Category Archives: Movie reviews

Ant-Man and the Wasp, American movie (2018)

One of my favorite parts of going to a movie theatre, besides eating snacks, is the previews. It’s always exciting to see new and interesting trailers for movies that will be coming out later in the year. However these days, trailers have changed a lot from what they were years ago. While the main purpose of one is of course getting you excited for an upcoming film, nowadays I think that trailers quite often just give away too much. Sometimes whole plotpoints are revealed, and at times this certainly make me regret looking at one in the first place. Now I know what you are going to say: Why watch them then? I think that is a very good question. A good trailer for me, is one that shows you scenes to give you enough of a tease to look forward to a film, while at the same time holding back enough to not ruin the movie itself. It’s an art that not every one seems to have mastered. So why bring this up right now? Well, I will answer that with another question. What if a trailer shows you the entire film in a little over two minutes? Don’t think that can be done? Think again!

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Wait….wasn’t this movie called Ant-man? This looks more like Giant-man!

With all the succes Marvel has had it gave the studio free rein to experiment with characters that are not as well known to the moviegoing audience. Three years ago we got Ant-man, a film that I went to the theatres for with little to no expectations. It ended up being a very nice and lighthearted film, with a lot of humor, some great special effects and a terrific lead in the form of Paul Rudd who played the role of Scott Lang. After this year’s incredible Avengers Infinity War movie (yes I know I still haven’t written a review for that one yet lol), the question on everybody’s mind was: where was Ant-man? Erm, well on some people’s minds anyway. Ant-man and the Wasp answers that question, at least sort of. In any case, we again meet up with Scott Lang, who has been under house arrest and is very close to the end of his sentence. He is trying to be a better father for his daughter, and it seems he is succeeding on that part.

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That’s more like it. Was getting confused there for a second!

But of course eventually, as it always does, bad stuff starts to happen again. His former love interest Hope, has been trying to find a way together with her father to bring back her mother who disappeared into the quantum realm several years ago. But wait, wasn’t she supposed to be dead? Well…yes, but after having Scott return from that place where nobody is supposed to return from, it gave Hope some much needed erm…hope. Of course, our favorite mini sized hero eventually gets dragged into this, and just in time as well, as a new player appears on the scene in the form of Ghost. While in the middle of a deal for trying to obtain an important piece of technology in order to gain access to the quantum realm, Hope gets attacked by this mysterious figure. Just who is Ghost, and what is he or she trying to accomplish? Whatever it might be, it seems to tie in directly to Hope’s mother…

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Is it just me, or does this seem like a character that looks like it walked away out of an anime?

Now, I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned the fact that a full movie can be shown in a trailer. Antman and the Wasp’s trailer accomplished it. There was nothing, and I really mean nothing, in this movie that was a surprise. The trailer really shows you everything, and there wasn’t a single scene in the film that showed me something that I wasn’t expecting. I really thought this was maybe just me, but a friend of mine who had also seen the movie, said the exact same thing. And even well known You Tuber Tyrone Magnus (If you don’t know him yet, go check him out. He has over 1.2 million subscribers, and is totally awesome), made a video review pointing this out. Now I don’t exactly know what this says about the movie itself though. Sure the trailer maybe showed too much, but thinking back on it, I don’t know how they could have done it in any other way. As really there wasn’t anything else worth showing to tease the movie going audience into seeing this film.

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I guess they both smell really bad as they both have masks on. 

Does this mean that this is a bad film though? Well….for one thing this is a comedy movie. And as many of you know I’m not a fan of those. Where the first movie really had some delightful comedic moments, it also had a serious edge to it, and the comedy served simply to lighten the mood. Here it was the other way around: it was full on comedy mode, with jokes that sometimes worked, but also a lot of times fell flat. Without spoiling too much, the humor also felt out of place especially when you find out the nature of this film’s villain. And to be honest, that “villain” wasn’t the best we have seen in a Marvel movie. After all the darkness of Infinity War I can understand that Marvel wanted something lighter to follow in the wake of that movie. But I don’t know if this film completely succeeded at that. But it has to be said, it really isn’t a bad movie, as there is also enough to enjoy.

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I’m as shocked as you are about the final score: Are you crazy?!

Paul Rudd certainly once again serves up the magic as he really brings to life his character in the best way possible. He really does a great job to show he is a father who would do anything for his daughter, and his on screen chemistry with Evangeline Lily who plays Hope aka the Wasp, is also a delight to see. Michael Douglas is always a solid actor, and I really liked the way he evolved his character of Hank Pym into a more symphatetic and likeable one. Criminally underused was actress Michelle Pfeiffer who just had a very small part in the film. I really would have loved to see more of this incredible actress, but sadly that was not to be. Oh well…there is probably always the inevitable sequel. The action scenes and special effects were great, but there certainly weren’t many of them. This is a small movie for Marvel standards, and one that seems befitting to the size of it’s main character. Overall, I was disappointed by this one. But it could be I was just expecting too much or the trailer just ruined it for me. While I was still entertained by the film, it had just too little to offer to make this one of the better Marvel films. If you like comedies, you can add another point to the overall rating below.

I give Ant-man and the Wasp a 6 out of 10 score.

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Training Day, American Movie (2001)

I have talked a lot on this blog about some of my favorite movies. But I haven’t often talked about the one thing that’s one of the most important ingredients in a film. No I am not talking about special effects. I am talking about the actors and actresses that bring movie characters to life. While I love a good B-movie from time to time, and can find a lot of enjoyment in that, it is a good performance in a film that I love just so much more. In fact, a memorable role in a film can turn something mediocre into something absolutely extraordinary. It takes a special kind of actor or actress to pull that off. And on that note  I do have quite a number of Hollywood greats that are my favorites. One of them is Denzel Washington. I have been following this actor for years now and seen most of his movies. He is known for usually playing the role of a hero, or at the very least a character that has some good traits or redeeming qualities in it. It is all the more ironic that he won an Oscar for a role that has none of these elements in it. To describe the character of Alonzo Harris as a demon made flesh, is not very far of the mark….

