Monday, May 26, 2014


Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Ann Moss, & Michael Sheen
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Unless like me, you are a die hard Samuel L. Jackson fan, this is a film that probably fell way under your radar. Unthinkable begs the question of just how far The United States government is willing to go when the tables are reversed. A former military intelligence officer has planted three nuclear devices in three U.S. cities. He sends a tape to the FBI, proving his claim, and is then quickly captured by the military. The FBI and military question the man, but as time starts winding down, the military calls in a man simply known has H (Jackson), to extract the information any way he can. While this direct-to-video released received almost no attention, Samuel L. Jackson is really amazing as this hardened man, torn between what he must do and what is right. Jackson is paired with Carrie-Ann Moss, who has the exact dilemma as H, but decides to take the opposing position. While she wasn't bad, it's very hard to picture Moss as an FBI agent, even as you're watching this film. Unthinkable is one of these films that presents itself as a question to the audience. When it comes right down to it, how different are we from our enemies? It also asked the question of whether or not torture works. Human rights organizations say no, Dick Cheney says yes, my advice, watch this film and decide for yourself. Samuel L. Jackson is terrific and there is a big twist in the end. It's not a unique or unpredictable film, but it does pose some important questions, that you may answer differently after seeing the film.


Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, & Maria Bello
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Prisoners is a prime example of why I will never understand Hollywood. You've got a truly great story, an all-star cast, and a world renowned Director, making his American debut. Prisoners was considered to be an Oscar caliber film before it was even released, yet for some reason they had to make it nearly three hours long. If there was enough story for a three hour film, then I'd be all for it, but Prisoners has a good 45 minutes worth of repetitiveness, that does nothing to help the movie, in fact, it takes something away from the film. The story begins on Thanksgiving, when two little girls go outside to play and disappear. Feeling that the police aren't doing enough to find the kids, one father (Hugh Jackman) decides to take matters into his own hands. Hugh Jackman stars in a role I wouldn't have imagined him playing in a million years. Based on his other roles and what I know about the man, this doesn't even seem like the kind of role he'd be interested in, but he gives one of the strongest performances I've seen all year, I really didn't know he had that in him. Jackman is paired by Jake Gyllenhaal, another guy who I couldn't see playing a tough as nails police detective, but he too surprised, giving a very strong performance. The cast isn't the problem and the story isn't the problem, what bothered me about this film was how much of it was unnecessary. Did we really need dozens of scenes with Jackman and Dano or all the talk and sadness amongst the families? This was a great all-around movie, but it was so long, that by the end, I'd stopped caring about what was happening and just wanted it to be over. Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend this film for a unique twist on classic story, great performances from an unlikely cast, and the work of a Director who his known around the world for his signature style, but just a word of caution. Prisoners is a very long film, that at many points seems to go around in circles. When they eventually do get to the point, it's outstanding, but it takes a while to get there.


Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, & Jose Cantillo
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Chev Chelios is arguably Jason Statham's best known character and Crank is arguably his best known film, but it is far from his best film. Chev Chelios (Statham) is a gun for hire, who will work for anyone who can pay him. One day he wakes up in a daze and finds a video in which a former employer tells him, that he poisoned him with a rare adrenaline inhibitor, which will kill him in a few hours. Chelios goes out seeking revenge, but must keep his adrenaline pumping, in order to slow the poison down. It's a strange story, but as usual, Statham is terrific, playing his most extreme character. Chelios is a crazy man who goes to extremes, however that's all this film has to offer. Non-stop action can sometimes be fun, but when it's the same thing repeating over and over again for 90 minutes, even the biggest action fan gets tired of it. Statham is paired with Amy Smart who starred in my favorite movie of all-time, The Butterfly Effect, and surprisingly she was terrible! She plays Chelios's girlfriend, a girl who is as dumb as dirt and who follows this crazy man blindly through the city on his hunt for revenge. Crank has some humor and a terrific leading man, but unfortunately, there isn't much of story. Besides Statham's well known one-liners and his ridiculous moves, there is really nothing to see here. Crank is one of those films that starts out strong and then just never goes anywhere. Having seen a lot of Statham's movies lately, I was hoping his best known film would be his most exciting, but it wasn't. It's the same scene repeated many times over, and I was tired of it after a half hour.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Perfect Game

