opening theme (Chris Cornell – You know my Name), great performances and some really great and intense action sequences. Not only is this number 8 on my list over favorite action movies, but it is also my favorite James Bond movie. “Casino Royale” is a great movie that is perfect in being both a great friday night action movie and a really good character-driven drama.

Number 7: Heat (1995)
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Going a little bit old school again with this 1995 action/drama/crime/thriller from director Michael Mann (who later this month comes out with “Blackhat”). This movie is pretty great, and not only because it is on my list. It manages to be more than a simple heist-action movie. It is a heavily character-driven and really well told story. But how does it do in the action department? It is pretty great actually! And the acting in the movie is pretty great too. But that should have been obvious considering the three main stars are Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer… and Jon Voight… Tom Sizemore… getting off track. But when action happens in this movie it is glorious. It is intense, it is badass and it is grand! It takes up a lot of space in the awesomeness room. “Heat” is one of those movies that may be very long, but it is still so worth seeing!

Number 6: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).
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Like with “Cowboy Bebop” this movie may have sci-fi elements in it, but it is mainly an action movie mixed with some spy-espionage-thriller elements. And for that I have to salute Marvel for making a really awesome movie. A great twisty-turny story, great performances, great music reminiscent of “Metal Gear Solid” and some of the greatest action in a movie in recent years. I loved seeing this and I will definitely watch it again some time. It is a great action movie!

Number 5: Taken (2008)
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Don’t piss off Liam Neeson, he will kill you with his pinky finger. “Taken” was one of those movies that really surprised me in how great it was. Did I expect it to be this great? No. Did I expect to hate it? Not really. Did I like it? It should be obvious since it is on the list. Sure, some of the action was hidden behind shaky-cam, but a lot of the action was still really great. I also really liked the plot of a man who is like the deadliest father ever go and look for his kidnapped daughter halfway across the world… and also kick a lot of ass during his little “visit” there. I also love Liam Neeson, the guy is a great actor. This movie also gave us something we never knew we wanted that would become what we love now… Liam Neeson doing action things. Yeah, this movie was awesome.

Number 4: Dirty Harry (1971)
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From one badass of an older age to another, it is the original badass himself… Clint Eastwood! This has to be one of his most iconic roles/movies, everybody knows about “Dirty” Harry Callahan. He is one of those badasses you don’t want pursuing you because he will growl you to death… if doesn’t kill you with his .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world that can blow your head clean off, so you gotta ask yourself “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya, PUNK!?

Number 3: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
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How could I not? This is the definite sequel! This is the one example I can give when someone asks “Is there a sequel to a movie that is better than the original?” and then I go “Terminator 2”. That is how it always goes and will always go. This is what a sequel should be; improve on the original. And don’t get me wrong, I really like the original “Terminator”, but this movie basically grabs it by the collar and throws it out the window. Hell, even the theme song (which is the same as the original) is better. And the visual effects are so much better! Both the practical ones and the CGI ones. I adore this movie so much.

Number 2: The Matrix (1999)
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Oh come on, you expected this movie to be on the list somewhere! It got some of the best action scenes ever put in any movie ever! It’s also the movie that really gave us Hugo Weaving who plays one of the best villains in movie history. I would also say it is Keanu Reeves’ best performance (Sidenote: Take to mind that I have not seen “John Wick” yet which a fair amount of people seem to say has the best Keanu performance ever). Still, think what he would be like if he put a little of that one scene I have seen from “Point Break” in this movie. “I, AM, A, COMPUTER, HACKER!” That would have been pretty hilarious. But still, “The Matrix” is a great action movie and one of my personal movies of all time.

Number 1: Inception (2010)
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Yes this is technically an action movie. But a very ambitious and brain-driven movie. And even if you don’t like overly complex stuff, you still get a really good amount of action the movie to be entertained for about two hours. It also got some amazing visual effects, great performances, great music and one of the coolest concepts ever. I love this movie so much in terms of the whole action movie thing and as a movie in general. I am going to say it, “Inception” is one of my favorite movies of all time.

As you may have noticed this list isn’t really ranked based on how much action or explosions there are, but more on my opinion of the movie itself and it of course being an action movie. So like I said before, are there some great action movies I didn’t mention? Feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for sticking around both on the blog and this long post, you rock!

