Jackie Chan Is Back In Action With "Chinese Zodiac"

NON HORROR REVIEW-Closing in on 60 years of age, Jackie Chan sure doesn’t look or move like a person at that age, especially in the 2012 Chan featured and directed film, “Chinese Zodiac,” which is also referred to as “Amour Of God III.” For those who don’t know, the famous Chan film,“Operation Condor” was “Amour Of God II.”

From the beginning of this action packed motion picture, until the end of the two hour film, the intensity is damn near non-stop, highlighted by a million and one moves by Chan himself. From full body roller-blading to fighting off rottweilers, couch fighting and sky diving next to a live volcano, Chan does it all, and some, as usual.

Based around his thieving character, “Asian Hawk” and his most recent mission to steal the remaining pieces of a bronze set of heads that symbolize animals of the Chinese Zodiac, he finds himself in a moral dilemma after the first heist of the mission and also when his fellow thieves find clues of many more treasures along with these heads.

The dialogue languages shifts from Mandarin, French and English, maybe more, which has become somewhat of a Chinese standard in film-making as of late, in an attempt to make movies as international as possible. In my opinion a great idea.

The acting was what one would expect from a Jackie Chan feature and I was very impressed by his directing skills, I was just waiting for him to break out in one of his own songs that he was once famous for. The comedic elements were Chan-perfection, especially with the pirates, keep your eyes on that sequence, and above all the locations were absolutely gorgeous.

All in all, a great action film, and the type that I miss from American films that were so prevalent in the 90s, but are all but forgotten in this new age of whatever it is. I look forward to more Jackie Chan directed motion pictures, and it goes without saying any with him in starring roles.

One Major Flaw Keeps "Beautiful Creatures" From Being A Beautiful Feature

First and foremost, I was extremely impressed and pleased by the storyline of “Beautiful Creatures” provided by the novels from writers, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl mixed with the superb adaptation for the screen, which was written and directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers, Water For Elephants.) However one major mistake stopped this film from being classical material.

From the very first spoken word of the narrative dialogue by Ethan White (Alden Ehrenreich) I actually cringed and was severely disappointed in the poor kid’s inability to adapt to anything resembling an authentic South Carolinian accent. I don’t exaggerate when I tell my readers that I was on the fence with chalking this one up as a loss during the first five minutes of “Beautiful Creatures” simply for the fact that it was a hideous display and failed attempt of an accent that viewers have to hear for the remaining two hours and four minutes.

I guess I blame the casting team for that, because Ethan’s character wasn’t the only one with a terrible execution on using the accent. On the flip side of the coin, hearing it so much in the initial sequence worked out as the only advantage that could be had, and that was for viewers to get used to it enough to brace up for the rest of the film.

“Poor Thing” is what I heard from a few southern ladies in front of me in the theater, directed toward Ehrenreich’s undying faithful attempt at carrying out the Southern draw, in which I totally agree, yet he stills fails at.

After 30 minutes into the film I started to feel a terrible guilt for primarily passing judgment on his speech execution, because the young man has remarkable acting talents and a charisma that is magnetizing all viewers, a true saving grace for Ehrenreich. A good old Southern “Bless your heart” goes out to Alden and his efforts, while a major “Shame on you” goes to his vocal coaches.

Getting past that, “Beautiful Creatures” was far superior to most, if not all of the supernatural romance type films of the past five years and was released at a time where the super popular “Warm Bodies” will steal much of the limelight, leaving it pushed to the side for quite sometime, which is also a shame.

LaGravenese’s directing was as immaculate as the locations, with the only downfall being some of the computer generated effects being overkill, but not many at all. The overall aesthetics that the characters and the town of Gatlin housed, in particular the Ravenwood home, which elegantly changed appearance throughout the film was a visual masterpiece.

The supporting cast was nothing shy of amazing, highlighted by both the delightful Emma Thompson (Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine) and the powerful and savvy Jeremy Irons (Macon Ravenwood.) The main character, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) took a while to get used to, but once that happened, she was perfect for that role.

The score and soundtrack were both also equally amazing and effective, meshing with the transitions and sequences for proper execution with the story. As mentioned before, the only true downfall was the irritation of the fabricated southern accents, which could have easily been fixed with the proper vocal coach, a little more dedication and time or even though I hate to say this, a totally different actor. Any of the other characters might not have truly needed it, but most definitely, Ethan (one half of the main characters) needed to be as authentic as possible.

All in all, give “Beautiful Creatures” a shot for sure. Just get used to the ridiculous accent in the first ten minutes and you will be just fine. It truly is an incredible film after that, which peaked my interest and sparked my curiosity on the novels, which are now on my must read list.

For A Little Fun, Watch "A Little Bit Zombie"

Nothing overly extraordinary, but also far from the wave of zombie junk that the film industry is in the midst of, the 2012 Casey Walker directed and produced film, “A Little Bit Zombie” provides a small and refreshing boost to this sub-genre of Horror movies.

Based around a four person getaway vacation where the soon-to-be-husband (Kristopher Turner) is infected by the virus in an unconventional zombie way, by a mosquito, the film then turns into a comedic twist throughout the remainder of the 87 minutes.

Everything about “A Little Bit Zombie” is super solid and keeps the viewers attention for the most part. Lots of memorable one liners with a good script, a crazy chick fight and lots of drooling and a disturbing animal brain eating scene or two. Some of the soundtrack should have been omitted though.

