A Good Day to Die Hard

Posted: 21st February 2013 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews
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Short Review:


Fun action flick, good to see John Mclain still kicking ass. This time bad guy Russian ass. (wait, didn’t he do that before…no…Germans? I can’t remember). Not as good as the original or the third one, but better than the last one.

(really) Long Review:

I liked how this was the first Die Hard movie to start with the villains side of it and showed us not only what was going on in Russian politics, but also the CIA’s response to what was going on. In the previous movies, it’s mostly just John Mclain responding to what he sees in front of him, we get very little of what preparation or response the higher ups are working on.

But…that brings me to my first point. Why isn’t John McClain the head of the CIA now? I can’t take full credit for this complaint, MovieBob on EscapestMagazine.com,  a movie reviewer that I agree with most of the time (accept for his review of Book of Eli, he is dead wrong about that movie, it rocked so hard he needs to see it again…in fact…I’m sending him an email right now to see it again…ok sent), but I agree and thought of it in the fourth movie as well.

He’s already saved dozens of people in the first movie in L.A. Then an airport in the second movie, and took down an entire miltia in the third movie. So,…by the fourth movie, everyone, especially the government, should know about his uncanny abilities to muck up terrorist/ thieves plots. Why not hire the guy? Why not throw him into the mix when stuff gets out of hand and just say “Hey, John…so, there’s these bad guys and we can’t seem to do anything about them. Just like, you know, go over there and wait and eventually you’ll blow something up and it’ll all get taken care of.”

By the 5th movie you’d think this would be the case, but no. He’s still “Just a New York Cop” and still “kind of a jerk “ or whatever, or a “Bad father” or a “bad husband” (though they make no mention of his ex-wife in this movie even though she was in the first two movies and mentioned in the third).

Now, don’t get me wrong, this movie was fun and Bruce Willis was fun to watch blow stuff up and driving around Russia without a care and smashing into things and because the only reason he’s in Russia is to work on his relationship with his son…while smacking around bad guys with trucks and guns.

I enjoyed the movie, it was fun, good action, most special effects were what the movie biz calls “practical effects” instead of computer generated. Another plus was that John McClain gets bloodied up. This was a large complaint of the 4th installment, Live Free or Die Hard, where they went for a PG-13 rating (never a good idea in a franchise that begins with rated R movies, Aliens vs Predator, ahem) but they didn’t go far enough, unlike Alien vs Predator: Requiem that went WAY too far in the other direction. If you are a Die Hard fan, you will recall that in the first movie he has no shoes and has to run on glass, has bloody feet for most of the movie. Second is much the same, and by the third movie his entire body is covered with his own and other peoples blood that he looks like some ghoul from some horror flick, while still getting the job done.  But in the fourth movie, Live Free or Die Hard, he takes out a helicopter WITH HIS CAR, rides a jump jet, and shoots himself to kill the bad guy…and still doesn’t look as bad as he did in the previous movies.

Same problem here. He fights not one, but TWO helicopters, and jumps out of not one, but two buildings, through glass and all he gets is a little scraped and a burnt shirt.

“But Nate,” you might say “ it’s just a movie”, I know, and I DID enjoy it. However, when a movie franchise has already admitted in previous movies that humans can get hurt, and that same human can bleed…but doesn’t much in the current one, well, there’s a problem.

But that’s not the biggest problem with this movie. Spoiler alert, if you don’t want to know about this, then don’t read it. But let’s both be honest…you’re not watching this movie because the plot makes sense…right? Right.

So, for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense, they end up at Chernobyl (because what other location in Russia do you know besides Moscow…ok maybe Archangel, but that’s because what’s his face blue eyes Bond was in a movie based on an awesome book of the same name…ok maybe you didn’t see it, but you should read the book).

In the building at Chernobyl, they make reference to the radiation and wear masks and full radiation gear to protect them. But then they pull out this magical technology that burns away the radiation…?  Not really sure what that thing did, but they do some kind of magical ready thing and say “we’re all clear, we can take off our masks now.” I get why the movie did this, it’s because we don’t really want to see John Mcclain suited up in radiation gear fighting russian bad guys. Our image of him is the guy in a white t-shirt, jeans and a pistol getting the job done, with or without shoes. Not in radiation gear.