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Some people can get very obsessive about their parking spaces.

Police officer Jake Hoyt is feeling very good. He has a beautiful wife, a lovely baby girl and he has just been assigned to a post where he finally hopes to make detective. In order to do this he has to survive an evaluation by the notorious and decorated narcotics officer Alonzo Harris. Jake is very eager and can’t wait to finally get started on what he expects to be his dreamjob. His first encounter with Harris doesn’t go too well though. Meeting up in a diner, Hoyt finds Alonzo reading a newspaper. As he takes a seat right across from him, trying to introduce himself, Harris tells Hoyt to be quiet as he is reading his paper and the rookie is interrupting his routine. In total disbelief Jake tries to again start up a conversation, which is about the worst thing he could have done. Irritated by these very annoying interruptions, Alonze asks Hoyt to tell him a story as he doesn’t seem to get the peace and quiet he asked for. Jake awkwardly tries to come up with a good tale, but obviously he fails to satisfy his new training officer. This is the start of a day in which Jake will soon find out that not everyone in the police department is there to protect and serve….

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Just because I got an Oscar doesn’t mean that you should get one too….

Training Day is a movie that I have seen so many times now, and it still manages to impress me with each viewing. The story of the film is not even a very original one. We have seen countless movies about police corruption as it’s a very popular subject. Clint Eastwood had to fight against crooked cops as Dirty Harry in Magnum Force. And a young Al Pacino was on his own in the classic movie Serpico where he was the only good cop in a whole department gone rogue. So it’s not the story here that brings me back to see this film, although admittedly it’s a tense tale, that doesn’t let up and has plenty of twists and turns to keep it exciting. No, what brings this movie to life is one man namely Denzel Washington. When the film first starts, although he has some unorthodox methods, you can still symphatise with Alonzo. Some of the things he says actually make sense, and you are captivated by the charm with which he tells his experiences as a narcotics officer.

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I’m going to enjoy watching my fellow actor not win the Oscar!

But that is only a false sense of calm. Soon you are beginning to get that creepy feeling that something is off and not quite right. Denzel plays Alonzo to perfection and turns his  role into an experience that few actors can pull off. Yes, you read that right his role is an experience. The character of Alonzo Harris is a being that is truly and utterly evil. All he cares about is his own well being, and damn anyone who gets in his way. And despite all of that, despite all the hate you feel for him and you truly want to see him die for all the things he has done, you don’t want that to happen. Because you want to see more of Denzel’s Oscar winning performance. In fact I would not have objected to the film being four hours longer if that would have meant seeing more of  the scenes like the one below (please note that this clip does contain a couple of F-bombs, so if you are offended by things like that, don’t watch it).

One would almost forget though that there is a perfect counter to the dirty cop, which is officer Jake Hoyt played by Ethan Hawke. Ethan got an Oscar nomination for his role but sadly did not bring home the price. A shame really, because his performance is totally different than his co-actor, but every bit as important. To not only hold out against a juggernaut like Denzel but to almost achieve the same level of acting greatness is something that I have utter respect for. I really love Hoyt. He is a rookie that is caught in an absolutely impossible situation where most people would lose their own integrity. He doesn’t and because of that you really feel and care what happens to him. And you want to see him win. Big time! Training Day is dark, gritty and dirty. It creates an atmosphere that is tense and could even be called claustrophobic at times. It’s not a happy fillm, in fact one could even call it depressive at times. But…in the end though, there is a silver lining and an important lesson as well. This movie is a perfect example of how actors can really make or break a movie. And in this case, if you haven’t caught on yet, they certainly make it. Watch this film if you haven’t already. And if you have…rewatch it. It’s one hell of a good investment of your time.

I give Training Day a 9 out of 10 score.

Skyscraper, American Movie (2018)

With the summer season now in full swing, and temperatures reaching at times very uncomfortable heights (seriously living on the 12th floor of an apartment building does have it’s downsides), Hollywood bring us the usual popcorn summer movies. I love movies, a fact that many of you know very well. I can watch classics, b-movies, action movies, dramas and many others with equal enthusiasm. Lately though it seems that people in general (and mind you this is not meant as criticism) just have forgotten how to have fun at the movies. These days I read a lot of reviews saying that certain films are not original any more, full of cliches, not have a decent storyline and of these kind of remarks. And while of course there is definitely truth in some of those statements, I wonder if that is necessarily a bad thing all the time. Ask yourself the question why we watch movies in the first place? If you answered: “To be entertained”, you answered correctly. So why then if a movie does entertain, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, are critics so fast to slam it into the ground? A perfect example of this is the new Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) movie Skyscraper.

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Hmm…I guess it can sometimes be hard to find a decent toilet.

The Rock plays former FBI hostage team leader Will Sawyer who lost his leg after a horrible incident. He has managed to pick up the pieces of his life though, and now has a lovely wife and two adorable children and a new job as a security inspector for skyscrapers. One day one of his former FBI team mates introduces him to a wealthy Asian financer, who has just overseen the construction of the tallest building in the world. Called “ The Pearl” and build in Hong Kong it’s a remarkable feat of engineering, and Will gets offered the job to overlook it’s security. After Will leaves the building, later that day a group of terrorists, under the command of a man named Botha, enter it and start an enormous blaze on one of the middle floors. Sawyer’s family who at that time is also present in the Pearl become trapped with the fire creeping ever closer. Will has to find away to enter the burning skycraper and rescue his wife and kids before it’s too late. Things become even more difficult when the police think that he might also be a part of the villains. But Sawyer is determined, and not about to be slowed down…by anyone….

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I know some couples like it hot, but this is taking things a bit too far right?

So if this story sounds somewhat familiar to you, you would be right. Of course one can’t help but think of Die Hard or the brilliant Towering Inferno when watching this. But let’s first start with the good stuff here. This movie once again proves why The Rock is currently the highest paid actor in the business. His natural charisma, acting abilities and physical prowess just seem to win you over in pretty much every role he plays. This one is no exception to that rule. Wil Sawyer is just the kind of hero type that you can’t help but root for. He has a disability in the form of his prosthetic leg, but manages to overcome this and emerge as someone who rises above himself. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Neve “Scream” Campbell again on the bigscreen who played his wife Sarah. She was once one of the most promising young actresses of Hollywood, but sadly her career never took off. Which is a true shame as she really is a terrific actress and in this film that once again became apparent. The on screen chemistry between The Rock and her also worked quite well which is important in a film such as this.

