Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tactical Advantage

Once again, we wind up at the video store, scanning the new releases and not recognizing most of it. Well, I recognize Super 8 - that's supposed to be good. How about Hugo? But wait! Here's a Steve Austin 2011 direct-to-DVD action pic, Tactical Force! Didn't a Movie Morlock like that? It's got Michael Jai White on board? Sold!

The setup is a four-person SWAT team dealing with a hostage situation in a grocery. SWAT team: Austin, White, Steven Bacic and little Lexa Doig. This is a good little action set-piece, with takedowns including frozen steaks and BB guns.

As usual, the captain doesn't approve of the team's unorthodox methods, and sentences them to a training exercise with dummy ammo in a secluded warehouse. By coincidence, two Russian mobsters, Michael Shanks and leather clad female enforcer Candace Elaine have dragged weaselly Michael Eklund to the same location. Eklund, a ratfink with an inexplicable Cantinflas moustache, has hidden the MacGuffin in the warehouse and the mob wants it back.

In fact, the other mob wants it back, too - a gang of (2) Italians show up, one of whom, Adrian Holmes, is black (what, a black man can't come from Rome?). Eventually another couple of enforcers are called in, but the small ensemble suits the "tactical" aspect of the movie, as well as keeping the budget down.

So, four cops without working weapons vs. two opposing small groups of bad guys. One MacGuffin (which they studiously never explain). Several skirmishes and some silly dialog. It's fun and much better made than it deserves to be. My only complaint, not enough fights. They have Steve Austin and Michael Jai White and only really use them once or twice.

Were you expecting a disappointment? We were - maybe that's why we were pleasantly surprised. If this had been promoted like  The Expendables, our reaction might have been different. As it was, we had a blast! Kudos.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Singh Singh Singh

As readers who have been reading probably know, I like epics, action, sword and sandals action epics, etc. Also, I love Tarsem Singh, based entirely one movie, The Fall. So it shouldn't surprise you that I liked Immortals. Of course, I may be the only one.

It is set in a ancient Greece, Kolpos Penninsula 1383 BC (on a Tuesday). This exactitude must be some kind of joke, because this movie is less historically accurate than Raquel Welch riding a dinosaur. Our hero is Theseus, played by Henry Cavill, who I thought was James Caviezel - they are both kind of non-distinguished handsome types. He is up against Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion, the standard grade totalitarian despot. There is a super-weapon, the Epiros bow, a beautiful oracle played by Frieda Pinto, and so forth.

But mostly what you get are lovely CGI landscapes, inventive anachronistic costumes, slo-mo CGI fights like in 300, all lit by gorgeous sunsets or torches and moonlight. Some of the scenes were a bit too dark, but other than that is beautiful. If you can ignore the terrible story and weak acting, and just enjoy it as a spectacle, you should be fine.