But…if a movie has to make up a new technology in order to have their main character to look a certain way, that doesn’t take place in the far or near future…perhaps they shouldn’t have him be there in the first place.

See the movie? Sure. Theater? If you’ve seen the rest, might as well see this one. But feel free to wait for the rental. Not the best Die Hard, but certainly not the worst.

Old Boy: 2013

Posted: 11th January 2013 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews

joshbrolinDon’t see it, please, for the love of all that is good and holy and nice, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.

I’ve already listed Old Boy as a movie that makes you want to kill yourself, but with an American remake coming out soon, I felt it necessary to reiterate my warning.

I stumbled upon this movie, coming out in 2013, while I was looking through the movies Josh Brolin had made and is making. Remember Brolin? Yeah, he was the older brother in Goonies (yeah that guy). Then he was in a bad, but sort of fun movie called Mimic and didn’t do much else until No Country for Old Men (which I didn’t enjoy, but was amazing, and he was perfect in). And although it won’t be a perfect movie, I’ll most likely see the new movie he’s in called Gangster Squad and I’ll most likely enjoy it.

But a movie that is in post production and ready to be released in the theaters in 2013 is called Old Boy. Here’s the short Synopsis:

“An everyday man has only five days and limited resources to discover why he was imprisoned in a nondescript room for 15 years without any explanation. “

Ok, let’s stop right there. That seems intriguing, and if you have any intention in seeing it, first, don’t, but if you don’t listen to me, fine, stop reading beyond here as I am about to give away the ending. This movie is a remake of a Korean film of the same name which I, unfortunately, have seen.

Old Boy, the Korean original, came out in 2003 and became popular among foreign film enthusiasts because the intriguing premise and a few fun and interesting scenes. One of them being the long, no cut action scene with the imprisoned main character escaping through a long hallway with dozens of men attempting to stop him while he pummels them all to death or severe injury. It’s a scene that is both brutal and fascinating to watch because of the cinematography and physical acting required by everyone in it. The other scene is one in which the main character eats an octopus live because he’s so damn hungry.



You can find the clip on youtube simply by searching “Old Boy eats octopus”. The dude picks up a live octopus, bites its head off and then stuffs its tentacles in his mouth and starts munching down…while a tentacle is wrapping itself around his fist and another grabbing onto his nose.  Oh yeah, and that’s REAL. No special effects here folks. I wonder what the directed said before this scene. “Hey, so, there’s the octopus, and…yeah, so, eat it.”

oldboyNow, I don’t know how many elements of the Korean version they’ll bring over to the American version, but damn it would interesting to see Josh Brolin eat a live octopus.

It’s hard to explain what actually happens in Old Boy while being tactful and subtle, but I’ll give it my best.

The name “Old Boy” is in reference to the childlike state the older man is in because he’s been kept imprisoned by someone for fifteen years. There are two aspects of his personality that develop while kept in his one room bedroom. He punches the wall with his bare fists everyday, for fifteen years, which gives him a mean hit that doesn’t hurt his hand at all when he bashes other peoples faces. The other trait he develops is a hypersensitive sexual desire towards women that is expressed in the movie by his fixation on women on his tv, and other women he meets throughout the movie. One of the first women he meets, the women in the youtube video watching him eat the octopus, he falls in love with and they quickly begin a sexual relationship.

He eventually figures out who had imprisoned him and is about to kill him, but the man who orchestrated his imprisonment and is apparently in charge of a large criminal organization, asks him  “Don’t you want to know why?”  So, instead of killing the man who kept him locked up for fifteen years, Old Boy let him live and now has to figure out why he did that.

Let me tell you why he did that so that you don’t have to waste you time with this movie.

The man who imprisoned Old Boy, we’ll call him “the bad guy”, was actually a high school classmate of his. The story now gets bazaar. The bad guy, as a young boy, had a one time sexual encounter with his sister. Old Boy, as a young boy, not knowing they were siblings, witnessed this and inadvertently spread a the rumor. The bad guys sister began to show signs of a false pregnancy and because she thought she was actually pregnant and the rumor, committed suicide. This is weird, creepy and bizarre enough, but no, it gets worse.