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I guess The Rock did not want to do any rockclimbing because of his name

But of course you go to a movie like this to see action, and in that regard the movie serves you well. As expected you will get a couple of great scenes where Will must overcome dizzying heights in order to get his family to safety. And of course this being a Die Hard type of film there are also plenty of fight scenes, gun battles in short all of the good stuff. The film hardly ever has a point where you get to relax, and thunders along like a rollercoaster, never leaving you bored for a single second. After all the postives there are of course also a few negatives. One of these was the ending of the film. It felt a bit anticlimactic to be honest, especially after the build up that came before it. While it luckily did not ruin the film for me, it was slightly disappointing. The film’s main villain Botha, played by actor Roland Møller, was not particularly menacing and pretty much a stereo type kind of evil guy. And then of course it is inevitable to not mention that the movie lacks in orginality and is pretty much a by the book summer blockbuster.

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Yup…that’s a tall building all right.

But again I ask the question: “ Is this really such a bad thing? “. In the case of this film I can only answer with no. During the entire playtime of this movie I was entertained, except for the conclusion of the film which could have been better. It’s becoming common practice to automatically give a movie a bad grade just because it doesn’t do anything new. And that to me at least isn’t fair. I don’t always need a film that brings me an original script, or Oscar worthy performances. Sometimes I just like to go to the movies and watch a film where I can turn off my mind for 2 hours or so and just enjoy it for what it is: a nice, well made and solidly entertaining action romp. Skycraper is just that: nothing more, nothing less. Chances are that if you like these type of films, you are going to pretty much enjoy this one. This film is just simply solid as a rock, pun of course totally intended.

I give Skyscraper a 8 out of 10 score.

Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale, Japanese (animated) movie (2017)

The world of computergames is vast. Some say it is currently one of the biggest entertainment mediums, bigger even than Hollywood movies. Many of you already know this but I used to be a very fanatical gamer. One could argue that I was so fanatical that it wasn’t even healthy anymore. But that’s a thing of the past now, as I have stopped playing computergames altogether, well on consoles that is. I do play the occasional game on my Ipad, but that’s nowhere near the level of games that I was used to playing. Games these days are becoming ever more immersive, with virtual reality being one of the latest trends. Putting on special goggles, gamers can experience the gaming world in a way that is almost lifelike. I do say almost, as of course the technology isn’t anywhere close to the things you sometimes see in science fiction movies. Two years ago, around the time when my blog was up and running for a few months, I discovered the anime Sword Art Online, which focusses heavily on virtual reality gaming. It fast became one of my alltime favorite animeseries and now I have a huge collection of merchandise from that series (proving once again my point that I can truly become obsessed when I like something).

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Don’t look now, but I think you might have something stuck in your ear.

Last year a movie that was a follow-up to the series saw the light of day, and now I finally had the chance to see this one for myself as it was released on dvd two weeks ago. (Well here in Europe anyway). Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah it was! It is the year 2026, and the world is under the spell of the Augma device, a new system that allows players all over the world to simulate reality while still being conscious. As a few years prior players became trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art online, that used a full dive system, this new device is deemed much safer. We once again meet up with Kirito and Asuna, both survivors of the horrible SOA event, and not surprisingly both are also using the Augma to play the newest and most popular game Ordinal Scale. Although Kirito doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself as much. But then a new event is introduced to the game: old boss monsters from the Sword Art Online world begin appearing accompanied by the mysterious AI idol singer Yuna. What at first seems like a fun and welcome addition to the game, soon begins to take on a much more sinister shape. With Asuna’s life on the line, Kirito has to find out what is going on, before it’s too late. But it might already be too late, for Kirito seems to have met his match in the form of a player that is able to counter his every move….

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Gotta love Asuna’s new look in this film.

Sword Art Online is a series that is hated upon by a lot of animefans. I’m not going to start up that old discussion as I am here to talk about this movie. Suffice it to say though that I am a huge fan of this anime, in fact so much so that it has taken up a spot on my personal top 3 of favorite animeseries. When I first heard about the fact that there would finally be something coming out that would continue the storyline I was delighted. At the same time though I also felt anxious. What if it would suck? Well, having finally been able to see this film now, I am very glad to let you all know that my fears were unfounded. If you are a fan of the animeseries you will love this. Let’s talk about the storyline first. One of the things I really liked about it, is the way it treated the main characters of Asuna and especially Kirito. It was very refreshing to see the latter being out of his element and not the powerhouse player we are used to seeing in the series. Kirito really struggles within this new life and death game, and it takes him a long while to adapt. Asuna also at a certain point becomes very vulnerable, and it’s a side we are not always used to seeing from the starstruck couple. It’s their relationship and love for each other that continues to be heartwarming, and very touching though.

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GET READYYYYYYY: FIGHT!!!!

Another thing I liked about the film’s story is some of the questions it asked that really made you think.What if you were able to forget about things from your past that were not very happy thoughts or events?  Would you do that if you were able to? Or are they a part of your life no matter how unhappy these memories might be? I think that is an intriguing question and one that could almost be the topic for an entire post or at the very least a lively discussion. The movie runs for two hours, and it is in my opinion just a tad bit too long. Some of the story elements felt a bit forced, and a few of the side characters had way too little screentime, but were probably just added to the mix for the fans. Nevertheless there are also quite a few things in it for fans of the original series that will in all likelyhood give you a few goosebumps. On the action front the film doesn’t disappoint. Even though it’s not a full on fight fest, there are enough action scenes in the film that make it very satisfying. The fights also feel much more threatening and dangerous.

