The Rundown

There is no option C.

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Say what you want about some of the movies Dwayne Johnson has been in, but this is one that stands out to me and proves he can be fun on screen. The Rundown, directed by Peter Berg, stars Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, and Christopher Walken. The plot of the film can be narrowed down to a simple kidnap and bring home story, but it does arc and change into a tale of treasure hunting and then a tale of revolution.

This movie has a good role for The Rock. His character is a “retrieval expert” who wants to open up a restaurant. Unlike other action movies Johnson, and others like Johnson, have made, this is a reasonable goal for a protagonist. It shows something human in a guy who’s known for busting heads. Speaking of that persona, anytime that Johnson is with Seann William Scott is where the tough-guy comes out. As usual, Scott is a cocky character, but when opposite Johnson, it creates banter; which is always an action movie strongpoint. Another strongpoint is a good villain, in this case, Christopher Walken. Unfortunately The Rundown doesn’t have many scenes with its antagonist. Walken is good, he’s in it enough not to discourage viewers but when a guy like him is in the movie, you should use him. As for Rosario Dawson, she is good but I can’t help but feel that she’s just here because there were no women in the movie.

The action in this movie is cool to say the least. It is by no means great but it does what it does well. Sometimes it shows of Johnson’s wrestling abilities, other times traditional gun-play. The coolest parts of the action are the occasional slow motion sequences. These sequences don’t try hard to be flashy, which makes them better. They only exist to show real people doing these things in a way for us to actually focus on the highlights of each fight. When guns come into the action, the slow motion acts as that classic way of showcasing how cool the main character is. The only questionable action is the whip fights. They may have been interesting ideas on paper, but I don’t think they work as well as other fights.

Another thing that makes this movie interesting is the location. Yes movies have been filmed in the Amazon before but it’s always great having real scenery. The best relation to this would be stunts. It makes all the difference when stuntmen fall down a real dirt mound on a cliffside rather than a prop. Even something as simple as driving a jeep on a real dirt or mud road can change someone’s perspective of a scene. Obviously not all of it was filmed in Brazil but there’s enough to make the jungle believable.

The Rundown is a really fun action-adventure-comedy. I think it is one of Dwayne Johnson’s better action movies and tough guy roles. If nothing else, it does what it does well and is entertaining and engaging.

Blade

All of their strengths, none of their weaknesses…

There are so many things that make Blade a good movie, I don’t know where to really begin so I’ll just get right into it. Blade is not only the first movie to start the marvel/superhero craze, it is the first marvel movie to be taken seriously. It paved the way for X-men, Spider-Man and what has come out of Marvel studios for the past 15 years. For those who don’t know who or what Blade is, let me fill you in. Blade is a vampire hunter who is part vampire himself. He has all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses, aside from their thirst for blood.

The cast of the film couldn’t be more perfect. Wesley Snipes is the perfect Blade, Kris Kristofferson plays Blade’s mentor; Whistler, and Stephen Dorff plays the villain; Deacon Frost. Snipes brings the perfect attitude to Blade, making him a badass protagonist. When not assuming the tough guy persona, Snipes brings a certain softness to the character, ensuring that Blade also comes across as the victim he is. Kristofferson as usual steals most scenes he is in with his rough exterior and rugged tone. He is also capable of kicking ass when he has to. Dorff is interesting as Deacon Frost. He is very cocky and “punchable” to say the least. He’s a villian that you know is able to be sadistic but can’t help be irritable in the process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing.

The one thing that makes Blade unique from other superhero movies is its rating. The film is rated R and rightfully so. This allows the vampires to be ruthless in their enduring quest for survival. It also allows Blade to be equally ruthless in his quest to rid the world of all vampires. When you watch it, it’s easy to see that the film wouldn’t work otherwise. Without its rating the movie wouldn’t be thrilling and the vampires wouldn’t be menacing.

Seeing as how Wesley Snipes is the star, you know there’s going to be action. The action is Blade is so cool. Aside from the dated special effects (which I’ll cover soon), there’s a lot of style to show off. Snipes himself has a background in karate and displays his abilities flawlessly during hand-to-hand sequences. There’s also a bit of “gun-fu” in the film, scenes where Blade is armed with a shotgun or pistol during his undead encounters. These scenes succeed in making Blade look awesome while he’s “working”.

The only annoying thing about Blade is that it is a product of its time, by that I’m referring to the special effects. The digital effects of the 90’s and early 2000’s are bad to say the least. With Blade, it’s easy to see why they would use CGI in the scenes they did, but they can come across as ridiculous. In no way do they ruin the movie as a whole, but they can distract you from what is going on.

Blade is a really cool and fun movie. It blends action with horror elements and never really loses its tone. It has a stellar and irreplaceable cast that was truly invested in their work. It also kick-started the modern superhero genre. The day it gets rebooted or remade will be a sad and terrible one (and it won’t be rated R).

 

Twin Peaks

This must be where pies go when they die…

Twin Peaks is unique in so many different ways. The characters are wacky, the dialogue is sometimes quirky and unusual, and the story is so incredibly mysterious. This cult-hit TV series only lasted 2 seasons before being cancelled and had one followup film. I always meant to watch it but the reason why I’m interested in it now is because after 25 years it is coming back. Showtime is hosting its long awaited revival starring most of the original cast with the original creators; David Lynch and Mark Frost at its helm. The show is ultimately about a murder mystery in the small town of Twin Peaks located in Washington, United States.

I love this series. I find that it’s most definable quality is the ability to toy with your emotions. One minute you will be absolutely delighted to see the protagonist special agent Dale Cooper talk about his obsession over coffee, then the next scene might make you shed tears watching a grieving couple dealing with loss. The truth, however, is that this show is completely unpredictable. With themes regarding surrealism and dreams, combined with visions and Tibet, there’s no telling what could happen.

Music in Twin Peaks sets the mood like I’ve never experienced before. It’s difficult to narrow each theme down to one emotion. Themes and tunes are used in many different circumstances yet they all blend extremely well with what’s happening. The opening theme to every episode for example can be a happy, soft melody, it can also come across as an uncomfortable sadness. The tune that plays over the ending to each episode is in the same boat. It plays over scenes with love blooming and ones with heartbreaking events. Being that Twin Peaks is a mysterious show, there’s of course lots of music that is very uneasy.

As far as writing is concerned Twin Peaks is a strange kind of brilliant (like most of David Lynch’s work). Characters have a talent for talking about things that aren’t relevant to the current situation. These talks cover a wide variety of topics ranging between coffee, pie, Tibet, the Kennedy’s and trees called Douglas Ferns. Though these discussions at first seem almost too out of place, they quickly make themselves a welcome change of pace. On a more serious note, the writing pertaining to the story, as I mentioned before, is filled with twists and surprises and is completely unpredictable.

Something else I want to talk about regarding Twin Peaks is color. Red is used nearly everywhere. I find this unique because I don’t see that often. Usually films and TV shows that deal with murder are depicted with dark color or deep blue to convey sadness. Twin Peaks‘ red creates a view of uncertainty and mystery. I can’t express how great this small detail is. It compliments the show’s atmosphere so well that it makes the town of Twin Peaks look a place of dreams.

Twin Peaks is a series like nothing one can come across on the average channels. It’s a unique and wonderful mystery that will make you laugh and cry, yet it will also disturb you to the core. You will fall in love with peculiar characters, feel what they go through, and come to feel like you’re part of their lives.┬áMysteries within the town will keep you awake at night. Most of all, the more you watch the more you feel like you’re at home.