BARE BONES: CONDEMNED and THE INTERN

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CONDEMNED (2015)

Awful movie has spoiled brat Maya (Dylan Penn) leaving her posh digs and arguing parents to live with her musician boyfriend (Ronen Rubinstein) and some fellow squatters in an abandoned NYC tenement building…that somehow still has electricity and running water. They live amongst an assortment of unsavory characters including meth-heads, drug addicts, drug dealers and sadomasochists. Soon a virus caused by all the filth and meth maker Cookie’s (Perry Yung) toxic refuse, creates a rabies-like infection that starts to turn the squatters into vicious killers.

Watching this 28 Days Later meets Rent…without the musical numbers…is like staring into a toilet for 80+ minutes. Writer/director Eli Morgan Gesner just keeps a steady flow of filthy imagery, deviant behavior and then over-the-top gory violence for pretty much the entire film and that might have been fine if there was any wit or cleverness to it. There isn’t and it’s just a parade of how gross can we be for 83 minutes without any suspense, tension or even fun…and if you’re looking for a point or message, you’re wasting your time. The acting and dialog is equally terrible though the make-up FX aren’t bad. You’ll want to take a shower after watching this, if you can get through it, and not in a good way. Only if you must.

-MonsterZero NJ

one star rating

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THE INTERN (2015)

Sappy and overly sentimental flick has retired widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) wanting to get back out in the world and applying for a senior citizen internship at a fast growing e-commerce fashion company. The company is run by multi-tasking entrepreneur Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) who reluctantly takes on Ben as her personal intern. Soon not only does Ben start to brighten things up around the office, but his bonding with Jules helps her get her personal life into perspective, too. 

On the positive side, this flick is completely harmless and is actually well acted by it’s leads. Otherwise, it’s also over two hours of complete schmaltz, that is so contrived by writer/director Nancy Meyers, that it seems almost as much a fantasy as say, The Lord Of The Rings. Not that a senior citizen couldn’t excel in an internship at such a company surrounded by hipsters without a clue, but the whole solving all of Jules’ problems both business and personal…including somehow saving her failing marriage…is just a bit much. All De Niro’s Ben needed was a magic wand and some fairy dust. The film never even tries to exist in the real world, especially when it comes to Jules all too accepting attitude toward her husband’s (Anders Holm) unfaithfulness. It’s like she blames herself for being a busy businesswoman and chasing him away. Really? What is the message THERE? Add to that, some of Hathaway and De Niro’s scenes together came off as very uncomfortable. Was there supposed to be a hint of something more between the 70-ish Ben and the thirty-something Jules? Nothing happens, but at times it seemed like it was on the verge, as they just seemed a bit too chummy despite Ben’s interest in company masseuse Fiona, played by the more age appropriate Rene Russo. Regardless, after the over two hour running time you basically sit there asking yourself…what was that supposed to really be about?…and what was the point?

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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BARE BONES: SKIN TRADE, BIG GAME and GRUDGE MATCH

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SKIN TRADE (2014)

Routine action adventure pairs action icon Dolph Lundgren (who also produced and co-wrote) with Thailand action sensation Tony Jaa. Lundgren is Newark, N.J. cop Nick Cassidy who teams with Thailand cop Tony Vitayaku (Jaa) to take down crime lord and human trafficker Viktor Dragovic (Ron Perlman). There is nothing we haven’t seen before in this fast paced and sometimes ludicrous action flick, directed by Thailand director Ekachai Uekrongtham, but, there is a B-Movie entertainment to be had and it’s fun to see Lundgren pair with someone who speaks English far worse than he does. There is also fun in seeing Lundgren and Jaa together and against Ron Perlman, no less. The action itself is routine for the most part, as is the plot, but go in expecting that and it can provide some fun and unintentional chuckles. Also stars Michael Jai White and Peter Weller.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BIG GAME (2014)

Offbeat Finnish action adventure is based on a comic book and tells of young teen Oskari (Onni Tommila) who is sent into the woods, with bow and arrow, as part of a coming of age hunting trip to prove himself a man. At the same time a terrorist (Mehmet Kurtuluş) and a traitorous Secret Service agent (Ray Stevenson) take down Air Force One over those same woods and are on the hunt for the escaped President Of The U.S. (Samuel L. Jackson). Obviosuly, he is found by Oskari first, who vows to prove his manhood by delivering the President to safety, despite being outnumbered and outgunned by his pursuers. Directed by Jalmari Helander and co-written by he and Petri Jokiranta, this is actually a fun little movie despite being preposterous and silly. Jackson and young Onni Tommila get along well and are a fun team. It’s not to be taken too seriously and doesn’t holdup to today’s Hollywood blockbusters, but it has it’s heart in the right place and can be lighthearted, if not forgettable, fun.

3 star rating

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GRUDGE MATCH (2014)

On paper, making a movie about Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone playing two over-the-hill boxing rivals who get together for one more tie-breaking fight, must have sounded like a great idea…and it could have been. But the film takes itself far too seriously, instead of just having a good time with the silly premise and just going with it. Director Peter Segal (who’s made a career out of mediocre and mundane comedies) directs with a leaden hand from the script by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman, a script which makes the mistake of downplaying the humor and tries to make a fairly serious flick out of this nonsense. De Niro and Stallone do the best they can with the weak soap opera-level material, but neither really acts like they are completely onboard with this. It’s a shame, the premise could have been a lot of fun with writers and a director who recognized it’s real potential. Also stars Kevin Hart as the son of a Don King-like fight promoter and Kim Basinger as the girl who got between the two boxers back in the day. Snooze Match is more like it.

2 star rating

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-MonsterZero NJ
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