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I just love my special edition boxed set version of this movie 😀

 

While the animation might not be as beautiful as some of the higher level animefilms out there, I still found it to be very decent, with some spectacular setpieces. The new outfits for most of the characters also worked quite well and had a really nice look to it. Another thing that plays a big role in this film is the music. With the introduction of the new character of Yuna, an AI idol singer, there were quite a number of scenes that featured her singing. At times it almost felt as if I was watching a new installment of the  Macross saga. But I have to admit that this element did work quite well and wasn’t distracting in the least. The music featured in the film fits the tone of Sword Art Online and as such is very pleasing to the ear. Even though the film can be watched on it’s own without any prior knowledge of the world of Sword Art Online, you will find it more enjoyable if you first watch the original anime. If you hated SOA in the first place, this movie won’t make you love the series all of a sudden. For the fans though this is a more than decent follow up to the original anime and with the words Sword Art Online will return at the end of the credits, we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of Kirito and Asuna. And I would not have it any other way. Link start !

I give Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale a 8 out of 10 score.

The Villainess, Korean Movie (2017)

There is a particular type of film in the action genre that I am very fond of: the revenge movie. I always love it when someone loses everything and then turns into a complete psycho, hellbent on getting revenge on his or her tormentors. Usually that makes for a very entertaining, albeit often bloody, movie experience. As with any film genre there is always a risk that there are too many movies that are being made and as such it becomes either predictable or very boring. The South Korean movie industry certainly is no stranger to this particular type of film. In the past, movies such as Old Boy, I Saw the Devil and A Company Man have all been received very well (while at the same time causing quite a stir because of the often extreme violence depicted in those movies). No matter how you look at it, I have always thought that the Koreans are masters of the genre, and I always look forward to a new entry into the ranks. Last year The Villainess was released, that supposedly infused the revenge movie with a new and fresh take on it. Having just seen the film, I have mixed feelings about it, but more on that later.

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Some people take the “till death do us part thing” way to literally.

The Villainess can best be described as South Korea’s take on La Femme Nikita. It focusses on a woman named Sook-hee who is a highly trained assassin. As a young girl she lost her father to an unknown assailant and witnessed him being killed while hiding under her bed. The face of the killer is unknown to her, but she does hear him whistle an eerie tune. Years later Sook-hee is captured by South Korea’s intelligence agency and given a new identity and name: Yeon-soo. While she is being trained by them, she gives birth to her daughter Eun-hye. Yeon-soo is offered the deal to work for the intelligence agency, and after 10 years she will gain her freedom for herself and her daughter. Having very little choice she accepts. But the shadow of her father’s death always looms over her. Eventually the past creeps up on her as it usually tends to do in these matters. With people gunning for her at every turn, the life expectancy of the skilled assassin becomes ever shorter. But Yeon-soo will not go down without a fight…

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When the airconditioning of your car doesn’t work this is a great alternative.

The opening sequence of this film puts you smack down right in the middle of the action. Without even knowing exactly what is going on, we see a fight sequence from a first person view as Sook-hee hacks, shoots and punches her way through a group of men in a warehouse. It is chaotic, bloody, brutal, but honestly a truly terrific way of setting the tone for this film. Where this film excels at is it’s uniquely choreographed fight sequences. The camera angles in some of the scenes are really one of a kind, and at times it feels almost as if you are the one that is delivering all of the violence. And there is a word that also describes this film very well: violence. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t shy away from showing arteries being ruptured, limbs being cut off, and blood spraying in every direction. The Villainess is a brutal movie but as usual this does suit the theme of the film. If it’s action you want, this film brings it and then some. Be especially on the look out for a highspeed motorcycle chase that I found to be one of the best scenes of the film.

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What do you mean you forgot the bread to feed the ducks? Go home and get it!

The hero of the film (if you can call her that of course) is being played by actress Kim Ok-vin and she does it well. Or to phrase it better: she knows how to kick some ass. A film like this stands or falls with a good lead, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. In the fight sequences she shines the most as she is able to hold her own against the men that are trying to take her life. And she manages to do so with guns, knives and her bare hands. It all feels natural and realistic and you could almost believe she is an assassin in real life. Her character hasn’t got much depth to it, but admittedly the bond with her young daughter is what gives this otherwise very bleak movie at least a little bit of sunshine. This movie pretty much centers around her, and that’s why the supporting cast, such as it is, doesn’t really get a chance to show what they are made of. That is certainly one of the weak points of the film.

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If looks could kill, I would be dead right now.

Another one is the story itself. At times it’s very confusing to follow what exactly is going on. The film uses a lot of flashback scenes, which is not a bad thing in itself, but at times it seems to insert them almost randomly. Not only that but sometimes you get one right after another and in a totally different time frame. That took me out of the film quite a few times and left me looking at the screen in bewilderment. While the action in movies like this is usually the most important, I do have to say that in revengethrillers especially it’s nice to have at least some kind of motive for the main character. In that this film partially succeeded but it could have been handled better. With all of it’s flaws I still recommend seeing this movie if you like these type of films. The action sequences alone make it a very worthwhile watch, as in this it really does try to do something totally different than what we are used to seeing. Don’t expect to much from it, and you will have a great time. Especially if you like to see a strong woman beat the crap out of a bunch of men.

I give the Villainess a 7 out of 10 score.

 

The Anthem of the Heart, Japanse (animated) movie (2015)

Let’s talk. Let’s really talk for a bit. The topic? Well how about conversations? No, I am not trying to be funny here, I am really going somewhere with this. We have conversations every day. Unless of course you are stranded on some remote island with no one to talk to (although I hear a volleybal called Wilson could really help you out with that problem). Getting back to the topic of conversations. you have to admit that they make up a very big part of our lives. We talk to our friends, loved ones, parents, customers even total strangers. But now for a tough question. In how many of the conversations you have had were you totally honest? Ahhh…hard to say isn’t it? We all tell lies, and anyone who denies that is, well a big fat liar. But probably not all those lies were intentional. Sometimes you might tell a lie just to spare someones feelings. It’s the conversations where you have said something hurtful that you can’t take back though, that most of us will probably remember the most. A slip of the tongue or an intentional comment with the sole purpose of causing pain, I guess it’s safe to say we have all been there at some point. A moment where you kick yourself for saying something so stupid, or wish you could take it back. It’s the conversations where you don’t even realise that you are causing pain that might be the worst though.

