The United States of Leland (2003)

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After Earth (2013)

Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi


Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Writers: Gary Whitta & M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay); Will Smith (story)

The humankind has settled on Nova Prime, after the Earth cataclysmic events made living impossible, and has to defeat Ursa, a monster created by aliens to kill humans. Ursa doesn’t see and the only way they can sense humans, is by smelling their fear. The ship caring Cypher Raige and his son Kitai, and an Ursa for training the novices, is hit by an asteroid storm and they crash to a now wild and unwelcoming Earth, where all the creatures have evolved to kill humans. Cypher Raige is injured and Kitai is the only one who can travel more then 100 miles on an unfamiliar territory where the Ursa is roaming free, and the Earth’s creatures are everywhere, to signal for help.

I’m very disappointed, to say the least. I was expecting something better from Will Smith, even though people had been selflessly telling me that it is a waste of time, ever since it appeared on  big screen.  But my stubborn side waited for the DVD and last night I finally saw it for myself.

It’s hard to believe that in the creation of After Earth, they needed two screenwriters. In my imagination, when two people are working together on a project, the final result should be of some quality, or at least better than the work of one person. After Earth appears to be the product of a single man (or woman)’s brain. A person without storytelling skills. I wonder how Will Smith’s story sounds like. I bet it’s just as confusing and full of plot holes.  After Earth also feels like a kitsch family movie. Produced by the parents, story written by the father, father and son playing the main characters… Just like the saying “You don’t do business with family”. this should have been a clue that the final result will be a disaster.

Also, when you make a movie where only two characters are taking  90% of the screen time and the plot focuses only on their personal drama, you should make sure that they can act. In my opinion, the acting could save a lacking script. That’s why I enjoyed Wrecked so much. In that movie, there’s only one character played by the brilliant Adrien Brody and even though there was almost no dialogue, his brilliant acting, glued me to the screen. For his role in After Earth, Jaden Smith should win a Razzie. And his father too, since we’re on the subject. Hard to imagine that Will Smith could act so badly.  And their father-son collaboration should’ve stopped after The Pursuit of Happyness, when the couple was in full glory.

Watching it felt uncomfortable.  An unsuccessful attempt of Will Smith to make his son more popular. I didn’t care for the characters drama but there were two scenes that touched me and in the same time made me mad, both showing dead birds. I’m against animal cruelty and they had no place in this movie, because they seemed to be randomly put there to make the viewer feel something. Without these scenes, After Earth is just dull and bland.

Over 100 million dollars wasted on something that could have been better if they changed the director, the screenwriter and the leading actors.



Fallen (1998)

Crime, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

FallenDirector: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Nicholas Kazan

Review written for

Homicide detective John Hobbes witnesses the execution of serial killer Edgar Reese. Soon after the execution the killings start again, and they are very similar to Reese’s style.

If you ask me what’s my favorite Denzel Washington movie, I would always answer with “Fallen”.  I love this one so much that whenever it’s playing on TV, I watch it. And if it’s too late and I’m sleepy, I try my best to keep my eyes open because just like with The X-Files series, I feel ashamed if I fall asleep during it. Fallen got under my skin, during my first viewing, a decade ago, and it hasn’t left me ever since.

John Hobbes, played brilliantly by Denzel Washington, strongly believes that with the execution of Edgar Reese, the serial killings will stop. Little did he know that during the killing spree Reese was possessed by a demon, named Azazel, who moves from body to body by touch. And soon after the execution, Hobbes, experiencing a lot of bizarre happenings, learns that the demon won’t stop and he’s the only one capable  of catching him.

It’s quite long, a little over two hours, but I guarantee it’s worth every minute of it. I like how it starts, with Edgar Reese doing the death walk, while singing “Time is on my side” (a shout-out to all Rolling Stones fans), a scene very strange but it does clue you in that something is not right with the prisoner. And then, throughout the movie, every time this song is played, the feeling of impeding doom gets to be shockingly overwhelming. Because Azazel likes to sing, and to sing this particular Rolling Stones’s song over and over again. And every scene he appears in, it just chilling to the bone. Often I found myself with goosebumps while imagining what the other characters in the movie must be feeling at that moment. Especially Hobbes, who at some point, witnesses something out of a horror story.

The great acting (Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland) comes with admirable camera work and directing,  which along with a powerful script and soundtrack, can easily play with your mind, sending shots of terror through your veins. I’m serious. Nothing has ever scared me every single time I’ve seen it, like this one. And unlike more recent films, Fallen does not leave you with unexplained questions.  During its two hours, they are all answered, one way or the other.  Some people will hate it, mostly because of the ending, which by the way is a bit of a shocker, but others who appreciate quality in an overlooked and a very underrated movie, will love it.

