TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY (1995)

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UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY (1995)

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Sequel finds a retired Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal) now owning a restaurant and taking a train to Los Angeles for his brother’s funeral, along with his rebellious niece Sarah (Katherine Heigl). As Ryback has the same luck as John McClane, terrorist and computer hacker Travis Dane (Eric Bogosian) hijacks the train to take over the ATAC’s Grazer One weapons satellite. Using information from CIA agent Tom Breaker (Nick Mancuso) and ATAC Captain Linda Gilder (Brenda Bakke) who are romancing onboard, the train becomes Dane’s mobile base and the passengers his hostages…all save one…Ryback. Now Ryback must defeat the terrorists’ plan, rescue his hostage niece and save the day with only a young porter (Morris Chestnut) to help him.

With On Deadly Ground being a box office disappointment, Steven Seagal wisely returned to his Casey Ryback character from one of his most successful films. This time he is directed by Geoff Murphy from a script by Richard Hatem and Matt Reeves. It’s not quite up to the first flick’s standards, but is still a fun action movie with a lot of the bone crunching martial arts we expect from Seagal. Dane is more of a cyber villain and Everett McGill’s mercenary Marcus Penn becomes the physical threat Ryback must eventually overcome. The relationship between Ryback and niece Sarah works well, as it gives us a chance to see Casey a bit befuddled dealing with a teenager. Once she becomes a hostage, his camaraderie with Chestnut’s porter Bobby, works well, too. There is a lot of action and suspense as Dane uses the Grazer One for hire and for revenge and Ryback must somehow stop him before the military takes out the train and it’s passengers to eliminate Dane. The cat and mouse game between terrorist and exNavy SEAL works well, as it did before. The script writers even work out a way to get action on and off the train, here and there, and it’s only a couple of really badly executed SPFX during the overblown conclusion that bring the flick down a few notches. Otherwise, it’s not quite Under Siege, but entertaining enough in it’s own right and a welcome return to one of Seagal’s best characters.

Sequel has a good cast. Seagal’s is very likable as Ryback. He’s a noble character, but a little bit less intense than some of the other stone-faced tough guys he’s portrayed. He has some fun scenes with Katherine Heigl as his niece, as even Ryback admits he’s not trained for dealing with a rebellious teenager. Heigl is good as the feisty Sarah, though is more of a damsel in distress in the second half. Morris Chestnut is fun as the reluctant hero Bobby, whose porter is dragged into being Ryback’s sidekick. Eric Bogosian is a solid enough villain as cyber terrorist Dane. He doesn’t quite have the personality of Tommy Lee Jones’ Stranix from part one, but he works well enough, as does Everett McGill as his muscle. There are some returning supporting characters from the first installment, such as the before mentioned Nick Mancuso as Agent Tom Breaker, Dale Dye as Captain Garza and Andy Romano as Admiral Bates. Another good cast to support the action star.

A solid action flick that may not be quite as good as the first Under Siege, but is still action packed and fun. One of Seagal’s last big hits and one of his last major theatrical releases before his flicks started hitting direct to video status. He had a brief theatrical comeback with the flick Exit Wounds in 2001, but that fizzled out quickly. Too bad the often rumored Under Siege 3 never got made, Ryback is by far his most likable and memorable character.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) cooks who moonlight as SEALs.

 

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017)

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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017)

Third installment of this series, that acts as both prequel and reboot, joins the war between humans and apes two years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that started it. The war is starting to turn against Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the apes due to the aggressive methods of a psychotic colonel (Woody Harrelson). Caesar suffers personal loss and while on a mission of revenge, the apes are captured and enslaved by the colonel and his troops. Can Caesar free the apes and get them to a safe haven across the dessert before the colonel sees them all dead?

Second sequel is again directed by Matt Reeves, who co-wrote the script with Mark Bomback. As with Dawn this is an intense film both in terms of action and emotional depth and it’s all expertly directed by Reeves. Like his last go around, Reeves really gives his characters a three dimensional-ity and that certainly includes his motion capture CGI simians. This might be the most dramatically intense of the three films and when the action does come it’s a fast and furious spectacle that evokes some of the best war films. There are also some very subtle but clever nods to the original series, such as a mute little girl with a very familiar name.  The score is again by a returning Michael Giacchino and it adds atmosphere to a very solid entry in this clever re-imagining.

The cast are all strong, even though most of the principles are motion capture. Andy Serkis is once again very good as the ape leader Ceasar. He gives the character a lot of emotional depth through his body language and dialogue and it might be his best performance as the simian hero. Harrelson delivers another solid performance as the cruel, ape hating colonel. While he is most certainly the villain here, the script allows Harrelson to give him a human side, one built on fear and loss, so that he is not a two dimensional monster, but a human driven to hatred and cruelty due to his own inner pain and fear. Despite his heinous actions and cruel behavior, there is a person under the layers of anger and brutality. The supporting characters all do good work, too, from Karin Konoval as ape Maurice. Steve Zahn as the eccentric “Bad Ape” and little Amiah Miller as the mute Nova.