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Hey! You…yeah you! Stop talking this instant!

And this last thing is exactly what happens to the young child Jun Naruse in the animated movie the Anthem of the Heart. Jun has always been a chatterbox. She is very cheerful and is always happily talking about pretty much anything that is on her mind. One day she comes home and tells her mother how she saw her father doing something that to her young childlike mind was pretty awesome. Her mother freezes though, and eventually this innocent remark results in her parents getting a divorce. Even worse her father puts all the blame on her. Jun runs away in tears, and while she tries to work through her grief a fairy egg appears. It makes sure that all of Jun’s words are sealed away so that she can never cause hurt to anyone ever again. Years later we meet up again with Jun when she is in highschool. She is but a shell of her former self. Jun is unable to speak, and tries to stay of the radar in class. But then her teacher, mister Jōshima invites her to become a member of the Charity Committee together with three other classmates. Naturally she is not at all happy about this, especially since it seems that they are going to have to prepare for a musical piece. But just when she is about to quit, something happens that changes her mind. Or beter yet someone. Will Jun find the courage to regain her voice?

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The school ran out of chairs so they had to find an alterative….

Now admit it: you read the synopsis of the film and were thinking something along the lines of ” Wow this sounds incredibly boring”. When I tell you that the runtime of this film is two hours I can almost hear the gears grinding in your head already and crossing this movie of your to watch list. You would miss out on something quite special though. This is one of those films that has a very simple story, but turns into something quite extraordinary. And here’s some of the reasons why (erm, no not going to give you 13 of them I am afraid). For one thing it’s the wonderful characters. Jun herself is hard not to like. Since she is at the center of the films, and this is pretty much her story it’s important to have a lead that you care about it. And you do. Jun’s journey of rediscovery and trying to forgive herself is fascinating to watch. At times you want to kick her, and even hate her for some of the things she does in this film. At the same time though, you can understand what drives her, and how incredibly vulnerable she is. The supporting cast is equally important to the story and just as enjoyable to watch as Jun herself. Why? Because they are really human. All of them are not perfect and have their own insecurities and flaws.

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Yeah I don’t really know what to say to this image. Egghead is the best I could come up with.

I love it when there are characters in a film that are not just there because it’s necessary for them to appear at a certain point, but just have depth and things you can relate to. It’s hard to make a story like this interesting to watch, especially considering the fact that this is a two hour movie that is filled with dialogue and a lot of music. But it succeeds in doing that. The intricate relationships between all of the characters and the way that basically they support each other’s flaws is the heart of what makes this movie work so well. As this is in part a musical as well, you will find sections of the film that are filled with music. But not the typical music that you normally find in anime films. Songs like “Over the Rainbow” and ” Around the World” give this film an extra special touch and just simply work very well, and don’t feel out of place at all. The animation style and level of detail is great too. It’s one of those films that has an almost dreamlike quality to it, and unless you are a very cynical person that doesn’t see beauty in anything, it’s almost impossible to not get touched by it.

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How do you like your eggs in the morning, erm evening?

But that strength is also at the same time it’s weakness. If you are someone who likes their films tense, filled with action and a breakneck pace, then I’m sorry to say that you are not going to be finding that anywhere in this film. What you are going to find though is a movie that has it’s title very well chosen. It will touch your heart and fill you with emotion while at the same time giving you a wonderful feel good feeling. If I were to make a comparison to something that has as a similar feel to Anthem of the Heart it would be Your lie in April. And I don’t think I could hand out a better compliment to this movie than that last one. While I would not call this film a masterpiece or classic, it does come very close. It’s a wonderful film that turns something simple into a very powerful piece of storytelling. It will also make you ask an important question: When is telling the truth something that might not be the best thing to do? I haven’t yet discovered the answer to that one. If you have, be sure to let me know!

I give The Anthem of the Heart a 9 out of 10 score.

Aliens, American movie (1986)

I have talked a lot about sequels on my blog in the past. Some people love them, some people hate them. One can’t deny that in the current movie climate sequels are coming out of the woodwork. Not a year goes by that we don’t get some kind of sequel to a movie that has been successful in the theatres. Usually for the sole reason to obviously make more money. But there are certain films that were so good, so incredible, that you don’t even want a second part. Huh? What’s that? Why would you not want a sequel to a movie that you loved? Well how on Earth could it ever surpass a film that left you in total amazement after you have seen it for the first time? So why tarnish that film with a follow up that can never be as good? I’m sure that is what the moviegoing audience must have thought when Aliens was released, seven years after Ridley Scott’s original Alien. That classic movie is a masterpiece. So how did, at the time relatively unknown director James Cameron, even dare to touch such a sacred work of art. Total blashphemy right? Wrong… People, stop your grinnin and drop your linen: LET’S ROOOOOCCCCKKKKKK!!!

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Jeezzzz, I can never get a break. First I deal with a cybernetic organism, now this crap…..

At the start of Alien a small shuttlecraft is found by a salvageteam. Aboard is the sole survivor of the spacecraft Nostromo, Ellen Ripley. After her rescue she is shocked to learn that she has been in cryosleep for 57 years. When she tells the story of what happened to her and her crew, to a bunch of executives of The Company, no one really believes her. Especially since the planet where the Nostromo first encountered the terrifying alien species is now terraformed and has been occupied by a human colony for several years. In all that time no one ever reported anything out of the ordinary. Ripley is being dismissed and left to deal with her demons alone. Waking up in a cold sweat every night, Ellen feels like she is slowly losing it. But then she is contacted by Company man Burke, who tells her that all contact has been lost with the colony on LV 426, and that they need her help in finding out what is going on. At first Ripley is very reluctant to do so, but eventually she relents and together with Burke and a group of Colonial Marines she heads back towards the planet of her nightmares. But the nightmare is even worse than she imagined and not even a group of the toughest hombres of the galaxy might be enough to save the galaxy. This time it’s war….

