Guardians of the Galaxy is based on the comic series that is not your usual superhero. Sad to say I have not read these comics but the movie was just fantastic. The script was tight and the visual effects did not overwhelmed me. I really identified with each characters and the overall very enjoyable.
The Lower Depths is another Kurosawa film from the 50s adapted from Maxim Gorky's play about a tenement in Japan for a group of people who are at the bottom of what the life has to offer. This is typical Kurosawa, as often in his films, there is one "normal" and sane character surrounded by those emotionally or physically "off center" Kurosawa brings the most interesting characteristics of these people to tell a beautifully tragic and funny story. Wonderful.
Sanshiro Sugata is a debut film for one of my favorite dirctor, Akira Kurosawa. The film was released in 43 and the technology is no where near the modern films but you can start to see the story telling talents of Kurosawa. This film about Jujitsu during the feudal days is well told but still a bit raw. Amazing to see this diamond in the rough.
Lawless is a film based on true story of moonshiners from the 1940s in Virginia. From historical point of view, this really presents the Americana of the era. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the cast and the script. I was not really impressed with Shia LaBeouf in the past but he really delivers in this film. Well done.
Rio 2 is sequel to the animation that I loved originally. The story was fun and entertaining. The sequel lost much of the luster of the original. I found Jesse Eisenberg's voice to be annoying in this film as every time he spoke, I almost cringed. The storyline seems to be recycled from past films and nothing really stood out. Disappointed.
The Machine is not a high production value Sci Fi movie but I liked the script and the storyline. The first android with human emotions and possibly conscious, puts it in a direct conflict with the government who wants to use her as a weapon. I am surprised that I haven't heard of this film before. Well done, specially without a blockbuster budget.
Noah was a movie I waited with anticipation as one of the blockbuster of the year. With Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, how could it go wrong? The script of this the Bible adaptation was just boring. I didn't feel for the characters on screen and the surprisingly the acting was really not up to par. Epic it was not.
Infernal Affairs stars two of my favorite actors from China, Andy Lau and Tony Leung, and when those two are given a great script, it's magic time. The story of two young men going in a different direction, a criminal who applies to the police academy and becomes a informant for the criminals, and a police academy cadet who goes undercover as a mole inside the same organization. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat and the the acting just blew me away. An excellent film.
The Lost had intriguing storyline. It had standard plot of a serial murder films and the justice being served at the end. Despite the over the top acting by the killer, overall it was a dull film. The production was just OK and dialog and acting was a bit flat in general.
Apollo 18 is about a fictional 18th mission to the moon. Officially of course there were only 17 missions but the government covered up this "secret" mission because of what the astronauts would find, that USSR has gone to the moon and strange things happened to them. They used film technique to match the period footage but I didn't believe it for moment. I was hoping for something more but it didn't deliver.
The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold was in my Netflix queue only because the original was a pretty decent movie. I was disappointed with this sequel mostly because the originality of the first one was not present in this sequel. The acting was OK and it looks like the budget is much lower than the original and the production shows it.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on a teen novel that had high expectation. It was supposedly be the next big franchise. Well, I think they could have done a better cast and better script before they can claim that. Unlike the Hinger Games, it lacked the acting power to carry it. It was OK but I wouldn't call it a solid base for a successful franchise.
Transcendence is the type of the movie I love, a smart Sci Fi film with great cast. The storyline is intriguing as you have a scientist, Johnny Depp, near death from radiation poisoning, transfer himself in to the supercomputer with an access to the world via the Internet. Unfortunately, the film falls a bit flat. I think this could have been a true Sci Fi classic if it was done right. As it is, still entertaining.
The Hangover: Part III is a great example of a sequel that should not have been made. After great success of the original Hangover and decent part 2, this film was a great let down. The storyline did not really make sense and the actors look like they were there to collect the paycheck. There were a few funny moments but overall it wasn't that good.
Paths of Glory is a film about the French army during the WW1, who tries to take a hill held by Germans but fails. The consequence of the failure yields a court martial and execution of three random soldiers to set an example. The Colonel, played brilliantly by young Kirk Douglas, defends the soldiers. Great script and story. Highly recommended.
Dead in Tombstone is an action film starring Danny Trejo as the leader of an outlaw gang in the west. Anthony Michael Hall is the gang member who betrays Trejo and kills him. Mickey Rourke as the devil makes a deal with Trejo that he would return to life but he has to deliver the souls of the entire gang to him in one day. I loved the premise and the action of the film as well as the cinematography.
Mischief is a coming of age movie from the mid 80s, portraying teenagers from the 1950s. Young Kelly Preston is the desire of the main character, Jonathan. The main storyline is the friend ship between Jonathan and cool Gene, the new next door neighbor. The best part? Fully nude scene by Preston. Beside that, it's actually a decent film.
New Year's Eve is a all star ensemble cast of actors about a new years eve in NYC. Unfortunately, while the script was crisp, too many storyline ruined the continuity of the film. If they picked just two or three stories to focus on, it would have been a bit better. Although there are cross over stories in the movie, it got a bit muddled and confusing. Could have been a good one.
The Road Home is a Chinese film that features young Ziyi Zhang as the main role. The film is about a love story of a young woman and a teacher who arrives at the small village during the Cultural Revolution times. The innocence and the political themes are subtly featured but the focus is the human story between two people. I loved this movie.
The Raid 2 is the sequel to the original Indonesian film, the Raid and the formula works as well as the original. The storyline is different this time as the main character, a cop, goes underground and joins a criminal organization. The action is just as strong as the original and I really love these action filled but intelligent scripted films. Very good.
The Raid: Redemption is a action packed Indonesian movie about a SWAT team that gets trapped inside a building run by a crime lord. They have to fight their way out of this building full of bad guys. The movie never stops as it tells the story of corrupt cops and armed villains. One of better martial art based movie with tight storyline and great action.
The Purge is one movie that I missed I wanted to catch it before the sequel. The premise is original, where government sanctions one night where everyone's crime is forgiven, called the purge. This had the cult movie written all over it. Unfortunately, the execution was not there. Intriguing as the storyline was, it could have been much better.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is an absolutely delightful comedy that I enjoyed watching. I love this old school slapstickish comedy that takes place during the WW1 era. The script was wonderfully written and the acting is top notch. It even had a plot that was easy to follow and funny. Highly recommended.