Friday, March 29, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review

Hasbro. Making toys since 1923. Turning those toys into movies since 2007. How have they done with these movies? Well let's do a quick review. In 2007 we get the first Transformers. Bang! The movie is a huge hit with with a domestic total of $320M and gets a decent reaction from audiences. Unfortunately in terms of movie quality it goes downhill from there, but just like that old Pringles saying, once you pop, you just can't stop. Hollywood just has so much fun trying to replicate success  so next we got Transformers 2 in 2009. Copy and paste the story line, make a few minor tweaks and what do you know? The movie somehow breaks the $400M domestically. Awful movie, though. A couple of months later they try their luck with G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra and once again they find success, albeit not even half as big as Transformers, but decent hit nonetheless. Problem here? The actual movie is a complete disaster. Being that this movie's sequel is the actual movie in question, will dive into the details of that a bit later. Jump two years to 2011 for Transformers 3. Once again they use the same formula for the movie and once again they get box office success, but they forget that audiences hated Transformers 2 and only make slight progression in terms of how the movie is viewed. Then in 2012 we get Battleship in theaters and this is a complete mess in just about every way. Seeing a trend here? Are you thinking the same thing I'm thinking in that Hollywood/Hasbro should stop turning toys into movies? Well they aren't going to listen to that as they keep on making movies and for some reason I keep seeing them, so I guess someone is doing something right. This year's Hasbro movie in question is of course the recently released sequel to G.I. Joe in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. How does this movie fare? Well. keep reading and you will find out.

Like I mentioned before, I thought the first G.I. Joe movie was a disaster. Sure, there were lots of fun action scenes, but in my opinion you have to have more than just action and explosions to satisfy my needs in being entertained by a movie. You have to have good acting and a good story line as well and G.I. Joe had neither. The acting was pretty bad. The script was a mess. The story line didn't make any sense. It was just an embarrassing movie altogether. So does a sequel even make sense? Well, kind of. The ending of the first did leave it open to make more and of course that is exactly what Hollywood has done. However, unlike other sequels, the makers of the first movie were obviously quite ashamed of their job in the first one and instead of doing a cut and paste formula like in Transformers, they decided to go a completely new direction with this sequel. In fact, they almost completely cut all ties. They have a completely new cast and even a new director. So in sense this movie is almost a reboot. Not quite, though, because they do bring back a couple of villains from the first, namely Cobra Commander and Zartan. Also we get our likable ninja rivals Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes back. The president of the United States is also the same and we kinda get our main character Duke back, although only for the first ten minutes of the movie. Everyone else is gone with no explanations as to what happened to them. Instead we have a cast of heroes that includes Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, DJ Cotrona, Elodie Yung. And quite honestly I think this was a great move because this cast was really good in my opinion. Dwayne Johnson is our team leader and once again he proves that he can act and thus removes himself further from The Rock, who was a tough wrestler that appeared in movies despite not knowing how to act.

Now how about this story? There are a few interesting twists to the story, so I will be as general as possible, but basically we have the white house being taken over. Specifically the president is actually kidnapped and instead a certain villain is cloning himself to look exactly like the president. This villain instigates an attack on the Cobra, trying to completely eliminate them while making them look like the enemies and of course our heroes have to overcome this and stop the secret plot that this organization has planned. While I wouldn't say this is amazing and groundbreaking, it is a lot more intelligent than the messy, confusing plot of the first one.  However it is nothing fantastic and although there are a few interesting twists, it is pretty predictable and unfortunately how it turns out left something to be desired for. The acting by all involved I actually thought was pretty good, so that helped this movie out a lot whereas it was a hindrance in the first one. And of course we have the action, which is the main reason that people are here to see this movie. Yes I am a guy who enjoys action movies and the action in this doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of explosions, guns, and fighting to make this movie enjoyable for those like me who enjoy watching that. Although I will point out that in the first movie the Joes relied a lot on fancy suits and technologies to oust their enemies and it seems that that aspect is almost gone as the Joes in this one rely on their physical prowess and normal weapons (guns, swords, knives, etc). No fancy suits that make them jump high or be invincible. Maybe that will disappointing to some, but I didn't have a problem. I mean, come on. This isn't Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in this movie. It's Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Those guys don't need fancy suits to kick some butt. And of course I can't forget to point out the fact that our lead female in this, Adrianne Palicki, is quite the stunning beauty in this movie. Hot girls that can kick some butt definitely get lots of kudos in my book. She is a fairly unknown name in the acting world, so most people will be experiencing her for the first time. In terms of movies, her biggest titles would be Red Dawn (2012) and Legion (2009). She has spent most of her time in the TV world and is probably best know for her role as Tyra Collette in the TV series Friday Night Lights. However, if you talk to me, I know her best for role as Sam Winchester's first girlfriend Jessica in the TV series Supernatural.