Starring: Clifton Collins, Jake T. Austin, & Cheech Marin
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Based on a true story and set in the small of town of Monterrey, Mexico, during the 1950, a group of kids obsessed with baseball, dream to form a team and play in the Little League World Series. The problem is, that not only don't the kids know how to play, but they don't have a coach or even a field. Until one day, the kids encounter a former St. Louis Cardinals prospect, Carlos Faz (Clifton Collins), who takes on the  nearly impossible task of preparing the kids to play in the tournament. The Perfect Game is very inspirational and the kids are adorable, but the film is severely lacking the usual characteristics of a sports film. It's the kids that make the movie, earning your admiration, while making you laugh and cry at the same time, but as a baseball fan, I expect some kind of sports action to be associated with a film like this. All the on field scenes are turned into montages of kids hitting, catching, and throwing, but there are no specifics or real-time game intensity. It's this seemingly small element, that prevents a good film from becoming a great one. Clifton Collins stars as coach Faz and gives a great performance. Collins is an actor I generally don't like, I find that he doesn't fit into many of his roles, but he really surprises me by being everything these kids needed and more. The lead child star is Jake T. Austin, who is now a nineteen year old heart-throb on the ABC family show, The Fosters. I've never seen him in anything before, but it was amazing to think he was only twelve years old when this film was made, because he was the strongest member of the cast. Austin was emotionally charged and was the kid that I wanted to see succeed the most. The film is presented as a sports movie, about the first international team to play in the Little League World Series Tournament. However, it is less of a sports movie and more of a drama about what the kids had to do just to get there and the hardships they faced once they were there. I was disappointed by the lack of real-time sports action, but impressed by the performance of the young cast and what they had to face during such a racial charged time in American history.

Safe (2012)

Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, & Robert Burke
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I've been on a bit of a Jason Statham kick lately and by now you all know how fond I am of his films. The man really has the action junkies raving and each film is better than the last, but even he has a hard time making Safe worth watching. Former New York City Police Detective, Luke Wright (Statham), has lost his job, his family, and his respect. He's down on his luck and on his way out, when he finds a lost Asian girl in the subway. That girl is Mei, a numbers servant from China, who has been kidnapped and forced to work for an organized crime syndicate. As it turns out, Mei is holding a secret in her head that the Chinese, Russians, and even the New York City Police are willing to kill for, so when she runs away all hell breaks loose. The story here is actually pretty solid and Jason Statham is once again terrific, playing a deep character with a great back story. Had this film expanded on the story and flashed back to the past, it may have been a lot better, but as it was, Safe quickly turns into to one big chase, with lots of bullets and bodies. Newcomer Catherine Chan plays Mei and she was horrible. This girl has been kidnapped and seen horrors that most of us couldn't even imagine, yet she's always stone faced. She is emotionless and clearly using a fake accent, making her performance dry and full of mumbled lines that do nothing but confuse the audience. Jason Statham gives his usual high energy performance, with amazing moves, and terrific one-liners, but without any support, in a film that goes from one chase to another, it really is just a wasted effort.

Backwoods (2008)

Starring: Ryan Merriman, Haylie Duff, & Mark Rolston
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

