• Category Archives Movie Reviews
  • A.P. Fuchs’s movie reviews, ranging from horror to superhero to sci-fi and a bunch of other stuff.

  • Canister X Movie Review #125: JCVD (2008)

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    JCVD (2008)
    Written by Mabrouk El Mechri, Frédéric Benudis and Christophe Turpin
    Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
    Runtime 97 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—international movie star.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—the Muscles from Brussels.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—loved by millions

    Jean-Claude Van Damme—criminal?

    It’s a post office hostage situation and Van Damme is suspected to be the guy running the show. He talks to the cops, tells them what he wants, is alone inside with the hostages—he’s got guilty written all over him.

    Except not all is what it seems and Van Damme—hero to all—is having the worst day of his life. Not only did he lose custody of his daughter, he’s broke, has no new movie on the horizon and now he’s getting framed taking a post office with a built-in bank hostage.

    I just finished watching this and I’m still soaking it in. I’ve seen most of Van Damme’s movies and JCVD is nothing like any of them. This isn’t an action movie despite it starting that way. This is a drama. Big time, and Van Damme proves here he is way more than just muscles, high kicks, and guns. This Van Damme is raw, brutally honest, caring and just downright human. No eight-foot-tall-and-bullet-proof karate guy here. This is the story about Van Damme the man (he goes by his own name in the movie), one with heart, potent emotion and a performance that should have been nominated for an Oscar. Seriously.

    Van Damme’s not listed in the movie’s writing credits, but there’s a point in the movie where he talks to the camera about life, Hollywood, the ups and downs and simply apologizes for the mistakes he’s made in real life to those he knows and to those, like us, he doesn’t. Just phenomenal.

    My only little thing was the story seemed to move slowly in parts, but, hey, that could just be me.

    And the ending . . . man, it was just perfect. I really liked how they presented it, especially the climatic scene between Van Damme and the bad guys. To go any other way would have completely ruined the movie, but this was handled nicely. Good on them.

    The sepia coloring used throughout the film added a wonderful grittiness to it, enhancing the drama and its foreign and rustic atmosphere.

    This is a Van Damme movie you’ve never seen before. This is a Van Damme you’ve never seen before.

    You need to see this.

  • Canister X Movie Review #124: Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)

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    Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)
    Written by Robert Valding
    Directed by Jeff Broadstreet
    Runtime 80 min.
    3 out of 5

    I found out about this flick via the movie-on-demand feature from my cable provider. I watched the trailer, loved the zombies, then vowed that one night soon after my wife and kids went to bed, I’d indulge in a world of darkness and gore while hiding out in an old farmhouse.

    The problem was: I got busy, so when I finally got around to my late-night television watching, I was too tired to watch a full movie and since the on-demand rental would only be for 24 hours, there wouldn’t be any other time to watch this flick other than, well, right when I rented it.

    So the suspense built. One day turned to two. Two to four. Four to eight, ’til eventually a few weeks passed, me all the while unable to stop thinking about this film. Then . . . finally—finally—I was able to watch this thing. The only problem was it was an over-the-cables rental so no 3D for me. Oh well.

    I loved how it started out like the original Night of the Living Dead (that was 1968, for those who don’t know). The opening scene in the cemetery immediately brought back memories of the original and the same kind of eeriness. Then the zombies showed up; I was all giggles and my inner undead fanboy was a happy camper.

    Right then I knew I was in for a good time. And I had a good time. The zombie scenes were great. The dead were just plain gross, each in various states of decay. The blood was plentiful and Sid Haig as Gerald Tovar Jr. did a great job of being that creepy, hick kind of guy that would bother anyone. And I gotta tell you, I didn’t see the twist in the storyline coming. I won’t spoil it, but those who’ve seen this movie know what I’m talking about.

