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Smokin’ Aces action scenes

I must say Smokin’ Aces is one of those movies that are worth watching because of their last ten to twenty minutes. It seems like the entire movie budget is spent just for couple of spectacular scenes. I have selected for you two of the action scenes that made me the greatest impression. They belong to two of my “best of” action categories – best shootouts and best sniper scenes.

The first scene – the shootout – is spectacular due to the fact it is a close range shootout in an elevator and both shooters almost kill each other. The second one is a sniper shootout scene. The great thing here is that in the movie they use the Barrett M82 rifle which is a quite powerful weapon and is used in many other action movies.

1. Smokin Aces Elevator shootout

2. Smokin Aces sniper scene (Part 1)

3. Smokin Aces sniper scene (Part 2)


Yippee ki yay, Mother Russia

John McClane (DieHard5Bruce Willis) is back six years after defeating the cyber terrorist Timothy Olyphant. He finds out his grown up son is arrested in Russia and travels there to see him. Well, nothing is what it seems. And detective McClane is the first to see and smell when something is wrong. As always he turns out to be in the right place at the right time – too bad for the bad guys.

As you might expect, the movie offers tons of action, shootouts, flying and moving things blowing up and naturally another dirty and bloody shirt for the washing machine. This time they are two. Detective McClane fights Russian terrorists alongside his son Jack (Jai Courtney) who happens to be a CIA secret operative. Like father, like son, it’s hard to kill a McClane, no matter if it is senior or junior. Bad guys are all dead, there long planned conspiracy plot is busted to pieces in a matter of hours and everything is great.

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John and Jack McClane

There are many plot holes, but in those kind of “Die Hard” old school actions maybe it is better to keep things simple. If you are looking for some decent way to spend an hour and a half, I think the movie is an acceptable action flick you will enjoy.

 

 


Kick Ass Gatling Gun Jet Pack

Yet another cult scene with the participation of the beloved Gatling gun. This time there are two of them and they are mounted on a jet pack. The pseudo superhero Kick-Ass is using it to kill some of the bad guys in the movie. And believe me, it is a kill to remember. I must say it is quite an original idea and as every good movie leaves couple of scenes as a signature, this scene is one of them. Enjoy!


The fight for the soul of Westeros

Behold the seven kingdoms of Westeros! A mythical world with people of all kind, magic, mystery and… dragons. The TV series “Game of thrones” is named after the first novel of the fantasy sequel “A song of ice and fire” by George R. R Martin. It tells the story of seven noble families who use all kind of approaches and strategies in order to seize more power, lands and wealth.

game_of_thronesWhat I like most about “Game of thrones” is that there are no good guys and bad guys in their classic meaning. There are characters with their inner daemons, anxiety, uncertainty and will to achieve what they think is right. It is a cruel world and no one is protected from some evil plot or just an act of insanity or unthinkable sadism. As one of the main characters says it is a chaos that rules over Westeros, but if chaos is something disturbing to some people, to others it is a ladder and a pot full of opportunities.

What makes the book such a masterpiece and the TV series not less interesting are the characters themselves. My personal favorite is Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – he is a dwarf, but his intelligence and resourcefulness raise him above many others. It is also his well hidden sense of justice that makes Tyrion one of the positive characters in the series. He is a survivor and he is a Lannister – a part of the wealthiest and most dangerous family among the others. He remains loyal to his family despite the fact he is despised by many of his relatives. As Tyrion once says, although he lacks physical strength and combat skills, it is his ability to manoeuvre in this tricking game of deception and outwitting. And he is good at it because he likes it.

Game of Thrones … Peter Dinklage as Tyrion.

Tyrion Lannister

Westeros is at war – either hidden with its numerous plots and conspiracy plans or actual with large scale and spectacular battles. Everyone wants a piece of the power and it is not the worthiest by right that will take it, but the smartest one. Only the one who plays their cards well will be able to survive and maybe thrive. It is not enough just to be with good heart, you have to be strong and in many situations uncompromising.