Blaming Old Boy and desiring revenge, he orchestrates an elaborate plan to kidnap and brainwash him for fifteen years. He is eventually released, falls in love with the woman who watches him eat the octopus and the rest of the movie goes from there. At the very end of the movie, the antagonist, bad guy, (whatever) explains why he did it. Old Boy had a daughter and sometime afterwards our bad guy kidnapped him and brainwashed him to fall in love with a very specific woman. That woman is Old Boys own daughter. He doesn’t recognize her because it’s been fifteen years, and they fall in love with each other because he brainwashed both of them to. Old Boy goes nuts after hearing this and begs him never to tell his daughter. He then cuts out his own tongue with a scissors so that he can’t either. Old Boy goes back to the woman he was brainwashed-to-fall-in-love-with/his own daughter and never tells her. The end.

Now…I’m not sure how much of that will be changed in the American version…but that whole creepy twist at the end is pretty much the whole point of the screwed up story, so I doubt they’ll change much. And that’s why,  instead of watching the American version of Old Boy, I will be doing…anything else up to and including exploratory surgery on my eyeballs with a cheese grater.

Django Unchained

Posted: 2nd January 2013 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Movie Lists

Short Review:

djangoAwesome, go see it right now. Tarantino has never been better, Jamie Fox is perfect, a great combination of humor, passion, disturbing and serious topics and triumph over evil. Go see it right now.

Long Review:

I can’t talk about Django without bringing up Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles. Like Django, Blazing Saddles addresses the ridiculousness of racism with humor and isn’t shy of using the “N” word. If you haven’t seen Blazing Saddles, or haven’t in awhile, slap that in and enjoy, its fantastic.

But Blazing Saddles takes place after slavery is outlawed and is a Mel Brooks comedy. Quentin Tarantino’s approach to addressing modern racism in a rated R, pre civil war movie is with scenes of brutal violence, swearing, and of the  best revenge plots I’ve seen in a long time.

Jamie Fox plays Django, a black slave who is purchased by a former dentist named Dr. Schultz, turned bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) in order to track down three white men who he intends to kill. Django has no problem with this and the two become friends and Schultz offers Django his freedom and partnership in the bounty hunting business. However, Django tells Schultz that he has a wife who was sold to a plantation,  Dr. Schultz agrees to help him get her back.

This sets up a spectacular third act that involves Leonardo DiCaprio as a plantation and slave owner and Samuel L. Jackson as a loyal servant. I won’t tell you more, just go see it.

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this movie (as he does with most of his films) and he doesn’t disappoint. Pacing, character development and dialogue are all extremely well written and directed. One of the more enjoyable things in this movie is watching Christoph Waltz (who played the polite but devious and evil German Nazi in Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards) play a very polite, articulate and devious good guy. In Inglourious Basterds he was the Nazi you loved to hate, but in Django, you love to love him because he is just so darn smart and good. Well, good for a man who makes money killing people.

Django Unchained is bloody, but no more so than any other Tarantino movie, and perhaps in this movie the violence is much more topical and has more of a point than others. With the recent increase of racist remarks against our black president and at least perceived increase of racial tension, Django reminds us that when white and black guys get together to kill bad guys, it can be a LOT of fun.

See it in the theater, you won’t regret it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Posted: 18th December 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews
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Short Review:


You’re going to see it anyways, so it doesn’t matter. But if you still care, it was ok, not great, not horrible, but could have been way better…like those other LOTR movies.

Long Review:

I will be reviewing two things about The Hobbit, the movie itself, and the new 48 FPS (Hi Def).

48 FPS/ Hi Def

Let’s start with 48 FPS (which we do not have in Duluth). If you want to find the closest theater showing it, check this site out: 48fpsmovies.com/48-fps-theater-list/

But don’t bother, ‘cus it’s not worth the two hour drive (unless you’re visiting Como Park and the Conservatory too, which is what we did, and it was awesome, but then just see it in an Imax theater). I couldn’t really tell the difference between the higher resolution/frame rate for The Hobbit (which I saw in 3D), compared with a other movies filmed for 3D. But when I did notice, it felt like I was watching a movie that was sped up for a Benny Hill effect. Not sure if this was intended or not (I don’t think so), but if it was I wouldn’t be suprised because of the overall feel of the movie, which seemed to be more geared towards younger kids than the preview Lord of the Rings movies.

