Archive for the Uncategorized Category

THE WOLVERINE (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: THE WOLVERINE (2013)
By L.L. Soares & Michael Arruda

wolverine-2-the-wolverine-new-poster (2)

(THE SCENE: A Japanese restaurant. MICHAEL ARRUDA and L.L. SOARES are seated at a table. A CHEF enters and prepares food in front of them. When it comes time to cut something, metal claws pop out of his hands and he slices some meat to slivers)

MA: Wow. Those are some handy knives!

CHEF: Thank you.

LS: Ginzu?

CHEF: Ginzu? I don’t even know you (laughs)

MA: Corny chef humor, I guess. (to audience) Hello, folks, and welcome to another installment of CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT. This time around, we are celebrating our brand new site! And the first movie we’ll review in our new home is THE WOLVERINE (2013). (to LS) Would you like to start this one?

LS: Sure.

FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, PLEASE GO TO OUR BRAND NEW WEBSITE, HERE.

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Michael Arruda Reviews THE PURGE (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2013 by knifefighter

(Note: LL Soares reviewed THE PURGE when it opened. You can read that review here. This is Michael Arruda’s follow-up review)

 The-Purge-2013-Movie-Poster

Movie Review:  THE PURGE (2013)
by Michael Arruda

THE PURGE (2013) is an ugly movie about an uglier subject.

The year is 2022, and in an attempt to reduce crime and poverty, the government of the United States sanctions a yearly holiday known as “the Purge,” in which crime is legal for twelve hours.  During this twelve hour period, people can commit any crime they want, including murder, without fear of punishment.  The philosophy is that this brief free-for-all purges people of their aggressive feelings, while controlling the homeless population, who are vulnerable and make easy targets.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) makes home security systems for a living, and as you might expect in the age of the Purge, the home security business is booming.  Sandin is doing quite well, and he and his family, which includes his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and two kids—teen daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and son Charlie (Max Burkholder) —hole themselves inside their posh home on Purge Night, protected by dad’s state-of-the-art security system.

But when young Charlie sees a man (Edwin Hodge) on the street pleading for help, the boy panics and lets him inside their home.  A group of nasty youths wearing masks led by a preppy lunatic (Rhys Wakefield) is hunting this stranger.  They surround the house and tell the Sandins to release the man to them, or they will kill everyone inside.

Things are further complicated because Zoey’s boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller) is also in the house under the pretense of earning the approval of her father, but his true motives involve a gun.  And when the electricity is cut and the masked lunatics invade their home, the Sandins realize they have no choice but to fight for their survival.

The biggest problem I had with THE PURGE is its ridiculous premise.  What a dumb idea! 

I didn’t believe that a one night free-for-all of unprosecuted crime was a good idea before I saw the movie, and I certainly didn’t think so after seeing it.

Unlike the convincing THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), another movie with an outlandish premise—a culture that accepts as entertainment a sporting event in which children fight to the death—THE PURGE never made me believe that these events were actually happening. 

The only characters we get to know are the members of the Sandin family, and they’re a rather strange lot.  Everyone else in the movie either acts like robots or in the case of the wild gang outside the Sandin’s home, like they’re on drugs.

I never had a feel for how real people felt about the Purge, nor did I get a sense as to what kind of government was in charge.  A Nazi-like regime?  The Religious-Right gone mad?  Extreme Obamacare?  Tea Partiers on steroids? No idea.

The story takes place in 2022, which is not even ten years from now.  It seems unlikely that an extreme event like the Purge would take root in so brief a time.

Ethan Hawke, so intense in last year’s SINISTER (2012), is cold, clueless, and annoying here as James Sandin.  As the head of the household, he does a terrible job of protecting his family.  Nearly every decision he makes is the wrong one.

His wife, Mary, played by Lena Headey, has a better head on her shoulders, but she’s constantly reacting to her husband’s mistakes rather than taking the lead in the situation.  Headey’s not bad here, but she was much more memorable and more enjoyable as the villain Ma-Ma in last year’s DREDD (2012).