    This movie is one of those great-yet-not flicks. You love it because it’s all blood and guts, zombies and definitely a B-movie. You have a problem with it because the story is kind of “meh” and the acting is all right. At the same time you can’t stop thinking about it afterward because—since it’s a remake—it brings back gushy memories of the original (and in this case the original and the 1990 remake), but at the same time you wonder how it got off the rails so badly.

    That said, I’m giving it a split rating, the idea here being you can go either way on this, but at the very least be in for a good time, especially if you dig B-horror.

  • Canister X Movie Review #123: Land of the Dead (2005)

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    Land of the Dead (2005)
    Written by George A. Romero
    Directed by George A. Romero
    Runtime 93 min.
    3 out of 5

    One day, they rose.
    The next, the world fell.
    Now, humanity barely survives.
    And the undead have gotten smarter.

    Zombies abound in this recent blockbuster by George A. Romero and, as always, the man who invented the zombie genre shows us he still has what it takes to turn out a good flick.

    Simon Baker does a great job playing the hard-edged-yet-soft-hearted hero, while John Leguizamo steals the show as a kind of crooked hero-turned-bad guy.

    What I enjoyed about this flick was the idea of a walled-in society, a city-turned-world of its own, with its own hierarchy, running down from rich to poor. I suppose that even if the dead walked the earth, we’d still have the same problems we have today with the rich getting richer and the poor poorer.

    Blood and guts fill the screen of this feature: graphic, wet and sloppy. There’s no shortage of stomach-turning moments here.

    I liked the idea of some of the zombies getting smarter instead of just roaming around looking for folks to eat, and the idea of them trying to regain their former humanity was well done. However, the “human-hearted” zombies also made the creatures feel a bit too human, for my taste, and the undead lost their edge as a result.

    The story was simple, but fun.

    Not a bad effort, this one.

  • Canister X Movie Review #122: Final Destination 2 (2003)

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    Final Destination 2 (2003)
    Written by J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress
    Directed by David R. Ellis
    Runtime 90 min.
    4 out of 5

    After Kimberly Corman (A.J. Cook) has a premonition about a massive series of car accidents on the highway she and her friends are on, she pulls her car over. A cop, Thomas Burke (Michael Landes), comes up to her and asks why she’s blocking traffic. She says there’s going to be a huge accident and, sure enough, events begin to unfold on Highway 180 . . . but without them in it unlike in her vision. The cop goes to alert other emergency personnel. An oncoming truck heads right for Kim’s car. Kim escapes but her friends are killed. Yet others—who had died in the multiple wrecks in Kim’s vision—also survive.

    Soon, the survivors are all together. Except one by one Death comes for them, making things as they should be, restoring order and bringing his agenda of who dies and when back under his control.

    To try and stop the cycle before it’s too late, Kim seeks out a survivor from the first movie—Clear Rivers (Ali Larter)—and Clear takes command, explaining why people are dying and how to save themselves.

    If they believe her.

    Shock, gore and suspense are what this movie is all about.

    I got to tell you, this movie had me biting my nails all the way through. After the *ahem* blood settled and we knew who the major players were, I was gripping my seat because very quickly they slowly begin to die. And not just, oh, they die slowly—but in that step-by-step, cause-and-effect way that is the Final Destination franchise’s hallmark. These movies are very much about the Butterfly Effect, and the way the tension is created as you wait for someone to be a goner is pure gold.

    I loved the creative ways folks died in the movie. No clear-cut, bang-you’re-dead stuff here. Just pure strange ways of checking out. The most creative, I thought, was when that kid got squished by a falling sheet of glass. Didn’t see that coming, and the way he folded in half is burned in my memory. Likewise when the barb-wired fence dices Rory (Jonathan Cherry) into pieces. Who comes up with this stuff?

    The only thing that got under my skin was Clear’s constantly talking about “Death’s design.” Okay. We get it. He has a design. Move on. I don’t need to hear you using that phrase a thousand times in the movie.

    This flick has a permanent place in my DVD collection.