On to the Movie

I’ll try not to give too much away, but because I read the book I will be comparing what I remember from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. Now, I understand that comparing a movie to the source material is never fare. It’s never going to be as good as our own imagination. I get that. But here’s the thing, I already know what Peter Jackson’s imagination has done with Tolkien’s source material (ya know, LOTR) and…it seems he forgot something much like George Lucas forgot something when he revisited his own made up universe when he made prequels.

And there seems to be three sources for The Hobbit movie. 1) the book 2) The Silmarillion (a book by Tolkien that explains more history of Middle Earth) 3) the imagination of the writers and creators of the movie…that is not Tolkien.

In Jackson’s defense, in Lord of the Rings he had already added a few things here and there, and this happens all the time in books made into movies. But each Lord of the Rings movie was ONE movie from ONE book. The Hobbit will be three movies…from ONE book. If Jackson simply used the entire Hobbit book as a script for the movie, it would definitely be longer than one movie, perhaps three, two hour movies. And if he just added source material from the Silmarillion, then obviously it would be longer.

However, he didn’t do that. After seeing the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy, it is clear that the decision to make it three movies was mostly a financial one, not a creative one. This is sad compared to the quality of the other Middle Earth trilogy. I don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of what was added, what was changed, what they left out, etc… (if you read the books, you’ll pick this up quick, if you haven’t, just enjoy what you’re watching) but my point is this, the movie is much more about action and silliness than what I cared for in a Middle Earth movie.

George Lucas had thirty years to forget how to make a good Star Wars movie, Peter Jackson forgot how to make a good Middle Earth movie only ten. Just saying it could have been better.

But who am I kidding, it already made 10 million, you’re going to see it anyway, so go ahead, go see it. Just don’t bother with the 48FPS.

Wreck-It Ralph

Posted: 6th November 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews

wreckitralphPerfect. Not just in comparison to the other movies I watched this last weekend, but also in comparison with other animated movies I loved. See it right now, it’s so, just, perfect.

First, the animated short “Paperman”  before the movie was very cute and fantastic, I’m glad Disney and Pixar are doing short films before movies, I hope this catches on with other studios.

Wreck-it Ralph is not a Pixar movie, but it’s surprisingly good even still, and probably better than this years Pixar movie, Brave. Actually, not probably…IS better.

The premise is heartwarming story about the bad guy Wreck-it Ralph (played by John C. Reilly) in the the game Fix-It Felix (played by Jack McBrayer) who’s tired of being treated LIKE a bad guy when the game ends. Fix-It Felix gets a medal every time he saves the tower, but Ralph is tired never getting any recognition for doing his part. But when he leaves the game in search of his own medal, it becomes quickly apparent that the game is no longer fun to be played by the humans (kinda like Tron meets Toy Story) without Ralph.

The movie takes a lot of different characters from different titles much the same way Who Framed Roger Rabbit did. There are cameos from other games like Qbert, Sonic and Street Fighter, but most of the movie takes place in just three games: Fix-it Feelix, Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush. Sarah Silverman plays a perfect little misfit girl in Sugar Rush who just wants to win a race and Ralph is forced to help her to get his medal back that he stole from Hero’s Duty. Of course, everything gets a lot more complicated and Ralph has to make hard choices that might hurt his new friends. In the end…nope, not gonna ruin it for you, just watch it.

Wreck-It Ralph is getting %84 on Rottentomatoes, and made 49 Million, which is really great because hopefully they’ll make a few sequels with this video game universe.

Go see it in the theater, it’s worth it.

Man with the Iron Fists, Silent Hill, both terrible.

Posted: 6th November 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews
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Let me tell you about the story of how I saw an 1/8th of a terrible movie, 7/8ths of not so great movie, and the entirety of a great movie. It all started when a friend of mine sent me a text, asking if I wanted to see The Man with the Iron Fists. I told him that I really wasn’t, that I would be much more interested in Wreck it Ralph or Cloud Atlas, but he said he had his heart set on Man with the Iron Fists, and I hadn’t hung out with him in a while, and sometimes you just have to take one for the team and see a movie you know you won’t really like and spend time with a good friend (just like I did with The Grey).

Before I tell you what I thought of The Man with the Iron Fists, let me explain something to those of you who don’t quite understand what “Presented” means in the film industry. A lot of people mistake the word “Presented” for “Directed”, or “made by”. In this case, the previews and adds for The Man with the Iron Fist said “Presented by Quentin Tarantino.”  This only means ONE thing, Tarantino saw it and liked it. THAT’S IT. He didn’t write it, he didn’t direct it, he didn’t produce it. ALL HE DID WAS SLAP HIS NAME ON IT SO THAT YOU WOULD GO SEE IT.  And unfortunately for a few of my friends, they fell for it.

