Franchise Weekend – Anaconda: The Offspring (2008)

Director: Don E FauntLeRoy

Writer: Nicholas Davidoff, David C Olson (Screenplay)

Starring: David Hasselhoff, Crystal Allen, Ryan McCluskey, Patrick Regis, Anthony Green, John Rhys-Davies, Alan O’Silva

 

Plot: A mercenary-for-hire accepts a mission from a billionaire to capture a dangerous snake that could possibly help cure a terminal illness.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: No Amount of Alcohol Can Make This Good

 

Story: Anaconda: The Offspring starts with Hammett (Hasselhoff) with his group of mercenaries telling everyone to sit back and enjoy the ride as his men kill a giant anaconda with very annoying cutting between gun, blood, snake, screaming on a rinse repeat idea.

Now back in America Mr Murdoch (Rhys-Davies) the CEO for Wexel Hall has continued the blood orchid experiments to help cure Murdoch’s cancer, but when questions on the methods of the experiment are getting questioned leading to Murdoch looking into the methods. Amanda Hayes (Allen) is the handler of the snake and security is concerned with the safety in the research lab and she is correct when the anaconda escapes.

To contain this situation an elite group of mercenaries are called in to hunt down the anaconda with Hammett needing to return from his own travels to help with the clean-up operation.

 

Thoughts on Anaconda: The Offspring

 

Characters/PerformanceHammett is the master hunter, he will do anything for money and enjoys hunting down the any animal he faces. Amanda has worked with the snakes for the whole research mission and now she is the only one that knows the true danger the snakes possess, she wants to end the project before it gets out of hand. The rest of the characters are generic soldiers, a millionaire and an officer lackey that don’t do much to the film.

Performance wise, well when you cast the Hoff in the leading role you know you won’t get acting gold, the acting isn’t good from anyone in the film.

StoryGenetical enhanced snakes have escaped and need hunting down to save a millionaire’s life, this seems like an easy formula, well it works on the basic level but ends up just being lost of running around shooting trees, I mean snakes. This does try to build on what the last one created though.

Action/Horror The action is mostly guys running around shooting, while the horror is a giant snake trying to kill people, there isn’t anything scary going on here.

SettingsThe setting is back in America but for budget reason it looks like anyone went down to some local woods and ran around with toy guns.

Special EffectsNope.

Final ThoughtsThis feels like an idea to just use the name Anaconda and go full blown we just don’t care anymore.

 

Overall: Just terrible now.

Rating

 

 

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The Warriors’ Gate (2017)

Director: Matthias Hoene

Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Chao, Ni Ni, Dave Bautista, Sienna Guillory, Uriah Shelton, Francis Ng

 

Plot: A teenager is magically transported to China and learns to convert his video game skills into those of a Kung Fu warrior

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Blast

 

Story: The Warriors’ Gate starts as we follow gamer teenager Jack (Shelton) whose single mother Annie (Guillory) is struggling to make ends meet, he is bullied at school but has a Chinese antique shop owner friend that gives him a gift which has passed down through generations of his family.

That gift is a pot which brings out an ancient princess Su Lin (Ni) and Zhoo (Chao), when Su Lin is captured by ancient warriors, Jack is transported to ancient China in search for Su Lin in an adventure with Zhoo to save the princess from Arun (Bautista) and his massive army.

 

Thoughts on The Warriors’ Gate

 

Characters – Jack is the gamer kid, bullied and struggling home life, he is taken to Ancient China where he must learn to fight for himself, stand up for what is right, all to save the princess, while this isn’t the most original character design, it is all that is needed for the leading role. Zhoo is the great warrior that must guide Jack through Ancient China to save Su Lin, his life has been training to be the warrior and this will be his greatest moment. Su Lin in the princess who will become the Empress of China, she loves the new world she enters in America but once captured and returned to Ancient China she is able to be forced to marrying Arun. Arun is the evil ruler that wants to marry Su Lin so he can become Emperor of China. He doesn’t bluff but can be misunderstood by his soldiers. Annie the mother of Jack just trying to give him the best chances in life.

PerformancesUriah Shelton taking the leading role does a good job throughout the film working very well with both Mark Chao and Ni Ni. Mark Chao fills the mentor warrior role to be entertaining and watching the two together is enjoyable. Ni Ni is the entertaining in her role. The big name draw for this film is Dave Bautista who strangely becomes similar to the Chris Pratt role form Guardians of the Galaxy to him needing to explain codes, but does get to enjoy the villainous role.

StoryThe story takes our unsung wimpy teenager that needs to grow up and stand up for himself, to do this he ends up in ancient China where he must learn a new culture to save a princess from evil ruler. While this isn’t the most original concept it does check all the entertainment check points, but the one aspect that is original is having our main character learning moments needed from video games which is why the confusion starts in the first place. If you want an easy to follow story, that is light hearted with plenty of action this is great fun.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action through the film is all purely entertaining with the opening bike chase through the town being a big highlight. The adventure side of the film takes Jack in the new world for an adventure of a lifetime. The fantasy world created explains how the different worlds can meet.