See ya!

 

Movie Review: Taken (2008)

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I am honestly not a big fan of modern action movies. There are not that many that I have found that appealed to me. Sure, I have a few that I can call “guilty pleasures” (“Expendables 2” for example). And that is a bit of a disappointment considering I in general like action movies. Anyway… I also like Liam Neeson, the guy’s a great actor. Recently he started to do less dramas and insted do more action oriented movies. You might remember that I did a review for his most recent movie “Non-Stop” about a week ago. Well today we are not revisiting that movie! Today we are taking a look at the movie which launched him into the action movie circle.

Sons and daughters… “Taken”.

The story of “Taken” follows ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). He lives a quiet life as a… retired guy. He retired from the CIA to be closer to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who now lives with her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) and step-father Stuart (Xander Berkeley). One day Kim asks for his permission to go to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). So after a little while, Bryan agrees to it… with a few conditions. So then Kim and Amanda goes to Paris… but it doesn’t end well. And by “doesn’t end well” I mean they get kidnapped and it is up to Bryan to get over there and find them… in the most badass way possible. And there we have our story… at least in a basic synopsis-y way. Is it a good premise? Yes. Is the execution of it good? Pretty good I suppose. I’m not saying the execution is bad, I am just saying it is not done in such a way where it keeps me interested. Although I was interested in a different thing about the movie that we’ll talk about in a bit. But back to the point! The drama in this movie was not very engaging and never felt as real as it could. Sure, a few bits struck a small nerve with me, but that’s about it. Not much interest in the execution of the story.

The characters are done in a way that actually keeps this movie going. Not saying they are my favorites in any movie ever… but they work. Let’s start with the only one really worth talking about (Yes, I’ll skip the others), Bryan Mills. He is one of the biggest badasses ever. But he doesn’t only kick literal ass in this movie, but also metaphorically… let me explain. He is very well-written and also carries the emotional parts of the story in this movie. Sure, he doesn’t start crying in this movie, but he really shows emotions compared to every other action hero ever. Also, while he is kicking ass in combat and never seems to lose, you can still notice that he is vulnerable… not just the ultimate killing machine (even though he is that as well). So in general, good characters that work, but we only care for Liam fucking Neeson because he is Liam fucking Neeson.

The music was pretty damn good. It was a mix of a few cold tracks (explanation of cold tracks: Tracks that are calm and used to create a cold and kill-all-the-happiness feeling) and exciting action based tracks. All tracks in this movie comes together to have an orgie and make a great soundtrack for this movie. And that is something I really like! Good job, soundtrack!

Remember when I said I would talk about something that interested me? Yeah, me neither. But time for it to happen! What I meant was the action in the movie… it is pretty awesome. Sure, some of it is obstructed by the curse of shaky-cam, but what you can see is pretty awesome. It is fun to watch and it makes for great entertainment. Also, like I said, this movie really helped launch Liam Neeson into the “action hero circle” which I am so thankful for because he is amazing in action movies (“Non-Stop” is a fine example). Also… camera work (when it isn’t having an epileptic seizure) is fantastic. The shots done in this movie are really great and makes for some real eye-candy.

Reception for “Taken” has been for the most part good…with a few exceptions. Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 58% on it. On Metacritic this movie has a 50/100 rating. And while I couldn’t find a decent quote, Roger Ebert seemed to like it a little bit since he gave this movie 2,5/4 stars. The highest (overall) score has to be on imdb.com since it has a 7,9/10 on there.

“Taken” has fun action, a decent plot, some great music and a great performance by Liam Neeson. So now I will hand out my final score and the movie will take (haha) it. My final score for “Taken” is a 9,52/10 which is just enough to give it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Taken” is at last reviewed.

This movie has Taken me in…

Recent Purchases: Episode 3

Hello my dear friends! Finally! Time for another installment of the not beloved blog series; “Recent Purchases”! So…let’s get right to it!

 

DVDs: Schindler’s List (1993)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Pacific Rim (2013)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Taken (2008)
Breaking Bad – Season 1 (2008)

Video Games: Wolfenstein: The New Order (XBOX 360, 2014)

That is it for this time. If you enjoyed readking this post (I doubt it), you can like it and then follow me for more weird stuff like this!

See ya!