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Tuesday: Safe

I just think that this whole concept of keeping the young girl safe is stale and that an action star as great as Jason Statham could have been utilized better.

Safe
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The action star Jason Statham has become a big name in the genre. He has now featured in quite a few of his own action flicks, but has even starred alongside some of the greatest action stars of all time in The Expendables and the sequel The Expendables 2. Anybody who has been even remotely following the career of Statham knows about the trilogy originating from The Transporter. That's the franchise that most moviegoers think of when Jason Statham is brought up. Those movies weren't that great, but they were entertaining enough and it displayed Jason Statham's skills of being the star of action films. In fact, he has become one of my favorite action stars of all time. He shines on screen in a way that not many other actors can do.With Safe being released, it looked a lot like another entry in the Transporter franchise. To be blunt, it essentially is.

A onetime secret agent comes to the aid of a 12-year-old girl held captive by ruthless Triad gangsters. Before the rescue is over, the pair will go up against not only her abductors, but also the Russian Mafia and a bunch of corrupt New York cops. The plot itself is extremely similar to that of other films that Jason Statham has starred in. In the case of Safe, the screenplay fights to have a story. It makes several attempts at creating a story for Statham's character, Luke Wright. He ends up becoming a father figure for Mei. While all of this is going on, the screenwriter tried to have a backstory for Luke's past. There's a lot of juggling between these 'plots' and the action sequences. I seriously feel that Safe would be a stronger film without trying to create a story for audiences. Similar to most action flicks, Luke is somehow invincible throughout all of the fights and shoot-outs. However, that isn't much of a problem since I expected just that from a movie such as Safe. After all has been said and done, the ending tries to draw a much bigger connection between Luke and Mei where it doesn't feel as if there were enough interactions between the two to make this feel genuine. Perhaps more personal scenes between the two could have made it feel more real. In defense of Safe, if you're looking for an action movie where you can turn your brain off at the door, then you should have a decent time with all of the action going on.

A lot of the audiences that are going to check out Safe are the fans of Jason Statham. I have enjoyed seeing his motion pictures for a while now. He's definitely one of the best action stars around for this generation. Well, he does it again in Safe. He's charming on screen and a blast to watch. There are times where the screenplay tries desperately to draw a connection between Luke and the viewers, which simply falls flat on its face. However, this isn't the fault of Statham. He delivers the character well, given the source material he was given. Catherine Chan performs as Mei and does a decent job, especially since this is her first feature film. She's believable in the character despite the fact that her role feels rather distant. James Hong is one of the antagonists as Han Jiao. He's just as expected, a one-dimensional bad guy. The performances are just what one would expect from an action movie. However, fans of Jason Statham are sure to enjoy his presence, despite the character.

Putting aside the screenplay and the acting, the visuals are the most important thing about Safe, correct? Mindless action movies should at least be able to get the visuals spot on. The visuals in Safe are satisfying. The action sequences are fun, although they get a bit repetitive. Fortunately, the film embraces its R rating for strong violence throughout, and for language. Even though a lot of the blows taken by character are unrealistic as they keep on getting up even after brutal strikes, they look real. There are a lot of quick cuts, so the blood isn't focused on, but it's most certainly there making Safe appear to be real. However, there are times where the action shines bright. One in specific involves Jason Statham beating up two men with a plate. Another includes completely unloading a gun into a man's face and chest. When it comes to the audio department, the surround sound is definitely utilized a lot during Safe. Audiences will be utterly immersed in this one as sound blares from all angles.

The assumption that this is essentially Transporter 4 is true. It's extremely similar and even consists of its action star, Jason Statham. To be honest, he could do much better than this. He has the skill to be in some incredible action movies. I really enjoyed the first Crank and I hope to see him make more movies like that. To put it simply, Safe is a typical Jason Statham movie where he's invincible as he protects a young child from groups of people who want them either dead or captured. The attempts at creating a story don't work here. The visuals are decent, even though a lot of the action gets repetitive, there are some standout scenes. Looking back at this review, it sounds as if I hate the movie, which isn't true. The movie at least kept my attention from start to finish and there are a few notable action sequences. I just think that this whole concept of keeping the young girl Safe is stale and that an action star as great as Jason Statham could have been utilized better. Safe is below average.

My Rating = Two Stars

Next movie: The Five-Year Engagement

Friday: The Five-Year Engagement

While The Five-Year Engagement isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected, it's still a very enjoyable film.