Overall, this movie is nothing spectacular and in fact it's one of those movies that in a week or two after seeing it, you will totally forget that you even saw it in the first place. Very forgettable. But at the same time it's not the worst movie you'll ever see and is certainly a lot better than the first one. If you are one of the few people that actually enjoyed the first movie, this movie actually might be one of the best movies you've ever seen. Personally though if I were to give a grade to the first G.I. Joe, I would give it a 3 or 4 out of 10. With that in mind, I give G.I. Joe: Retaliation a 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Review

It's been a while since Steve Carell and Jim Carrey co-starred in a major motion picture. The last time it happened was back in 2008 with Horton Hears a Who. In terms of a live action movie, it's been since Bruce Almighty, which was a decade ago. Now Steve Carell has shown up in several things lately, but Jim Carrey seems to be slowing things down a bit as he turned 51 in January. His last movie was back in 2011 when he starred in Mr. Popper's Penguins. But after a long hiatus, the two comedy stars are back at it with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which premiered just this past weekend. This actually wasn't a hugely advertised movie as I didn't hear much about it until last month really, but the draw of Carell and Carrey teaming up again in a comedy was enough to draw me in. I had decently high hopes for it, mainly because I'm a pretty big fan of Jim Carrey as I really enjoy his other movies like Yes Man, Liar Liar, The Truman Show, and The Grinch. However, after walking into the theater excited to see another funny Jim Carrey comedy, I actually walked out of the theater rather disappointed. The incredible Burt Wonderstone is far from incredible. In fact, if you just decide to skip it, you won't be missing much.

I went into this movie thinking it was going to be a Carell vs Carrey movie as that is how it is portrayed in the trailers and advertisements. I quickly realized that I was very wrong. Carrey is the big antagonist in the movie, but his role is surprisingly limited. This is all about Steve Carell. And quite honestly he does a putrid job in this movie. To be fair, he isn't given much to work with, but yet neither was anyone in this movie and Carell's flat performance as the lead role of Burt Wonderstone was really what sends this movie spiraling in a nosedive. Now what is it about?  Decent premise. Burt Wonderstone was bullied as a kid, but quickly falls in love with magic and finds a friend in Anton Marvelton that becomes his partner in magic. Wonderstone and Marvelton are actually their stage names, but I forget what their given last names are in the movie, so I am just going with those for now.  Anywho, thirty years after the two kids fell in love with magic, they are the big names in the magic business. However, Burt lets the fame get to his head and this leads to a falling out that is worsened by new comedy hot shot Steve Grey, played by Jim Carrey. Now Wonderstone needs to somehow get things back together or else he is going to slip into nothing as far as his personal life and his career. 

Problem with the movie? Well there is a lot. Starting off, the plot is nothing magical. In fact it is very unoriginal and predictable. To go along with that, the script is really awful. They brought some pretty big name actors, not just Carell and Carrey but also Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, and James Gandolfini, but they gave them hardly anything to work with. The big issue lies when about half of these people take the poorly written script and make the best of it while the other half completely drops the ball. Specifically, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, and Alan Arkin all do a great job with their poor script while Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and James Gandolfini are just embarrassing to watch. The odd mix of bad and good acting just make this a confusing movie to watch. Jim Carrey is good, but he's given the role of the sadistic idiot who likes hurting himself to attract crowds and even so he is underused by a lot. I swear it only feels like he's in the movie for a total of 15 or 20 minutes. Olivia Wilde is fantastic. Most people watch her because she is gorgeous. I watch her because she always does a great acting job. However, she feels out of place in this movie because her character likes being around the pathetic duo of Carell and Buscemi. Ten minutes into her part of the movie you are wondering why she doesn't break off from those two and just do her own thing. Alan Arkin does good, but he plays the old crazy man and in addition to also being underused, you wonder why he even helps Burt Wonderstone work up his magic again. And James Gandolfini, well, his character is just completely useless. And so is he because he does a bad job of playing a worthless character.