For the ones who haven’t read the books the series would be quite interesting. The many twists of the story make the characters’ path difficult and put them in unknown and life threatening situations. Families are scattered, innocent women and children are not spared and sometimes pure magic and mystery could either help the characters or lead them to their death. But at the end what I personally think is quite rewarding for the viewer is the hidden message that although in chaos, there is some overall balance in Westeros and slowly but certainly the good will prevail.

GOT

 


If you ride like lightning, you’ll crash like thunder

The Place Beyond the Pines” is separated in three parts.

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The Ryan Gosling part

I can’t spare PLACE BEYOND THE PINESsuperlatives for Ryan Gosling’s performance in this movie. His character is very similar to the one in “Drive” – gloomy, a man of few words, showing everything he hasn’t said with mimics and gestures. The kind of character that if you see their eyes, you better stay out of their way. Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt rider who delivers stunning performances in a spherical cage with two other stunt riders. I must say, I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. This is what he does until he finds out he has a one year old son with a woman (Eva Mendes) he met the last time the fair was in town. After that he decides to stay and provide for her and their son. Unfortunately Luke doesn’t have a clear plan how to do that and very soon he is in a deep need of money. I find very interesting the character of the man Luke meets. Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) is an auto mechanic in the same town and as soon as he sees Luke riding his bike, he recognizes his skills and potential and offers Luke to work for him. Very soon though he is aware of Luke’s need of money and offers him the plan that they rob a bank. The plan is also quite well thought – Luke will rob the bank and with a lightning speed with ride to Robin’s truck, load up the ryan-gosling-in-the-place-beyond-the-pines3bike in it and they vanish. The key strategy is that they don’t make it too often and it is dictated by Robin’s previous experience of doing it. They manage to pull it off couple of times and everything seems to work fine for all. Unfortunately what follows is Luke’s impatience and lack of discipline – his character glitch that leads him to his end. He is in a hurry to rob more banks without waiting, he makes mistakes, and although his skills in riding a bike, he fails – after a quick shootout with a rookie police officer Luke is shot dead. Although with about an hour of performance in the movie Ryan Gosling makes every minute count and as a huge fan myself, I could only regret that his role was so short.

Bradley Cooper‘s part

Bradley-Cooper-in-The-Place-Beyond-the-Pines

After Luke’s death continues the story of the rookie police office Avery (Bradley Cooper) who shot him. Just as Luke he has a one year son and after the shootout he feels guilty for killing the other man. What follows though is that he finds out his department is filled with corrupt police officers. During an illegal operation they even take the money Luke gave to the mother of his son. Even when Avery tells all that to the chief detective, it becomes clear that he is also part of the scheme and now Avery becomes the target. His final move is to report to the DA which turns out to be right and pulls him out of the mess.

Like father, like son

The final part that at its beginning I thought was redundant and was unnecessarily prolonging the movie turned out to deliver the final message of the story and closed it properly. It is fifteen years later about the grown up sons of Luke and Avery. Due to the twists of faith they become friends and very soon Jason (Luke’s son) finds out his friend’s father is the man who killed Luke. As in many cases the young, spontaneous and emotional mind could lead to terrible decisions, in this case Jason takes a gun, hurts his friend and takes Avery to the woods in order to kill him. It is Avery’s sincere regret and apology that saves him. Jason runs away and just like his father takes a motorcycle and rides into his insecure and unknown future.


Almost beating the system

Side-EffectsSide effects” has one of the most interesting and surprising stories I have seen recently in a thriller. It is a story about how to get a lot of money exploiting the weaknesses of the system and not getting caught. Almost.

Emily (Rooney Mara) is a depressed woman whose husband just gets out of jail for misuse of corporate information. When I say depression it is in its real sense and hard form. She has to take so many different medications that seem not to have the slightest impact on her condition that she is willing to try a new experimental drug prescribed by her new psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Jude Law). It turns out that Emily had her history of depressive behavior, she has visited other psychiatrists (Dr. Siebert – Cathrine Zeta-Jones) and her condition is not getting any better. It even leads to sleep walking, illogical behavior and to the climax when she kills her husband even without knowing what she is doing.