The final sequences caught my attention until right before the credits rolled, where I was fairly upset with the outcome, but I guess to each his own on that notion. Even though I don’t think “A Little Bit Zombie” tapped into it’s full potential, I do recommend this to any Zombie fan, a small breath of fresh air for this sub-genre with lots of laughs and good humor.

You're In For A Hell Of A Fun Ride With The Irish-Made Monster Movie, "Grabbers"

Yet another refreshing film! It’s rare for this to happen back to back, so I am hoping for this streak to continue. This time it’s from another somewhat struggling Horror side-genre;  monster-movies and it’s coming straight from the shores of an Irish island.

Entitled, “Grabbers” this 2012 effort is fairly original, very clever, super fun and especially reminiscent of monster films from the past that we have all fallen in love with.

Written by Kevin Lehane, Directed by Jon Wright and featuring an awesome acting trio of main characters played by Richard Coyle (Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, A Good Year), Ruth Bradley (Flyboys) & Lalor Roddy (Game Of Thrones) this film is all out minute by minute fun.

“Grabbers” begins after dark on the open sea, where shortly after the initial sequences we see a meteor type object splash and crash into the water mysteriously leaving a man overboard. We quickly get to know the main characters, my favorite being “Paddy” played by Roddy.

The story doesn’t hesitate to start immediately and with some remarkable touches and scenes that show off some top notch computer generated monster madness, in which continues throughout the rest of the 94 minutes. It is very evident that the production crew took their time to perfect their vision and execute it superbly.

Nothing in “Grabbers” was sloppy aside from minor camera angles and transitions, but that can easily be overlooked by the overall substance of the rest of the film. The location of “Erin Island” was gorgeous, the acting was never over the top, the script was perfection for this side-genre and you can never go wrong with some Irish music throughout the score and soundtrack.

I don’t want to give away too much, but if you haven’t seen the trailer, please don’t, just go ahead with the full feature film. Going back and watching the trailer before my review, I see that it gives a little too much information away and could spoil some of the fun.

Overall, please, I repeat please do what you can to get your hands on this awesome monster movie. “Grabbers” is very refreshing and just what you might need to break the monotony of what’s in the industry as of late.

Bru's Netflix Pick Of February 2013: "Adopting Terror"

Simply my Netflix pick for February 2013 because it was the only title I watched from the Netflix library for the month, the 2012 made for Television film from The Asylum Home Entertainment, “Adopting Terror” was a great film for it’s right at $1 million budget.

Featuring Sean Astin, who early in his career was known as “Rudy” and it seemed to be something he would always be recognized as, until he broke through with his role as Samwise Gamgee, a character he will always be called more than his real name. Although, it was really nice to see him dominate in a different film with a role such as Tim Broadbent in “Adopting Terror.”

The story revolves around two parents that are in the initial stages of adoption. The biological parents are both off-their-rockers crazy and the father (Brendan Fehr) begins to stalk the couple. Fehr does an outstanding job playing this role, he is creepy, silent, stern and all out uncomfortable without being in-your-face loud and scary.

There are plenty of gaps in the story, plot and basics, but the entertainment value and the overall big picture of the film is very solid, another pat on the back for the folks over at The Asylum for continuing their progression and all for $1 million. I would, however, like to see less forced dramatics and cliched script lines in some of their efforts.

All in all, I recommend “Adopting Terror.” Not so much a horror as it is a thrilling drama, it still holds a viewers attention for 90 minutes. Make sure to check it out on Netflix while it’s in their library, you never know nowadays when they will decide to take off certain movies.

"247°F" Never Cools Down For A Minute

Based off true events, the 2011 Levan Bakhia & Beqa Jguburia co-directed film, “247°F” was an awesome and thrilling horror-survival movie with some fairly original angles, plot twists and solid acting for this genre.

Starting off with the ever so generic “four friend weekend cabin trip,” “247°F” keeps viewers wondering the true motives of each and every character, all the way up until the final sequences. To be that effective with such a task was the tie that bound this film together.

A was impressed by how tightly written the script was for a survival type horror film, and also by the subtle explanations brought to the viewers with flashing camera shots throughout the movie, highlighted by the ones used in the closing scenes. However there were a few loose ends, but I could easily look past them to see this film for exactly what it was worth and that is a kick ass independent movie.

I wasn’t too keen on the unnecessary introduction scenes, attempting to create a bond between the viewers and Jenna, who was played by Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween, Halloween 2, Charmed) although it didn’t really effect the story line much one way or the other. The locations chosen for filming were beautifully placed and the cabin was perfectly stunning.

I thought the entire cast was chosen quite well with great acting execution, with the exception of Renee (Christina Ulloa) who was apparently cast to prance around in her lingerie and be the most annoying person in the film, a close second to her boyfriend, Michael (Michael Copon) but that was because it fit his character description.

All in all I really would recommend this to campy horror and survival fans, it’s worth a watch or two. It’s available right now at your nearest Redbox kiosk, so make sure to get it soon.

"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" Is A Super Fun 3D Ride

Get out of your head any thoughts of taking the 2013 Tommy Wirkola (Dod Sno aka Dead Snow) written and directed film in a super serious light and I can promise that you will have one hell of a fun ride for the entire 88 minutes of this film in all its visually stunning glory.

“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” was a pure delight to watch. The story was simple, the plot and characters were not very complex and no one on the production or acting sides wasted any time dragging out any aspects of this film, which worked out perfectly and in it’s favor.

Filmed in various places in Germany, the locations were gorgeous in every way, the forests were miraculous and the cottages and houses were detailed and sculpted in superior fashion. The effects, both computer generated and from the make up crew were excellent, while the different filters Wirkola used were top notch as well.