I enjoyed Adelaide Kane as teen daughter Zoey, as she seemed like a real person, but she spends most of the movie being a victim.  Max Burkholder’s Charlie is an odd sort, and I have to admit I found him incredibly annoying.  Plus, he lets the stranger inside their house, which seems like a huge no-no, and it’s difficult to believe his parents didn’t beat him over the head with the directions “never let anyone inside the house on Purge Night!” They don’t even tell him as much after the fact.  I didn’t buy this plot point, which is the trouble I had with most of the movie.  I didn’t buy it.  It didn’t convince me.

The stranger (Edwin Hodge) spends most of the movie bound and gagged, so what little sympathy he evokes is minimized.  Rhys Wakefield makes a decent psycho, but we ultimately learn so little about him, he’s hardly a factor.

The premise of THE PURGE, as unpleasant as it is, is full of promise.  It’s simply not executed to its full potential by writer/director James DeMonaco.  We’re supposed to witness a conflict of conscience, between husband and wife, over what they should do about the man inside their home.  Should they become like the freaks outside and participate in the Purge or should they hold onto their ideals and remain above the fray?  But this debate never takes place to any degree of satisfaction.

Early on, there’s a brief discussion between young Charlie and his parents, as he asks them why they don’t participate in the Purge.  His dad tells him it’s because they don’t have any problems with other people, and then Charlie presses the point and asks if his father did have a problem with someone else, would he then participate in the Purge and kill someone?  His dad admits that yes, he would.  I guess the more civil method of settling differences through conversation and legal channels is passé. 

When James wrestles with the stranger to subdue him, he insists that his wife Mary stab the man.  In the film’s ugliest moment, she gives in and jams a letter opener into the man’s wound.  What are these people thinking?  They’re not thinking, and that’s clearly the problem.

THE PURGE would have benefitted from some stylish direction—some unusual camera angles, strange dissolves, or intense choreographed action—in order to give it a futuristic feel or at least something to indicate that we’re dealing with another world here, the world of the Purge.  Heck, even the inside of the house isn’t clearly defined, as the bulk of the action takes place in the dark.

There’s also something a bit “off” about this movie.  Parts of it seem disjointed.  When Charlie first lets the man inside the house, it occurs at the same time that Zoey’s boyfriend confronts James, yet the expected chaos following these simultaneous events ends abruptly.  Later, a key moment when the stranger captures Zoey occurs off-camera.  The intensity is also lacking.  When the masked mob finally breaks into the house, the scenes that follow are nowhere near as extreme as they need to be.

The main villain in the movie, Mr. Preppy Psycho (he doesn’t have a name in the movie) is a complete lunatic, but he never becomes someone truly frightening, which raises another problem.  THE PURGE may be dark and disturbing, but it’s not scary.

It also doesn’t help that very few of the characters in the movie act like real people.

THE PURGE could have been a hard hitting thriller had it not purged itself of its humanity.

I give it two knives.

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives THE PURGE ~ two knives!

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  MAN OF STEEL (2013)By Michael Arruda

Posted in 2013, 3-D, Action Movies, Alien Worlds, Aliens, Cinema Knife Fights, DC Comics, Michael Arruda Reviews, Reboots, Superheroes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2013 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  MAN OF STEEL (2013)|
By Michael Arruda

Man-of-Steel-poster2-610x904(THE SCENE: A diner.  MICHAEL ARRUDA sits at the counter sipping coffee talking to a group of patrons about MAN OF STEEL.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Well, at least Russell Crowe doesn’t sing!

Normally I’d be meeting my Cinema Knife Fight partner L.L. Soares to co-review today’s movie with him, but he’s off winning himself a Stoker Award, so it looks like I’m doing this one solo.

If you folks would like to listen, I’ll review today’s movie, MAN OF STEEL (2013) right now.

(To WAITRESS)  Everyone’s breakfast is on me.  (The group utters a collective “thank you.”)  Don’t mention it.  I’ll put it on L.L.’s tab.  (laughs.)

Anyway, MAN OF STEEL is the new reimagining of the Superman story by director Zach Snyder, screenwriter David S. Goyer, and producer Christopher Nolan, who also received story credit.

It begins where all Superman origin stories begin, on the planet Krypton.  It’s a familiar story by now.  Krypton is dying, and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is trying to convince his elders that they need to save the planet.  It’s a much more action-oriented opening than past Superman origin tales, as General Zod (Michael Shannon) leads a coup to take over the land, and Jor-El, while a scientist, seems to have gone to the “kick-ass” school of science, as he’s quite adept at kicking butt when he needs to.

