action, adventure, horror, movie, movie review

June 4th, 2018 Movie – World War Z

world war z

If there is one thing that the turn of the century can be noted for, it is the resurgence of the zombies (Hah, didn’t even think of the pun there). Zombie movies were making a rather large come back, but so were zombies in books and comic books. One of the biggest books to come out around the mid-2000’s was Max Brooks’ “World War Z”. I remember seeing hundreds of people reading or talking about this book when it was out. Several years later, news came out that they were going to make a movie based on the book. Now, that sounded interesting to me but there was one thing I found a little odd, the movie was going to be PG-13. Now that was going to be interesting as a PG-13 zombie movie was something that is pretty rare, if not entirely unheard of. Well, let’s see how it turned out with today’s movie, World War Z.

The plot: In Philadelphia, former UN worker Gerry Lane, his wife Karin, and two daughters Rachel and Constance (Conny), are stuck in traffic when a speeding motorcycle cop smashes the driver side window of their car. As Gerry gets out to try and see what is going on, an explosion occurs in the distance. Gerry gets back in his car just as another cop tells him to stay inside his car, right before he gets run over by an out of control garbage truck. Seeing a path out of there, Gerry follows behind the truck and tries to get out of the city but ends up being struck by an ambulance. Gerry and his family get out of the car, as they see more people running, and they head for an abandoned RV, as Gerry witnesses people, seemingly mad, begin attacking other people. As he looks back, he sees on person get bit and 12 seconds later, become one of the infected and start attacking other people. They get in the RV and drive out of the city and after a while, stop to tend to Rachel, who is suffering from an asthma attack. Realizing that they don’t have her inhaler with them, Gerry tries to get her to breathing calmed down when he receives a call from his former boss, UN Deputy Secretary General Thierry Umutoni. Theirry says he needs Gerry on this and makes plans to pick them up and will call back in an hour. Continuing on the road, Gerry and his family stop at a supermarket to get some supplies and medicine for Rachel. Gerry manages to get the medicine when he hears Conny screaming and when he checks on her, discovers two men attempting to rape Karin. Gerry yells out at them and one of the men tries to shoot him, forcing Gerry to use the rifle they found in the RV to kill him. After making sure Karin is all right, they head outside to find the RV is gone so they head to some nearby apartments, letting Thierry know where they will be, who says he will have a helicopter pick them up at day rise. As they get close to the apartments, more infected people begin chasing them and they quickly try to barricade the door and make their way towards the roof but are forced to take shelter with a couple and their son Tommy for the night. The next day, Gerry tries to convince the family to leave with them but they refuse so Gerry, making a makeshift gauntlet and taping a knife to the end of the rifle, leads his family towards the roof. When they come under attack by infected people, Gerry fends them off while Karin takes the girls to the roof and lights some flares to signal the helicopter. Gerry kills several people but as he spears the last one, it falls on top of him and tries to bite him but he is saved by Tommy, whose parents were attacked but he managed to escape. Gerry grabs Tommy and leads him to the roof but when he gets there, he avoids his family at first and heads to the edge of the roof, counting to 12 to make sure he wasn’t infected. The helicopter arrives and takes the Lanes and Tommy to an aircraft carrier that is serving as a makeshift base of operations, where Thierry is waiting for them. After getting his family and Tommy settled, Gerry speaks with Thierry, who tells him that the President is dead and several members of the Joint Chiefs. Major cities were struck the hardest by the virus, as airports proved to be the perfect way for the virus to travel. Reaching the control room, he points out Dr. Fassbach, who is telling a group of scientists and doctors that they need to find a point of origin for the zombie virus if they hope to find a cure. The UN military commander wants Gerry to go with Fassbach to help him with his investigation and keep him safe and Gerry refuses at first but the commander tells him that he has no room for non essential personnel and will have him and his family taken off the ship if he doesn’t help them. Gerry breaks the news to Karin and then says goodbye to his daughters, asking Tommy to help look after them. Gerry, Fassbach, and a team of SEALS fly to Camp Humphries in South Korea but as soon as they land, they are attacked by some zombies on the airstrip. Fassbach heads back to the plane but slips on the loading ramp and ends up shooting himself in the head. The base’s surviving personnel rescue Gerry and the rest of his team and bring them back to the base. Inside, Gerry asks about the memo, which was the first time the word zombie was mentioned, and the base commander, Captain Speke, tells him it was an email, not a memo. He takes him to a room where all of the bodies are ash and explains that the base doctor was the first patient on the base to be infected. He had gone to tend to the body of a soldier who went AWOL in a nearby village and the villagers asked him to tend to a sick boy, who was infected and tied to a bed in a barn. The boy bit the doctor and when he came back to base, he began biting his patients, except for one man who had a lame leg. Speke tells him that head shots seem to be the only way to kill them but they incinerated the bodies just to be sure. As they continue talking, Gerry’s attention turns to a cell where an ex CIA agent is being held, having been arrested for selling weapons to North Korea. The agent tells Gerry that the North Koreans will survive this because they pulled the teeth out of all of their citizens, making it impossible for the zombie virus to spread to them. He then mentions that Isreal had known something was coming, as they had walled off their cities a week before the first reports of the zombies had occurred. Deciding to fly to Jerusalem, Gerry and the