13 Assassins (Jūsannin no Shikaku) (2010)
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer(s): Daisuke Tengan, Kaneo Ikegami (original film),
Yet another Japanese film that's based on both a true story and Kurosawa's great The Seven Samurai. This one also happens to be remake. The action's crazy, fun to watch, but a tad over the top. Run of the mill honor/action/intrigue samurai film from a country that's been responsible for far better honor/action/intrigue samurai films (including the original Thirteen Assassins). Production value is outstanding, however, which is to be expected from Takashi Miike (as is the gore). Not much to say about it beyond that.
Verdict: Unless you're a hard-core jidaigeki fan, SKIP it. Watch the original instead.
Director: Jamin Winans
Writer(s): Jamin Winans
Starring: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy
I've never heard of Ink, but its poster intrigued me and I wound up staring at it long enough that I decided to watch the movie. I am very glad I did. Part fantasy, part family drama, this film exhibits an imagination as good as anyone's in mainstream Hollywood. No, the acting isn't great (and hurts it in quite a few places), but the story, action, and imagery are phenomenal. Even more so considering the film's production budget was $250k.
Verdict: SEE it.
Night Watch (2004)
Director: Timur Bekmambitov
Writer(s): Timur Bekmambitov, Laeta Kalogridis, Sergey Lukyanenko (novel)
Starring: Konstantin Khabenskiy, Vladimir Menshov, Mariya Poroshina
I've been trying to see this film for years, ever since I read about how it set a new standard in the Russian film industry. And, boy, the wait was... sort of a disappointment. An interesting take on vampire lore with several unique/uncommon details concerning our favorite bloodsuckers, the movie starts off interesting enough, but quickly devolves into an action spectacle that makes little sense. Yes, the portions of the story that dealt strictly with the vampires are generally to the point, but a strange subplot (ultimately revealed to be the plot, and then not...) involving the apocalypse throws everything for a loop. The movie looks great, but I have no real interest in watching its sequel any time soon.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Director: Mike Newell
Writer(s): Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, Jordan Mechner (screen story and video game)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
I can honestly claim that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the best movie based on a video game ever. Of course, with a list of films such as Super Mario Bros., Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat, Wing Commander, and Resident Evil, that's not exactly a revealing accomplishment. That stated, it's a fun movie and a potential franchise-launcher. Jake Gyllenhaal wasn't as bad in the role as most feared he would be and, in fact, he pulled it off quite nicely.
Verdict: It's fun. SEE it.
Director: Michael J. Bassett.
Writer(s): Dario Poloni
Starring: Sean Pertwee, Alex Reid, Toby Kebbell
A low-budget teen thriller set on a small island off the coast of England. This had all the markings of yet another "kids run around getting killed off by maniacal killer one at a time" movie, and that's exactly what it is. Except it knows that's what it is and plays it more intelligently than Hollywood's thrill-mill genre. A good cast with good characters and a (mostly) believable premise make this a good one for fans of the genre. I'll be honest... I only watched it because Alex Reid is in it.
Verdict: I liked it, but I'll refrain from recommending it. SKIP it.
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