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Tuesday: Robocop 3

Robocop 3 isn't worth the time of audiences.

Robocop 3
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The entire idea that roots back to the first Robocop is going to continue to get audiences, whether it's in the shape and form of this trilogy or a franchise that rips off of it. The plot is entertaining and when well-written, the film could even pull in its audience to genuinely care for the characters and become more involved. The first film of the trilogy had a bold statement with its unrelenting carnage. The second one is very disappointing when glancing back at the original. With the third entry in the trilogy, the film studio clearly was just trying to rake in the case when the movie was being released. All of that gore and carnage that we've seen in the previous movies, especially the first, is gone. The studio opted for a PG-13 rating when creating this movie in order to appeal to younger audiences as well and receive a bigger box office success. I believe that the box office numbers and the buzz that has been surrounding Robocop 3 is enough of an indicator regarding the quality of this sequel.

When the corrupt company Omni Consumer Products employs brutal mercenaries to push Detroit residents out of their homes, Robocop quits the police force and joins the revolution against the very company that constructed him. Despite the fact that the story isn't very original, I don't beat the film up for that. A lot of these science fiction and action flicks seem to follow the same formulas. However, if the movie can stand out by bringing something fresh to the table, then I'm happy. Well, in Robocop 3's case, nothing new is brought out. In between the original to the first sequel, there's a considerable decline in quality. The downward trend has continued here. There are a bunch of civilian characters that are thrown into the mix, who feel so distant that audiences have no reason to care very much for what happens to them. It also feels as if the message the first movie so expertly conveyed is ultimately lost in the chaos in this sequel. Once you get the to the end of the feature, you can't help but bury your face in your hands and shake your head. It clearly is only trying to appeal to much younger viewers than who this series was originally intended for. Would I like to see Robocop kick ass? Hell yes. Would I like to see him become useless over and over until he ultimately fights back with a jetpack on his back? Not so much. There are so many plot holes that are scattered throughout that it becomes unforgivable. It's very hard to believe that the man who wrote Robocop 3, Frank Miller, also wrote masterpieces such as Sin CIty. I suppose all writers have at least one dud within his or her career.

There are times where characters simply shouldn't be replaced with new actors. Lead characters when they're within the same trilogy changing is generally a bad thing, especially in the case of Robocop 3. Peter Weller did a fantastic job as the half man half robot, although he didn't return for this sequel. Instead, he was replaced by Robert John Burke. While he isn't horrible, the role doesn't feel the same without Weller. The remainder of the cast ranges from mediocre to extremely laughable. If any of the supporting cast had very much talent at all, this screenplay completely ruined any chances of audiences seeing it. Of course this isn't the fault of the actors, but there are some lines that are so tacky that there isn't a way to execute the lines without making it sound like an absolute joke.

As mentioned in the introduction, Robocop 3 has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA. The reason for the rating? Well, it only states 'violence.' All of the awesome graphic violence that was seen in the first movie is gone. It definitely is a disappointment that one of the principles that the first feature was based upon is absolutely gone. It made a point with all of the carnage, which is absolutely absent here. The action isn't very exciting and it becomes extremely repetitive rather quickly. Fortunately, fans will be happy to know that the composer of the first movie, who wasn't included in Robocop 2, has returned to do the score for this sequel. This is one of the only redemptions in the visuals department.

People continue to debate whether Robocop 2 or Robocop 3 is the better sequel. In my opinion, Robocop 2 is only slightly better. At least it upheld the violence and the correct lead actor. The script attached to this film has gone even more downhill than the last film. Neither of them are good movies by any means, although Robocop 2 is barely better. The original film is so phenomenal, so it's a shame that the sequels couldn't have been stronger pictures. With only one worthy film, this trilogy isn't recommended. The series had some serious potential, but both attempts have been disappointing, to say the least. Robocop 3 isn't worth the time of audiences. If you want to see Robocop kick some ass as he's supposed to, go watch the original again.

My Rating = One Star

Next movie: Weekend

Thursday: Weekend

Weekend is a beautifully rendered film that comes very highly recommended.

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I have never seen the issue of 'gay cinema' being discussed by moviegoers. People call it gay cinema, but isn't it just any other film but the character(s) just happen to be gay? Well, if I was to give my opinion on the 'gay cinema' that I've seen, it's very disappointing. These films generally end up attracting horrible filmmakers, bad actors, and very poorly written screenplays. The filmmakers who make a lot of these movies often believe that throwing in a lot of sexuality will make a good movie. Of course there are exceptions to this, but a lot of them are that way. It's rare to not hear about this type of flick and not have somebody mention Brokeback Mountain. I must be one of the few viewers who didn't find that movie to be that good. It would be great if people would stop comparing every film that has homosexuals in it to Brokeback Mountain. How about instead of calling it 'gay cinema,' calling it by the actual genre it falls under? Well, in Weekend's case it's a drama/romance and truly breaks the mold.

After a drunken house party with his friends, Russell heads out to a gay club. As the closing time is approaching, he picks up Glen. What started as a one-night stand becomes something else, something special. What Weekend depends on is its ability to draw a connection between the viewer and the characters as well as making that viewer believe in the story and the relationship between Russell and Glen. Well, the screenplay certainly accomplishes just that. The film takes its sweet time in order for us to get to know Russell in the beginning of the feature. As time goes on, the audience gets to know Glen from Russell's perspective. By the end of the movie, I felt like I knew the characters pretty well and genuinely liked and cared what happened to both characters. The two roles are completely different, but opposites tend to attract quite often in movies. Russell is a quiet and sensitive man who doesn't have much self-esteem and isn't really comfortable with his sexuality. However, Glen is very bold, confident, and is very confident in being gay. The dialogue is very well-written. There are many points delivered by both Russell and Glen about the gay community and how society stereotypes and puts that whole community down. For those who feel uncomfortable about explicit dialogue about gay sex, which is actually one of the points made by Glen that society believes it isn't so bad when a man and a woman speak about sex but people are offended when somebody speaks of two men or two women's sex lives, should probably avoid this. One of the largest strengths of Weekend is that the movie is so frank and the dialogue exchanges between characters are so witty and well-crafted. There's even some humor scattered throughout the movie, which is placed very well. By the end of the movie, you're sure to feel completely attached to both Russell and Glen. There's a lot of character development here and while it shows the way society treats homosexuals, it never becomes preachy. This is an example of a beautifully crafted screenplay that's sure to grasp your attention and not let it go until the credits are rolling.

There actually isn't very much of a supporting cast. However, this aids the movie in focusing upon these two characters and not getting distracted with any unnecessary subplots. Tom Cullen, playing Russell, and Chris New, performing as Glen, are the two actors primarily owning the screen. With a screenplay so wonderful, it would be a disappointment if the acting didn't stand up to its quality. Fortunately, we have two beautifully rendered performances by Cullen and New. Neither actors have done very much in the industry, but these representations would lead you to believe otherwise. They're both outstanding on screen. The chemistry that's displayed on screen between the two feels so real that it feels like you're watching real events unfolding and not a movie. Both New and Cullen master their roles, as they most certainly have a clear understanding of the characters. There are multiple scenes that have such raw energy, which has been created by these two actors. With the combination of the screenplay and the acting, this took me by surprise.

Fortunately, Weekend breaks the pathetic mold that so many of these movies have fallen victim to. Instead, this is a very nice surprise that has a lot of charm and is extremely touching. The film displays two young men falling in love over the course of 48 hours and it's executed to near perfection. The screenplay is extremely well-written and the acting is powerful. I'm hoping that this opens the eyes of more moviegoers, filmmakers, and movie studios able to openly create a love story between two men or two women and perhaps even transform the views that society holds homosexuals to. This film is truly a treat from start to finish. Weekend is a beautifully rendered film that comes very highly recommended.

My Rating = Four and One Half Stars

Next movie: War Horse

Saturday: War Horse

War Horse ultimately has an interesting premise, although it tries far too hard to be emotional along with many other serious issues with this screenplay.

War Horse
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Every year, there are a whole mess of feature films that have the words "Oscar Bait" written all over them. These movies don't even feel as if they're even trying to make an overall strong picture, but something that the Academy is sure to fall for. Every year, the Academy always falls for it and nominates, and even sometimes awards, these movies. War Horse definitely fits in this category. Another example, being nominated in the same year, is Albert Nobbs. As soon as I saw the trailer for War Horse, I already felt as if I was going to fall asleep within the running time of that trailer alone. I was truly not looking forward to seeing it, although I knew that I would watch it anyway. However, I didn't feel compelled to pay full ticket price for such a movie, so I waited for the picture to be available for rental through Netflix on Blu-ray. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg used to be a huge name in the industry that many moviegoers respected and appreciated, although quite a few of his recent efforts have disappointed me. While he's still a good filmmaker and he still does make some good movies, others are uninspired. I placed the unusually long War Horse disc into my Blu-ray player and tried to keep an open mind as this historical drama unfolded.

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on. From very early in the feature, I could tell that the movie was trying very hard to be as sentimental and heartfelt as possible. However, this isn't something that a movie should be trying too hard to accomplish. When a filmmaker tries too hard to achieve this goal, it ends up coming across as a bit hokey. While the plots that you may read about are true involving Albert, the movie primarily centers around the horse that has been sold to the cavalry. The horse continues to be sold, stolen, and finding an escape across the lands where the war is unfolding. There are a lot of characters that the horse comes in contact with, which is how the film continues to transition from person to person. Despite the fact that it tries too hard to be emotional, a lot of the dialogue truly is well-written. There are even some moments that are actually genuine and the foot is taken a bit off the emotional petal. Once the movie gets started, there are certainly some interesting sequences. It's an intriguing plot that the war is being told from the horse's perspective and we're seeing how it affects people from all sides of the war. When it comes to Albert, I wasn't too fond of his character. While I hear that the relationship between Albert and the horse is absolutely touching in the novel, I felt an emotional gap in between what was occurring on screen and myself. I know that a movie isn't very captivating if it cannot hold my absolute interest. In the case of War Horse, I found myself constantly checking my clock to see how much longer it would be until the feature would be over. I have no doubt that the source material found in the novel is well-written literature, but I don't feel that the transition from book to film was successful here. There are definitely some shining moments, but they're far too few. The ending feels forced and doesn't feel in the least bit genuine or honest. A movie such as this could have gone a long way with such elements.

There are a lot of actors and characters in War Horse with a nice cast with some award nominees and winners. However, the movie transitions from character to character so much that a lot of these roles don't get very much screen time. Jeremy Irvine is Albert and delivers a good performance. He hasn't been in very many projects, but he clearly has the talent for this industry. The entire cast is fine enough as they're able to keep the stale script flowing. There are times where even some of these strong actors aren't able to save the sequence due to screenplay issues, although there are other times where they shine bright. The acting department is must better than that of the writing. While there aren't any huge roles that will define anybody's career, War Horse features an array of talented actors.

The most impressive element to War Horse, which I never doubted, is the visual department. Even if Steven Spielberg was to make some of the worst movies of all time, I believe that there would still be gorgeous visuals being displayed. In War Horse, the cinematography is absolutely stunning. From start to finish, it's very clear that a lot of effort went into how the movie would look. Especially during the war sequences, there's some brilliant work here. Towards the end, when the horse is running through the battlefield and we see all the chaos unfolding during the war, everything is orchestrated perfectly. Steven Spielberg is an expert with a film camera and he has presented some high definition perfection here. When it comes to the audio side of the disc, it's reference quality. While I'm not much of a fan of the score, the audio is the star here. The dialogue is always loud and clear and the remainder of the speakers are aggressive, yet crystal clear. The surround speakers have a large amount of information constantly being sent to them in order to deliver an immersive experience. The bass output is very powerful as it's sure to shake the entire room.

Well, it turns out that my expectations were correct. I went into this movie with an open mind, hoping to enjoy what would unfold on screen, although there are way too many issues with the script to dismiss. The characters aren't very interesting and the film tries way too hard to be emotional. It pushes so hard to be sentimental that it comes across as hokey. Fortunately, the acting is solid and the visuals are absolutely groundbreaking. However, good acting and fantastic visuals isn't all that make a good movie. I wasn't surprised to see War Horse being nominated for multiple categories due to the fact that this was Oscar Bait to begins with. I'm hoping that Steven Spielberg opens up his eyes soon and returns to the masterful filmmaking that originally got him on everybody's Hollywood radar. War Horse ultimately has an interesting premise, although it tries far too hard to be emotional along with many other serious issues with this screenplay.

My Rating = Two and One Half Stars

Next movie: The Divide

Sunday: The Divide

Xavier Gens succeeds, once again, in drawing the audience in and leaving us with a very brutal and dark tale.

The Divide
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Those who recognize the name Xavier Gens should instantly know what to expect from The Divide. A dark, disturbing, and brutal feature that haunts you for days on end. This time, Gens is tackling an apocalyptic tale. With the Mayan Calendar and December 21, 2012 approaching, a lot of these 'end of the world' flicks have been being released. However, the majority of these movies aren't able to be as compelling as one would believe. Some of these movies are action flicks that are unable to connect with audiences, like 2012. Fortunately, The Divide avoids even speaking of the Mayan Calendar and focuses on many other subjects. One of which is the primitive state that humans can transform into when placed in a situation that brings that to the surface. I was a bit weary of seeing this in the theaters due to the fact that a lot of critics were bashing The Divide to no end. However, I ended up renting it on Netflix and I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. I will watch anything Xavier Gens creates, especially after seeing the surprisingly well-made Frontier(s).