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What are you looking at me for? I’m just looking for the bathroom.

Let me make one thing really clear to you before I am beginning this review. I almost know this film by heart. I can pretty much recount every single line of dialogue from this film. I could have written this review without even rewatching the movie itself. But the only reason I did watch it again anyway is because I am in complete and utter love with this film. You might even call it a small obsession. This is my alltime number 2 favorite movie, and the best science fiction film that I have ever seen in my entire life. (So Karandi I guess your question has been answered now). To compare Alien and Aliens is almost impossible as they are two completely different films. Where the first Alien is true horror, this second movie is an action film. While of course there are still horror elements in it (it would almost be impossible not to include those, I mean just look at the creatures themselves), it is not as claustrophobic as that first masterpiece. But that doesn’t matter as this film has an intensity and thrill level that more than compensates for that. This film is an express elevator to hell, and it doesn’t let up until the final credits.

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Don’t worry honey, I will protect you from all those nasty monsters.

A big part of what makes this film so memorable is the incredible cast of characters. Let’s start with the heroic Corporal Hicks, played by the in my opinion highly underrated actor Michael Biehn. He is just one of those men that has this natural charisma that you instantly like. In a very tense situation, Hicks is the one that stays frosty and inspires the troops with his calm and motivating presence. His on screen chemistry with Ripley works incredibly well, and there is an underlying romance that is never acted upon, but definitely there. The opposite of Hicks is Hudson played by the late Bill Paxton. Also serving as a bit of much needed comic relief, he has some of the best lines in the film, especially when he keeps losing his cool. In the end though he is every bit the hero that Hicks is. On the sleezeball side is the character of Burke, portrayed by actor Paul Reiser. It’s funny to see him play a role that is quite unusual for him as he normally portrays gentle characters that have a real sense of innate goodness in them. Burke though, is a slimy and utterly loathsome man that only has substantial dollar values in his mind, and has his own secret agenda for coming on this mission.

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Awww…true love here. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?

But, ultimately it is once again Sigourney Weaver who returns as Ripley, that is the driving force of this film. She got an Oscar nomination for her role and deservedly so. Even more than in the first movie, Ripley is a lean, mean fighting machine. But her love for the young child Newt, the sole survivor of the doomed colony is what makes you like her even more. The bond that forms between the two of  them, is a mother and daughter kind of relationship and ultimately gives this film a true heart. And that is an incredible thing to pull off amidst all the action and incredible special effects. Because really let’s talk about that for a second. There is a fight sequence between Ripley driving a power loader and the Alien Queen that to date I am still in awe of. The way they filmed that sequence is just absolutely astounding, and in spite of it being a film that is now 32 years old, it doesn’t look fake at all. In fact you just have to wonder if the government somehow kept these aliens a secret from us. That’s how incredible this looks. And that scene contains one of the greatest lines ever in a movie. Don’t know what I am talking about? Just look at the clip down below.

I haven’t even talked about some of the other characters like Vasquez, or the android Bishop, but if you let me I could write a review that could possibly go on forever. And as that might become bit too boring I’m going to call it a day here. As this review contains not a single negative word from me about it, I can hear you wonder if I am being objective here. Quite possibly I am not. But for the life of me I really can’t think of anything that was bad in this film. This for me has been and always shall be the greatest single piece of science fiction moviemaking that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. A gripping, powerful and utterly moving film, that is accompanied by the terrific score of composer James Horner, you just have to see this movie at least once in your life. It is in my opinion the best sequel to a film that has ever been made, and I don’t think that there will ever be a greater sequel in movie history. Then again, I have been wrong before. So in the words of Hudson: Game over man! Game over!

I give Aliens a 10 out of 10 score.

Alien, American movie (1979)

Although the official part of my science fiction and horror theme month might be over (the requested reviews), the month it self definitely isn’t yet. And this is well, not a real request, but more something that came up in a conversation. I was talking to Lina the other day (No,not going to be doing a promo here again, you already all know how awesome she is. And if you don’t just press on the link and go follow her already. Whoops…still did a promo, sorry!) and at one point the conversation came to science fiction films. And how cool the movie that I am about to do a review for still is even after so many years. So, seeing as this is one of my all time favorites, and I was planning on writing this one anyway at some point, I figured I might as well do it now. And Lina wanted me to write this too, so there is that. It was the late 70’s when this film came out, and remember this was around the time when the first Star Wars movie had become an overnight success. Science fiction was a very hot property to have and movie studios had certainly discovered that. But audiences just weren’t prepared for the terrifying vision that director Ridley Scott had on this genre. In space no one might hear you scream….but in the movietheatres everyone could hear you scream!

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I know some people like to cover their eyes when going to sleep. This is a bit extreme though…..

In the darkness of space a large spaceship slowly comes into view. The camera moves inside the craft where lights and machinery is being turned on by the ship’s computer. Not only the ship is coming alive though, but also it’s human crew, that is being awakened from their cryosleep. The ship is called the Nostromo, and after having been in space for a very long time, it’s crew that includes Captain Dallas and Warrant Officer Ripley, were looking forward to finally heading back to Earth. But unfortunately they are not anywhere near their homeplanet. A transmission of some kind, maybe even a distress signal, has been picked up from the nearby planet designated LV-426. As per their company’s policy they are obligated to investigate any unknown signals. Using a shuttlecraft they descent towards the surface of the planet. When they finally make it to the ground a small team, under the command of captain Dallas, is leaving the shuttle behind to find out where the signal originated from. Meanwhile Ripley stays on board the ship trying to decipher the transmission. When she finally manages to uncover at least a part of it, she finds out it was not a distress signal, but a warning. However, that warning has probably come to late. For what they find on the desolate planet is something that has come straight out of the darkest pits of hell itself….

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Heeeeeerreeeee’s……Johny!!! Erm…no wait….

