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Ro M (gb) wrote: I love a good political drama. I particularly love it when a political drama pokes at a subject guaranteed to bring the drama: power grabs. When I first heard about Miss Sloane, I was conflicted. On the one hand, I wondered, did there really need to be another movie about lobbyists and what they get up to in the Capitol? I mean, House of Cards has pretty well covered the ins-and-outs of political intrigue with story craft excellence. But on the other hand, I really do enjoy a well-done politico movie and this one looked like it could rival some of the best in the genre. I mean, it does star Jessica Chastain. After watching the trailer, I was so intrigued I knew I'd have to watch it and (fervently) hope it wasn't just a gender-swapped Michael Clayton knock-off.An extreme close-up of Elizabeth Sloane (played by Jessica Chastain) seemingly speaking directly to the camera opens the show. She's telling you her personal work ethic and strategy, you know, the one in all the trailers: "lobbying is about foresight; about anticipating your opponent's moves, devising countermeasures... the winner plots one step ahead of the opposition it's about making sure you surprise them and they don't surprise you." I'll be honest with you, I was relieved to see this catchy line used so soon in the movie. I absolutely hate it when you're watching a movie and the entire build up leads to... the line you've already heard a million times in the trailers.You quickly realize - and if you're like me it amuses you to no end - that she's talking to her lawyer (David Wilson Barnes). You learn she's about to go into a Senate hearing and he's trying to prep her for questioning. So, you already know that someway, somehow, she's gotten herself in more than a little bit of trouble. You also see almost immediately that Sloane is deliberately yanking his chain to rile him up and that you can almost touch her ego from your seat in the theater.This movie has more than a little bit of foreshadowing. It jumps back 3 months after the opening sequence to really introduce you to Elizabeth Sloane.This movie does a lot of show, not tell. You see Sloane talking to her assistant Jane (Alison Pill) quick stepping toward the ladies' room. They're talking about Jane's new debt free from student loan status, her plans for her future, and talking shop about their latest client: the Indonesian government. They're throwing out details a mile a minute - I know at this point it's a clich that all of D.C. talks in quips and barely breathes between syllables. I've always taken it as an attempt to convey the dynamic nature of the environment they work in - trying to give you the sense of how quickly things change and if you move too slow you miss your opportunity. But if this bothers, you then it'll be a struggle because there are few moments when the pace slows (which HELLO is a big hint you should maybe watch closely to what's being unraveled before you) and lots of snarky one-liners from amongst the cast. You see her in the whirl of a business mixer (the likes of which if I ever had to attend I jump off a building) and her seeming never slows down all work - even when she's playing - focus and lifestyle.If you don't like moves that have a flash back storytelling and embedded foreshadowing - if your mind wanders during movies, - you may get confused. It also means we could never be movie buddies... I know, you're crushed.I've said before I hate spoilers and I don't think the point of a review is to give away the game so I can sound all smart. But my opinion on some things need context. What I say next doesn't give anything except some basics (nothing the commercial spots don't cover or give away) away:The gun lobby comes looking to hire her (and her company) and you discover there's an issue she's not all-in to defend no matter what. Now it may be the head of the gun lobby's insulting as hell pitch to have Elizabeth be the poster girl head of a front organization meant to lure women into whole-hearted, no-holds barred support of the gun lobby (please note I said the gun lobby not the 2nd amendment - because contrary to what some will tell you, it ain't even close to the same thing). She not so subtly conveys her disdain for why he's come and then goes to face down her - rightly - furious boss (Sam Waterston).Shortly thereafter, she's approached by the head of the firm (Mark Strong) lobbying for the other side with an offer to come work for him and help the bill the gun lobby wants to kill pass. I will say for those who may have missed it. This movie is a battle between two lobbying firms. You'll need to look elsewhere for your battle of pure good v pure evil. You'll only get shades of grey here. You, know like in the real world... .Elizabeth Sloane is a ruthless, woman who seems to run on ambition and whatever she carries around in that little silver case she's always got on her. She doesn't come across as emotional even when it seems her feelings may be involved. This character is on one hand the physical embodiment of successful, a driven and focused woman who willfully chose career before all else, and on the other a tortured, conflicted, CLEARLY has some issues that need to be addressed but damn aren't they her business not yours, woman. In other words, she's real. This movie isn't about what causes her to act the way she acts or what emotional thing dives her to make some decisions - no matter how many times she may be asked that at work. This movie is about who she is when she suits up - in the most wonderful wardrobe mind you - and steps on to the professional stage. She isn't trying to be one of the boys. She took their bat and ball and dominated the sandbox. She isn't seeking approval or hoping to please some male counterpart, she's seizing victory and stepping over the bodies of those who must fall in order for her to win.I found the movie's decision to