SettingsThe two main worlds show the modern world that Jack lives in works well without being new, the ancient China setting follows the generic ideas of what we expect to see.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well through the film, there is one easy to see blue screen moment but otherwise things all click when needed.


Scene of the Movie –
Bike Chase, even though it is early in the film, it shows the level of entertainment we are going to get.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not everything is original.

Chances of Sequel: We could have one.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining film that does check the all the marks needed for a generic action film which entertains from start to finish.

 

Overall: Entertaining action movie.

Rating

 

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn (Screenplay) Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons (Comic Book)

Starring: Taron Egerton, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Cookson, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges

 

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Blast of Fun

 

Story: Kingsman: The Golden Circle starts when the Kingsman are left for ruin with only Eggsy (Egerton) and Merlin (Strong) making it out of a calculated attack by drug lord Poppy (Moore) who is using former failed applicant Charlie (Holcroft) to do her work.

Searching for the Doomsday play, Eggsy and Merlin head to Kentucky and for Stateman to work with their agents Tequila (Tatum) Ginger Ale (Berry), Champagne (Bridges) and Whiskey (Pascal) to learn more about the Golden Circle which is the only other clue they have, it isn’t long before Poppy reveals her plan to the world and now the two Kingman and Stateman must work together to stop her with the help of an old friend.

 

Thoughts on Kingsman: The Golden Circle

 

Characters – First the Kingsman Eggys is now a proven Kingsman, a year has passed and his working relationship with Merlin and Roxy are the highest they have ever been. When he losses most of his team, he is reunited with Harry and must use his skills to return Harry to his former glory and save the world. Merlin continues his gadget man role but gets to learn with Ginger Ale about newer technology, where the two work to help the field team. Harry survived, well we get a loose story that works as to why but he is damaged spending the year not remembering who he is, when his memory does return to him, he isn’t the same man but does still have the edge.

The Statesman, Tequila is the agent that first discovers the Kingsman in their base, he asks the questions and feels almost like an American Eggys. Champagne is the leader of the Statesman who sets out the missions. Ginger Ale is the gadget woman that dreams of being able to go into the field but for now she works with Merlin. Whiskey is the agent that goes out into the field with Eggys and is easily the best character from the Statesman side of things with his lasso in hand, he gets all the best fight scenes.

Poppy is our main villain, she is a drug lord living off the grid, she has everyone in the palm of her hands but now she wants to be remembered as the successful businesswoman that she believes she is, by making her drugs legal, which looking at the reasoning seems like a good idea for her motives. She does have an evil side which comes out with how she is demanding people to accept what she is doing or they will die and forcing Elton John to sing for her.

We do have a large cast but with the length of the movie the most important characters do all get the required screen time.

PerformancesTaron Egerton once again does a great job in the leading role showing the street smarts one minute and the upper class the next, Mark Strong and Colin Firth both enjoy their roles never putting a foot wrong. Julianne Moore relishes playing the villain and makes the most of it. The weakest performances come from Bridges and Tatum but that is mostly because they have very few scenes and are both here to drag in a certain audience. Halley Berry does a good job in her role not demanding the attention which other gadget figures have in the past, but to me Pedro Pascal is the scene stealer here, he loves the action sequences, understands how his character is meant to be over the top too.

StoryThe story here does increase the scale of everything, it brings the Kingsman into an international ring of secret agent which opens many more doors in the future, but it does bottle down to needing to face one crazy genius who has an enhanced goon as their main protection. The villain does have good motives for their plan, which is different for most villains who just what the money or revenge, the idea of bringing Harry back while farfetched does play into the bigger story too. If you wanted bigger, you get it here and even though the film is longer than you would like it to be it just doesn’t get slow.

Action/AdventureThe action is large scale with the usual well-placed action sequences with the ski lift being the most impressive of the lot. The adventure side of the film does take the agents all over the world to face different environments for battle.

SettingsAs we said we jump around the world, we start in London, head to Sweden, Kentucky, Italy and Cambodia for our main settings which gives us different environments to fight in.

Special EffectsThis is one of the weakest elements of the film, it does make things bigger which does force the use of CGI and the large-scale scenes do at times take you out of the moment.


Scene of the Movie –
Ski lift.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Travelling around the world never happened so quickly.

Chances of Sequel: I am sure we will get one.

Final ThoughtsIf you wanted a sequel that is just as fun as the original, then you will find it here, it builds a larger universe which we know is something we don’t always need, we have a great villain with a smart plan, we also have enjoyable action throughout.

 

Overall: One of the most fun action films of the year.

Rating

 

 

American Assassin (2017)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshal Herskovitz (Screenplay) Vince Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Scott Adkins, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch

 

Plot: A story centered on counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp.


Tagline – Assassins aren’t born. They’re made.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Action Blast

 

Story: American Assassin starts as normal American Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) sees his fiancée gunned down by terrorists and himself left for dead, 18 months later he has trained himself to eliminate the men responsible but little does he know that CIA agent Irene Kennedy (Lathan) has been watching his action.

When Kennedy arranges to save Mitch from a certain death, she recruits him for a special section of the CIA working under Stan Hurley (Keaton) who trains agents to go undercover but if caught or killed no one will come for them.

The first mission is to locate nuclear weapon components before former agent Ghost (Kitsch) can use or sell them giving somebody in the world a nuclear bomb that can wipe out millions.

 

Thoughts on American Assassin

 

Characters – Mitch Rapp is an American that loses everything at the hands of terrorists, he learns combat and language skills to go undercover in the terrorist cell for revenge, he gets recruited by the CIA where he must learn discipline but this is where he struggles because he always wants to go after the criminal. This character does feel like a young Jack Bauer because of his rule breaking attitude for the right reasons. Stan Hurley is the off the grid trainer who takes Mitch as part of his unit, he gets tired of the Mitch’s lack of discipline but knows he needs him to capture his former student. Irene Kennedy is the deputy director of the CIA, she sees the potential in Mitch forcing Hurley to take him on, but also falls into the standard CIA director figure that will risk their reputation to prove others wrong. Ghost is the former trainee of Hurley that is using all the skills gained to stay one step ahead of him while collecting the nuclear components.

PerformancesDylan O’Brien is an actor that got into the young adult films but this role showed an adult character, showing he could go onto action films without looking like the complete actions star. Michael Keaton looks like he did enjoy the mentoring role while also getting the action role he isn’t known for. Sanaa Lathan is good in her role even if the character is very generic. Taylor Kitsch does seem to be on the recovering his career tour showing everyone just how talented he is in the villainous role.

StoryThe story does play out like an origin story for Mitch Rapp in the CIA, we see what motivated him to accept the offer, we see what makes him different from other potential agents. We have the standard level of threat, potential nuclear weapon and a story of needing to learn discipline to become a top agent while keeping his unique traits. This is an easy to watch but could easily be an over the top pilot for a television show.

Action/ThrillerThe action starts out brutal with the terrorist attack, we also fall into the car chases, fights and shoot outs which are fun to watch, the final action sequences is just popcorn wow.

SettingsThe settings take us on a tour of Europe which is fine and is giving us an iconic location moment, which is easy to locate for us.

Special EffectsThe effects in the opening sequence are brutal but then it just becomes by the book stuff.


Scene of the Movie –
Speed Boat fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it started with violent level, it did turn into Jack Bauer origin feeling.

Chances of Sequel: Easily could have one.

Post Credits Scene: No

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that is fun but not one of the greatest of the year.

 

Overall: Fun action packed blast.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Anaconda (1997)

Director: Luis Llosa

Writer: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, Kari Wuhrer

 

Plot: A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who takes them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Creature Feature

 

Story: Anaconda starts as the National Geography team set off down the Amazon River deeper than anyone has filmed before, we have director Terri (Lopez), cameraman Danny (Cube), Host Warren (Hyde), production manager Denise (Wuhrer), Dr Cale (Stoltz) and Gary (Wilson). Travelling down the river the crew find a standard hunter Paul Serone (Voight) offering him a ride to the next village.

This is where they first clash, Dr Cale believes he knows how to find what they are looking for while Paul believes he knows best when searching for the tribe they are looking to film. when Serone’s motives become clear, he is hunting down the world’s largest Anaconda he makes the team help him which leaves them in a battle to survive against the deadly predator.

 

Thoughts on Anaconda

 

Characters/PerformanceTerri is the ambitious director about to get her big break, she is loyal to her cameraman and crew, she will never give up on her team even against Serone. Serone is a hunter who has spent his life hunting this anaconda, he doesn’t care how many people for him to get his prize. The rest of the characters a generic 101, the street smart black guy in Danny, the stuck up English presenter in Warren and the American know it all in Dr Cale.

Performance wise, Lopez is good enough in the leading role as we know most horror need a good strong leading lady. Jon Voight isn’t the best as we know this is an Oscar winning actor who is filled with funny looks throughout the film. The rest of the cast all do a solid job without being the scene stealers they could be.

StoryStories in this genre are always easy to put together, put a group of people in an unusual location and find an oversized creature to kill them one by one. This is easy to follow and never leaves much to the imagination and can be enjoyed by all the creature feature fans out there.

Action/Adventure/HorrorThe action is mostly down to them trying to escape or kill the anaconda nothing too fancy, the adventure does come going into the unknown down the Amazon river with the horror in the creature feature side of the film watching how the giant snake is trying to kill them.

SettingsI like the setting because it shows how dangerous the Amazon river and rain forest can be for anyone who dares goes deep enough into it.

Special EffectsSadly here is another one of the weak points, the CGI looks bad, I do know this film is 20 years old now but it just doesn’t ever look like it could be that good even back then.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a fun barmy creature feature, then look no further you have something big, bad and fun here.

 

Overall: Enjoyable but bad creature feature fun.

Rating