The Mechanic: A fine remake

A scene from The Mechanic – © 2011 – CBS Films

The Mechanic – Is Jason Statham the Charles Bronson of this generation? After seeing The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 Bronson film about a hitman who takes out his mentor (played by Donald Sutherland) and then trains the mentor’s son to be a hitman as well, I feel as though he is. He kicks ass with style, delivers his lines cooler than any other action star of the last 30 years, and is just wicked to watch onscreen (if you haven’t seen Crank or Crank 2: High Voltage you don’t know what you’re missing). Joining Statham as the son of the mentor is Ben Foster, who has proven himself as a solid actor in 3:10 To Yuma and The Messenger. He plays off Statham wonderfully, and together the two make this otherwise generic action flick a pretty awesome one.

3 out of 5 stars.

Please enjoy the trailer for The Mechanic below:

Machete: “Machete don’t text!”

Danny Trejo with a trench coat full of machetes.
A scene from Machete. Courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Video.

Based on the fake trailer from the 2007 Quentin TarantinoRobert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouseand directed by Rodriguez and newcomer Ethan ManiquisMachete is a violent, bloody, B-movie romp about a bad-ass Mexican Federale (played by Danny Trejo) who must go on the run after a drug lord (played by Steven Seagal) murders his wife and child when he refuses to be paid off by him. Years later and we find Machete, now an illegal immigrant in America, doing day labour in Texas. Soon after he’s back fighting for his life, hacking people up who get in his way.

“Machete don’t text!” No, he doesn’t text, but he sure does know how to slice, dice, and tear bad guys up with a blade better than a celebrity chef can handle a chicken.

Trejo is Machete and it’s hard to imagine any other actor playing him. He’s so scary onscreen that if I was to ever see him in real life I’d probably run the other way. The rest of the cast is also perfect, with Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Lindsay Lohan all hamming it up in their roles. Seagal is great too, and Cheech Marin’s part as a gun-toting Padre is golden.

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Machete pays great homage to the films that inspired it and uses some of the same techniques Rodriguez and Tarantino used on Grindhouse. Signs of intended film scratches and colour changes are present, and the soundtrack is very reminiscent of exploitation films from the ‘70s. It’s all part of the experience of this type of movie though, and it’s what makes Machete so fun to watch.

If you want over-the-top violence, cheesy dialogue, and a scene where a character uses someone’s intestines to swing out a window, look no further than Machete.

The Blu-ray release does a great job with the 1080p image transfer and 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix, but fails in the special features department. Besides a digital copy and a few deleted scenes, there are a couple of trailers for the movie and some sneak peeks. That’s it. No Rodriguez film school or slew of extras he usually includes. It’s a shame too, because if they put some effort into the release it would be a must-have title for your collection.

**** Blu-ray ****

(4 out of 5 stars)

Rated 18A
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez
Directed by:  Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis

Please enjoy the trailer for Machete below:

Chapter 27: Chubby Leto kills Mark L Chapman

Jared Leto in Chapter 27

I’ve been so busy with home renovations lately that I haven’t found time to watch anything other than the DVD and Blu-ray screeners in my “must review” pile. So when I got stuck in line at Costco the other day, I took the opportunity to check Amazon Prime on my Pixel 4 to see what I’ve been missing. One of the top titles was Chapter 27, which I’ve been interested in seeing since it came out in 2007. The film is a look into the life of Mark David Chapman over the course of the three days leading up to him shooting, and killing, John Lennon. I’m not a fan of viewing movies on a small screen, but it was hard to stop watching Chapter 27 once I started thanks mainly to Jared Leto’s amazing portrayal of Chapman (he gained over 60 pounds for the role and is nearly unrecognizable). After 10 minutes I decided to wait until I got home to finish the movie properly and give it my full attention.

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It’s hard to call Chapter 27 a good movie. For the most part it only touches on the subject at hand without digging into who Chapman was and where he came from. That said, it is interesting to get an idea as to what Chapman’s motives were, his fascination with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and how he tried to stop himself from doing what he did. Of course, only taking what we see in a fictional Hollywood account as fact would be silly (the film did make me want to learn more about Chapman and the horrific event so it does deserve some praise). I’m sure hardcore Lennon fans will be offended at the whole concept of Chapter 27, and the fact that another Mark Chapman, Mark Lindsay Chapman, portrays Lennon, is sure to piss a few people off too.

Chapter 27 streams in HD on a compatible device. I had no issues watching it on the XBOX 360 or on the Pixel 4.

Watch the trailer for Chapter 27 below:

Mean Girls 2: Meets mean reviewer

Jennifer Stone and Meaghan Martin in Mean Girls 2 – © 2011 Paramount Famous Productions. 