It doesn’t matter that this film is now almost 40 years old. Because it is still every bit as terrifying as when this was first released all those years ago. What we have here is a movie that might very well be one of the most claustrophobic horror films ever made. Right from the very start of the movie, when the letters of the word Alien begin to slowly make an appearance, the atmosphere for this film is pretty much set. It is a dark film, both in tone, but also in subject matter. One of the most memorable sequences ever created for film, and maybe even one of the most horrifying ones, is where the alien’s first form emerges in all it’s bloody glory on the screen. The reactions that you see at that point from the terrified cast were real. Ridley Scott never told them exactly what would happen at that scene when they filmed it. And even if he would have told them, I think they would still all have been shocked at the way it looked. Even today it is still horrible. The only reason I’m not going into any more details is because I don’t want to give away spoilers in case you might have not seen this one yet.

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In the future amusement park attractions have certainly come a long way.

The alien itself, designed by H.R.Giger, an artist from Switzerland that has sadly passed away, is a vision that seems to have been born straight out of the mind of a complete madman. It’s dark and sleek form, that can even be called very sexual in a disturbing kind of way, is one of the best movie monsters ever created. Director Ridley Scott has done a great job in not showing the monster right away, but just taking his time, building up to the reveal. It works perfectly. But when talking about Alien, it is not enough to only mention the cool set designs, the terrifying creature and terrific special effects. No…there is one other element that makes this film so great, and that is actress Sigourney Weaver. In her role as Ripley she created the most iconic female character to ever make an appearance in a science fiction movie. She is totally bad ass. Ripley is not only a strong figurehead for women all over the world, she is a character that personifies the word girlpower. Yes she is scared, who wouldn’t be when faced with such a terrifying creature. But she doesn’t cower in a corner: she takes the lead, and does something about it. And by doing that she more than gives the men in this film a run for their money.

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I’ve got some thinking to do here. Will I go shopping tomorrow? Or kick some aliens behind?

The rest of the cast of characters in this film also do a great job in their respective roles, especially actor Ian Holm who plays the sinister character of Ash. And yes, trust me when I say that he becomes very sinister indeed. I could go on talking about this film all day. Don’t worry I won’t be doing that as this review is already getting pretty long. Alien is simply one of those rare films that, just like the Xenomorph itself, is simply the perfect organism. It’s a timeless film, that doesn’t feel dated even for a single second. Okay, maybe the spaceship scenes don’t look as great anymore as they did back in the days. But seriously I’m really nitpicking now. Well..and now there is a question that needs to be answered, right Karandi? Is this film better than it’s sequel? Sorry…I’m not going to answer that one just yet. I will though….soon…in the review for Aliens that will be coming up somewhere next week (yes…I am evil that way). As for this film: see it! That’s pretty much all I can say about it. It is one of the most powerful science fiction horrormovies ever made, and I absolutely love it!

I give Alien a 10 out of 10 score.

The Ritual, UK movie (2017)

When your day starts you never quite know what you can expect from it. I mean sure, you might have a general outline of things, but there might also be some events that you have absolutely no influence over whatsoever. Some of these might be very normal like a flat tire on your bike. But there are also events that you hope to never encounter in your life. Like a terrible accident or a hostage situation. And when things like that occur there are always people that rise up above themselves. That can become a hero. But you will never know what you might do yourself until that moment arises. Will you cower in fright or will you do everything in your power to conquer your fears and meet the situation head on? It can be quite easy to say that someone was a coward when you weren’t there. How you might have knocked over that armed gunman or pulled that victim out of that burning car. The truth is you don’t know and you can’t know. I truly hope to never be in such a dilemma myself though. A fact that one of the characters in this film might have wished for as well.

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Yes this really is a picture of four men looking at a bunch of stones.

In The Ritual a group of four friends are trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend Rob who got killed in a horrible way six months earlier. To honor him, they decide to go hiking in Sweden, which is one of the things that Rob had wanted to do. The four of them, Dom, Luke, Phil and Hutch have just about completed their trek when Dom falls and hurts his knee in a bad way. Checking their map they are trying to decide how best to continue. Eventually they think their only course of action is to head of the path and straight into a nearby forest hoping they can save a few hours this way and make it back sooner. I don’t think that I really have to explain that this turns out to be a very bad decision on their part. Soon, they are beginning to encounter very strange phenomena in the darkened woods. Weird symbols carved on trees and gutted animals strung up high above them are just the start. It seems that a strange and ancient force calls the forest it’s home. And it doesn’t take very kindly to strangers….as the four friends are about to find out……

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And now we are all going to raise our hands and do the wave!

The Ritual is one of those movies that you might all have seen before in some form or another and it has a lot of familiar things in it. I often hear people say that a movie needs to be original in order for them to enjoy it. If that is the case than I can tell you right now, step away from this film. This one has a lot of well known clichés in it, that you will often find in these “lost in the woods” kind of movies. But does that necessarily make this a bad film? No way. What the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in suspense. I did not experience a single moment in this movie where I felt bored. Right from the opening of the film, it has a pretty nice pace that doesn’t let up until the end of the credits. The creepy wood is creating a tense and chilling atmosphere, and it also one of those movies that really depends on sounds. I was watching this late last night, in the dark and in a very silent house and trust me when I say that I jumped up quite a few times during certain scenes.

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Why on Earth would you walk in a forest on a “path” like that.

The actors, all of them pretty much unknown to me, did a great job in portraying their characters. The film’s focus lies primarily on the character of Luke, and as such he is the most fleshed out of the bunch. Played expertly by actor Rafe Spall, Luke is someone that you can definitely feel for. His trauma from the past, is one that weighs on him heavily throughout the film. Especially when his other friends are slowly beginning to lay extra guilt on him. The group dynamics and their conversations under pressure are well written and utterly convincing. When it is beginning to become clear that they may never find their way out of the terrifying forest, the tensions between the four men are beginning to rise. It puts their friendship to the test until the breaking point, and it’s done so in a very realistic way. Also, because the film spent it’s time in letting us get to know all the characters, we form an attachment to them, which is important when it comes to films such as these.

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Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…not that S-dude.

