Written and directed by James Mark, the film is a nice long string of fight sequences with other scenes and sequences in-between to build the story that unfortunately come off as forgettable, especially next to those fight scenes. The fighting in Kill Order is where it’s at. It’s rousing, exciting, and fun to watch. Which makes the in-between stuff this much sadder being that they are some much fun and the rest of the film feels a bit forgettable. The story is interesting but it’s not developed in a way that keeps the attention. The only reason this reviewer kept watching was all the awesome fighting. Fans of stuff like Ong Bak and B13 will love the action, but will probably check out during the rest of the film. Also not helping this are scenes that have subtitles that are white on white, thus extremely hard to read.
If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.
“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.
I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.
The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the type of middling, mediocre nonsense that you’re likely going to find playing on basic cable in three years. It’s such an unremarkable, silly action comedy going through the motions and capitalizing on two men and what they’re famous for. Stars Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds never break out of their comfort zones, and you can almost sense director Patrick Hughes asked both men to just be who everyone knows them for, and really nothing else. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is everything you think a movie starring Jackson and Reynolds will be like. Nothing ever really skirts the edges or thinks outside the box, and the violence seems just tacked on to what was probably a bland PG-13 action comedy in development.
“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the seminal animated creations of the nineties and is still considered a quintessential depiction of Batman. It’s a masterpiece of animation and meticulous storytelling. The voice work by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker are so definitive, that some fans can’t possibly imagine either character on screen without either actor portraying them. Here we are in 2017 with Bruce Timm reviving his animated version of “Batman” and what do we get? A very long gag involving Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile as Batman sniffs it in with pleasure, all the while Nightwing retches in the side seat. This is the bar of “quality” we get with “Batman and Harley Quinn.”
David Leitch’s adaptation of the graphic novel from Oni Press is something of an anomaly that I’ve had a difficult time wrapping my head around since I finished it. I’m not typically one who is easy on an action movie that’s so unnecessarily hard to follow, but “Atomic Blonde” kept me hooked, even when I was trying to keep up with it. Leitch’s direction, matched with the excellent editing, and just amazing martial arts scenes assured me I may just be watching “Atomic Blonde” again and again. The amalgam of a neo-noir and a gung ho martial arts spy thriller amounts to an occasionally awkward experience, but I embraced it in the end as this imperfect action film that sucked me in time and time again.