Finally, this movie is supposed to be a comedy. And I can see that they tried really hard to make this funny, but I just didn't really find it funny at all. I mean, I chuckled a few times, but that was really it. One problem is that all the potentially really funny scenes were all in the trailer, so when they showed up in the movie I wasn't as amused. The other thing is that a big portion of the humor is sexual humor. I mean, an out of place argument leads to the assistant quitting, so they randomly grab Olivia Wilde to replace her. Olivia Wilde has been introduced to the movie for less than thirty seconds when her shirt is ripped off and an assistant outfit is placed on her and she is immediately put into a box with Steve Carell and he spends like a full minute begging to have sex with her that night. Really? That's not funny, that's just dumb. I went in wanting some good comedy and I didn't get it, so I left the theater feeling gypped. Overall this just an all around forgettable movie. I usually recommend you wait and red box it or something, but in this case I am just going to recommend that you just skip it. I am giving the movie a 5 out of 10 and that even feels a bit generous.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (Thoughts on Show + Finale Resolution)

Over a year ago my brother introduced me to the TV show Criminal Minds. I quickly became a huge fan. Now criminal investigation shows are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Criminal Minds is my current favorite out of all of them, and that is saying something because I do enjoy other similar shows like NCIS, Bones, Castle, and CSI. The reason I like Criminal Minds is because it is the most realistic crime drama. This fact does turn a lot of people away because of how dark and scary it can be, but that doesn't bother me in this case because it deals with a lot of psychological issues and really gets you inside the mind of the criminal, thus teaching you a lot and I find that fascinating. So in this past year or so, I got through all seven completed seasons and caught up with the series as they are currently in their eighth season. Along the way they included an episode with a second Criminal Minds unit known as a red cell that helped them with a case. That episode was there to set up a spin-off series called Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. It started in February of 2011 and went for one half season of 13 episodes. It never got off the ground in terms of popularity and CBS decided to cut it short and not bring it back for a second season. After catching up to Criminal Minds on TV, I needed another show to follow, so despite knowing that Suspect Behavior had been cancelled, I decided to give it a shot. Turns out I was really disappointed that it got cancelled as it was a good show that had a lot of potential.

Suspect Behavior featured Forrest Whitaker as the lead of the team and Janeane Garofalo, Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett, and Matt Ryan (not the Atlanta Falcons quarterback) as team members with the lovable Kirsten Vangsness reprising her role as technical analyst Penelope Garcia for the spin-off show. The biggest challenge of a criminal investigation show is getting together a cast of people that just connect with the audience. You can have the best writing and best villains, but if you don't have a likable cast then you don't have a show. I feel that this was the biggest problem for people with this show. Criminal Minds fans have been so used to the fantastic cast of Criminal Minds that it was hard to get used to this new cast and thus after an episode or two they gave up and just didn't give them a shot. However, I really enjoyed this cast. I especially liked Forrest Whitaker as the lead role as well as Michael Kelly and Matt Ryan. I hadn't gotten used to the two girls on the quite yet, but I feel that I could've grown to like them more. And as far as Kirsten Vangsness goes, I absolutely love her in Criminal Minds, but I don't think she quite fit with this cast. They should've had their own technical analyst.

Was Suspect Behavior perfect? No. It had it's issues. The specific story lines in the episodes at the beginning weren't particularly strong and the criminals at times weren't completely believable, which was sad considering that was the strong point of Criminal Minds. Also, I've never been a huge fan of the random personal drama on Criminal Minds that lasts an episode and instantly is solved by the next episode. Sometimes it works really well, but other times it detracts from episode. Suspect Behavior does a particularly poor job at this aspect. However, despite not being a perfect show, the big key is that Suspect Behavior got better as it went along and by the time the finale came around, that episode was just as good if not better than the normal episodes of Criminal Minds and I feel that there was a lot of things that they could've built on to eventually create a show that was just as good as the original Criminal Minds and thus it was extremely disappointing that this show wasn't given a shot at even airing one more season. CBS really failed when they cancelled it. Shame.

Now on a side note, I want to discuss the finale real quick and in doing so, I am going to throw up a quick SPOILER ALERT because this paragraph is really meant for those few people who cared enough to watch the whole show. As a recap, they face a criminal duo that kidnaps people's loved ones then contacts the other party and tells him or her to go to a public place and shoot someone or else their loved one will be killed. As the finale goes on, Agent Beth Griffith (Janeane Garofalo) gets kidnapped and Sam Cooper (Forest Whitaker) is the one that is contacted. Sam Cooper is told to come to a certain spot and he does. What he finds is that the person he is asked to shoot is one of the two men in the duo, the one who they learned all about who is a troubled individual that is being used. Sam Cooper wants really badly to help him rather than shoot him, but a gun is being held to Beth's head and if Cooper doesn't shoot the guy, Beth is the one that is going to get shot. The episode ends when time runs out and a gun is fired. However, we do not see on screen which gun was fired and the episode ends. This is a fantastic episode and a fantastic ending. Sadly, we are left on a forever cliffhanger and will never know how the story resolves because it is after this episode when the series gets cancelled. I searched the web for answers and could not find any official statement by a cast or crew member on how they were planning on resolving that, so instead after much thinking, I have come to the conclusion in my mind that Sam Cooper couldn't get himself to fire his weapon in that scenario and thus Beth is the one that gets shot and killed. This would lead to a very emotional and tragic opening to the second season that would include them eventually finding and arresting both men in the duo, but ending the episode with a funeral procession for Beth. They would need to hire a replacement for her, but they could do it. It would be a really sad episode, but it would be one that would go down as one of the best episodes of the show had it been given the shot to go forward. But that's just my opinion. If you have seen this episode, please feel free to post your thoughts about what would've happened in the season opener because I would be interested in reading them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Review

The Wizard of Oz (1939) is easily considered one of the greatest movies of all time. Outside 1985's typically forgotten about Return to Oz, the land of Oz has been a place that Hollywood really hasn't ventured back to. To be completely honest, this fact is actually quite a surprising one given the fact that The Wizard of Oz was based on a book by L Frank Baum and he didn't just write one book. He wrote 14 books. And in addition to that, there were 26 other Oz books written after his death by various authors that continued the cannon of Oz. So there is plenty of material that could be used to make more movies. However, after a long stretch of no Oz movies by Hollywood, the land of Oz has once again been discovered and in this uncreative  movie age (most movies are sequels, prequels, remakes, or adaptations) there must be many movie makers that are salivating with this recently rediscovered plethora of material to turn into movies. However, before an attempt to jump into other Oz books written by Baum, Sam Raimi and crew have elected to base this almost completely on the 1939 movie while almost avoiding the books. Most people know a lot about that movie, but only true L Frank Baum fans know that the classic movie actually strays a lot from the book. But that typically isn't seen as a criticism of the movie, so perhaps being truer to the movie and connecting with that is a smarter idea than being completely true to the books. Also, this movie is a prequel to the 1939 movie and is a movie about how the wizard came to Oz, which is a story that was not written on the pages of a L Frank Baum book. Bad plan? Well, no. I have no problem with the idea. I just have a problem with a good plan that is poorly executed.

Going into Oz, I will admit that I was super excited for a return journey to the land that I had grown to love as a child. However, I had two major concerns. First is Sam Raimi as a director. The man has a tendency to create these big grand worlds that, while they sound good, they usually end up going over the top too much and when it comes to adaptions, he doesn't do good at being faithful to the original material. As an example for this, I point to the original Spider-Man trilogy that started in the early 2000's. Now I actually enjoyed the first two movies in that trilogy, the second being my favorite, but the third movie was just plain awful in almost every way. And then there was the reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. That movie opened my eyes a bit and showed me that Sam Raimi's trilogy was just off in so many ways. Now the second concern I had going in was the Alice in Wonderland feel. That 2011 hit was just awful in my opinion. They spent way too much effort on creating a super beautiful movie that they forgot about almost every other part of the movie. Making worse, the CGI world they created was just too much for me. Oz the Great and Powerful is a movie that is done by the same producers as Alice in Wonderland and so I was really nervous that it was going to suffer the same death as Alice in Wonderland.