let those slight emotional moments creep in through small scenes that infer her state of mind to be most compelling. I am wholehearted tired of walking into a movie supposedly about an unapologetically cutthroat woman doing badass things only to get a story about her "redemption" and emotional catharsis instead. Elizabeth Sloane is not the hero of this movie. She is not the anti-hero in this movie. You're not really supposed to like her. You're not supposed to identify with her but I'm pretty sure you'll recognize some of the things she doesn't say with an uncomfortable familiarity. Jessica Chastain plays this part to perfection. Elizabeth Sloane talks fast, moves faster, pulls no punches, takes no prisoners, and is a shoe in to win most likely to stand over a corpse and stab it on the battlefield just to be sure her enemy is vanquished.I can't say more without ruining the fun so I won't. This is a top-shelf cast who all play their parts beautifully. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Esme Manucharian with a centered stillness that brought power and grace to the part. If you really have to have someone to root for, she's your girl. Michael Stuhlbarg as Pat Connors brings an assholish wittiness to the role that is a brilliant foil for Chastain's Sloane. You almost feel like everyone is along for the ride with you in hoping to survive the wake from the passing typhoon that is Elizabeth Sloane. I mean that in the best way possible.The issue in play may be gun control because if you're making a movie about pitting a lobbyist against a lobby, you need to pick a lobby big and powerful enough that practically controls the narrative on an issue (and that is known for rabid protection of that issues and its membership at all costs and against all comers) but that's all the justification you need for that bit of writing to hold up. Credible storytelling then you're talking about the gun lobby. The gun lobby isn't the villain in this movie. The 2nd amendment isn't really under discussion; the fictitious bill isn't really important outside of being the thing that motivates Elizabeth Sloane to act outside of what people think is her character. This is not some thinly veiled social commentary on the right to own or carry a gun or insult to gun owners.This movie is about lobbying and the shit lobbyists get up to in the name of their cause. The lines they'll cross, the muck they'll sling, the abuse they'll take, and the deals they'll make - and the shortcuts they'll use to get it done - all in the name of winning.While all her counterparts are setting up the board, Elizabeth Sloane's already moved her pieces forward into battle. Her colleagues are play chess while she's playing Go (if you've never heard of the game, trust me head to the Googles it's meta in the extreme).It's a savvy, metaphor for conscience versus conviction. With some unsubtle points addressing inconsistencies we have in this country when it comes to issue framing, policy making, and the protection of rights thrown in because - why not they're just SITTING THERE. The makers of this film are expecting an audience awake and aware to the nuances in the current political climate and a healthy sense of irony.There are some points that I wished were given more air time but I understand why they couldn't be if the main story arc was to be served. It's these bits that keep me from 5 out of 5 because given the slick facility of the movie, I don't think these ends had to be left loose.This entire movie is some of the best visual sleight of hand I've watched in a good while - maybe since watching Anthony Hopkins in Fracture. Even when Sloane shows you all the pieces beforehand, you still don't see all her turns. Settle in, pay attention and see if you can figure out her moves and counter moves before the jig is up.Oh, and for the record, Elizabeth Sloane would kick Michael Clayton's ass and not even scuff her Louboutins.Note: I feel the need to say something else that's not really "reviewee" - because I think people would really enjoy this movie. There's been some skewed - read annoying as hell - chatter about this movie. Sight unseen it's been declared by some as "leftist propaganda" because it embraced the #nastywoman slogan that came out of the presidential debates in its marketing - once you've seen the movie you'll absolutely see why Sloane is the D.C. chapter president of the "nasty woman" brigade - and a liberal agenda attempt to undermine support of the 2nd amendment.Don't listen to those people. Seriously, not only have most of them not seen the movie but if they did they weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to what was happening on the screen. This movie wasn't supposed to be some victory lap to cap off an election win for a woman - it has not the first thing to do with that type of politics and if it had been Edward Sloane instead - with no other script changes - no one would've uttered such claptrap.Here's the thing I think some folks missed: Elizabeth Sloane is a free-market samurai warrior. Her clients are the elite from among oil and gas companies. They're leaders of commercial industry. She is a literal gun for hire. She's an undefeated assassin with no loyalty but to "the way." When she advocates from her "convictions," they call her to represent the country exporting palm oil (which, if you've ever seen the episode "Last Stand" from the documentary Years of Living Dangerously, you know is literally destroying entire ecosystems in Indonesia) an industry staple for many a beloved American product. She's is a power broker, a will bender, a battle-tested badass holding the line on behalf of capitalism and free enterprise.This is a long way to say, Elizabeth Sloane is Republican; she's so Republican she keeps pictures of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush right next to her degrees in her office even after she goes to work for the lobbying firm with a "conscience."