I suspect that many people didn't even make it past the first half hour of Backwoods, but thankfully the film does get somewhat better after that. The story begins very simply, with a group of computer geeks going on a corporate retreat in the woods. In typical horror movie fashion, they get lost on the way and ask for directions at a gas station. The man behind the counter, directs them to a closer and even better spot in the middle of nowhere and the games begin. Ultimately, the group stumbles on a fanatical religious cult, who mistake the group for FBI agents, because of course all FBI agents are out of shape, twenty-something, computer geeks, carrying paintball guns. From there it's a fight for survival and a race to escape the backwoods of Northern California. While the film does get better after the first half hour, it still has its problems. For starters, the story is far too unbelievable, no one would take advice from someone at the gas station who looked like that and even rednecks in the middle of nowhere aren't going to mistake a bunch of geeks playing paintball for FBI agents. As with most horror films, the cast is lead by two extremely good looking people, Ryan Merriman and Haylie Duff, who both give unexpected performances. Merriman is know for his fiery and inspirational roles in sports films and he should most definitely stick to those. He was way out of his league here, giving a really ridiculous and unbelievable portrayal. Merriman's done horror before, and even starred in one of the Final Destination movies, but he's clearly not right for this type of film. Haylie Duff on the other hand was terrific! She has really turned into a pretty good actress and is absolutely beautiful. Backwoods would not be my first choice for a horror film festival, even for it's genre it is unbelievable and assumes it's audience will be too dumb to pick up on it. The performances vary and the sequence is somewhat expected, although I did enjoy the ending. The verdict, Backwoods isn't terrible, but it's far from special, I'd only rent it if I liked one of the cast members or was a big fan of the genre.

40,000 Hits!

That's right, The Ultimate Movie Review has hit 40,000 visitors! I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. When I started this blog, it was based on a suggestions from friends on Flixster, who said my reviews were always entertaining and helpful. I took their advice and started this blog, but I was skeptical that I'd find as much support for it here as I did there. Thankfully I was wrong as The Ultimate Movie Review is now 3 1/2 years old, has 600 reviews, which are shared on over two dozen movie sites, we are sponsored by adsense, and average 975 visitors a month.

Some of you guys have told me that your Netflix queue looks like my blog archive and that's amazing! I've always like talking to people about movies and TV shows, but actually having people rent movies, just because I thought they were good is a tremendous boost for me.

While my schedule is always somewhat of a nightmare, I have always made the time to sit back, relax, and watch something that looks interesting to me, and I will continue to do so. Once again I thank you for your support and please feel free to link to and comment on any of the reviews, while it's not always flattering, your feedback really does help me improve the look of the site and the words that I use in reviewing films. If you don't believe me, look at the latest review, and compare it to one written 3 years ago! 

I promise to keep reviewing everything I watch, on as close to a weekly basis as my schedule allows, and I always look forward to hearing what you have to say. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, & Blogger, just by clicking the links on your right.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In 2010, DC Comics introduced the world to one of it's lesser known series, R.E.D. (Retired Extremely Dangerous). What I loved about that film was that it took old school action stars and put them into a modern action movie. The expectations for action movies are much higher today, no longer are they just chases, explosions, and gun fights. Today, people expect action films to have some kind of story, characters with personality, and even some humor. RED delivered all that and more and so does it sequel. Even though there are some bigger names in RED's second installment, the humor didn't play as big a role as it did previously and the story moved a lot faster. To some, this may have been a good thing, but for me, too much happened too quickly. I liked it better when we didn't know the characters or what to expect from them, when things were explained, and not just delved into. The first film made RED seem very original, but it's sequel really does play like a story that was adapted from a comic. Don't get me wrong though, while the second film doesn't compare to the first, it is still far better than some of the other action films released lately. You really can't go wrong in having an action film that stars Bruce Willis and John Malkovich, they seem to just be oblivious to the signs of aging and are as believable today as they were in their prime. Alone, this pair would have been terrific, but you add true legends of the screen like Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirran to the cast, and honestly, I don't see how any movie fan would want to miss that! The acting is terrific and the story, while proceeding much too quickly, was still a pretty interesting one. I did really enjoy RED 2, my only wish is that they had slowed things down a little and let us catch our breathe. 

This is our 600th review!!!