Mean Girls 2 – The first Mean Girls was a pleasant surprise. The writing was witty, the acting was decent, and it reminded me of the great 1988 Winona Ryder film HeathersMean Girls 2, the straight-to-DVD sequel, is nothing like the first. It’s so shitty it gives shit a bad name. And I wonder who this movie is made for. The cast is mostly crappy Disney Channel actors, but I can’t see their pre-teen fans wanting to rent or buy this trash (and there is just enough questionable material to make it not family-friendly enough for even a parent to consider as a gift). Older teens? Adults? Not likely interested unless they’re in a coma or wanting to be put into a coma. Here’s the quote I’d like to see on the cover: “Mean Girls 2…quite possibly the first true sign the world really is going to end in 2012!” Enough said. Special features include making-of featurettes, on-set video diaries, and more. Film * DVD *

(1 out of 5 stars).

You don’t really want to watch the trailer below do you?

Never Let Me Go: Ok, I’ll go once – but that’s it

Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go – Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray) – Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go is a dreary drama about a group of kids born with the sole purpose of being organ donors. Although the film has roots in sci-fi, director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) set it up like a period piece and let it play out as such. With Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield starring, I really expected it to knock my socks off. Instead, I found recycled performances from the trio, a lengthy running time, and an overall boring and lackluster film. It does have some great cinematography and lighting, as showcased on the Blu-ray release, but that wasn’t enough to save it. Special features on the Blu-ray include a making-of documentary. Film **  Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Never Let Me Go below:

Conviction: Not much

Minnie Driver and Hillary Swank in Conviction.

Conviction (Blu-ray) – Directed by Tony GoldwynConviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (portrayed by Hillary Swank) and how she enrolled in law school in order to fight for her brother’s innocence after he was sent to prison for murder. Sam Rockwell portrays the brother, Kenneth Waters, and shines in the role. Sadly, I can’t say the same for Swank. She was so terrible and miscast that it brought the entire film down to the level of a made-for-TV movie. This is not required viewing in high-def, and with only one special feature (an interview with the real Betty Anne Waters), it’s a real waste of the Blu-ray technology. Film ** Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

There is a trailer for Conviction you could watch it here:

Let Me In: A solid remake

Scary blue eye surrounded by darkness.
Photo Courtesy of Overture Films – © 2010 Fish Head Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Let Me In – Don’t write Let Me In off because it’s an American remake of the exceptional 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in). Director Matt Reeves has handled the material with care and retells the young vampire love story with heart, crafting an excellent movie that keeps the good parts from the original and builds on it, in turn making it a better film experience. The film follows a young boy (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) as he befriends his new neighbour (played by Chloe Moretz) before learning she is a vampire. The writing, effects, and acting are all very subtle, and the film is beautifully shot and composed. Even if you’re a hardcore fan of the original, Let Me In is definitely worth watching. Special features on the Blu-ray include audio commentary with Matt Reeves, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and more. Film *** Blu-ray ***

(3.5 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Let Me In below:

Stone: Darkness for dark times

Ed Norton in Stone
Ed Norton in Stone – © 2010 Stone Productions, LLCÃ All Rights Reserved.

Stone (Blu-ray) – Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and Milla Jovovich star in this grim drama about a parole officer (De Niro) who is persuaded by the wife (Jovovich) of a criminal (Norton) to let her husband out of prison. The movie opens with a man threatening to throw his child out a window when his wife tells him she’s leaving and it continues to slip deeper into blackness until the end. Great performances, but very depressing and bleak tone.

The Blu-ray release is excellent and the 1080p image helps showcase the muted colour palette very well. The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is good too, and the dialogue is very clean. Special features include a making-of featurette and trailers. Film *** Blu-ray ***

(3 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Stone below:

Takers: Not many

A scene from Takers – © 2010 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Takers (Blu-ray) – When I go to watch an action film I expect it to be big and loud. Takers, a film about a group of professional bank robbers (played by Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, T.I., Idris Elba, and Paul Walker) and a couple of dorky cops (played by Matt Dillion and Jay Hernandez) hot on their trail, is neither. It actually presents a major shoot-out with no sound of gunshots whatsoever. How artsy of them. How boring to watch.

The Blu-ray release has a decent 1080p image, but I found the 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix was too quiet at times (which very well could have been intentional). Special features include making-of featurettes, audio commentary, and more. Film ** Blu-ray **.

(2 out of 5 stars)

Check out the trailer for Takers below:

Score: A Hockey Musical – Who thought this was a good idea?

Score: A Hockey Musical – After watching the disaster that is Score: A Hockey Musical I’m ashamed and embarrassed to be Canadian. Hopefully, writer-director Michael McGowan will get back to making movies like One Week and Saint Ralph again, and we’ll forget he had anything to do with this (that is of course if he’s able to make another movie since this bombed so badly). Special features include on the DVD include a sing-a-long track, deleted scene, and a making-of featurette. Film * Blu-ray *

(1 out of 5 stars).

If you’re still not sure if this one’s for you, check out the trailer below: