MONSTER HUNTER (2020)
Video game based flick tells of parallel worlds, our own and one ruled by monsters. U.S. Army Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her squad of soldiers are on maneuvers in the desert, when a mysterious storm throws them into that other world. There, her team is quickly decimated by the monstrous inhabitants and she is left wounded and alone. To survive, Natalie must form a reluctant partnership with a local warrior (Tony Jaa) while trying to find out how to get home alive.
Adaptation is written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson in his usual competent but by-the-numbers style. There really isn’t much of a story here, but when you go to see a movie called Monster Hunter, you don’t go looking for Shakespeare. There are plenty of interestingly designed monsters, their havoc and carnage is abundant and there are enough battles to keep one entertained during the 103 minute run time. The SPFX are well done, especially the CGI critters and Jovovich makes for a satisfactory heroine, as she learns to fight the local wild life. When all is said and done, not much is accomplished and the film has an annoyingly open ending, but there are enough fun monster skirmishes to pass the time and a nice variety of beasties to gawk at. The film is also visually engaging, with an effective production design and there is a cool score by Paul Haslinger. Fun, but forgettable. Also stars Ron Perlman in a small role as a warrior chieftain of this lost world.
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.
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.
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.