So, we went to The Man with the Iron Fists…and it was horrible. I kid you not, people were laughing at the acting abilities of the actors in the movie. But sometimes a bad movie is so bad it’s good…like Dumb and Dumber, or Shoot ‘Em Up. But not this one. Had this movie been a horrible martial arts movie that was making fun of itself like Balls of Fury, then it would have been passable. But no, it was trying to take itself WAY too seriously.  Even the opening action scene sucked. Even Russell Crowe, who is normal fantastic, wasn’t all that great because he wasn’t directed well. And who, you might ask, directed this craptastic movie? RZA from the rap group Wu Tang Clan. (huh, Google Docs knows who that is)

Now, I don’t have anything against RZA or Wu Tang Clan (their music was probably the only good part of the movie), and he isn’t a bad actor (he’s been in several movies already). However, he co-wrote and directed The Man with the Iron Fists…this is his writing and directorial debut, and it just didn’t work, and critics agreed with only %55 at Rotten Tomatoes and only %59 viewers liked it (less than %60 is rotten).

silenthill3dNow, because it was so bad, I actually left the theater after only ten minutes. I invited my friends to leave with me, but they decided to stay. So, I asked the ticket people if I could see a different movie, they said sure. The only one that started around the same time was Silent Hill, which was in 3D, so they gave me some glasses for free.

I walked into the theater showing the horror movie and I was surprised to find that I was all alone, no one else was in the theater. At first I thought the creepy ass monsters from the movie ate all the viewers, but then I realized that thiswas ALSO a terrible movie and I was going to see it by myself. (Critics gave it a terrible %5 at Rotten Tomatoes and viewers only %45). So I sat down in the best seat in the house and started yelling at the stupid girl who used her gun an astonishing ONCE to kill a monster/demon from hell/her nightmare?… that had a mouth for a face. I actually enjoyed it, the directed was a hell of alot better, cinematography was pretty dang good (the CG effects of the transformation from the regular world to the “darkness” world was amazing) and the acting wasn’t terrible.

The story itself was bizarre and didn’t make a lick of sense. It’s a straight up sequen of the first one. The main character is the all growed-up good part of the creepy little girl that cursed Silent Hill in the first place. Her dad and her very new guy friend both say “Don’t go to Silent Hill, don’t ever go there, just don’t go there ok?” And then there’s a secrete group of people who are trying to bring her to Silent Hill, writing on walls in blood and she sees visions of creepy ass monsters without arms but with a mouth for a stomach, which I’m sure is just fine.

So, she goes to Silent Hill and like I said, uses her gun once on the demonic hell demons from space or whatever (ok, not from space, from her evil sides’ nightmare…because that makes sense). There is a lot of walking around without a weapon, “Hey, you have to go over there in that creepy building that probably won’t have any monsters that want to eat your face off”, but ya know, there are, and they try, but she gets away, ‘cus she’s the main character and kinda cute.

Since I was the only one in the theater I had a lot of fun yelling at here, things like “There’s a pipe right the hell there!” and “Don’t go in there…there’s a monster in there…don’t…ok you went in there.”

You’ll be happy to hear that unlike the first Silent Hill movie, this one neglected to include a barbed wire rape scene, so it had that going for it. Also, it was a true sequel in much the same way The Ring Two was.  If you’re a fan of the video games and liked the first one, I recommend it, otherwise, like everyone else was not in the theater with me…don’t see it in the theater.

The next day I saw Wreck-It Ralph…which was amazing.



Posted: 9th October 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews

looperShort Review:

Fantastic acting, well directed, good cinematography. Warning, some disturbing themes including torture and murder of children (neither are shown). Also, some brief nudity and the plot will make your head spin.

Long Review:

Rian Johnson’s story is one that we all should pay attention to. He wrote a screenplay called “Brick” and sent it into several movie studios way back in 2003 (or there about). Years later, in 2005, the script hit the right desk and it got greenlit as a low budget, but critically acclaimed film noir movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and that pregnant chick from Lost. It’s one of my favorites and I’m not sure why I don’t own it yet (probably will soon).