soldiers make a stealth run to refuel the plane and leave, but as they make their way their, Karin tries calling Gerry on his sat phone, rousing the zombies. Speke, driving the refueling truck, clears a path for Gerry and the pilots and they reach the plane but Speke ends up being bit in the leg and the co pilot is forced to stay behind and detach the fuel lines, leaving Gerry and the pilot as the only one’s left. As they head to Jerusalem, Gerry calls Karin and tells her where they are going but they see a nuclear explosion occur, and the EMP from the explosion shorts out his phone. Arriving in Jerusalem, Gerry tells the pilot to stay on the plane and get it ready for a quick take off, then heads into the city. Gerry meets with Mossad Chief Jurgen Warmbrunn, who explains that they had intercepted an Indian military message claiming that they were fighting “dead spirits”. He then says that Israel had developed a policy over the years of a “10th Man”, where if 9 people had the same facts and came to the same conclusion, then the job of the 10th man was to assume that they were all wrong; and when it came to that message, he was the 10th man. Jurgen shows Gerry the walls and he asks him where he should go in India to start looking but Jurgen says that is a wast of time. As some of the people begin singing in celebration, a young girl grabs a microphone to sing louder. This causes the zombies outside the wall to start swarming towards the walls and begin climbing over each other, forming a zombie ladder to reach the top. Gerry realizes what is happening and shouts a warning to Jurgen that is too late as the zombies reach the top of the wall and begin pouring over it. Jurgen has some of his soldiers escort Gerry back to the airport so he can leave but they get attacked by zombies. Trying to reach a secondary extraction point, Gerry notices that the zombies ignore an old man and an emaciated boy while attacking other people nearby. One of the soldiers, Segen, is bitten in the hand and Gerry cuts it off, then starts counting as he works on binding her injury and realizes he had cut it off in time to save her life. The helicopter arrives but is ovverrun by zombies and they make it to the airport just as Gerry’s plane takes off. Seeing a commercial airliner about to leave, Gerry and the soldiers hold it up long enough for Gerry and Segen to get on board. As Gerry works on changing the bandages on Segen’s hand, he thinks back to what he witnessed and realizes he might have an answer to the problem. Using his phone, he calls Karin and tells her to get Theirry, then asks him to find the nearest medical facility that was working on diseases and vaccines. Gerry then heads to the cockpit and hands the phone to the copilot and after a few minutes, he returns and says they are heading to Cardiff, Wales, where a W.H.O. facility is but they don’t know if it is still operational. As they get close to Cardiff, a zombie that had managed to get on board attacks a stewardess and some other passengers in the back of the plane. Gerry and some of the passengers try to barricade the front cabins but when that fails, Gerry grabs one of Segen’s grenades and uses it to blow a hole in the side of the plane. The zombies start getting sucked out the hole but strike the engine, causing the plane to crash. Gerry comes too and finds that he has been impaled by a piece of debris but is otherwise still alive, as is Segen, and they make their way to the W.H.O. facility. On the aircraft carrier, they receive word that the plane went down and hearing no communication from Gerry and believing him dead, Thierry is reluctantly forced to send Karin, Rachel, Conny, and Tommy to a safe zone in Nova Scotia. Back in Cardiff, Gerry comes too and finds himself strapped to a table with two doctors asking him questions. When they ask about the phone Gerry had, Gerry tells them to call the number in it and Thierry answers. Thierry tells the doctors who he is and apologizes to Gerry when he asks about Karin, saying that he had no choice as they thought he was dead. After being reunited with Segen, Gerry asks them where they keep the lethal viruses, but ones that are curable, and the doctors think that he wants to infect the zombies and tell him that dead people can’t get sick. Gerry says it is not for the zombies, but for them and explains that he wants to use it as a camouflage to hide from the zombies. The doctors feel like that might work but tell him all of the deadly viruses are stored in B-wing, which is currently overrun by zombies. Gerry, Segen, and the head doctor make some make shift armor and carefully make their way towards the vault but when they accidentally alert the zombies to their presence, Gerry leads them away so that Segen and the doctor can get to the vault. Segen and the doctor reach the vault but are unable to get through the zombies and are forced to make their way back to the other side of the facility, with the zombies chasing after them. Meanwhile, Gerry reaches the vault, finding it clear of zombies now, and makes his way inside, having one of the doctors call to tell him the code, and he starts to grab all of the viruses inside but when he goes to leave, he finds a zombie outside the door waiting for him. Finding himself trapped with no way to contact the others, Gerry writes a note and holds it up to the camera, asking them to tell his family that he loves them, then injects himself with one of the viruses and sits down to wait. The doctors watch as well, and worry for Gerry’s health as some of the viruses that he grabbed had no cure so he could be dead either way. After waiting for a while for the virus to fully infect him, Gerry opens the door and stands still as the zombie enters the room but moves right past him. Sealing it inside, Gerry makes his way back to the others, causing a distraction that lures all of the zombies away from the door and he smiles as he is able to walk right past them to make it to the others. Inside, the doctor treats him for the disease and then he and Segen leave the facility to meet up with Thierry and tell him the good news. As Gerry is taken to Nova Scotia to be reunited with his family, it is shown how the W.H.O. manufactures more of the “viral camouflage” to pass out to survivors and counter offensives are starting to start killing off the zombies, as Gerry says that this isn’t the end, as the war has just begun.

World War Z met with modest review from the critics, holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “It’s uneven and diverges from the source book, but World War Z still brings smart, fast-moving thrills and a solid performance from Brad Pitt to the zombie genre.” Actor Peter Capaldi was credited as W.H.O. Doctor in the film. This is due to the film makers having insider knowledge of the fact that Capaldi would be portraying the next Doctor Who, which was announced by the BBC 2 months after the movie’s release. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $540 million off of a $190 million budget and a sequel had been planned, with Brad Pitt returning in his role and David Fincher slated to direct. The filming was supposed to start in 2018 but has been delayed as Fincher focuses on his TV series Mindhunter.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie, The acting was good, with Brad Pitt doing a good job in the lead role of Gerry. While the other actors were decent in supporting roles, as Gerry was honestly the main focus, I do think they could have done a better job with some of the people instead of just having them be there. The story was interesting, veering away from the source material somewhat while ramping up the drama, which really helped carry the movie along and keep people invested in it. The one aspect of the story that did irritate me was the idea of the “smart virus”. I felt like the idea of the virus “sensing” less than perfect hosts and avoiding certain people was honestly giving it too much intelligence. A virus is simply going to infect anyone it can, unless the body has the necessary anti bodies to prevent it, and zombies no longer have higher brain functions, simply functioning on instinct, and will attack any living body, regardless on if they are sick or not, as the only thing they notice is if the body is alive or dead. The special effects were pretty good but the main thing this movie had going for it was drama, and I felt like that was extremely well done. So it is possible to make a rather gore free zombie movie and, my issue aside, this is a good movie and one worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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