As the story goes on it gives the impression Emily is a victim of experimental medications and has no fault of whatsoever. She is just a depressed troubled woman who can’t heal her condition. Well, not quite. It turns out that Emily and her previous psychiatrist Dr. Siebert have planned it all for years. Dr. Siebert is aware of the pros and cons of the experimental treatment with new medications and to what side effects they might lead and Emily on the other hand knows how one public event could make one company lose or win a lot of money. All they need for their plan to work is a scapegoat. And this is their one mistake they should have planned better. It turns out that Jude Law is on the wrong place at the wrong time – he is involved in a web of lies that forces him to quit his current job, lose his family and image.

This is the moment he decides to find the truth about Emily and her story because this is the only way he could clear his name and get his life back. And believe me, you don’t want to mess with your psychiatrist if you don’t know what you are doing. As you are probably guessing Jude Law outsmarts both Emily and Dr. Siebert and brings them to justice. And yes, Emily will have to suffer for killing her husband and for having taken part of this plan of manipulation, lies and conspiracy.


How your dream may kill you

Don’t you worry, honey. If they can make a washing machine fly, my Jimmy can land it“. This is in my opinion the most inspiring line in “Apollo 13“. This is what Jim’s mother says about him. And Jim (Tom Hanks) has a dream – to land on the moon, walk on it and be among the very few who have done that. Unfortunately his dream won’t come true and it will nearly kill him along with his crew. “Apollo 13” is a story of a few brave men, their will to live and come back home, about the team work and dedication that make their safe return possible and above all, the power of the human intelligence.

apollo13

Technology and its evolution is in my opinion one of the main pillars of the progress of humanity. On one hand it has been used and is used for many good things, on the other hand it has been and still is utilized for terrible purposes. But without the human element and intervention technology is nothing but an empty shell. Apollo 13 is a movie that shows a great time period in human history and technology progress – the landing on the moon and the missions after that which have the same task.

Although being in the backup fight crew, due to a particular sequence of events, Jim and his crew members become the main team that will have to fly to the moon. This is his moment and the fulfillment of a dream is closer and closer. But some things are just not meant to happen. A malfunction in their command module not only prevents the crew from landing on the moon, it also puts their lives at risk.

There are couple of key moments in the story that make you think – what if? At the very beginning of the mission the main rocket thruster doesn’t start and Tom Hanks looks at the “Abort” switch. Should I abort the mission so soon? Should I cancel everything I have dreamed of? Is it a sign for something? Should I take the risk and move on? These are all questions that have gone through our mind at some point in our lives. The truth I stand for is that you should go for it, try it, never hesitate, never give up. Because if you never try, you will never succeed.

The next key decision is when the crew gets the order from Houston to execute the procedure that might save the oxygen they are losing but that will prevent them from landing on the moon. Thrilling couple of seconds watching at Tom Hank’s face when he realizes his dream won’t come true but he just has no other choice. At the cost of a heart beat, to someone it is just a procedure, but to you – it is the moment of inevitability. “We just lost the moon!”

On their way back, passing over the moon, very close to its surface, Jim and his crew can see their planned landing site. Right then Jim imagines himself, stepping out of the ship, walking on the moon and touching its surface with his hand. These are those moments when you are as close as you can possibly get to the one thing you desire, but at the same time you can’t do anything to reach it.

The last scene worth noting is when the main module just enters the Earth atmosphere and only the heat shield is the thing that protects the ship from falling apart. “It was a privilege flying with you!” That is the point when you have done everything possible imaginable and you can just hope for the best. In many cases your efforts pay back and faith smiles at you. You have survived.

apollo13_2

“Apollo 13” shows two other key points that are part of the complete story. The first one is the team work at the NASA control center where all the people had their contribution to the happy ending of this “successful failure”. I think the idea of the movie in that aspect is to show that when you feel you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, you struggle to give everything from you and play your role to the end. Because when you become part of history, it is not just your daily job any more.

The other thing is the attitude of Gary Sinise‘s character (Ken). Although being replaced by another backup team member due to the assumption he might get ill, there is no sign of envy or bad feelings, just disappointment. And when his friends need him, Ken makes everything possible to help them, to find a solution and bring them back safely. I think the message in this regard is that in the important moments you have to turn your back to all small feelings and emotions and prove you are the person the others could count on.