Ultimately The Ritual was a very pleasant surprise. This Netflix original, might not be very original, but for it’s intended audience it works. The movie is based on a, from what I have read, pretty succesful novel written by author Adam Nevill. Having seen this film now, it was entertaining enough for me to try and track this book down. If you are in need for a quick fix of late night horror, this one is definitely worth checking out. Atmospheric, tense, and definitely creepy at times, the Ritual is a well acted and quite entertaining little horrorfilm. I recommend seeing this one with all the lights out, and cranking up the stereo. It will only add to the experience trust me on that (and really who cares if you wake up the neigbours in the process right?). I do know one thing though. After having seen this film, I’m going to be avoiding the woods for a while. Just in case……

I give The Ritual a 8 out of 10 score.

Deadpool, American movie (2016) : A special Valentine’s Day movie review (sort of…)

Today it’s Valentine’s Day. You know that special day where you are doing extra sweet things for the one you love, making him or her feel extra warm and fuzzy inside. Where you go out for that romantic boatride, that lovely candle light dinner or that extra cuddle. In short it’s the day that is filled with romance. Yes people I am a romantic guy at heart. But for us singles it’s that one day that comes back every year and makes that feeling of still being alone extra tough. (Yes, let’s hear those sad violins now). Seriously people, don’t feel bad for me or show any kind of pity. It’s all right. I’m happy for everyone that is lucky enough to spent this day with their soulmate. So what better way for me to bring that feeling of romance right to you, by giving you this special Valentine’s Day review. And it just can’t get any more romantic than this. What we have here is a movie that is about a man who will do anything for the woman he loves. Including slicing and dicing up people that stand in his way when he wants to achieve that goal. Erm….yes this is a romance movie, I guarantee it.

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Awww….reading a love letter. See, I told you this was a romantic movie.

Meet Wade Wilson. He is a dishonarably discharged ex-special forces operative that now works in New York as a mercenary. But then it happens. He meets the escort Vanessa, and sparks begin to fly. Romance blossoms, clothes come off and go flying in all kinds of different directions, and generally it seems like they are a match made in heaven. But just when they are about to tie the knot, tragedy strikes. Wade gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, and their lives are turned upside down. Eventually Wilson decides he doesn’t want to expose Vanessa to see him slowly dying, and leaves. When a mysterious recruiter approaches him and tells him there might be a way to cure his disease, Wade is at first very skeptical. But in the end he relents, especially as this might be a chance for him to be with his true love again. He meets up with a man named Ajax, who has an experimental serum that can awaken latent mutant genes. But there is a catch to this. In order to make it work, Wade has to undergo truly horrible and very sadistic forms of torture.

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Oh yeah. There are X-men in this film too. Here’s one that’s out walking his poo(d)l(e).

Every day it becomes worse, but eventually while nearly getting asphyxiated, an incredible healing power is activated. Now he is able to cure any kind of wound, even loss of limbs. It leaves him horribly disfigured however and almost completely unrecognisable. Now, Wade is out for revenge, and wants to get back at the man who did all this to him. And thus Deadpool is born, the “Merc with a mouth”. Wade’s only mission is to find a way to reverse the process, and get back to Vanessa. But this is easier said than done, especially as the man known as Ajax is not only hard to catch, but also has his own plans for Deadpool. And those plans are to completely destroy him, no questions asked…..Yes people, this may sound like it’s just another superhero movie. But I can assure you that it’s not. It’s so much more. Deadpool is absolutely freaking hilarious. It is a brutal R-rated movie that has more F-bombs in it than one might hear in a single week. But oh my god is this movie a lot of fun.

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This is one of those staring contests. The one who laughs first gets to punch the other.

One only has to take a look at the marketing campaign for this movie before it came out to see how different this one is. The movie banner that is above this post, made it look like a Valentine’s movie, and just the perfect love story to enjoy with your loved one on that special day. And I imagine that a lot of people even fell for it. To tell you the truth though, it really is a romance story at it’s core. Deadpool even says so in the beginning of the film. (But then later he changes his mind by saying it’s a horror). Wade’s love for Vanessa is real, and their relationship is definitely at the heart of this film. But that’s where it pretty much stops. This movie really deserves it’s R-rating. Body parts that go flying all over the place, blood, gore, nudity, foul language, it’s all included in here for your viewing pleasure. And I do say pleasure, because everything is just so completely over the top, that it’s pretty much impossible not to laugh at this. It completely rewrites the superhero genre, and gives us an anti-superhero by making Deadpool one of the most hilarious comic book characters ever created.

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This guy has terrible bed side manners.

All credits for this have to go to actor Ryan Reynolds. He already played the character once before in the first X-men origins movie: Wolverine. That however was a completely different take on the character, and could not be more dissimilar from what we see in this film. Ryan lives and breathes this character. His often completely crazy one liners, lewd comments and even moments when he talks to us as a movie audience are worth it alone to see this film for. But on the action front it’s a joy to watch as well. Gory fight sequences, gunbattles and chase scenes are all executed to perfection. The film did not even have a very huge budget, but they made it look as if it did. So was there anything negative to report about this film? Well honestly, I don’t know. Not every joke works I guess, but that is something that is very common to comedy. That’s always personal. But other than that, I would have to go do some nitpicking which I am not going to do.

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Pop goes the Deadpool.

Deadpool is a film that is so unique in the superhero genre, that it just simply doesn’t feel like a superhero movie. If you are easily offended by cursing or gore, than I guess you had best not watch this. But if you don’t mind that, this is a film that is just a hilarious rollercoaster ride from start to finish. And of course a perfect film to watch on Valentine’s Day. And I say: why not? It always seems that it is automatically assumed that every girl loves chickflicks or cheesy romance films. And before you start accusing me,  of course there is nothing wrong with that (remember you are talking to the guy who watched Titanic nine times in the cinema). But if you like to see a different and quite hilarious take on a romantic film, this is the one you want to check out. For all of you that are in love, I wish you a heartfelt beautiful Valentine’s Day. And for all of you that are single, hey…don’t give up. True love can be found everywhere….just ask Deadpool.

I give Deadpool a 9 out of 10 score.