Candles M (fr) wrote: Quirky characters and a compelling storyline - what a nice change from the predictable stuff coming out these days.
Courtney S (mx) wrote: *SPOILER* The movie totally took a turn for crap (about halfway through the film) after they killed off Hilary Swank.
Dickie L (es) wrote: I thought I was in for a lugubrious, bucolic tale watching poor Katalin meander through the Romanian countryside having been thrown out on her ear by her hubby after he's discovered her adulterous ways. But what's with the eerie music every time she enters into the woods?The plot thickens and becomes more intriguing at every turn. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next, and all the while becoming more won over by Katalin.Great visuals and sound and effective, economic storytelling.Grim but engrossing.
Patrick E (ag) wrote: The original Mimic was one of the better sci-fi/horror films of the 90's with some great effects and a decent storyline. Mimic 2 doesn't quite reach the same standards set by the original but it's still a very good follow up and offers almost as much entertainment value as the original. The main character switches to the roommate of Mira Sorvino in the original but other than that we are treated to much of the same which works very well.The plot is only slightly different to the original. As this is a sequel there is no backstory but we are already know from the original a that bunch of genetically engineered cockroaches have evolved into human size insects that have the ability to mimic the looks of human beings to stalk us as prey. The main setting for the action switches from a subway to a secondary school as entomologist and science teacher Remy must try to save some kids from the giant roaches.Given that the film is almost a carbon copy of the original but with a much smaller budget, we are never going to be given a film of the same quality but it's very close. The effects are still top notch with very minimal use of CGI, most of the effects are done using practical methods which makes the creatures much more menacing. It's a genuinely frightening and menacing looking creature that, along with the excellent sound work, manages to provide some real scares. The acting is a bit hit and miss, Alix Koromzay as Remy is very good but most of the bit part actors are poor. There is plenty of action and gore and the new aspect to the creatures evolution is interesting as well. The direction is good, the film never gets boring and is the perfect length at 82 mins long.Mimic 2 is just an entertaining creature feature with strong effects but seriously lacking in originality. Definitely worth a look.
Carlos M (es) wrote: It fully embraces the extravagant "pox-ecliptic" over-the-topness that had already been injected into Mad Max 2 and made that film so visually unique, thus being more entertaining than the previous movies even if more cerebral and less action-oriented (or perhaps because of that).
Jay B (au) wrote: Not what i was expecting but not bad once it gets going.
Philip J (mx) wrote: Martial arts superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme fights himself in a spectacular action spectacle! What an intriguing concept! Well...not quite. Jean-Claude Van Damme in a dual role should be no surprise to film buffs. He has already played identical twins in Double Impact and Maximum Risk. So what is the difference here? In Replicant, one of Van Damme's many comeback attempts, he does not play twin brothers for a change. Instead, he plays two separate characters who just happen to be polar opposites. Replicant is one of the first in a long line of direct-to-video projects starring our favorite Muscles from Brussels (you know, the guy who can perform that impressive 360 degree jump spin kick) and directed by none other than super-cool Hong Kong action director Ringo Lam. To get things started, what surprised me the most is this film's relentlessly somber and dark tone. I am usually accustomed to thinking of Van Damme's movies as light-hearted action flicks. While the violence in these films was a bit heavy, they were for the most part harmless. Now I enjoy moody and somber films (provided they are well-written) as much as the next guy, but personally, I just do not find melancholy and Van Damme to be the right marriage. I know I may not seem fair, but it's hard to take a Van Damme film seriously. So what does that make of Replicant? At best, it's a decent, if unexceptional serial killer and sci-fi hybrid. While this film has its problems, it definitely has its moments as well and as a result, Replicant actually ended up being a better film that I initially expected. In the city of Seattle, Washington, a serial killer known as "The Torch" (Van Damme) is on the loose. With his dark leather jacket, greasy hair, and hardened attitude, The Torch in a way resembles Eric Draven of The Crow fame. This pyromaniac enjoys preying on unsuspecting victims, most notably young mothers with young children. This sick-minded killer tortures each victim -- as her child watches helplessly -- and even takes photos of the grisly evidence before summarily torching everything...including the corpse of the dead mother, and the entire room, leaving the child to die. Jake Riley (Micheal Rooker) is a dedicated good cop determined to capture his man. Jake has been deeply obsessed with hunting The Torch for three years, yet every time he damn near catches himhe lets this fiend slip