  • Canister X Movie Review #121: Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

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    Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
    Written by Paul W.S. Anderson
    Directed by Russell Mulcahy
    Runtime 94 min.
    5 out of 5

    Alice (Milla Jovovich) wanders the Nevada desert alone, flying under the radar of the Umbrella Corporation.

    It’s been five years since the deadly T-virus outbreak. The world is all but in shambles. Alice believes that only Alaska is the last safe place on Earth. An old journal she found with a six-month-old radio transcription told her so.

    On her journey, Alice comes across a small caravan of survivors headed up by Claire (Ali Larter) that also happens to be carrying along some old friends: Slater (Matthew Marsden) and L.J. (Mike Epps).

    She convinces them to head north to Alaska, and so they embark, fighting off the dead at every turn, even undead crows that have been transformed from feasting on zombie flesh.

    Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) wants Alice back under his control as he focuses on perfecting her as a weapon against the undead. Except, once Alice catches on, she manages to disable their system of control over her and escapes with Claire and the others.

    All hope lost, and having been bitten by one of the dead himself, Dr. Isaacs uses the antivirus on himself . . . but in a different way, creating a result neither he nor Alice expected.

    It’s ultra crazy good and suspenseful action horror in this third installment in the Resident Evil series.

    Wow. I mean, man oh man, I love this movie. So, so good. I’m a sucker for roadside horror and sleepy towns. This movie has both. The zombies? Pure gruesome since most of them have been rotting for five years as they wander around devouring the rest of the living.

    The zombie crows were a nice touch. So, so many of them. Swarms. That’s the thing I always tell people about zombies. One zombie’s not so bad. Get a whole mess of them together and they’re scary as all get out. Same for zombie crows. There was enough here to turn the sky black. Freaky.

    The development of Alice’s powers was cool and though her telekinesis might seem kind of outlandish to some, it’s portrayed well here and done with the utmost seriousness and not used as a cop-out to get her out of a jam.

    I felt bad for her as well when she saw all those clones of herself rotting out in the desert sun. That’d be heartbreaking, upsetting and angering for anyone. I’m glad she gave Dr. Isaacs his due.

    The ending raises a ton of questions for the forthcoming Resident Evil: Afterlife. I’m eager to see how they deal with that army of Alices without it coming off goofy or repetitive.

    This movie’s score was also spectacular, the hard beat of the drums and dark, raunchy guitar giving it a very awesome grittiness that adds to the whole post-apocalyptic feel.

    Check this flick out. It’s hardcore, loaded with gore and just down right fantastic.


  • Canister X Movie Review #120: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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    Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
    Written by Paul W.S. Anderson
    Directed by Alexander Witt
    Runtime 94 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    The Umbrella Corporation needs to know what happened at the Hive and why it was sealed up afterward, so a team is sent down there to open it. Unfortunately, when they do, they unleash an army of the undead and the T-virus is unleashed on the world.

    Alice (Milla Jovovich) wanders the streets of Raccoon City, now under quarantine, blasting the heads off of anything dead that moves. Soon she saves Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and crew and the group is quickly contacted by Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris) whose daughter, Angie (Sophie Vavasseur), is still in the city. Umbrella Corporation scanners show her at the school she attends. The deal: if they save his daughter, he’ll guide them out of the city and past the perimeter Umbrella has put up to keep the T-virus in. They have to do this before sunrise otherwise they won’t make it out before Umbrella nukes the entire city, erasing any trace that the T-virus existed and reanimated the dead.

    Oh, and the Nemesis Project is online, and it’s on the hunt.

    Usually sequels fail after the first, or if they succeed, it’s only by a small margin. Well, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is even better than its predecessor and brings another haul of thrills and chills along with it. In this one the post-apocalyptic feel hangs thick on the air. Raccoon City is in ruins. Cars are overturned and on fire. Bodies and blood litter the streets. Guns are going off in the distance.

