‘Glass’ Review

Director:  M. Night Shyamalan

Writer: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard

Synopsis: Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The name M. Night Shyamalan for a while was a laughing stock. After breaking into the scene with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, the director’s fanbase started to turn on him after films like The Village – which I didn’t personally mind – Lady in the Water, and, of course, the coup de grace to his career was the combination of The Happening and The Last Airbender. I’m not even going to mention After Earth – because do you remember After Earth? Does anyone?

Anyway, Shyamalan slowly came back with the still underrated The Visit, but then really returned to form with Split, which is true Shyamalan fashion, had the twist ending that no one saw coming – the whole movie was connected to Unbreakable. The long awaited sequel that everyone wanted was finally real, and when Split turned out to be a hit, Shyamalan went on to finish the trilogy he had wanted to create since Unbreakable’s release. Glass is a sequel nineteen years in the making, but was the wait worth it? Does Glass live up to the expectations Split left us with? Let’s dig in shall we?

Glass follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the only survivor of a deadly train crash fifteen years prior, which left him with super-strength and led him down the path of becoming the vigilante named The Overseer, all with the help of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). After seeing the devastation left by Kevin Wendell Crumb aka The Horde (James McAvoy), David manages to track Kevin and faces off with The Beast until the two are taken in by the police and the mysterious Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Dr. Staple sends them to a psychiatric facility with the goal being to convince them that their super-human abilities are all in their heads.

However, unbeknownst to David at first, Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) has been a patient of the facility since the end of Unbreakable, and when he learns of his new neighbors, a plan starts to go into motion.

Much like Unbreakable, Shyamalan keeps Glass as grounded as possible, well, as grounded as you can get with super-powered individuals. Buildings aren’t falling over, there are no over-the-top action scenes, although the brawls between David and The Beast look hard-hitting, and the characters feel real. In fact, Paulson’s Ellie Staple drives the point that David, Kevin and Elijah are just normal people and are “sick.” For the most part, it actually sounds somewhat believable, but it just falls a tad flat and too smart for its own good.

When it comes to the cast, James McAvoy steals the movie, continuing his amazing performances from Split. He actually gets to play around with the characters a little more this time around, and having Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson to play off of this time around adds a lot more to his performance. Willis thankfully doesn’t phone it in as the returning David Dunn, but it somehow feels like he’s underused. Then there’s Jackson’s Elijah. Despite the name of the movie being Glass, Jackson is heavily underused until the third act of the movie, and even then, it’s still mostly McAvoy’s show. It is a bit of shame to see that happen, especially considering how the movie ends.

The supporting cast have only a few moments to shine, with Spencer Treat Clark’s Joseph and Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey getting the better of it. In fact, I’ll say that Taylor-Joy’s Casey has one of the better, if not the best scene in the movie, where she comes face-to-face with Kevin again. The two have great chemistry together, and it actually has a pay-off toward the end of the movie, which I really appreciated. It was also nice to see Charlayne Woodard return as Mrs. Price, but she doesn’t really have anything to do, other than a couple brief scenes with Jackson’s Elijah. Finally, Sarah Paulson’s Ellie Staple gets to shine along the main cast, and her presence does throw a wrench in everything.

Going back to the ending though, this is a spoiler-free review so I won’t spoil anything, but Shyamalan couldn’t help himself to put not just one twist in here. The problem with one of the twists is that, despite the concept of surprise twists, it literally comes from out of nowhere with no real context and no real lead-in. Shyamalan just throws it in to connect to his other twist, that has divided audiences already, and if you haven’t watched it, will divide you too.

It also doesn’t help that Glass is a bit sluggish throughout its runtime. The second act in particular is pretty slow paced, that when everything breaks down in the much promoted encounter between David and The Beast in front of the facility, we’re pumped to see what will happen. Unfortunately, for me, I honestly don’t know how to feel about the whole third act. It’s a bit too messy for me, and with all the hype and the exceeded expectations that Split led into Glass, it’s a shame that Shyamalan went down this road.

All in all, Glass had some great potential, and despite its saving grace performance by James McAvoy, Shyamalan’s surprise connected universe movie is a mess. Is Glass a bad movie? No, I don’t think so. Is it a frustrating movie? I would say yes, yes it is. Needless to say, the choice is ultimately yours on how you view the ending, and whether it fits into everything that was built up to it.