Starring: Logan Huffman, D.B. Sweeney, & Maddie Hasson
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sports films are a dime a dozen. While the names, locations, and even the sport changes, the story rarely does, so what makes one film better than the rest? An eager young cast, a compelling back story, and a setting rarely seen before, all help Underdogs become that rare sports film that does more than just pump you up, it sticks with you and really makes you appreciate things that most people overlook. In Ohio, football is life, from the pros right down to the High School level and in the suburbs of Canton, Hoover is the name on everyone's bumper sticker, but they're not the only team in town. Across town is a division four team, the St. Thomas Aquinas Knights, a catholic school team that has never received any attention of any kind. Being a D4 team, even if they won all their games, they won't be going anywhere. The players, while talented are uninspired, until a new coach comes to town and makes them believe in themselves. The film is based on a true story and stars V's Logan Huffman as Quarterback, Bill Burkett. Huffman is always one of these guys you see in the background of a film and never really take notice of. In Underdogs, much like his character, Huffman steps up and really puts on a performance that I never would have expected. On and off the field the character being portrayed is so profound, that anyone would have a hard time making him believable. Not only does Logan Huffman do the impossible, but he does so in such a compelling way, that I added everything he's ever been in to my queue, once the film was over. Even though there is a lot more here than in your typical sports film, Huffman ties all the elements together, in a very special way, you seldom see anymore. To say his performance was legendary, truly does it a disservice. Even if you hate football, as a fan of movies, you should see this film just to witness the unbelievable performance of Logan Huffman, because he really was that good. As for the rest of the film, Underdogs was centered on football, but wasn't entirely about the team, it was also about the town, and how different one side can be from the other. The story of this town is almost as interesting as what's happening on the gridiron. Underdogs is a small budget, direct-to-video film, but much like the Knights, it packs a punch and really gives the big boys a run for their money.

The Family

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pheiffer, & Tommy Lee Jones
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Getting into the Witness Protection Program was the easy part, staying there is what's hard, in the latest Luc Besson comedy, The Family. With huge star power and a well known Director, this film had all the makings of a classic, unfortunately it has some major plot holes and lacks direction. One moment it seems like you're watching a comedy, that is about to break out, but then in the blink of an eye it's a drama, addressing difficult issues. The big tagline is that the Manzoni family is in hiding, and can't seem to behave themselves, but it's a lot more than that. The FBI has decided to place this Italian, Brooklyn mob family in the south of France. Even if their behavior wasn't outlandish, how is a Brooklyn family supposed to fit into a small village in France? They would naturally stand out like a sore thumb. Besides the obvious plot holes, other things are left out of the equation, the most glaring being the back story behind the families joining the program. While the story is all over the place, the film does feature a truly all-star cast and trust me, they help. If this wasn't De Niro, Jones, and Pheiffer, the film would have completely fallen apart and failed to hold my interest. The fact is that these are some the best actors in the world and they all do a tremendous job of keeping the audiences attention. There isn't much of a story here and it's nowhere near as funny as it was advertised to be, but big names and great performances fill seats in the theaters and that should have been this films hook. I'm not sure if the Family was a drama or some kind of dark comedy that I just didn't get, but aside from the terrific performances from an all-star cast, I was highly disappointed by this film.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lost City Raiders

Starring: James Brolin, Ian Somerhalder, & Bettina Zimmerman
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This film is your typical, low budget, Syfy Channel movie. It had an interesting concept and a whole lot of eye candy, but due to it's budget, the effects and cast needed to make it work are seriously lacking. The year is 2048 and thanks to global warming, 90% of the world is underwater. Most people make a living by either exploiting the troubled people or by raiding the lost cities for valuables. The Kubiak family run one of these salvage operations and are asked by the Vatican to try and locate a scepter, one that legend says can reduce the water levels. The skeptical family agrees to the mission, only to find that they have competition from a familiar source. As I said, the story is a little out there, but it was fairly interesting. If this film had any kind of budget what-so-ever it may have worked, but it didn't. James Brolin stars in a role that he was too old for twenty-five years ago. The leader of the Kubiak family, a master salvager and adventurer is played by James Brolin?! That alone should have turned me off to this film. The other star is his troubled son, played by Ian Somerhalder of the Vampire Diaries, and while he was a little more charismatic than the rest of the cast, he can't do much to save this film. A strange thinly veiled story needs to have something besides beautiful people to back it up. If there had been some cool special effects or a more established supporting cast, this film could have been interesting. Instead it ends up being cheesy, and not the good kind of cheesy. At least films like Sharknado are good for a laugh, this is basically just another Waterworld, with less talent and an even lamer story. Unless you're a die hard fan of these Syfy channel movies, I'd say you could defiantly skip this one.