Brick/Looper is a similar story to Memento/Batman.  Christopher Nolen made the low budget Memento and wowed people in the movie biz by the creativity and good writing, but because it wasn’t a big budget blockbuster, few people saw it. However, because Memento was so good, when Batman was pitched, big names signed on to be in the movie and Christopher Nolen was given a larger budget.

Rian Johnston’s Brick and Looper have a similar story. Almost no one has seen Brick (I keep telling my friends to see it, they keep telling me they will). Jonathan Gordon-Levitt signed on for Looper, not only because he knew Johnston could do a good job, but he starred as the high-school “detective” in Brick. Bruce Willis most likely saw it and agreed to co-star in the much larger budget project, and, if you’ve seen the previews, it looks like they’ve hired some top notch visual effects and cinematographers for this film.

Pretty dang morbid. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a hitman called a Looper. The movie explains that a looper is a particular type of hitman that kills people sent back from the future. (this is to avoid someone finding the body in the future). Time travel is extremely illegal (in the future…) and therefore, when the services of the Looper is no longer needed, they are sent back in time for their past selves to kill: “This is called, ‘Closing the Loop.’” Joe doesn’t have much a life to speak of. He spends most of his money he makes as a Looper on drugs, booze and women. But life gets more complicated when Joe is sent his future self to kill…and he gets away.

Writing the short synopsis of this movie gave me that little butterfly in the stomach that tells me I’m psyched about seeing it again. After watching it, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it…but now I realize I do…a lot.

I can’t say it’s perfect, time travel movies never are. (The only one I thought was darn near perfect was 12 Monkeys), but here’s some advice…it’s a movie, just watch the good acting, character development, cinematography, script, etc… and ignore the small, and perhaps some very large plot holes.

See it in the theater? Well, that depends. I did like it, but I don’t think it was Rian Johnston’s best. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are both very good in it (both do serious with subtle humor well). But keep in mind my warning, there are some intense, disturbing themes. Action and good storytelling work well, I’m excited to see more of Johnston’s work.

Dredd 3D

Posted: 25th September 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews
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dredd3dShort Review: Very violent, gory, dark, depressing…and somehow awesome and beautiful.

Long Review:

Dredd 3D is not a sequel to the first Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone in 1995. Hollywood does this, sometimes they call it a reboot like with Batman Begins, other times, as with The Punisher, they just make another movie with the same character…but with no reference to the previous film and just hope you didn’t notice, or, if you did, the movie doesn’t care.

Reboots, or movies like this that have no mention of previous films are hit or miss with me. Sometimes they do it the way you wish they had in the first place (as with Batman) and other times you wonder why they’re making another one, when the first one was so dang good (as with The Punisher with Tom Jane).

I have to be honest, I wasn’t all that excited to see Dredd. I was never a huge fan of the character and the Stallone movie wasn’t all that great, and the previews for Dredd 3D make the plot seem like a complete rip off of the martial arts movie, Raid: Redemption.  But a friend of mine wanted to go, so, hell, I’ll go to hang with a buddy. And…I was pleasantly surprised.

Here’s the plot: Dredd (played by Karl Urban, you remember him from Lord of The Rings as the main Riders of Rohan) and his rookie partner/psychic/hot blond (played by Olivia Thirlby) respond to a call about a triple homicide. Let me be more specific, about three skinned bodies dropped from the top of a skyscraper.  After a quick investigation, it becomes apparent that one gang controls the entire building and when Dredd and his rookie partner attempt to arrest someone, the entire building gets locked down and all the gang members are encouraged to kill the Judges. Dredd says “that’s not good.”

The movie’s tone plays an interesting balance between glorifying violence and action, while at the same time showing the cost of violence in a few poignant scenes. It can, at sometimes be morbidly serious, but then be a bit lighthearted and humorous. One of my favorite scenes involved our hero’s escorting a man they arrested, riding an elevator up. The psychic says “he’s thinking about making a move for your gun”. Dredd responds: “Yeah.” The psychic then says “He changed his mind.” Dredd responds: “Yeah.”

It also is the only movie that I know of with a plot device to have a reason for slow motion action scenes. A drug, called “Slo-Mo” effects the user’s perception of time down to a tenth of normal speed. The movie does this well, even beautifully as Dredd and his partner shoot up a room full of Slo-Mo high thugs, showing the bullets enter their face and exiting, blood, teeth and bone slowly moving from where they should be to where shouldn’t. I don’t think I would have ever said this, but in this movie, gore has never been so visually stunning.