You already know what happens, as Jor-El and his wife send their infant son Kal-El to Earth before Krypton is destroyed, while Zod and his followers are arrested and sentenced to prison in deep space, thus sparing them from Krypton’s destruction.

The next time we see Kal-El, he’s already an adult, going by his Earth name Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) having been found and adopted as an infant by Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane).  Fortunately, the story jumps around and we learn about Clark’s childhood via flashback, and so we’re spared the time it would normally take to explain the traditional back story, which again, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know.

But even with the creative spin put on the story this time around, there’s still no getting past the fact  that the Superman tale has been told many many times, in the comics, in the movies, on TV, and even in cartoons.  Can’t we just throw Superman into a new adventure and skip the back story?

I recognize that in this case, the whole idea was to reimagine the story, to reboot the whole thing, and screenwriter David S. Goyer does deserve credit for telling this tale from a totally new perspective, but the bottom line is it’s not enough to overcome the fact that MAN OF STEEL has little or no depth when it comes to its characters and its plot.

There were parts of the screenplay that I really enjoyed.  Lois Lane (Amy Adams), for example, meets Clark before he even thinks about joining the Daily Planet.  She also learns right away that he possesses superhuman powers.  I also liked how the story utilized flashback. But one drawback to this style is the film never really establishes a sense of place.  We never get a feel for life on the Kent farm, which is fine by me, but we also never get a feel for life in Metropolis, which is less fine by me.  The story hops around all over the place, and it plays like a video game landscape.

Moving on to the characters, I enjoyed the General Zod character up to a point.  The story makes it clear what his mission is.  Right or wrong, he’s all about saving Krypton, and if it means destroying the human population of earth in the process, then so be it.  I also really enjoyed Michael Shannon in the role.  He makes a very cold General Zod.

(GENERAL ZOD approaches the counter)

ZOD:  Glad to hear I was so enjoyable.

MA: But on the flip side, Shannon’s Zod is no fun.  Compared to Terence Stamp’s portrayal of Zod in SUPERMAN II (1980), Shannon’s Zod is a bore with no personality.  This is a problem the film has as well.  It’s got no personality.  There’s no joy to it. It’s soulless.

Russell Crowe as Jor-El.

Russell Crowe as Jor-El.

ZOD:  That I’m not glad to hear.  I shall have to destroy you now.

MA:  Can you at least wait until after the review? I really would like to finish this.  If you stay and listen, you might hear some more good things said about you.

ZOD:  Really?  Okay.

MA:  Where was I?  Oh, yes.  MAN OF STEEL has no camp, little humor, and ultimately it’s no fun.

ZOD:  I don’t know how to take that. Is that good or bad?

MA: Well, if you’re evil, that’s probably good.

ZOD:  Okay.

MA:  I know they were going for a darker film, but this style worked better in THE DARK KNIGHT movies because Batman tends to be a darker character than Superman.

Russell Crowe fares very well as Jor-El. In fact, in his brief screen time, he was one of my favorite characters in the movie.  He’s a much more active Jor-El than Marlon Brando was in the first Christopher Reeve SUPERMAN film (1978).  It’s actually a superb performance by Crowe, who in a role like this, could have easily mailed it in, but he didn’t.

Superman meets Lois Lane....again!

Superman meets Lois Lane….again!

I’ve become a huge Amy Adams fan of late, and I really enjoyed her here as Lois Lane.    She’s strong, smart, and feisty, not to mention sexy, but one drawback is I didn’t think she and Henry Cavill shared much chemistry as Lois and Clark.

And that’s because Henry Cavill doesn’t generate much chemistry at all in this one.

ZOD:  He’s a wuss.

MA:  Quiet.  I’m reviewing the movie, not you.

ZOD: How dare you hush Zod!

MA: He’s not the most engaging Superman ever to grace the screen. Yet, I have to believe, judging by the way this movie plays out, that he portrays Superman here exactly the way he was supposed to.  But there’s something lacking.  He doesn’t have much of a personality.  He’s not the goodie-goodie Christopher Reeve Superman, but don’t expect a dark brooding superhero either.  He’s not Christian Bale in a red cape.  And that certainly is a problem.  One of the strengths, for example, of the recent Marvel superhero movies is their superheroes are so full of personality.  Cavill’s Superman is kinda boring.