    And zombies are everywhere. Good and gruesome zombies. (I particularly liked the ones featured in the cemetery; the level of rot and decay on those things was exquisite.)

    In Resident Evil style, dark things lurk in the shadows and the suspense and tension built in this movie is awesome. I jumped I don’t know how many times. Even the parts where you go, “Okay, something’s going to pop out . . . NOW!” make you jump. Very cool.

    The fight between Nemesis and Alice was cool along with her other wheelings and dealings with the undead. Her super solider-esque, Matrix-like fighting techniques was a treat to watch.

    That scene in the school with all those zombie kids? Truly creepy. Adult zombies got nothing on these little terrors.

    The movie serves as a nice in-betweener for the first and third. The epic scale of storytelling is terrific, and this is one zombie saga I’m eager to see go on, especially when part four (Resident Evil: Afterlife) comes out in 2011.


  • Canister X Movie Review #119: Resident Evil (2002)

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    Resident Evil (2002)
    Written by Paul W.S. Anderson
    Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
    Runtime 100 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    When Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up on a shower floor inside a mansion with no memory, she has little time to try and get herself together. Soon the place is infiltrated by commandos, who then take her down beneath the mansion to a secret train and into a place called the Hive, a hidden underground facility where the powerful Umbrella Corporation was conducting secret experiments.

    The problem is something had gone wrong before the team got there.

    And the dead are coming back to life.

    Alice and the commandos dodge zombies, the Hive’s super sophisticated security system—called the Red Queen—and teammates who have secrets of their own.

    It would be a miracle if anyone makes it out of the Hive . . . alive.

    This movie is pure suspense. Every little sound, thump and bump make you wonder when a zombie’s going to pop out of nowhere and devour one of the living. Keeping things even creepier is the Hive itself. It’s location: a half mile below Raccoon City. Space is limited. Time is running out. You feel the tension all the way through, right from when Alice wakes up ’til the blood-soaked climax.

    I loved this movie. The only reason I’m knocking off half a point is because the plot is super simple (though they make you feel otherwise). However, this flick serves as an awesome back story for what’s to come because there have been two sequels so far (Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction) and a fourth one to come in 2011, currently called Resident Evil: Afterlife.

    This movie definitely served its purpose of setting things up for the saga to come, and wasted no time going through zombie origin stuff before getting hardcore into the action, mystery and carnage. Director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson nailed it with this film. Though—according to my Mrs—this flick was different than the game, I enjoyed it big time and have been a fan of the franchise since. Guess I owe my wife one for introducing it to me back when this film came out.

    Zombie fans will love this movie and it’s easy to see why Resident Evil has the following it does.


  • Canister X Movie Review #118: Day of the Dead (2008)

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    Day of the Dead (2008)
    Written by Jeffrey Reddick
    Directed by Steve Miner
    Runtime 86 min.
    3 out of 5

    A strange flu outbreak.

    Nose bleeds.


    Rebirth . . . in rage.

    No one knows how anyone got sick . . . at least, no one is telling us. The US Army is all over it, quarantining Leadville, Colorado. Sarah Bowman (Mena Suvari) is serving her country and is part of the troops bordering the town.

    Except they can’t contain the rage-filled maniacs that have returned from the dead after being killed by the flu.

    Going back for her mother (Linda Marlowe), she runs into her brother, Trevor (Michael Welch), and tries and save their mother’s life. Unfortunately, the mom falls victim to the virus and Sarah and her brother—along with his girlfriend/female interest, Nina (AnnaLynne McCord), and a couple of Army Joes—try and flee from the ever-escalating attack of flesh-hungry zombies that stop at nothing to satisfy their gut-munching desires.

    Adding a strange twist to things, one of the army chaps, Bud Crain (Stark Sands), gets infected and later transforms into an angry zombie as well, but Sarah keeps him along for the ride, feeling sorry for him. Besides, he seems harmless enough and hasn’t attacked them.

