Beyond Bourne: 10 Underrated Action Movies

A staple of film since the beginning the action genre has churned out many classics over the years. From space faring epics like Star Wars to secret agent thrillers like the Bourne series it seems like the genre has something for everyone. Now there are dozens of movies like Kill Bill, Terminator and Die Hard that come up when it comes to discussing the best ever. But what about the other movies? The non-Mad Maxes of the world that get overlooked? The films that are never brought up for one reason or another.12

Whether it went up against a bigger movie, came out at the wrong time or just falls between the cracks these underrated gems just aren’t mentioned. That’s why I am going to go over 10 Underrated Action Movies and give them their just due.

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Blade II
While the original Blade is more remembered (a lot of that having to do with the opening scene) I would argue that its sequel is the superior film. Directed by Guillermo del Toro it has Blade team up with a group of vampires (including Ron Perlman and Donnie Yen) against a group of super vampires. As ridiculous as that sounds it works thanks to del Toro’s excellent direction, fun fight scenes and even some emotional stakes with Blade and vampire Nyssa. When you have Wesley Snipes straight up doing pro wrestling moves during a fight scene (a standing suplex to be specific) you know you have a winner.

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Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear
It’s easy to dismiss direct to video as the land of Steven Segal sequels and movies starring pro wrestlers. As it turns out there’s a pretty great action scene at the moment. Case in point, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear. Starring Scott Adkins it’s a classic take on an 80’s ninja movie with Casey (Adkins) needing to avenge his dead wife. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in stellar direction. His fourth film with Adkins director Isaac Florentine shows a good understanding of action by having minimum cuts, having good martial artists and capturing the action in wide angles. Never letting the limitations of the direct to video label effect it, Ninja II is just as good as its big screen competition.

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Law Abiding Citizen
It’s easy to overlook Gerard Butler as an action star. Gaining fame with 300 he is mostly relegated to fun schlockier fare like London Has Fallen and Gods of Egypt at the moment. Before this though he starred in the often overlooked Law Abiding Citizen. A standard thriller on its surface Law Abiding Citizen mixes an absurd plot and a nihilistic streak to make something that is oddly watchable. Part Saw and part Silence of the Lambs 2009’s Law Abiding Citizen is the rare vigilante movie that strives to be more than just another Death Wish clone.

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Shoot ‘Em Up
When it comes to action movies very few go over-the-top and do it right. Either they don’t live up to the hype or they peak too early. Shoot ‘Em Up, on the other hand, rides the fine line where it is ridiculous but not overbearing or feels like it is trying too hard. It wasn’t until years later when I read a Remy Carreiro article and he pointed out why, it is a giant cartoon. Instead of following normal action movie conventions it is more like a cartoon in logic and pacing. To paraphrase Remy, its Looney Tunes mixed with John Woo. Combined it makes for a wild ride that more people should have seen. Never taking itself it too seriously it is a beautifully shot and a delightful bloody homage to childhood cartoons.

^http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/shoot-em-misunderstood-action-movies/

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The Punisher (1989)
While Jon Bernthal’s is considered the definitive version of The Punisher for some he is hardly the first person to play the anti-hero. With movies in 2004 and 2008 it was actually Dolph Lundgren in 1989 to first portray Frank Castle. Considered by critics as more of a generic 80’s action movie it’s actually one of the more accurate comic book movies when it comes to its tone. Lundgren stars as Frank Castle and is waging his one man war on crime. With the mob weakened by his efforts the Yakuza come in to fill the power vacuum with a seemingly endless ninjas. While the Punisher’s origin is changed a bit (including the lack of skull logo on his chest) the whole thing feels like the 80’s Mike Zeck era version on the character. If you’re a fan of pre-Ennis Punisher or 80’s action in general The Punisher is worth tracking down.