However, I do have a few issues. One of them is the ridiculous masculinity of a man (Dredd) who never shows his eyes behind his Judge helmet and kills dozens of people without much thought, and his very pretty rookie partner doesn’t wear a helmet (which shows off her blond, curly hair) because she needs to be able to read people’s minds, ‘cus, you know, she’s a psychic. I’m thinking there’s some kind cultural comment I could make here…but here hair is just so pretty…

I can’t say that this a good movie, in that, it’s so depressing. The fight for the high rise and against the gang who controls it is set in front of a backdrop of millions of people without jobs and a public angst we too familiar with. Although there is a short discussion of actually trying to do some “good” instead of judging, sentences and killing criminals, but trying to make a difference in other ways, there is never any mention of trying to do more on a bigger scale, helping the poor, giving them something to do or believe in or fight for. I know, I know, it’s just a movie and Dredd is just one person, he can’t fix every problem or save every person, but still, with problems SO bad, you’d think some politician would have some grand idea to fix it, you know, like the The New Deal  or something.

Dredd 3D isn’t a perfect movie, no one is going to get an Oscar for acting or directing, but if the Academy could look beyond the content and plot and see the skill involved to make these actions scenes so well, with slow motion filming and effects coupled with the new, very real 3D effects, I honestly think this could be in the running for an award for best special effects or cinematography.

I met Ronnie Cox, and you didn’t.

Posted: 19th September 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Uncategorized

ronnieandmeYou might not know his name, but you know his face and the movies he’s in…if you’re a real man. Let me break it down for you.

Ronnie Cox, or Ron as he referred to himself when he shook my hand, has been in 132 movies and television shows,  according to IMDb.com, with more to come I’m sure.

He’s been in shows like Law and Order SVU, Dexter, Desperate House Wives, Stargate SG1 and Star Trek (TNG).

But if you’re real man, you know what movies you should recognize him from, Robocop, Total Recall and Beverly Hills Cop. That’s right, I shook hands, asked a few questions, embarrassed myself, and got a picture with Dick Jones himself.

“But how could a suave, even keel, layed back kind of guy like you embarrass yourself with such a man’s man like Ronnie Cox?” you might ask. Surprising, I know, but a real man like Mr. Cox admits when he’s made a mistake, so, I must follow suit.

But first, I’ll tell you how the heck I was able to meet such an icon of movies for guys who like movies. You see, Ron (yeah, we’re on a first name basis, he introduced himself as Ron, I freekin’ shook his hand, so, yes, I can refer to him as Ron now, so there). Where was I. Oh, yeah, Ron is not only an awesome villain in sweet sci fi flicks like Robocop or Total Recall, or hard ass cops like Beverly Hills cop, but he’s also a fantastic singer song writer. Take a look at his site (http://www.ronnycox.com/). Looks like you can download some of his music for free there too, but if you like it, you should buy it. Not because you should should obay the law, but because, if you recal, he controlled Robocop.

Anyway, I digress. He had a show booked in West Duluth, Minnesota, where I was having coffee with a friend. I had seen the posters there, recognized him, and thought “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I came here and saw him play and met him?” but I never wrote down the date. So, it was purely coincidence when I was standing in line to get my iced mocha with chia when Ron walked in with his guitar and a few other odds and ends, and his fellow musicians, and walked right up to me and said “Hi, I’m Ron.” I tried to think of something really awesome to say, something like “Hi, I thought you got a bad rap when Robocop shot you dead”. But no, I couldn’t think of anything, so, I followed suit and, acting normal like he was, just said, “Hi, I’m Nate, come on in.” As if I was in charge, which I wasn’t.

Later, after he and his other musician buddies ran a sound check and jammed on his guitar, I got the courage to ask if it would be rude to ask for a picture. He said no, not at all and I handed my iphone to my buddy. (who surreptitiously recorded video of me asking the following questions).