    When their hope of escape falls through, Sarah and the others must make their last stand against the undead before they are ripped to pieces.

    Can they survive this Day of the Dead?

    The first thing that comes to mind about this movie is that it’s hardcore. The zombies in this flick aren’t just your average gray-skinned, baggy-eyed monsters. The person infected dies then are suddenly transformed into pale-skinned, decayed-fleshed, white-eyed beasties loaded with so much rage that hate and hunger emanates from them before they even move in for the kill. Speaking of which, they move so fast you’d think they’re part vampire or something. Crazy speed with these guys and, for me, those quick, jerky movements of the undead creep me out every time.

    The story’s simple: an outbreak, people turn into zombies, folks run for their lives. Hey, standard zombie fare, and that’s part of the fun. I also liked having a female in the lead and it was neat to see Mena Suvari—who usually plays the fun, get-along girl—take charge and blast the heads off these creatures.

    I was totally into this flick. The suspense was building. Every time a zombie jumped out I was jumping on my couch. All good.

    Then Bud died, came back—and was nice? This bit took me out of the movie and it’s why I’m giving this a 3 out of 5 instead of a 4 like I was going to. It just totally ruined it for me, especially when Sarah and friends were riding with him in the Humvee and, after a short debate about why this zombie was riding with them, they all seemed pretty cool with it.

    Bud’s bit at the end was also predictable, but, hey, what’re you gonna do?

    I did like how vulnerable these zombies were to fire and how quickly the flames destroyed them.

    The ending director Steve Miner chose for this flick was the better of the two as the alternate ending on the DVD, though very similar, wasn’t as strong and was a bit hokey. Having Salazar (Nick Cannon) die was the best choice.

    If you like your zombie flicks raunchy, quick and gory, you’ll love this Day of the Dead remake. If you’re one of those folks who are sticky about story plausibility—even in the realm of zombie movies—then this probably won’t be up your alley.

    Your call.

  • Canister X Movie Review #117: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

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    G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
    Written by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett
    Directed by Stephen Sommers
    Runtime 118 min.
    4 out of 5

    When military partners Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) get involved in the super covert ultra team G.I. Joe thanks to botching up supervising the delivery of nano-mite war-heads on behalf of the US Army, they join the team to try and track the war-heads down before they’re unleashed on the world. To make things even more difficult for Duke, his ex-girlfriend, Anastasia “Ana” DeCobray (Sienna Miller), also the “Baroness,” is part of the team responsible for stealing the nano-mite war-heads, and he is torn between trying to figure out what happened to her and also doing the right thing not just for his country, but for the whole world.

    Yet Duke and Ana aren’t the only ones with a past. Opposing ninja warriors Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) go back to when they were children and trained under the same sensei. It wasn’t until a tragic event in their youth drove the two apart, only to meet now, years later, and settle their conflict once and for all.

    With only the safety of the world resting in the hands of the best of the best of the best, team G.I. Joe has their work cut out for them as they try to save the world from the rising C.O.B.R.A.

    This movie is lightning. Seriously. Right from the first minute straight through to the last this sucker moves at breakneck speed with non-stop action, fireballs, lasers, bullets, super-powered armor, kung-fu, car chases, car crashes, aerial battles and a whole ton more.

    It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie where I felt like I was moving at the speed of light and G.I. Joe delivers that in spades. I went in expecting an action movie. I got it. I went in expecting a military movie. I didn’t get that but instead got something between the Avengers, Desert Storm and James Bond. It didn’t feel like an army movie and for that I was thankful because, though I like history and military fiction, I have a hard time watching army movies. Don’t know why. Just can’t get into them. Also, all that olive green is nauseating after a while. Thank goodness that stupid color is absent in G.I. Joe. They wear black, thank you very much.

