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Rating History

The Raid 2
The Raid 2 (2014)
2 years ago via Flixster

The Raid 2 is one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen. Gareth Evans has stepped up his already impressive game and with this 2 hours 30 minute action epic, he has proven himself to be a true visionary behind the camera. Where The Raid: Redemption was a kinetic, fight-a-minute thrill ride, its sequel is built around a story. You won't feel its run time because you will be too engulfed in its gritty tale about family, loyalty, betrayal, and identity. Three crime families ultimately end up at war with each other with Rama being caught in the middle as an undercover cop exposing corruption.
Amidst the drama are incredibly choreographed, expertly staged, and graphically violent fight scenes. Weapons, hand-to-hand, gunfights, car chases, The Raid 2 has it all and it doesn't let up! There are at least two action scenes that I would rank among the best in recent memory. On a filmmaking standpoint, the film is beautifully framed, edited with skill and precision - it's so nice to see the actors doing their own stunts - and the sound mixing adds entire new dimensions to what an action film can do. The Raid 2 is a masterpiece!

Only Lovers Left Alive
2 years ago via Flixster

Only Lovers Left Alive presents its vampires like ordinary people. They simply exist like normal human beings, adapting with the times, mastering the art of moving around the world before sunrise, and have their own ways of obtaining blood, which does not involve killing or turning humans into their kind. Vampires have never been depicted this way.
You really get absorbed in their lifestyle. There's no violence at all in the film. Sure, there's blood and people die (off-screen), but the film is more about how the vampires feel about their lives. Adam and Eve frequently refer to humans as "zombies" because they perceive the race is entering into a phase where all inspiration or innovation is gone and human beings just exist for the sake of existing. This makes the two of them question whether they even want to stay alive for the next hundred to thousand years because what would there be to look forward to? This is a totally engrossing film that blends music, romance and drama to create a unique mythology in which vampires exist in a human world. It uses the art of film as a language to influence its audience to think.

Oculus (2014)
2 years ago via Flixster

Oculus is freaky. That's all you need to know. Now go see it.
If you want me to go in more detail, I won't. The narrative progression explains everything you need to know and there's nary a plot hole in sight. The performances are solid and the story is unique. Jumping through different time periods, Oculus chronicles the story of a mirror that siblings Kaylie and Tim think is haunted and is responsible for the murder of their parents. Tim spent eleven years in prison undergoing psychiatric evaluation for being convicted of this murder. But Kaylie knows the truth, or at least she thinks she does. This mirror has a crazy defense mechanism in that it can possess you, make you do things or transport you to places without you being aware. The jumping through different time periods goes a little into excessive hyperdrive in the third act but it's still intense. There is some predictability, but overall, this is a well made horror film. Mike Flanagan shows great control over the visual style and the story, and the actors completely sell the story.
This film is just as scary and as enjoyably effective as The Conjuring.

Dracula Untold
2 years ago via Flixster

One problem that Dracula Untold faces with its portrayal of vampires is that it doesn't really create an interesting mythology for these creatures. Terrified that the Turkish army will conquer his small village, Vlad strikes a deal to be turned into a vampire creature and thus, present the strength to single handedly destroy his opponents. But the audience doesn't get a sense of where vampires come from, why they exist in the first place, and most importantly, why does the thirst for blood turn them into senseless killing machines.
Dracula Untold is a PG-13 film that is really just about staging fun action and cool special effects. Sadly, it does neither. Thousands of people die in Dracula Untold but the fight scenes are badly staged and cut too quickly so you don't see any blood or anyone actually dying from a wound. The special effects aren't atrocious but nothing special. Every time the sun shines down on a vampire, the skin burning effect looks silly. The vampires also look heavily computer generated, bringing to mind Van Helsing as opposed to Interview with the Vampire.

The Raid: Redemption
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Whatever The Raid: Redemption lacks in story, it makes up for with the coolest fight scenes I have seen all year. A SWAT team in Jakarta raids an apartment that is run by a drug lord. We follow Rama, an officer whose brother happens to be one of the drug lord's henchmen. Unfortunately for the SWAT team, the drug lord knows they're coming and is ready for battle.
Writer, director, editor, and choreographer Garreth Evans could be the next best action film director. He has surrounded himself with actors/stuntmen who know what they're doing. He frames the action in many long takes so you can follow it and be blown away by the incredible martial arts on display.
Most films like this do not need a story to work if the action is good, but The Raid develops its characters enough so we care about their survival. There are unexpected plot twists that keep the story from being too predictable. And last but not least, Mike Shinoda's music score could not have been better utilized. The Raid is a great action picture.