With that in mind, allow me to discuss what I actually thought of the movie after seeing it. Unfortunately my two main fears turned out to be true. But it wasn't just that, it was more. This seemingly creative idea of writing a story about Oz coming to Oz kinda crashed. It starts out with the two lead actors dropping the ball completely. I'm actually usually a James Franco fan. He was the best part of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and I also really enjoyed him in Rise of the Planet of the Apes but his performance as Oz was just off. It almost seemed like he didn't care very much. Mila Kunis is the other lead in this movie that was just awful. Now a part of the problem with her was the writing. Her character a very shallow character and the progression from good witch to the famous Wicked Witch of the West just didn't make much sense. But despite being a very beautiful woman, Mila Kunis's acting job didn't help her case much. In general, the writing in the movie was just facepalmingly awful at times. As a quick example, there is a point in the movie where they forgot the were telling the story of Oz and instead started off an a Snow White tangent. And by that I mean there is a scene where one wicked witch gives her sister an apple to eat that would in turn harden her heart even more. Seriously? You couldn't come up with anything more clever than that? Finally, I want to complain about the Alice in Wonderland-esque CGI in the movie. Some will make the comment that it was stunning and beautiful. Not me. As you read before, I hated the movie Alice in Wonderland and was just annoyed by the over-the-top CGI. Now as you will find soon, I didn't actually hate Oz, but I was annoyed with the over-the-top CGI that plagued Alice in Wonderland because it was the exact same. Sure, Oz is supposed to look fairy tale-ish and fancy, but I actually enjoyed the 1939 visual effects more than this 2013 overly done version. It was just too fake.

If you have made it this far in my review, you will notice that I have done nothing but hate on the movie so far and I am done for now. While I didn't think it was a particularly good movie, I also didn't hate it. First off, I was very pleased with the Oz nostalgia that the movie gave me. Despite there being several spread-the-cheese moments, it was pretty true to the Oz movie that I love and ran right into that movie. For a moment in time I thought that we were going to end the movie by seeing a house land on one of our wicked witches followed by a Kansas girl named Dorothy Gale walking out. While that didn't happen, I did have a strong desire to go re-watch the original movie. Also, not all the acting was bad. In fact, Michelle Williams as the famous good witch Glinda was fantastic. Not only was she extremely gorgeous, more so than Mila Kunis I thought, but she actually did a very good job acting which was a really good sigh of relief after enduring moments where James Franco didn't seem to care about his role. Also I loved the intro to the movie in staying true to the black and white Kansas scene. Despite not being able to use some throwback moments due copyright issues, the music by Danny Elfman was really good. And there were a lot of clever, funny moments that made me laugh out loud. Finally I have to mention the two stars of the movie. First is Oz's faithful flying monkey companion Finley voiced by Zach Braff. The voice acting for him was great and he had a lot of funny moments in the movie. Second was the character that really stole the show, our unnamed china girl voiced by Joey King. She was so adorable and fun. She was also clever and had just the lovable and sometimes feisty personality of a young girl that just made everyone fall in love with her. Easily the best part of the movie.

Wrapping this up, Oz the Great and Powerful isn't epic or even great by any means, which is really disappointing. But it also isn't a complete and utter mess. I think it is worth a watch, but if you can get away with not paying full price for the movie, I would recommend that option, whether that is a dollar theater or a red box when that moment arrives. Also this is a PG movie, so is it one that you should feel comfortable taking your kids to? Well, that all depends on if you would feel comfortable showing the original Wizard of Oz movie to your kids. Personally the flying monkeys in the original really scared me and the flying baboons in this one will probably do the same to little kids, so I personally recommend keeping your really little kids away, but the choice is yours. Overall I will give this movie an average 7 out of 10.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer Review

As I posted in my March movie preview, the first weekend of March has recently been a great spot for movies to land. The last four movies to open in that spot all wound up with over $100M in their final domestic box office total, with all but one opening above $50M. That fact combined with the fact that last June audiences piled in the theaters to see the very average Snow White and the Hunstman, propelling that movie to an opening weekend of nearly $60M, and it seemed like Jack the Giant Slayer was in a good position to succeed. However, it appears that Snow White is a much more interesting fairy tale than Jack and the Beanstalk even with the wooden Kristen Stewart playing her because audiences just aren't interested in Jack the Giant Slayer and it will wind up as an even bigger flop than last March's John Carter. It's quite the shame really because as it turns out, while it's not the perfect movie, Jack the Giant Slayer is certainly better than all three recent fairy tale adaptions to hit the big screen (Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Hunstman, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters). However, even though Jack is poised to fall flat on his face in opening weekend and get swallowed up by Oz next weekend, it's not to late for you as the reader of this post. Go and be a part of the minority of people that are seeing Jack perform this weekend. I'd say I'd guarantee you won't be disappointed, but I guess I can't do that. But I can tell you that I really enjoyed it.