The Five-Year Engagement
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The scope of talent in the comedy genre seems to be quite small nowadays. Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, and Nicholas Stoller are all included in this group and all three of them are involved in The Five-Year Engagement. That alone should peak the interest of moviegoers looking to get a good laugh at the theater who may have also enjoyed films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. However, I'd say that this movie pushes a bit more towards Forgetting Sarah Marshall when it comes to the story itself. It's more romantically driven than anything else. Anyways, given these three names alone, audiences are led to believe that this would be a vulgar piece of cinema, similar to the material seen in the other motion pictures that they have done. Surprisingly, this isn't the case as the three remain in the same comic region, although change the aim a little bit.

An engaged young couple discover that the more they get to know each other, the more unpredictable their commitment to getting married becomes. The Five-Year Engagement wants you to forget about the romantic comedies about finding somebody. Instead, this tells the story of the journey in between getting engaged and actually getting married. I can imagine this being a very stressful time for some people, so a lot of crazy things are bound to occur. I originally thought that this would be your typical hour and a half-long comedy. I was soon informed that this is a little over two hours long! Generally speaking, comedies that stretch too much longer than an hour and a half end up feeling like they drag a little bit. This was my primary concern with The Five-Year Engagement. Thankfully, it doesn't drag much. Writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have created a script that some audiences weren't expecting from them. Yes, there's humor since this is a comedy after all, but it varies a lot. There isn't as much crude humor as I expected, but there's a little bit. The rest actually is rather sweet, and some didn't communicate so well. There are a few lines in the film where crickets could have been heard in the advanced screening I was at. They were clearly intended to be humorous, but just weren't funny. However, the majority of the humor is successful. Some is chuckle-worthy while other jokes had me laughing out loud. One of the largest successes of The Five-Year Engagement is how the characters connect. There aren't very many romantic comedies where viewers can actually identify with the roles seen on screen. The two leads are Tom Solomon and Violet Barnes. Both of them are likable and we're able to see them while together as well as living in the single life. This allows audiences to get to know the characters better without it feeling forced. While both characters can be funny, the supporting roles are able to steal the show every now and then as they deliver with flying colors. Tom's best friend Alex has a few ones and Violet's co-workers are just a few to mention that audiences will find rather hilarious at times. There's more depth to The Five-Year Engagement than one would expect. However, the script is decent and despite the fact that the ending is very predictable, it still feels somehow fulfilling and satisfying.

A romantic comedy is guaranteed to fall on its face if the two leads aren't able to create chemistry that moviegoers can believe. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt have absolutely no issues communicating this. They're both convincing enough in the relationship. Fans of Segel will see that everything they love about him has been carried over without any issues. Emily Blunt is delightful to watch on screen as she's quite believable in the role and delivers quite a few laughs. Even Alison Brie, who stars in the television show Community, plays Violet's sister. She's pretty funny in the scenes that she's given. There aren't any bad performances to be seen here. From the main roles to the supporting ones, this is an all around solid cast. They're all believable enough in the story and have filled that gap that so many movies in this genre leave open.

While The Five-Year Engagement isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as I expected, it's still a very enjoyable film. It still has worthwhile humor, but chooses to focus on the characters instead of throwing in joke after joke. This is something that both men and women would enjoy watching together. It has some crude humor, but also offers likable characters represented by a cast that works. Emily Blunt and Jason Segel have chemistry that is successful on screen. Some may wonder whether or not the two-hour run time is too long, but I assure you that it isn't a problem. There are a lot of smart ideas and decisions made by the writers here, although not all of them mesh together as well as they could have. The Five-Year Engagement is able to be vulgar at times, and sweet at others. The entire cast is ultimately able to deliver some laughs that should please its target audience.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: Wrath of the Titans

Saturday: Wrath of the Titans

If you're looking for an intriguing and tense movie about the mythology, you won't find that here.

Wrath of the Titans
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After the utter mess that the remake of Clash of the Titans was, I already had a bad taste in my mouth for the sequel, Wrath of the Titans. Fortunately, I had a feeling that this would be at least a little better since it would be extremely difficult to top how bad the first one was. Perhaps Warner Bros. has woken up a little bit when it comes to cutting major corners with the horrid 3D effects and feeding audiences giant piles of crap. Well, it would be nice for the studio to wake up even more. Anybody who knows me is aware that I have always been engrossed by Greek and Roman mythology and can be a bit harsh on some of the movies that revolve around the stories. I'm still awaiting the Holy Grail of these movies. The Greek and Roman mythos stories are very interesting and there's a lot that a filmmaker could do with them, although they never appear to be utilized to their full potential. With Wrath of the Titans, it at least seems to understand what it is and doesn't try to be very much more than that.