ZOD:  Zod is much more interesting.

MA:  Kevin Costner enjoys some fine moments in his brief stint as Jonathan Kent, and Diane Lane is also memorable as Martha Kent.  Laurence Fishburne makes for a less cranky Perry White, but the rest of the new characters, military types and scientists, are all largely forgettable.

The biggest problem I had with MAN OF STEEL is it suffers from the video game syndromeit has that look of a video-game turned into a movie, and it contains long drawn out battle scenes that bored me to tears.  For all its creativity with its story, MAN OF STEEL lacks grandness and cinematic vision.  There’s no sweeping cinema here.  It’s just CGI effects, and none of them stand out.

ZOD:  I like long drawn out battle scenes!  I could watch them all day!

MA:  Well, I can’t.

The reaction I had to MAN OF STEEL was similar to the reaction I had with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013).  I liked it, but I didn’t love it. There’s just so much going on in both films, you just want things to slow down a bit so you can get to know the characters more. Once the audience gets to know the characters in a movie, and if they like these characters, then they’ll follow them anywhere.  But we have to get to know them first.

Give the characters some depth, and then we will enjoy the action.

Director Zach Snyder inundates us with special effects, none of which really wowed me.  I wish he had spent more time on characterizations and plot.

I don’t really feel as if I knew Superman in this movie.  He’s upset at a young age that he’s different, and later as an adult he goes off in search of his heritage.  Once he learns the truth about his past, he goes off to fulfill his destiny.  Along the way, does he like Lois Lane?  Obviously, the answer is yes, but you wouldn’t know it from this movie.  More effort should have been made to define this new Superman, because right now, he’s not all that exciting.

WOMAN: But he’s so hot!

MA:  Okay, I’ll give you that.  But I think Amy Adams is hot, too, but sex appeal isn’t enough to make a successful movie.

WOMAN:  I think it is!

MA:  Well, I’m sure you’re not alone in that opinion.  But I need more.

One thing I don’t need, however, is more 3D.  I didn’t see MAN OF STEEL in 3D, as I’m sick and tired of shelling out the extra money.

MAN OF STEEL is not as good as THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), THE AVENGERS (2012), or IRON MAN (2008), nor is it up to par with SUPERMAN (1978) with Christopher Reeve.

I wasn’t a big fan of the previous Superman movie, SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006), and I’m not a big fan of this new one.

MAN OF STEEL is ultimately about trust.  Can Superman earn the trust of the world, or specifically in this movie, of the American government?  It’s also about General Zod attacking Earth so he can conquer the planet and reestablish the Kryptonian race.  Neither one of these two plot points did much for me.

Michael Shannon as General Zod!

Michael Shannon as General Zod!

I think Superman is a hard sell nowadays anyway because, one, his story is so familiar, and two, he’s so powerful it’s difficult to write interesting stories about him.  If you really wanted to make Superman darker, he should have gotten involved in some predicament that troubled his conscience or something.  About the only thing troubling Superman in MAN OF STEEL is whether or not the U.S. military thinks he’s good guy or not.

I wasn’t impressed.

I give it two and a half knives.

ZOD:  Are you done?

MA:  Yes.

ZOD:  Then it’s time for me to destroy you.

MA:  Wouldn’t you rather ask one of these fine young ladies out on a date?

ZOD:  Huh?  Do you really think they’d go out with me?

MA:  You’re Zod!  A great general!  Of course they’d go out with you!

ZOD (blushing):  Well, in that case—. (Turns to women next to him)

MA:  Okay, while Zod is busy with his new dating reality show, I’ll slip out the back door so I can be around to review next week’s movie.

Thanks for joining me, everybody!

ZOD (to WOMAN):  Did anyone ever tell you you’re the most beautiful woman to ever belong to an inferior race?  (She rolls her eyes and turns away)  What?  Was it something I said?

—END—-

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives MAN OF STEEL ~ two and a half knives!

man-of-steel-poster

QUICK CUTS: FAIRY TALE MOVIES WE WANT TO SEE

Posted in 2013, Adult Fairy Tales, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Jenny Orosel Columns, LL Soares Reviews, Michael Arruda Reviews, Quick Cuts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTSFairy Tale Movies We Want to See
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Daniel Keohane, and Jenny Orosel

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  With the recent the release of HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (2103) and the upcoming JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, a re-working of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, due out on March 1, the “fairy tale re-imaginings” are out in full force.