Without a second thought, a perfect 10 from me.

Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey

S's Rant Corner

Oh hell, no! Nein, nein, nein!

First of all, Fifty Shades of Grey should have never been accepted as a possibility for a movie… Well, maybe for a porn but not for something that wants to be a blockbuster and will be shown in the cinema worldwide. Second of all, Fifty Shades of Grey should have not existed. At all! It should’ve remained as a Twilight fan fiction and only fans of this saga would have access to it.

But now they are really making a movie. Seriously, a movie! I hoped, when I first heard of the Hollywood’s intention, that there will be no actor willing to take the part of Grey.  But it seems that the Shades project kept moving forward without a glance to my wishful thinking, and they grabbed Charlie. Charlie, who broke my heart at the end of Green Street Hooligans and who’s role is still fresh in my memory,  even after eight years. And now he breaks my heart again , for a whole different reason.

I hate 50 Shades of Porn (ups, sorry, I meant Grey). It was a waste of time, trying to read it and right after the first sex scene I thought “What the hell??” and stopped. Look, it was nothing new. I spent my high school years, devouring books and from time to time, I also read romance. Romance novels that had better sex scenes than this! You’ll say it’s about the dominance and S&M, and bondage and how hot that is. And I agree. Maybe for some. that’s hot. But not for me. And maybe if the book was better written, without those heavy words that have no place in an erotica story, and the use of some words and phrases over and over again (like “Oh my” or “his pants hang low on his hips” – hahaha), maybe I would’ve liked it more. But with those repetitions, the main female character’s ridiculous and hilarious naivete, I was in way over my head.

And now they are really making a movie with Charlie Hunnam in the main role. How in the hell can I refuse to see it?? Maybe that’s why I’m so upset right now. Deep down I know that at some point, it will be on TV and I’ll have to watch it because of him. And that’s like a slap in the face.charlie-hunnam-charlie-hunnam-28645787-1000-1333

World War Z (2013)

Action, Adventure, Horror

world-war-z-image01Director: Mark Forster

Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof (screenplay);  Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski (screen story); Max Brooks (novel).

Gerry Lane, a retired UN investigator is dragged back into his job when a Zombie outbreak is threatening to destroy humanity.

Some of you know that I’m a big fan of zombie flicks. And bad horror movies. And I was really looking forward to seeing World War Z. I read the book which was a brilliant zombie apocalypse story with so many characters and so many places traveled by the interviewer that it made me feel like yep, this could be real. I mean, in most of the books and movies I’ve read and watched over the years, a zombie pandemic happens usually in one place only and the story usually focuses on one small group of people. In World War Z, the novel, the story takes place all over the world, and the small group of people which I was accustomed too. is actually a large number of individuals from different countries that fight against the outbreak and search for a cure.

I wanted to keep a clear head and be more opened minded. I’ve been told I’m too loyal to the books and I should start seeing movies like originals even though they’re made after something.  I knew beforehand that they couldn’t put the entire book on screen because it is large and in it, so many people are talking, so many things are happening, that for it, to make it uncut and unchanged on screen, it should’ve been developed as a series. I really wanted to give this movie a shot, I really did.

It started  well. The first few scenes when Gerry and his family gets trapped on the street and zombies are attacking people, are quite amazing. You can feel the panic and the terror. You can imagine yourself in their situation and you want to start running. But then, everything goes down hill. When you read a book about so many interesting characters, you’re hoping to see your favorites in the movie. Almost immediately you discover that Gerry Lane, the UN investigator will figure things out by himself, thus denying the existence of some of the people you liked in the book. In the movie, as an UN investigator, he really does not investigate. He just asks a few people and then he practically does everything by himself.  Which is kind of shameless and disappointing, and makes World War Z the movie so very different from the book that they actually look like two separate original stories.

The film is well shot. The acting is quite good, although I still can’t get over the fact that Brad Pitt is the hero in a zombie apocalypse flick. It just doesn’t suit him. The story is lacking. There are some huge parts missing. some things left unexplained,  replaced by some long quiet scenes of some zombies or landscape.  I would’ve preferred it having some more action and less drama. It didn’t do it for me. In the end, I was left unimpressed yet again of how Hollywood pours so much money on a project without making sure that the story is plausible or complete. Aaaand it gets a 5/10 from me, because comparing to 28 Days Later which scores a perfect 10 on my zombie chart, and Dawn of the Dead (the original and the remake) also a 10, World War Z does not have what it takes for the gold medal.