right out of his grip. Well, after The Torch has just claimed his eleventh victim, Jake is not going to let him get away. A foot chase ensues leading to a confrontation in an indoor parking lot. Unfortunately, Jake lets The Torch narrowly escape... Right after the chase is over, Jake realizes that he has just been officially retired. Retirement for him though, is blemished by the fact that The Torch has constantly eluded him. With the case unsolved for now, Jake has to realize that he cannot dwell on what he was unable to accomplish. Instead, he ought to drop the case and celebrate his retirement. While celebrating his retirement with his family and friends, Jake receives a phone call. The taunting voice sounds familiar... Jake cannot have his peace until he solves this case. He is then contacted by a couple of folks from the "National Security", informing him that they can help find and capture The Torch. How? Through a super-clandestine government project involving the creation of a "replicant", an exact "genetic double" of any person. Using The Torch's DNA sample found at a crime scene, scientists at a secret laboratory have managed to successfully clone The Torch. We, the audience, actually get to witness the awakening of this replicant, known as "Number One" (this is a very disturbing scene, mind you). There is one major problem though: Number One has the mental capacity of an infant. He has to learn how to perform the basic functions of life, e.g. sit, walk, eat, etc. For some reason, Number One also gets to learn his martial arts skills by watching various gymnastics videos and emulating those moves performed by the gymnasts (such as walking on his hands, et. al.). I guess those scenes are just an excuse for him to show off his physical prowess (admittedly, what was even more impressive was that at age 40, Jean-Claude Van Damme could still perform splits). Number One is believed to be able to lead Jake to The Torch's known whereabouts since this clone (supposedly) is, in essence, a doppelganger who shares the memories of the original. Jake is then assigned to basically baby-sit Number One and motivate him to remember all the criminal deeds The Torch has done. However, can Jake trust a clone to help him solve the crime? Or will this clone end up like the original -- a dangerous threat to society? The fight choreography in Replicant is solid, if unspectacular. As The Torch, Van Damme really does not execute any breathtaking stunts or moves, but it's for the better because I would be shaking my head in disbelief if a serial killer tried to show off his fighting abilities. Instead, The Torch just fights raw and dirty. As Number One, Van Damme is still able to perform some amazing acrobatic maneuvers (such as this one sequence where he is trying to elude some National Security guys who want to detain him). While the fight scenes in Replicant are far from dazzling, they do pack some realistic punch. The action scenes themselves are sparse, but there are a few good moments. One such example is a pretty cool scene where Number One and The Torch duke it out in a bar -- in front of two startled witnesses. My favorite though, is the climactic roller-coaster style chase scene involving Jake clinging onto a runaway ambulance. Ringo Lam's solid direction makes the action satisfying. What did disappoint me though is the film's awkward pacing. Sometimes, the film slows down when it doesn't need to and it does become fairly repetitive to watch Number One predictably do childish things like repeat what everybody else says. There is also apparently a relationship between Jake and Angie (Catherine Dent) but I feel that it is fairly inconsequential and more often than not, distracts from the film's main plot. Despite Van Damme's presence, the action sequences in Replicant are actually secondary to the film's character development and (surprise!) even traces of pathos. Right off the bat, I will admit that character development is surprisingly decent. Through the effective use of flashbacks and profiling (examining and understanding his behavior via evidence left behind), we gradually learn who The Torch really is and what shaped his twisted mind. Now if Van Damme were a better actor, then The Torch would have been a truly memorable on-screen villain. It is also interesting to witness how Number One emotionally develops and learns about his own "identity." Ironically, Van Damme performed quite well as the replicant. I guess you could call Van Damme's method acting in Replicant a tale of two halves. As just mentioned, Van Damme could have done a better job as the psycho. To put it charitably, he was flat as the bad guy. He no doubt tries, but this guy simply does not frighten me. Perhaps playing a psychopath was a stretch for him. On the flipside, Van Damme is proficient as a genuinely confused genetic double; he manages to convincingly display the mannerisms and behavior of the child-like clone. He even shows emotion, allowing us to sympathize with him. Now, Van Damme should not be expecting the Academy Awards to knock on his door after viewing his performance in Replicant...but nevertheless, he does a fairly solid job as a clone trying to comprehend the nature of his existence -- and who he really is. He has certainly shown some growth as an *ahem* actor. Michael Rooker is okay as the hard-edged cop (a character who is resoundingly similar to Stan Zedkov, also played by Rooker, in The Replacement Killers). He