We all know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and this movie doesn't really stray too far from that. It's not trying to pull off what Hansel and Gretel did in late January by taking a fairy tale and completely twisting and turning it into a gruesome R-rated bloodbath. We have the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk that is extended to include a kingdom for the Giants to fight and a beautiful princess for Jack to fall in love with. A lot of people that have complaints about this are complaining about the boring story line and lame characters and I don't understand their point. This is not something groundbreaking, super original, or mind blowing, but it is a fun story with good characters. And it is more directed towards the family audience. And by family audience, I don't mean a young mother bringing her three kids ages five and under to the movie theaters. It is a PG-13 rated movie, but it's a light PG-13 that is closer to PG than R and I think preteens and teenagers sitting down with their parents is totally appropriate for this setting.

The best part of this movie is certainly the visuals. I think all the CGI giants are done really well as well as the beanstalk and amazing scenery. I don't know if I would say it is quite to the level of Snow White and the Huntsman in terms of the visuals, but it is pretty good. Like I said, there are many complaining that the story is too boring and while I disagree with that, I can maybe understand where they are coming from if they were perhaps expecting something totally different and groundbreaking from this, I don't understand the complaints about the characters being bad. I thought all the characters were fantastic and the acting was superb. Specifically this movie stars Nicholas Hoult, who is fresh off his great role as R in Warm Bodies, playing Jack. And although being Jack is much different than being a zombie turning into a human, he does a great job in this just as he did in Warm Bodies. Eleanor Tomlinson isn't a name I have heard very much, but she plays the princess and although you can say her role is very cliche, I actually think it works quite well because the chemistry between her and Nicholas Hoult is very strong. Also you have Ewan McGregor making an appearance in a big name movie for the first time in a while and he is great as always. We also have Ian McShane, Stanley Tucci, and several others who do a good job to make this work.

Overall, I wouldn't consider this an epic fantasy adventure that will be looked at by many as one of the great movies of our day. It does some minor things that I could pick at like the giants being oddly weak at the end, the beanstalk being too easy to chop down, and the score not being particularly strong and moving, but it a fun, family fantasy adventure that is worth you checking out. I am awarding Jack the Giant Slayer an 8 out of 10.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Snitch Review

The first thing I thought of when I heard about the movie Snitch was Harry Potter. Were we getting a Harry Potter Quiddditch spin-off movie? Haha, no. But I kinda like the idea. Snitch is actually an action movie with Dwayne Johnson as the lead role. I know, I know. Most people would hear that and instantly make the decision to never watch the movie. The Rock is wrestler. He can't act. All his movies are just plain stupid. Right? Uhhhh... wrong. Those who judge this movie based on this will miss out on what is a surprisingly fantastic movie. And newsflash people. The Rock is gone. Dwayne Johnson is here. At least for this movie.

Action movies of late haven't done too well. And when I say that I mean there have been four R-rated pure action movies that were released in 2013 that completely tanked. Namely they were Mark Wahlberg's Broken City, Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand, Jason Statham's Parker, and Sylvester Stallone's Bullet to the Head. All four opened below $10M, with Bullet to the Head falling even lower by not making it to $5M on its opening weekend. Now it's true that Snitch financially didn't do too much better, but it did manage to top $10M and the general consensus among fans and critics is that it is a better movie than the previous four. I will admit that I have not seen the previous four movies, but I will add my voice in saying that it was a surprisingly good movie. There are several things that it had going for it that made it more appealing than the others. First off,  it wasn't rated R. It was instead a softer PG-13, which means it appealed to a more broad audience. Second, this wasn't your typical, turn-off-your-brain-and-watch-explosions action movie. This movie had a lot of heart and soul and made you care more about the characters than the action. And it is really more of a thriller and less action.

So what is this movie actually about? It is the story of an 18-year old Jason Collins who has divorced parents and at the beginning of the move gets set up by his best friend in getting caught up in a drug deal. Jason gets arrested and faces at least ten years in prison. His very concerned father, played by Dwayne Johnson, tries to do everything that he can to help reduce his son's sentence and the agreement made is that if he (the father) helps catch some big players in the drug dealing business then they will think about reducing his sentence. This leads to Johnson getting himself trapped in a very sticky situation that makes for an intense and emotional story. And before you write this off as a non-realistic story, the movie is inspired by true events and the overarching message is one of a strong message against the war on drugs.

Yes, the movie seems a bit slow and choppy at first and might not be one that you remember for the rest of your life, but it is a very good movie that is well worth seeing. The acting, especially by Dwayne Johnson, is fantastic. I'd be willing to say that it is his best performance so far. Now there hasn't been a whole lot of good movies this year, so this isn't saying much as of it, but so far this is my favorite movie of the year and I would strongly recommend you at least give this a chance. I give this movie an 8 out 10.