As a conclusion I think “Apollo 13” delivers a great deal of messages it is worth thinking about and Tom Hanks’ leading role is an essential part of the overall excellent impression. Highly recommended.

Ip Man best fighting scenes

Ip Man” is one of my personal best movies showing the best of the Chinese martial arts and more specifically – Wing Chun. What makes that specific martial art so attractive is its philosophy presented in the movie – that in 90% of the cases you should avoid actual physical fight and try to resolve a conflict in a calm and relaxed manner, but when this doesn’t work or when the individual is pushed to “the edge of the cliff”, the martial art style gives you the means to hammer hard and relentlessly. I have chosen for you two scenes from the 2008 movie starring Donnie Yen,that demonstrate this martial art style I personally admire. Enjoy!

1. Ip Man vs 10 Karate black belts

2. Ip Man vs the Japanese general

Related articles:

Ip Man (2008): Donnie Yen’s Masterful Performance

Ip Man (2008)


My heart will go on

Titanic” is one of the diamonds in James Cameron‘s director portfolio – it is his “Heart of the ocean”. “Titanic” is also without doubt one of the most famous romantic and dramatic films in the  history of cinematography.
Titanic
The movie is a tale of two souls who find each other by chance and this was meant to be, it was their faith to fall in love. The story of the greatest ship of its time tells many truths about the things of life – honor, friendship, code and principles, the will to survive at any cost. It also shows arrogance, pride, the inability to lose that eats you from inside and its nearly fatal consequences.

All this is just a set for the main story of the tale of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) – two people coming from two different worlds, who find out that they are meant for each other. She comes from a rich family and is supposed to marry the man she doesn’t love (Billy Zane), he has nothing but the clothes on him, the wind in his hair and a ticket to America won on a poker game. It is Rose who makes the choice to break free from the chains of the fake life she is pushed to live. To her it is not the money that matters, it her desire to be free and to make every moment count. She doesn’t want to become just an accessory locked up in her husband’s safe, but rather spend her life with someone who is able to truly see who she really is. She wants to live, live, live and live again without following the fake rules of the aristocratic but boring and predictable society that treats the poorer people like animals and slaves. Jack on the other hand is nothing but the opposite of the preconceived manners and behavior. He lives for the moment, contemplates the stars at night and has a reckless nature that leads him to the doomed ship where he will meet Rose.

Titanic2

The movie is also made of the different stories of the people on the ship – from the ones that make the wrong choices that cost the lives of hundreds of people to the “small” and ordinary people with their touching moments as the ship sinks. The irony is that at the end some the people who caused the most harm are the ones who survive. Unfortunately in real life it is very common how by some unfair and unwritten rule or sequence of events the bad ones make it through and the people who haven’t done anyone any harm, perish.

It is also the separate scenes and moments that make the movie so spectacular and moving. Some of the most touching scenes of the movie are at the end – an old couple lying together in their bed as the water comes in their room, a mother saying the last bed time story to her children so that they are not scared in their last moments, the eternal scene of the playing orchestra until the very end, the captain who takes the responsibility for his mistake on his last trip before retirement and sinks with his ship, the ship architect who corrects the clock time in one of the ship rooms and many more.

One other aspect that I just can’t skip is the story of the rich man who is too proud to lose his fiancee from a just an ordinary boy. His money can buy him anything but the love of the woman he has chosen to make his wife. And neither some expensive jewellery, nor the excessive demonstration of wellness will help him with that. Because the truth is that it is who you are that really matters. In life I must say it is the same – in many situations even the whole wealth of the world won’t be enough to buy you happiness or love. At most it might only sate the pride and the overwhelming self-confidence. I must say Billy Zane was quite a successful choice for the character he played. He managed to pull this off and to demonstrate the manners and behavior of an arrogant aristocrat. And while for his character the wealth he had was just not enough, for Jack just being on that great ship and stretching your arms above the ocean as a free bird, makes you the king of the world.

“Titanic” is in my opinion a great movie and its tragic ending just enhances its value and message. No matter what, keep following your heart, never give up, appreciate every moment of every day of your life and make it count.


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