Glass

3 out of 5

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review

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Dir: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Juno Temple, and Christopher Lloyd

Synopsis: Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

It’s been almost ten years since Sin City came out, and at the time the movie made some bold statements. The film followed the graphic novels so close that it felt like we were watching the novel coming to life. It also took a huge leap, technology wise, in using green screen for just about the majority of making the film. The first Sin City was almost beloved by everyone, and everyone asked, where’s our sequel? Well, flash forward to now and we have Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, a prequel and sequel with the same set up as the first. A noir, over-the-top violent, narration and sexy story with four intertwined stories based in a city that will eat you up and spit you back out. But the question is if it’s any good. Well, sadly A Dame to Kill For hits all the same beats from the first, but it’s a little late for a sequel.

 

Like the first film, A Dame to Kill For features three stories that take place in Basin City – I mean Sin City. One features Johnny (Gordon-Levitt), a gambler who looks like he doesn’t think things through. Nancy (Alba) who is still stripping but is aiming for revenge for the death of Hartigan (Willis), and then the “Dame to Kill For” story that follows the “Dame” Ava Lord (Green) and Dwight (Brolin) trying to kill each other. While all the stories have their elements, they pretty much share two things in common, Senator Roark (Boothe) and Marv (Rourke).

 

Like I stated before, the movie is intertwined with these three stories and some of the transitions are a bit clucky and murky but the story that obviously takes up most of the screen time (and the middle) is the Ava and Dwight story. The story sometimes feels like a soap opera, but it feels deliberately and connects a bit to the noir theme but lucky Green, Rourke, and Dennis Haysbert as Manute (taking over after Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing) performances save, the otherwise, slightly more than average story. Which is a shame, since the story is probably one of the most famous and favorite stories from the graphic novels (next to Hell and Back).

 

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Brolin is okay as the pre-surgical Dwight. He brings his usual gruffness to the role and has a couple of standout moments but the segment belongs to Eva Green (which I’ll get to). Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven play cops Mort and Bob respectively but Meloni gets the better role of the two, in what turns out to be a weird and maybe unnecessary arc that really goes nowhere and is only there to show how powerful Ava Lord is. Mickey Rourke, who pops up as Marv throughout the movie, has his strongest outing during this part, as does Haysbert as Manute who comes off as a powerhouse, and seeing the two fight each other was pretty cool.

 

But like I said, this story and maybe the movie, belongs to Eva Green. I’m a fan of Green and not because she’s nice to look at, but because she brings something different to every role and although her character is a typical femme fatale, Green does her best to make Ava her own. However, if guys need another reason to watch the movie, you’d probably like to know that Green has the least amount of wardrobe than any character, maybe ever.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny story is rather interesting. Gordon-Levitt brings his usual charm and makes Johnny a pretty likeable character. Although, it’s not that hard considering he’s surrounded by crooked cops and dirty senators playing poker in the back of a strip joint. But, Johnny’s story is really here for two reasons; to show how Sin City works, who runs it, and brutal it can be, and to show how viscous Senator Roark is. Other than that and a cameo by Christopher Lloyd as a “doctor” the story really serves no other purpose that prove Sin City is not a city you want to live in.

 

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The final segment is Nancy’s story. Alba’s Nancy is more matured in a sense; she’s still a stripper but now heavily drinks before, during, and after performing. All she wants is to kill Boothe’s Roark for driving Hartigan to kill himself so she can live. Bruce Willis pops in as a spirit for the lack of a better word, following Nancy and sees how hard it has been for her since he’s left. Alba is okay as the tortured soul but Powers Boothe as the villainous Senator Roark is great, but Boothe is always great as villain, but at least he has more to do than the first Sin City.

 

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While it might sound like I didn’t like the movie, A Dame to Kill For does have some cool moments. The whole movie is filled with essentially cool screensavers and some great performances by Green, Boothe, Gordon-Levitt, and Rourke. The fight between Marv and Manute was cool to see and could have been bland if it wasn’t for one particular instance. Then there is Miho, played by Jaime Chung who replaces Devon Aoki (because she was pregnant), who basically glides around with samurai swords and a bow-and-arrow and kills anybody that she looks at because, why not.

 

All in all, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is more or less of the same as Sin City. Whether that is a good thing is completely up to you when you watch it. I for one, didn’t mind the sequel, but considering we waited soo long for it, it lost some of its charm and effect on me, and it was kind of boring sometimes.

 

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

3.5 out of 5

‘Red 2’ Review

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Dir: Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest)

Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Neal McDonough, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Anthony Hopkins

Synopsis: Retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

After the success of RED back in 2010, the graphic novel adaptation has come back with a sequel that finds retired black ops agent Frank Moses (Willis) reuniting with his old partner Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) after a threat from their past resurfaces in the form of a Cold War-era nuclear weapon “Nightshade.” Now everyone thinks Frank and Marvin know where this device is located and it takes them on the run to not only clear their names but also save the world.

MI6 hires Frank and Marvin’s former sharpshooter friend Victoria (Mirren) to kill them. Also on their tail is U.S. official Horton (McDonough) and even he sends master assassin Han (Lee) after them. Han, as it turns out, has some unfinished business of his own with Frank.

Frank, Marvin, and Frank’s girlfriend Sarah (Parker), make their way around the globe to places like London, Paris and even Moscow to locate Nightshade. Along the way, they encounter Katja (Zeta-Jones), Frank’s former lover, and scientific genius Edward Bailey (Hopkins) who might be the key to helping them stop Nightshade.

The first movie did a great job of balancing humor and action, but it could have also been the chemistry between all the actors. This movie has the same balancing but it doesn’t have the same charm from part one which is probably one of the only letdowns (if that’s the word you want to use). However that doesn’t mean the humor isn’t funny. Malkovich and Mirren have their fair share of funny moments. Parker’s ever-wanting adventure character Sarah has more to do this time around. She sees the side of Willis’ Frank that she didn’t really see in part one and is dealing with Frank’s overprotective nature.

For the new additions; Zeta-Jones looks like she had fun with the role with an almost femme fatale-like vibe. Hopkins seemed like he was just phoning it in and doesn’t even show up until the third act. McDonough is passable as his character considering he’s use to playing that type of persona. The stand out is Byung Hun Lee, who despite coming in and out of the movie once he’s introduced is one of the coolest characters. His fights are great and he has this charisma/confidence in his non-fight scenes.

The action sequences, while just a bit generic they, are still pretty fun to watch. But one of the things I know will get to people is the bloodless kills. A majority, and by that I mean 98% of the kills, have no blood which I’m okay with. I don’t need blood in violence to justify it viewable.

All in all, Red 2 is just about as fun as part one and will have moments that people will like after they leave the theater.
Red 2

3.5 out of 5

‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Review

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Dir: Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 and 3)

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis

Synopsis: The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence

 

It’s not very often when we get a sequel that is intended to be a sequel but at the same time a reboot. This is exactly what Paramount and Hasbro have done with director Jon M. Chu with their highly popular 80’s TV show and toy line G.I. Joe. If you didn’t see G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra (lucky bastard) then you really don’t need to worry. The only characters that cross over to Retaliation are Duke (Channing Tatum), Strom Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), The President (Jonathan Pryce), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and the character of Cobra Commander (although played and voiced by a different actor).

Now don’t worry, you’re not missing much really but the only real thing you have to know is that Zartan (played by Arnold Vosloo from The Mummy) has been planted into the U.S government to take the form of the President by Cobra and that Cobra Commander is locked away. All caught up? Good now lets get on with the review.

I mention before that this movie acts like a sequel but also a reboot for the franchise which the movie truly needed. Besides some of the characters the whole movie brings in a new cast and a new overall approach of being more serious than comedic like The Rise of Cobra. The movie does have humorous scenes which fit very well within the scenes and aren’t so cheesy that it won’t make you roll your eyes.

The early scenes establish the close bond between Duke (Tatum) and Roadblock (Johnson). We’re told in a brief scene that Duke now runs his own unit and includes Snake-Eyes (Park), Flint (Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Palicki) and a few others. But when the Joes are framed and ambushed, Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye (I’ll get to Snake Eyes in a bit) escape and try to clear their names and find out what happened to them.

Now, this is only one half of the movie. The other half of the movie is told through the story of Snake Eyes and of course, ninjas. Maybe one of the only good things about Rise of Cobra was that it went into the some of the back story between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Here it goes into more as Snake Eyes is trying to get Storm Shadow so he can pay for the murder of their clan leader.

This actually leads to the standout sequence of the movie and one that has been understandably well-featured in the trailers, the mountainside scene. The reason it truly stands out is because it is a dialogue-free fight between Snake Eyes, Jinx (Yung) and a horde of Red Ninjas, which is inspired by Larry Hama’s famous silent issue of the 1980s G.I. Joe Marvel comic. In about ten minutes all we get is background music and an intense and thrilling action scene that involves everybody diving, gliding, flipping and slicing each other. Retaliation goes back into its roots, more military combat and ninjas, and the movie doesn’t depend on heavy doses of CG, like power suits, expect for the destruction of London (not a spoiler it’s in the trailers) but does have some cool futuristic tech that I kind of wish they used more in the movie.

Let’s get to the performances shall we. They’re all pretty solid. Johnson pretty much runs the show here, arguably next to Snake Eyes, but Johnson proves that he can take over the franchise if need be. On the other end, Jonathan Pryce as the President/Zartan President, has more to do here and you can tell he’s having fun with the role and it’s pretty fun to watch. Palicki and Cotrona don’t really have a lot to do besides their action sequences which they hold their own. Elodie Yung’s Jinx is interesting because despite being a presence’s in the ninja storyline and mountain scene she kind of just gets lost in the background once the stories merge.

Stevenson, with his southern accent, looks to have fun playing the villain Firefly as does Walton Goggins who plays a warden that holds Cobra Commander. Speaking of Commander, he was played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the first movie but was replaced in this one by two people (one voice other as the actual character). The funny thing about seeing Cobra Commander is that he actually looks like he does in the TV show and even his voice is a bit closer and yes it does sound a bit cheesy at times but come on that’s the character.

I know the commercials have been pushing Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton, he’s the reason they call themselves Joes, but he’s not really in the movie that much. Willis’s role is really a glorified cameo. But the real negative on the acting side is RZA as the Blind Master. Every time he comes on screen it kind of slows the movie down and the performances comes off more as campy than “good cheesy” (can I use that term?).

All in all, Retaliation is the G.I Joe movie that the first movie should have been. It was tons of fun to watch and really enjoyable with cool action sequences and humor that should please fans. I did end up watching the movie in 3D and some scenes were kind of cool to see but you can go watch it in 2D and won’t miss much.

G.I. Joe Retaliation

4 out of 5

A Good Day to Die Hard Review

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Dir: John Moore

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvic and Yuliya Snigir

Synopsis: John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces.

 

So how do you freshen up a series that some believe is pushing it? Add some new blood. Now sometimes this works (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and sometimes it doesn’t. With A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth installment of the Die Hard series, it has its moments were it does work.

The movie starts by following the new blood to the series, Jack McClane (Courtney), killing someone in Russia and gets himself caught to get close to a political prisoner Uri Komarov (Koch) to get a file for the CIA. Of course this gets to his father John McClane, once again played by Bruce Willis, and he flies to Russia to try and save his son that he hasn’t seen in years. Of course once he gets there everything goes crazy and the McClane’s have to team up and as John puts it “kill all the bad guys.”

Now it’s been a while since we’ve had John McClane in our lives and when he gets to Russia we get the fish-out-of-water gags as John’s New York’s tough cop struggles to fit in to Moscow. Once John finally tracks Jack down, it’s not the happy family reunion that you would assume. In fact John is the last person that Jack wants to see in Russia, or pretty much ever.

The movie has some twists and turns that you can probably see coming once it finally develops or kind of don’t care about it. A Good Day also tries to pay some homage to the previous movies and if you’re a die hard Die Hard fan (yeah I know) then you might catch them.

I briefly mentioned Willis return as McClane but the some people will look at Jai Courtney as Jack. Courtney has his moments to shine as the younger McClane but other than that he doesn’t really get past the “I hate my dad” attitude until almost the end of the movie when the two finally set their differences aside and becomes the A-Team wrecking crew.

The action here is not that bad, starting with a long car chase that seems like it takes place all over Moscow. While at times a bit confusing and some cheesy dialogue from Willis it shows how the series has gone from the “real” action experience to the common over the top action that we see a lot now, although at least for me its not all that bad.

All in all, A Good Day to Die Hard might be the weakest of the Die Hard series but it does have its brief moments where it is good. If Courtney is indeed the “future” of the Die Hard series then I think they should bring him in for one more (which I’m pretty sure we’ll get) and flesh out his character a bit.

A Good Day to Die Hard

3 out of 5