Movie Review: Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles

IMDB, ClonedSci-fi/Thriller, 82 Minutes, 2011: Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles on IMDB

[This is the nineteenth selection in my irregular, “My Wife and Kids are Visiting Relatives and I’m Home Watching Movies” film festival.]

Three teens canoe out to an island for a week of camping.  During a rain storm they decide, instead, to break into the only house on the island to use their toilet and sleep in their beds.  Surprised by the returning owners in the morning they’re forced at knife-point to help dispose of two bodies that, it turns out, are exact duplicates of the owners.  Even weirder they’re saved from the couple by exact duplicates of themselves.

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Movie Review: Legacy

Thriller,  93 Minutes, 2010: Legacy on IMDB

[This is the twelfth selection in my irregular, “My Wife and Kids are Visiting Relatives and I’m Home Watching Movies” film festival.]

After finally catching up on the exceptional British procedural, Luthor [IMDB], I made an effort to find more of Idris Elba [IMDB].  This popped onto the radar and I’m glad it did.  Elba plays Malcolm Gray, a former black ops soldier who was part of a very successful, and very illegal, assassination squad.  After being captured by one of his targets and brutally tortured for months he is finally freed and makes his way back to the U.S. where he attempts to expose those responsible.

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Movie Review: Taken 2

IMDB, Taken 2Thriller, 92 Minutes, 2012: Taken 2 on IMDB

The original “Taken” [IMDB] was something of an oddity among action movies.  In a genre split between biceps and explosions or massive conspiracies and lone-wolf operatives it was a simpler, smaller more intimate movie. Yes, Liam Neeson’s [IMDB] Bryan Mills commanded resources and skills out of scope for most but the story was universal: somebody took his daughter and he was going to get her back.  I enjoyed it immensely.

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Movie Review: Skyfall

IMDB, SkyfallAction, 143 Minutes, 2012: Skyfall on IMDB

This is Daniel Craig’s [IMDB] third outing as a grittier, rougher-edged version of Ian Fleming’s tuxedoed MI6 agent with a license to kill.  Bond (like other persistently popular characters such as Batman or Superman) has successfully maintained relevance across several generations.  The character does this by merging  modern sensibilities with dependable, iconic traits.  This film marks the fiftieth anniversary of Bond in film.

Is it good enough to anchor this landmark?  In short, despite a few missteps, I think “yes”.

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Movie Review: Looper

IMDB, LooperSci-Fi/Action, 119 Minutes, 2012: Looper on IMDB

H.G. Wells ushered in the modern era of time travel stories with “The Time Machine” and we’ve hardly slowed down since.  We’ll probably never stop making time-travel movies.  Some kick ass (“The Terminator” [IMDB]), some are silly (“Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel” [IMDB]) and others profound (“Twelve Monkeys [IMDB] – which, incidentally, also starred Bruce Willis [IMDB]).  Even those with a shoestring budget can get in on the fun as the mind-bending “Primer” [IMDB] ably demonstrated.  Time travel is the gift that keeps on giving.

“Looper” is the latest in this long and prestigious line and will very likely be remembered as one of the best.  Like many time-travel stories, this one needs some exposition.

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Movie Review: Vile

Action,  98 Minutes, 2011: Vile on IMDB

The so-called “torture porn” sub-genre of splatter films, epitomized in the modern era by the “Saw” [IMDB] franchise but predating it by decades, is difficult to execute correctly.  The point that most low-budget attempts forget is that it isn’t the actual pain being inflicted to the characters.  Focusing on purely the physical is, as films go, crude and ultimately boring.

The best examples of the genre are psychologically disturbing.  They create diabolically inventive methods to attack their characters while, very importantly, allowing their characters at least some freedom of choice.  This is why they’re so effective: they engage the intellect of the audience with the mechanics of the situation and then their emotions by forcing them to consider how they would respond in the same situation.  The best movies of any genre allow us to see their characters at their extremes whether it be love, anger, determination or, this case, pain.

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Movie Review: Dirty Little Trick

Action,  98 Minutes, 2011: Dirty Little Trick on IMDB

This is a low-budget, ham-fisted thriller that thinks it’s a hell of lot more clever than it really is.  Most of the budget is blown on the marquee talent, Dean Cain [IMDB] and Michael Madsen [IMDB].  Both of their careers have taken undeniable downward turns in recent years and neither puts forth his best effort here.  Madsen, especially, sleepwalks through his scenes.  The rest of the acting is universally terrible.

The bad acting is magnified through soap-opera quality camera work.  Every scene (and I literally mean every scene) is a close up.  This could be because they seem to have had only two locations.  Here, it’s an apartment.  Then we add some boxes and now – movie magic! – it’s a warehouse!  It doesn’t help that the sound work is nearly non-existent – everything exists in a flat, lifeless monotone.

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