    The overall plot was cool. The problem was the pace. It was just way too fast. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the flashback sequences throughout the movie and even the fact the movie starts off in 1641 instead of the present day. More specifically, I was impressed the flashback sequences didn’t happen to just one character, but to several, each segment adding to that character’s history and giving us something more than a man or woman with an agenda. We actually get to understand their motivations because we get to be there with them and see how they came to be what they came to be.

    There was something else I had a hard time buying, but I’ll leave it there because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet.

    In the end, this film delivered a lot and truly embodied the idea of “rise of the cobra.” There was origins galore, the ones not mentioned above being Destro and the Doctor. There will no doubt be a sequel because there’s obviously way more story to tell.

    Rating this film was tough because there’s no way to be critical of it without coming off unfair. I mean, really, the effects were 5 out of 5. No challenge there. The explosions alone were awesome never mind the Eiffel Tower falling, the nano-mite green mist effect, those blue electro pulses—craziness. The story? Well . . . how’s 3 sound? Yeah? Okay. Tell you what: I’ll meet you halfway and we’ll settle on 4. Cool? Cool.

    Oh and one more thing . . .

    Go Joe!

  • Canister X Movie Review #116: Transformers (2007)

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    Transformers (2007)
    Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
    Directed by Michael Bay
    Runtime 144 min.
    4 out of 5

    It is called the All Spark. Powerful. Incredible. Able to create robotic life and destroy it just as quickly.

    On Cybertron, a planet far, far away, a war arose when a robot named Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, wanted the power of the All Spark for himself. Optimus Prime and his band of Autobots rose up against him and their battle destroyed their homeworld, sending the cube-shaped All Spark into space.


    The Autobots and Decepticons scoured the galaxy looking for it, knowing that whoever found it first would be the victor and would decide the fate of not just one world, but the universe.

    The All Spark found its way to Earth, but not before Megatron tracked it there. It landed in the Arctic, and Megatron was frozen there until found later on by Captain Witwicky, explorer.

    Decades later, his grandson, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), needs a car and after visiting a used-car dealer ends up coming home with an old Chevy Camaro. Little does he know the car is more than meets the eye and lurking beneath its yellow shell is an Autobot named Bumblebee. It’s not long ’til Sam finds out and is thrust into a robotic world where two teams of giant robots compete to find the All Spark.

    Joining Sam is his high school crush, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), whom reluctantly is dragged on this journey with him but soon finds herself getting interested in this guy who she barely knew existed.

    It’s robot vs robot in this giant epic of good vs evil, with fireballs, bullets and vehicles that are more than meets the eye.

    What can I say? When I heard they were taking the Transformers from my childhood and lifting them from the cartoon to “real life,” I was ecstatic. I was also concerned because I knew it’d take a crazy amount of CGI to make it happen, and not just any CGI either—good CGI. The last thing I wanted was for a bunch of cartoony robots with rubbery parts dominating the screen.

    Boy, was I shocked when I saw Bumblebee transform and tower over all, shining his spotlight into the sky, or when Optimus Prime showed up and that glorious digital transformation sound roared and he stood proud, huge and detailed.

    This stuff was real, and it looked like the makers of this movie actually made real Autobots and Decepticons to make it happen.

    Good times.

    Storywise, yeah, I liked it. The alien invasion thing worked. Very well done. Same with the notion that, unlike the cartoons (from what I recall), the Autobots had a vow of secrecy to keep themselves hidden from the humans while they searched for the All Spark.

    Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky was funny, same with Kevin Dunn as his father.

    The story also bodes well for a sequel, which has now come and gone, with more stories in the works. If you’re going to go epic, like Transformers did, you’re going to need more than one. Last I heard, they’re doing 5 or 6 of these things. Me? I’m all for it. I go into these things expecting a good time and not some life-altering film where, years later, I look back and see it as a turning point for me. Transformers is just that: a good time, and one that tickled my inner fanboy.

    More than meets the eye? You betchya!