(Note: I’d like to point out that I asked him if it was ok if I quoted him on these questions, he said it was fine. I did not, however, get permission to use the video as I was not aware of it until my friend told me he was recording. I’ll ask if it’s ok first and then perhaps I’ll post it, so, stay tuned)

I asked him what he thought about the new remake of Total Recall, and if he had been asked to do a cameo, or if he was interested in being in it. He said, and I quote: “Oh, they’d love to have me, but why would I put on a wet bathing suit?”  At first I didn’t really know what he meant, perhaps his verbal imagery is just that much better since he writes his own music. But he explained it by asking it again, “I mean, why would I want to put on a wet bathing suit?”  For whatever reason, this actually did clarify it for me. Not only is it weird and uncomfortable to put on a recently used bathing suit, but you just went for a swim, it’s time for a shower…I guess?

He later clarified that although he “loves Collin Firth”, saying that he was in American Outlaws with him, but said he didn’t think the remake of Total Recall was all that great.

He also mentioned that they were also planning to remake Robocop. Now, if you’re a friend of mine, you might know that for the last few years I have been saying that it would be a good idea to remake that movie. Because of this, I blurted out, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” To this, Ron turned to me and glared. Trying to be funny, I changed my mind, saying, “Oh, I mean, that’s a horrible idea.” Hoping to mediate any damage to our budding friendship. Trying to explain my feelings, I added, “You know, because of the new CG technology, it could be good.” He still didn’t agree.

However, he still graciously put his arm around me and let my friend take my picture with my iphone. And, after talking a bit more, agreed to let me quote him for this article. If you read this, Ronny Cox, thank you so much. You seem like a down to earth, polite, multi talented and charming guy. I wish you the best.

And for the rest of you, suck it, I met Ronny Cox.

Bourne Legacy

Posted: 20th August 2012 by Nathan R. Carlsen in Reviews
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bournelegacyShort Review:

Pretty good, mostly fun. Never boring, action fun…but the plot left me wondering why this was a Bourne movie.

Long Review:

Bourne Legacy, the fourth Bourne movie, stars Jeremy Renner. You might remember him from The Hurt Locker or as Hawkeye from the Avengers. In this movie, he plays another super soldier created by another secret government agency. This time, however, the process by which the soldiers are given superhuman strength, speed and intelligence is via a regimen of pills.

This excited me at first, as the Bourne movies have always been a not so subtle reference to Nazi experimentation on humans and the idea of creating a master race. The biggest problem with Jason Bourne was control, he had free will and was able to think for himself and question his orders. I was hoping the new movie would address such issues and imply that the pills were part of that control and reducing soldiers abilities to question their actions. But, alas, the pills were used to make them stronger and smarter. Which is still quite interesting, and a fun plot to explore, to be sure. However, now that you made a soldier stronger and faster, if he can still think for himself, he might turn on you. This is a bad combination, and of course, that’s the point of the movie.

I have two requests of my readers.

1) Please know that wolves don’t attack people, please. Hollywood has been implying that they do for decades and there has been only ONE recorded attack in a hundred years. Our pet dogs kill more of us then wolves do by FAR. I’ve discussed all this in my review for The Grey, I won’t harp on it too much, but it really disappointed me that this movie yet again implied that a beautiful creature like a wolf would hunt human beings. (yes, there is a short line where Renner’s character admits that wolves don’t hunt people, and another character pontificates that perhaps the wolves didn’t think he was human). If Hollywood wants to suggest that a wild animal might attack and kill a human, why don’t they just use a Mountain Lion or a Bear, who DO attack, kill, and eat people from time to time?

2) Watch the first Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, again. It’s well directed, well acted, great plot, fun action and just a fun movie. One small, but very important distinction between the first movie and all the rest is that it was directed by Doug Liman, who choose to forgo the shaky camera crap and focus on the well trained abilities by Matt Damon in his fight scenes…and he is FAST. The other two Matt Damon Bourne movies were directed by Paul Greengrass and this new one with Jeremy Renner is directed by Tony Gillroy. They both employ the shaky camera effect, apparently forgetting the wonderful invention of the steadicam, though, the technology is so simple, even I created my own home made one recently. This makes the action sequences confusing and some moviegoers even feel sick watching them.

Bourne Legacy isn’t a bad movie, I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first three because of the week plot and anti-climactic ending. Jeremy Renner worked well as the main character and action star, and I’m excited to see what Hollywood will do with in the future. Perhaps an unnecessary Hawkeye prequel?

Feel free to see it in the theater, but I wish I had just waited for the rental.