Action

Big Game

I would love to write a thesis on what it’s like making action movies about the President of the US in 2017.  What would Air Force One look like? All The President’s Men? Executive Decision? Is it a coincidence that White Olympus House Down Fallen or whatever is the last US Pres focused action movie to come out?

Well back in 2014, Finland’s Jalmari Helander pumped out the President focused action of your dreams with Big Game.

Coming off of the success of the straight up weird (and excellent) Rare Exports (prep for that entry near the holidays), Jalmari applied his wacky style to the “save the pres” genre.

Samuel L. Jackson stars alongside young Onni Tommila as the US President who is marooned in Finland after a failed attempt at his kidnapping causing an Air Force Once Crash. Onni, as Oskari, the skilled young camper, stumbles across the pres and the pair go on an exciting adventure through the woods.  Oskari is out hunting and camping to prove himself as a man to his village, and the pres stumbles right in to give him the opportunity.

This absolutely ridiculous spin on the genre adds an entire level of fun to an otherwise Clany written Ford starring version of the same.  Take a trip back to a time when these movies were a fun spin on reality.  This is EASILY one of my favourite camp action movies, and of those, there are many.

Great if you liked: Rare Exports, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Air Force One, Con Air, All the President’s Men, Independence Day

Equilibrium

Remember all those books you read in high school about the dystopian future? Fahrenheit 451? The Handmaid’s Tale? The Giver? 1984? All ‘dem? Now imagine someone took all of those, added pre-Batman Christian Bale, some ridiculous gun fighting and made it into a badass sci fi action flick. Boom. Equilibrium.

Don’t let writer/ director Kurt Wimmer’s tendency toward unnecessary remakes scare you, this totally original (well, save for the books mentioned above) sci fi is an absolutely wonderful self contained story line.

In the not so distant future, the government has suppressed all emotion with the mandate of preventing war via a drug to be taken at required intervals.  (The giver, anyone? #Soma).  Along with doing so, all sources of emotion are contraband and, if found, burned on site. (451, anyone?).  John Preson is a cleric tasked with maintaining the world order.  After meeting a woman who has been off her drugs, before her execution, Preston questions his emotionless lifestyle.  After slipping up, he seeks out the resistance and considers the uprising.

There was a while when ipod video was still a thing and this was the only flick I had saved on mine, so I watched it far too many times.  But with the current “rise up” climate, this one comes straight back to me.

This is a really fun take on the dystopian drama that will ease you into wanting the more heavy stuff. I just blew through V for Vendetta and am on kind of a resistance rebel kick, and this blends in seamlessly.

And side note, the whole gun fighting thing is actually pretty dope.

Great if you liked: 1984, The Giver, Batman Begins (ugh), The Prestige (also ugh, but same Bale, I guess), The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Minority Report, Gattaca

Predestination

It’s Tuesday.  Perfect time for some thinking Sci-Fi in Predestination.

Ethan Hawke stars as a Temporal agent on the hunt for a criminal, the Fizzle Bomber, who has eluded him through time.  A Temporal agent’s duties involve intricate travels through time to ensure their law enforcement exists “through eternity.” On his final mission, he is to take out his elusive white whale.

Dripping with unseen hints, a story is told to the agent by a bar patron (who oddly looks a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio) of  Jane, of a shattered career, lost love, and the amazing feats of human kind.

You could see two different trailers for this film and think they’re completely unrelated.  But they’re not.  Watch closely.

Predestination is great for, among other reasons, the fact that it plays with our linear sense of time.  Typically, we see time as a straight line from past, present to future.  For our Temporal Agent, his past, present and future transcends our timeline and exists in a line linear to his age, but not through that of our universe. (Whoooaaaa).

This is one of the highest quality, in both production value and story, sci fi films that I have seen come out of the festival circuit.  Based on a short story by the legendary Robert A. Heinlein, and adapted for film by the makers of Daybreakers, this is not one to go missed.

Amazing if you liked: Daybreakers, Looper, Source Code, In Time, Snowpiercer, Minority Report

Son of Batman

If you have your ear anywhere near the comic book grindstone, you will have heard that they are FINALLY making a Batman animated film for “The Killing Joke” which has just gotten itself an R rating. (This is so insanely exciting because it’s my fave comic book ever and is absolutely twisted).

If you’re not familiar with the Batman animated films, well…. you’re welcome for telling you about them.  Batman animated films are not quite what you would expect.  They tend to borrow heavily from the comic book ethos and are often a page by page retelling of the dark comic books up on the small screen.  There are a lot of amazing ones (and a chunk of them are on Netflix) so if you’re a comic book fan looking for a lazier way to digest some reading, or a casual fan looking to scope the comic book vibe, these are for you.

Son of Batman makes the list because, while it follows the comic book retelling onto the small screen, it’s actually kind of a distant cousin to its comic book counter part, Batman and Son. (Guys, the Batman and Son comic story line is a whole other article for a whole other website…).

Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter, Talia, and his grandson, Damian, are training the League of Assassins when attacked by a rival terrorist group, lead by Slade Wilson (yes the very same character Deadpool is parodying). Ra’s is killed, and Talia brings her son to Gotham to be protected by his father, Batman.  Damian possesses the raw skill of his father and mother and the training of the League, but the defiance associated with being raised by the Al Ghul clan.

Story takes off from there and unreal characters pop by like Killer Croc (you’ll know him from the Suicide Squad trailers) and (*heart melts*) Nightwing. Also, those voice actors, tho.

This is a great one to cut your teeth on, or if you’re a hard comic book fan and have read all the print stories and want something different.  It’ll be perfect to make you a fan just in time for The Killing Joke.

Fun Fact, watching this is how I learned I have been pronouncing “Ra’s” wrong for 25 years. (Raysh? Yeah right).

Great if you liked: Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Attack on Arkham, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman and Robin, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Batman v Superman, Man of Steel, Batman Beyond, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier

Hardcore Henry

It’s a fact that this is an over zealous post.  This was supposed to be buried in the vault for a little while but I am JUST SO EXCITED THAT THIS MOVIE HAS AN OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE.

Back when this was still called “Hardcore,” I was fortunate enough to catch this masterpiece at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it was pretty tough to survive the 90 minute run time without blinking ONCE.

In this movie version of an RPG, you wake up, Henry, with no memory of who you are, being put back together by your beautiful wife.  As she is finishing up installing your voice module, some ‘hell breaks loose’ and, well, you’re off for the best action packed thrill ride you’ll ever see through your own eyes.

The POV of this film is more amazing than you’re imagining.  It has the “one long shot” vibe of Birdman, with the frantic sci fi of the best RPG and some Looper vibes.  What’s even more amazing is that a lot of this flick was shot with go-pros and cameras literally strapped to a guy running.  I’ll reference you to the “bridge free run” scene which was literally filmed without safety harnesses, and just some stunt men running, one of them strapped with cameras.  My heart was in my throat enough without knowing that.

This death defying romp is more fun than you could ever imagine and is completely insane, courtesy of the eccentric Jimmy(s) brought to life by Sharlto Popley.  There’s a dance scene.  That’s all you need to know. (And, no, it’s nothing like Spider-man 3).

I can’t recommend this one enough, and if you can, try your best to catch this one in theaters after it’s exciting April 9, 2016 release.  Ugh, congrats, Ilya Naishuller, you killed it.

Amazing if you liked: any RPG game, Looper, Rare Exports, Big Game, The Sixth Day, 28 Weeks Later, Dredd, Judge Dredd