So, another top notch entry in this reboot series from Matt Reeves. It was as emotionally strong as it was filled with intense action. There was a good script and solid direction to go along with some very strong acting both from those playing humans to the motion capture performers behind our simian characters. A really good movie in a very solid series. If it is the last one, it is a fitting climax.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Caesars.

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REVIEW: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

I really enjoyed Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, it was an inventive way to reboot the series by going back to the very beginning and re-inventing it from there. It was well acted, solidly directed and gave the series a good start with plenty of material to be covered before the films even progressed to what we saw in the original classics. The movie was a critical and box-office success and thus the series is being continued.

The sequel picks up 10 years after the virus, that began in Rise, has decimated a massive amount of the human population. The apes, led by Caesar, (Andy Serkis) have started a community deep in the California wilderness where they are living a relatively peaceful existence and have seen no humans for years… until now. A small band of humans led by a man named Malcolm (Jason Clarke) happens upon the apes territory and after an accidental wounding of one of the apes, are sent fleeing. The apes follow them back to San Francisco where they find a human colony still exists and one that is well armed. Caesar goes there with an army as a warning to the humans to stay away from the apes’ home. But, Malcolm begs Caesar to allow the humans to work at dam nearby their village, to restore electricity to the human colony which is running out of fuel. Caesar agrees in an effort to promote peace but, as Malcolm and the ape leader form a fragile alliance, fear on the human side and hatred on the other side in the form of an ape named Koba (Toby Kebbell), threaten to not only end that peace but, elicit all out war.

Sequel is this time directed by Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves who does a great job of creating a film that is it’s own movie yet, still fits in with the previous chapter. Reeves gives the film some very strong dramatic weight while not skimping on the action or suspense and it has a really effective look of a world where nature has grown over cities formally populated by people. The script by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver takes it’s time to establish the characters, especially all the new human ones, and where the world stands at this time. It also achieves this as the story moves forward and thus we get the information we need as part of that story and the film never needs to stop for exposition. A lot is achieved in it’s 130 minute running time and the film has a brisk pace and yet, covers all the ground it needs to. The action, when it comes, is exciting and very well staged and carries a lot of impact’ as well as, an epic scale. The gunfire, chases and explosions also serve the story and is never overindulgent for the sake of satisfying the Summer movie crowd. This is an intelligently written movie that also vastly entertains and should satisfy both the popcorn movie audience and those looking for a little more substance in their movie. The SPFX are flawless, for the most part and the film is wrapped in a very effective score by Michael Giacchino that evoked some of the music from the classic Apes series of the 70s. In fact the film’s story has some nice echoes of those classic 70s flicks too that will be obvious, but not obtrusive, to fans of the original series.

Also serving the story and supporting Reeves excellent direction is a great cast. Serkis’ motion capture acting for Caesar is fantastic and he gives the simian star a very emotionally expressive face and body language that really creates a three dimensional character from the CGI. The same goes for most of the ape performance actors with Kebbell’s Koba  also being strongly portrayed. Clarke makes a noble character in his Malcolm. He really wants what’s best for everyone and his pain when conflict arises seems genuine and it is understandable that he and Caesar would bond. Gary Oldman is strong as the head of the human colony, a man named Dreyfus. His leader wants what’s best for his people even if it brings war but, he is never portrayed as a villain. It’s about the survival of the human race and Oldman conveys that the man’s harsh decisions are not from hate as much as simply willing to take what his people need to live. Keri Russell plays a former CDC nurse and part of Malcolm’s team who  is a sympathetic and strong woman and one who has her inner pain too. She gives the character a nice dimensionality despite not really being all that major a part when all is said and done. The rest of the supporting cast are equally good and really add the final piece to making this a smart and highly enjoyable film.

So, a first rate sequel to a first rate reboot and a really enjoyable and entertaining movie. The script is intelligent yet, still weaves in plenty of action and it’s all brought together by a really well done directing job from Matt Reeves. When all is said and done, probably the best movie I have seen so far this summer.

3 and 1/2 Caesars.

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FULL TRAILER FOR ‘DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’ ARRIVES!

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Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes turned out to be a pleasant surprise and was a really good flick so, I am looking forward to it’s Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) directed and Gary Oldman starring sequel. The new full trailer arrives and it looks really good!. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is set to open 7/11/2014!

Source: CBM/Youtube

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TEASER TRAILER FOR DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES ARRIVES!

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dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes_poster_a_p

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes turned out to be a really good flick and a pleasant surprise so, I am looking forward to it’s Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) helmed and Gary Oldman starring sequel. The new teaser only heightens that anticipation. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is set to open 5/23/2014!

Source: Youtube

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