12 Rounds 2: Reloaded

Starring: Randy Orton, Tom Stevens, & Brian Markinson
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

WWE Films continue to surprise, giving us a string of terrific action thrillers from an unlikely source. Their latest straight to video release is a sequel to 2009s, 12 Rounds. While Randy Orton wasn't nearly as good as John Cena was in the first film, he gives a more than adequate performance as Nick Molloy, a paramedic who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After failing to save a rich mans wife at the scene of a drunk driving accident, the man decides to punish all those involved, including the paramedic who failed to save her. The story here is pretty solid, especially for an action film, but what bothers me is that this sequel was in no way connected to the first film. Reloaded is a different story in a different city, with an entirely different cast, so how did the bad guy manage to come up with the same game, from four years earlier? As for that game, the rounds weren't as long or as complicated, but what really makes this better than your average action movie is the compelling back story and the depth of the characters involved. Randy Orton, while having very limited film experience was pretty good and that will come as a surprise to many. It's hard to think of WWE Superstars as actors, but that is exactly what they are. Aside from wrestling in their underwear every week, they have to play a charterer and follow a script 52 weeks a year, so is this really such a stretch? For the most part the WWE Superstars have made for some pretty exciting action stars. The supporting cast of this film was also very good, in particular Tom Stevens, formerly of the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. Stevens plays Tommy, another person caught up in this madman's game, and he is not only thrilling and charismatic, but he's pretty funny too. 12 Rounds 2 won't win any awards, but it is 90 minutes of non-stop action, packaged in a compelling story, which I found to be extremely entertaining.

Road To Perdition

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, & Paul Newman
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

When Road To Perdition hit theaters, it was critically acclaimed and was eventually nominated for six Academy Awards. While it was a great film, it was very dark and fails to deliver the emotional impact that it intended to have on it's audience. In the 1930s, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a family man living in the suburban mid-west. By all accounts, he is a normal man, who is hiding one very dark secret, he is a hit-man for an organized crime syndicate. His secret is safe and life continues on as usual until one day, his son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), witnesses his father execute someone. Sullivan assures his bosses that everything is fine and his son won't say anything, but when has the mob ever taken that chance? Sullivan and his family are targeted for elimination and only he and his son manage to escape to Chicago, where he plans his revenge. As with most films based on a novel, the story here is top notch and very well written. Tom Hanks is the premier actor of our time, a man who will be remembered for centuries, but was he really the right choice to play Michael Sullivan? Hanks has many amazing skills as an actor, but playing such a cold, sedentary character, Hanks is unable to use his many tools and gives a performance that is very dry. The audience simply doesn't relate to Sullivan the way they relate to his son, and that brings the emotional impact of the film way below what it was intended to be. Tyler Hoechlin is fairly well known now, but when he got this role, it was his first, and he beat out over 10,000 other kids to get it. I don't know who any of those other kids were, but Hoechlin couldn't have had much competition, because he was out of this world good. It's a shame that the Academy rarely recognizes kids and that Paul Newman got the Best Supporting Actor nod over Hoechlin, because this kid is really the only one who comes off in a way that the writers originally intended. Road To Perdition was a tremendous story and was full of award winning actors, but the star power was more important to the producers, then finding actors who fit the characters as they were written. Aside from that and a painfully predictable ending, that you have to see coming, this was a pretty good film. I loved the setting and how dark it was, as well as the originality of a film that takes places nearly 60 years ago. I just find it ironic that in a cast full of Academy Award winning actors, it's a kid who steals the show.