Heroic demigod Perseus ventures into Hades itself to take on a Titan and enemies of the gods who have hatched a scheme to imprison Zeus in the depths of the underworld. One of the large issues with Clash of the Titans is that it tried way too hard to create a plot around Perseus, which failed miserably. In Wrath of the Titans, it seems like they're understanding that they should just abandon that effort. The characters are just as distant as in the first picture, although this time audiences don't need to be bothered with the poor character development. Unfortunately, just like in Clash of the Titans and Immortals, both the gods and Titans are very underutilized. A lot more could have been done with them to create a very interesting plot. Instead, many of them receive a small amount of screen time. When battles begin to break out between the gods, it seems like some are killed off way too easily. Audiences will be left feeling that some of these gods are actually rather weak. Those who are interested in the mythos will be rolling his or her eyes throughout due to constant errors between the movie and the original stories. Obviously, other viewers who don't know very much about the mythology won't know any different. As expected, the dialogue is flat as ever. However, to be fair, the action sequences themselves are entertaining and constantly bring new battles for the demigod. The ending is predicable and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, at least for those of us who value the mythos. Perhaps the filmmakers should be better utilizing their time better by actually studying the source material. Moviegoers will at least find this to be more entertaining than the first movie. The final battle of the movie lasts quite a bit longer than that of the one that takes place in Clash of the Titans. That was a major disappointment in the first, which thankfully hans't been carried over to the sequel.

It isn't too surprising that the cast from Clash of the Titans has returned for the sequel. Sam Worthington plays Perseus. I personally find him to be better at sitting there and being attractive than actually being recognized for having much talent. I feel that he's a bit less robotic in Wrath of the Titans, but he still feels disconnected from the character. I simply am not convinced of his character with him in this role. Liam Neeson is back as Zeus. Neeson is an awesome Zeus. I don't see very many actors being able to nail this character as well as him. He has the appearance, the voice, and is believable in the role. I don't see any other actor in this role. Ralph Fiennes is a successful casting choice as well. Fiennes performs well as Hades. Rosamund Pike is all over the place as Andromeda. There are times where she's fine, but there are others where it feels like she was cast to not have somebody who is that good at acting being alongside Sam Worthington for that long. Otherwise, the fact that he isn't able to successfully able to communicate a character will be even more obvious than it currently is. As expected, there isn't very much to write home about here when it comes to the actors.

Fortunately, I didn't see Clash of the Titans in 3D when it was released. However, to this day, moviegoers criticize that film as being one of the worst looking post-converted features to hit the big screen. In my opinion, Warner Bros. should have simply filmed the sequel in 3D to avoid this completely. Instead, they decided to roll the dice again by converting it into 3D again. I actually did see this in 3D. For the majority of the movie, I completely forgot I was watching it with an extra dimension. It doesn't really add anything to the feature until the final act. At that point, there's lava, fire, and rock being thrown out of the screen towards the viewers. When it comes to the CG work, a lot of improvements have been made. The final battle between Perseus and the Titan looks marvelous. However, the only shaky moment of visuals is during a fight between Perseus and a band of colossal Cyclops. The CG work that created them is a little bit shoddy. With the exception of that, the visuals are incredible in Wrath of the Titans. I'm not surprised in the least bit that the audio is exceptional. I'm glad that I went to a theater that contains a great sound system because this movie really utilizes every speaker it can. I'm sure that when this hits DVD and Blu-ray, it will be a reference quality track for those of you who have home theater systems.

There have been some improvements made between Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans. The story allows us to enjoy the action a bit more and relieves us of the irritating story that proved to be quite dull involving Perseus. The acting of the gods is actually solid, but I'm not surprised since they were smart casting decision. The visuals are definitely a step up from the first motion picture. However, it still consists of a lot of the problems that Clash of the Titans contains. It feels as if the filmmakers are completely ignoring the source material and it's seriously changing how the characters would react to situations. This is a huge flaw for me, since I'm constantly on the lookout for a well-made film that centers around Greek and Roman mythology. As of recent, I haven't found anything really worth mentioning. Those who don't care about the mythos or big mistakes made in the first movie should have a good time with the strong visuals and the entertaining action sequences. Wrath of the Titans is a step up from the horrible Clash of the Titans, but still is a long way from being a well-made film about the mythology. Those who are interested in just seeing the action scenes and will just switch off his or her mind, give this a rental when it's released on DVD and Blu-ray. If you're looking for an intriguing and tense movie about the mythology, you won't find that here.

My Rating = Two Stars

Next movie: Super