After a disastrous explosion wipes out New York City, eight survivors blockade themselves in their apartment house basement, but claustrophobia and armed attackers turn the tenants against one another as they scramble to escape. While it's clear that this apocalyptic tale is caused by a nuclear attack, we don't know very much more than that. The audience is kept int he dark with nothing but small pieces of the puzzle to connect in order to guess regarding what even ultimately caused the nuclear attack on New York City. There isn't very much that's fed to the viewers as to many aspects of the film. We know just about as much as the characters do about such things. There isn't very much of a screenplay to critique since the screenwriters decided to take a step back on this one. While there's a basic script, a lot of The Divide is improv. Xavier Gens wanted the characters in this movie to descent into madness and not have dialogue specifically given to the actors. This is an interesting idea, although there certainly are times where you'll wish there was an actual script given. There are some lines of dialogue and actions made by characters that either don't make sense or will irritate you. To put it simply, The Divide is one of the most disturbing thrillers you'll see. It's filled with brutal violence, rape scenes, and drug abuse. By the time the credits are rolling, you're guaranteed to feel affected by what you just viewed. For days after I watched The Divide, some of the graphic scenes left a mark and they continued to pop up in my mind. While there are some major issues with the idea to have the actors improv most of the dialogue, the idea of how humans might react to certain situations is interesting. Xavier Gens tells a story of how our society could crumble and how humanity could change by such an event.

Despite the fact that I haven't heard of many of these actors, The Divide features some decent performances. Lauren German is strong in the main role of Eva. This is most certainly one of the only characters that audiences will stand behind, with the exception of a few of her character's dumb decisions. German is convincing from start to finish in the role. Michael Biehn delivers a very notable performance as the mysterious Mickey. We're never quite sure if he's a protagonist or antagonist, which is why I believe that he's all for himself. He doesn't receive as much screen time as some of the other characters, but he does a solid job in the role. Milo Ventimiglia is surprisingly in this, cast as Josh. His character is sure to be viewers' least favorite character in this picture. Despite that, he's actually a good antagonist and is quite convincing in that character. Perhaps the most haunting representation here is from Rosanna Arquette as Marilyn. She plays a mother who had her daughter taken away shortly after the blast and undergoes a psychotic break. Her performance is heartbreaking and very disturbing. There are multiple other characters that are down in this basement, but German, Biehn, Ventimiglia, and Arquette deliver the strongest performances here. The improv is hit and miss here, but the representations of the characters themselves are definitely solid.

If you know anything about Xavier Gens, then you know his visionary skills. They're excellent and seriously underrated in the film industry. He proves once again in The Divide that he's able to generate a dark, moody, and ominous atmosphere and makes it look easy. The camera work is fantastic as he fortunately has longer shots in this in order for the audience to see what's going on. Many of these types of thrillers have quick edits, which often moves far too quickly for many viewers to see the events unfolding on screen during the more intense portions of the movie. Xavier Gens takes his sweet time to take advantage of shots that involve scenes such as a man being lit on fire and somehow, with his talent and aid from the cinematography, make it look absolutely stunning. A lot of The Divide is filled with dialogue, although home theater speakers are utilized to their full potential for a feature such as this. There's constantly the rumble of explosions and destruction occurring, so there's a lot of bass in this flick. I cannot speak about audio in an Xavier Gens motion picture without bringing up Jean-Pierre Ta´eb. He has developed a score that is absolute perfection. I'm not particularly surprised since I've heard Ta´eb's work before. The visuals in this movie are incredible.

To put it simply, The Divide is sure to leave its audience disturbed. From the beginning up until when the credits are rolling, this motion picture is brutal and relentless. No character is safe and we're left with an ending that is up for interpretation regarding what will happen next. This is definitely a movie that will be either loved or hated. I found it to be rather good. However, I'm able to recognize the major flaws that the movie has, I still found it interesting. I would have liked to find out a little bit more about the characters. This isn't the type of movie that you enjoy, but experience along with the characters. Xavier Gens succeeds, once again, in drawing the audience in and leaving us with a very brutal and dark tale. The Divide is unique and is the type of film that not many filmmakers have the guts to make. It's very disturbing and doesn't let up until the credits are rolling.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: Melancholia