Let’s see, we’ve already had RED RIDING HOOD (2011) and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012).  I don’t know about you, but enough is enough!

But since this new take on the fairy tale genre doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, it’s time for the Cinema Knife Fighters to get in on the action.

Today’s QUICK CUTS question: Which fairy tale would you like to see turned into a movie!

 ******

DANIEL KEOHANE:  I’d go with THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL.

 LittleMatchGirl

Sent away from her home and left to die but saved from death by a long retired CIA operative Max Samaritan, Lillie devotes herself to stopping evil whenever – and wherever – it appears. She leaves the arcane world of wooden matches behind in favor of a stylish Zippo, which proves invaluable when all seems lost and she finds herself near a constant supply of combustible materials.

 *****

JENNY OROSEL:  I would like to see BLUEBEARD done, this time starring either Larry King or Rush Limbaugh.

A new version of Bluebeard?

A new version of Bluebeard?

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  I’ve always liked RUMPELSTILTSKIN.  In my movie version, entitled KNOW MY NAME OR PAY UP YOU LOSER!  Jim Carrey in full make-up with CGI effects added plays Rumpelstiltskin, and Chloe Grace Moretz plays the poor miller’s daughter.  In this movie version, rather than just guess his name, Moretz  kicks the crap out of Carrey’s Rumpelstiltskin to the point where he’s a mass of pulpy flesh.

rumpelstiltskin_by_wildweasel339-d4ennd5

She then travels the countryside in search of demonic dwarves who terrorize young women.

Also starring Robert Downey Jr. as the King.

I’d also like to see WEE WILLIE WINKIE made into a horror movie where Mr. Winkie is a sinister gent who goes around terrorizing young children, whisking them away from their beds at night, taking them to some uncertain dark future, perhaps to a castle where a cannibalistic witch lives who loves children in her stews.  Rated R, with Sacha Baron Cohen as Wee Willie Winkie, Sigourney Weaver as the Witch, and Mark Wahlberg as the parent of a missing child who’s had enough and decides to step up and take justice into his own hands.

weewillie2

*****

L.L. SOARES: That’s easy. I’d like to see a movie version of THE WORLD OF MOTHER GOOSE starring Andrew Dice Clay.

"Hickory Dickory Dock..."

“Hickory Dickory Dock…”

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  And there you have it, fairy tale movies we’d like to see.

Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next time on QUICK CUTS!

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Daniel G. Keohane and Jenny Orosel, as applicable.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Posted in HOLIDAY CHEER, Uncategorized on October 31, 2012 by knifefighter

Happy Halloween from all your friends at CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT!

Scroll down and read the three brand-new articles we posted just for Halloween!

New CKF Staff Member: Sheri White

Posted in Staff Writers, Uncategorized on October 2, 2012 by knifefighter

Please welcome our newest staff member, Sheri White. She’ll be writing the column “Horror-Mom’s Guide to Scary Movies” and reviewing new horror movies aimed at kids for this site. Here’s more about her:

Sheri White has loved horror since she was two and watched THE WIZARD OF OZ. Instead of being afflicted with a fear of witches, she is scared of high winds instead. After watching commercials for scary movies from behind the couch (“Mommy, my bed is shaking…”), and then watching entire scary movies on the couch, she became addicted. Now she has addicted children herself (three girls, ages 23, 17, and 14), and is hoping to lure other parents into introducing their own kids to this wonderful genre.

In addition to watching horror movies, she reads, writes and reviews horror stories for several small presses. Her other addiction is Facebook, and you can find her there almost anytime. She is not sure whether or not to be embarrassed by that.  https://www.facebook.com/sheriw1965

WELCOME ABOARD, SHERI!

DON’T WORRY – THERE’S MORE FUN TO COME!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2012 by knifefighter

We are sorry about this interruption in service, but most of the staff of CinemaKnifeFight.com was at a writers’ convention this weekend, and some of us are just getting back home. Regular service will resume soon, including the much-anticipated review of the new Batman movie, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. So check back here again tomorrow, same BAT time, same BAT channel, as we get back on track!

Thank you for understanding.

Duuuude! What a bummer!