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Running Scared
While he became a big star with the Fast & Furious franchise Paul Walker’s best action movie has nothing to do with car racing or Vin Diesel. Directed by Wayne Kramer Running Scared stars Walker as Joey, a low level mobster searching for a missing gun one treacherous night. What could have been a typical gangster movie is turned into this weird gangland-fairy tale hybrid thanks to Kramer’s writing and the cinematography of Jim Whitaker. Despite its colorful palette the film has a gritty and stylish look to it that elevates this trip through the darkest parts of New Jersey. It’s a great, gripping movie and it’s a bummer Running Scared is just now gaining some traction.

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Streets of Fire
“A Rock & Roll Fable” Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire starred Michael Pare as Tom Cody, a soldier of fortune looking for his girlfriend (Diane Lane) in some weird, time displaced version of the 50’s. With plans were for it to be the start of a trilogy and Hill’s pedigree it was expected to be a hit. It flopped and it’s easy to see why. A fairly average movie with okay action, a bare bones story and some wooden acting it just didn’t capture the general audience. Maybe it’s just the passing of time or without the high expectations but the film oddly works nowadays. Fully embracing the “Rock & Roll Fable” conceit it mixes musical, action, drama and comedy elements better than it has any right to. While not technically a good movie it ends up being very fun. With a surprisingly good soundtrack and delightfully cheesy acting Streets of Fire is the kind of unique, experimental craziness we just don’t get anymore.

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Everly
With the popularity of single-location action like The Raid and Dredd I’m surprised how little buzz Everly has gotten. Starring Salma Hayek she portrays a kidnapping victim who has to fight off hordes of killers in a single room. Despite its lower budget director Joe Lynch keeps the tensions high with exciting action, unique set pieces and a little bit of grindhouse cinema insanity. With a commanding lead in Hayek and flashy direction from Lynch it’s a midnight showing sensation waiting to happen.

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Unstoppable
Even though Denzel Washington’s current output of old man action movies can blend together at times one of the more unique entries is 2010’s Unstoppable. Starring Washington and Chris Pines the two are engineers who have to stop a speeding train. Playing like an old school disaster movie director Tony Scott elevates the film with his signature frenetic style. Even though it isn’t the most creative of movies Unstoppable is a well-crafted movie making the most of its thrills.

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Haywire
Despite critical acclaim and doing okay at the box office 2012’s Haywire seems to have fallen into the ether. It’s a shame because it holds up as a good spy thriller. Former MMA fighter Gina Carano stars as Mallory Kane, a black ops operative. Caught in the middle of a conspiracy she has to travel around the world to expose it. What Carano lacks as an actress she makes up for by doing her own stunt work and convincingly playing a badass. A decent part of this is due to fight choreographer J. J. Perry. A fight coordinator for Warrior and The Expendables he does a brilliant job of incorporating spontaneity and mixed martial arts into the fights. At no point does it feel out of place or forced like some other films. Between the inspired choreography and Steven Soderbergh behind the lens Haywire is a movie that really deserves rediscovering.

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From ‘Paranormal Activity’ to ‘Star Wars’: 7 Trailers Better Than The Actual Movie

One of, if not the, most important part of marketing a film is the trailer. In fact they have become such a big deal that we are now getting teasers for the actual trailers and with good reason. In recent years they have become events by themselves inspiring the glee (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), mystery (The Woods) and even outrage (Ghostbusters) that most actual movies can only dream of. At this point trailers are their own piece of cinema and I make sure I get there early enough to see them every time I go to the movies.

That doesn’t mean they’re always a good representation of the movie though. While movies have to have tell a complete story at their core trailers are advertisements. Studios regularly use them to show off their most exciting scenes, biggest scares and even plot twists. Sometimes you’re just plain tricked and the trailer is the best part of the movie. Those times are what I will be going over today with my list of 8 Trailers Better Than The Actual Movie.


Godzilla (1998)

A down on his luck fisherman sits on the pier as his friends laugh at him. Finally catching something things quickly go wrong when his pole is forcefully pulled into the water. The ocean rises around a concealed monster as it heads closer to shore, it’s sheer size destroying the pier from below. It’s a genius way of showing how big Godzilla is without giving away the anything.