really does not bring anything new to an old cliche, but whether he plays the good guy or the bad guy, Rooker always distinguishes himself with his cacophonous voice and tough-as-stone personality. Like most low-budget thrillers, Replicant does have its share of weaknesses. To top it off, the film's most grating weakness is its problem finding the right audience to appeal to. Replicant does try to mix several genres -- including sci-fi, action, and psychological thriller -- together and as a result, this film is a bit schizophrenic which may end up alienating fans of certain genres. For starters, sci-fi fans will be turned off by the fact that the film does absolutely little to explain the details of the cloning process or how it is suppose to work. To make the situation even more convoluted, the replicant Number One supposedly shares a telepathic link to The Torch, but none of it makes any real sense. There are plenty of science-fiction themes in this movie; unfortunately, none of them are properly explored. Action fans may still enjoy this, but the action scenes themselves are really not that exciting (the climactic fight scene in particular between the good and evil twins is truly anticlimactic). Fans who normally enjoy the works of John Woo or Jackie Chan are better off seeing something else if they desire non-stop action. Fans of dark psychological thrillers will probably enjoy this the most, but some may end up being turned off by the cliches in the script. Speaking of cliches, Replicant has far too many of them. Such examples include the short-tempered, hard-nosed cop who has a habit of using brute force -- even on the clone -- to extract answers and the government unwilling to reveal much about the project because it has its own secret agenda. Of course, let us not forget the sympathetic prostitute with a heart of gold. So does Replicant earn my recommendation? It depends, but suffice to say, this sort of subject matter (e.g., what makes serial killers tick; what are clones like) has to appeal to you. And if you are a typical Van Damme fan, show patience, and understand that this film is not as action-packed as his previous works. Overall, this is a decent film with its fair share of strengths (Van Damme's performance as the replicant, solid action) and weaknesses (cliched script, inconsistent pacing) balancing each other out. Still, Replicant did manage to exceed my (admittedly low) expectations so I have to give everybody involved with this film credit for making it better than I expected. Replicant isn't nearly as thought provoking as say, Never Let Me Go. Put it this way: Replicant will not compel you to debate the ethical issues of human cloning or make you think deeply about the moral consequences of cloning a criminal, let alone a human being. For many people, this film may even be forgettable. But if anything, Replicant is the best Damme movie out there -- featuring the Muscles from Brussels in a dual role, of course. And for some fans, maybe, just maybe that is enough of a recommendation.
John M (au) wrote: That's so 90's. So when aliens show up in the Looney Tunes universe, they want to enslave everybody's favorite animated personalities to work at their amusement park for the rest of eternity. They're small aliens, so Bugs Bunny challenges them to a game of basketball. The aliens go to Earth and steal the talents of the NBA's very best, and all of the sudden they aren't so small anymore and have adopted the moniker the Monstars. Michael Jordan has shifted his attention from basketball to baseball, but he has to come out of retirement to help save the Tunes. This is a very hard movie not to like. Everybody I know is fond of the Looney Tunes, and unless you're a die hard Utah Jazz fan, you probably like Michael Jordan as well. It's live action meets animation in the same vein as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and while the animation may not necessarily hold up entirely, it's still always a fun time. Space Jam is cheesy, but it is so fast moving, it is infectious. Not every single joke lands, but it uses the mindset of "let's throw everything against the wall and see what sticks", so you end up remembering the positives far more than the negatives. It's inspired, and I do like the concept behind it all. I do have to say one thing, and it may not be the most popular of opinions: Michael Jordan is not a good actor. He shows up, but he's just an athlete that ends up being more of a prop than an actor, and the cartoons do all of the heavy lifting. I don't know how relevant the Looney Tunes are anymore, but I really am not opposed at all for a Space Jam 2 starring LeBron James, and that is largely because he has already proven himself to be the better actor. You don't need to look any further than Trainwreck to see his comedic timing and capabilities, and he has the star power so that people would actually want to watch this movie, regardless if you love him or love to hate him. This is less of a movie and more of an experience. It's for sugar loaded kids more than anything, and it moves so fast that you don't really have time to question anything. On top of all that, there's also these Jock Jams from the 1990's featured throughout, and they help to give it this a palpable kinetic energy. It's absurd, but I don't know what else you would be expecting from a cartoon of this nature.
Paul D (ag) wrote: Has lots of cheap scares, but not a lot of substance.