What we actually got was, well, a Roland Emmerich movie. While this is fine for some movies (looking at you White House Down) it doesn’t work for Godzilla. It doesn’t when they decide to have the human piece of white bread Matthew Broderick in the lead role. With a poor script, even worst human casting and an altogether lack of understanding what makes a Godzilla movie fun the movie was an absolute failure.


Alien 3

Opening on what seems to be a planet some kind of is quickly revealed to be a xenomorph egg. Cracks open a blinding light emerges to reveal the Alien 3 logo before revealing that the titular Aliens would be coming to Earth. After having the past two films taking place in space the film taking place on a futuristic Earth makes total sense. They even had a great tag line with “On Earth, we will discover that everyone can hear you scream,” or at least it would have been.

Absolutely nothing like the teaser. As it turns out the teaser was released before anything had been decided let alone filmed. A notoriously bad production 20th Century Fox would go through 30 screenplays, have multiple sets were built, and gone through multiple directors before settling on the version we have today. While not the worst movie ever the Alien 3 we got is nowhere as cool as the idea of the Aliens finally making it to Earth.


Superman Returns

Coming out in 2006 Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was DC’s next big movie after the success of Batman Begins. Heavily influenced by the Donner movies we get shots of a younger Clark discovering his powers and a crowd outside the Daily Planet looking up to the sky. While fairly nondescript by itself the scenes were made to feel grand underneath the familiar John Williams score and a speech from Marlon Brando’s Jor-El. It all leads up to a shot of Superman, his eyes closed, high above the planet. Opening his eyes he darts to the Earth like a speeding bullet before we get a view of the Superman shield. It’s a beautifully edited trailer with the references to the past giving it a grandiose feel comic movies lacked at the time.

Now it has been some time since I have seen the Donner movies but I am pretty sure they didn’t involve Superman being a negligent father. While not the disaster some make it out to be there is no denying it felt a bit lifeless. Certainly not the epic most were expecting.


Friday the 13th Part VIII- Jason Takes Manhattan

We start with a view of the New York skyline as a jazzy rendition of ‘New York, New York’ plays. Closing in we see a large man staring at the city from across the Hudson River. Approached by a passerby the man is revealed to be Jason Voorhees! We get random clips of people screaming in terror are around the city. Sure it’s a bit minimalist but it sets the stage perfectly.

As it turns out New York City isn’t really in the movie. For more than half of the movie the movie takes place on a cruise ship heading to NYC. Even for a Friday the 13th movie the idea of a giant like Jason Voorhees being able to go unnoticed seems pretty silly. A shame because once 80’s New York is a great playground for a slasher like Jason. I guess we’ll have to settle for it taking place at Camp Crystal Lake for the rest of our lives.


White Noise

Going the ‘based on a true story’ route we open with “real” EVP saying a variety of things from I love you to get out. If you can suspend your disbelief it makes for an entertaining way of showing this movie’s gimmick. At the time torture porn and remakes of Japanese movies were the big thing so an original ghost story felt fresh. I was certainly excited at the time.

So imagine my surprise when what we got was more Frequency than The Conjuring. For the most part it played more like a supernatural movie with Michael Keaton solving some lives with the demons haunting him more in the background. Even worse they took this unique (at the time) concept and made it absolutely boring. It was bad, real bad. So much so that as we walked out of the theater all I could do was apologize to my friends for convincing them to see this.


Spider-Man 3

While beloved the first two Spiderman movies are pretty basic affairs. While enjoyable the two feel more like a typical origin story and hero saves the city tales. With Spiderman 3 we were looking to get something more complex thanks to it being an adaption of the Black Suit Saga. With Harry finally going after Peter. The whole thing had personal stakes that made the conflict feel important. At least that is what we were promised.

Audiences got this just not in the way they wanted. Instead of Peter Parker dealing with his anger in an interesting way we got Parker in two separate dance numbers. Nor did we get Harry Osborn pursuing Spiderman for killing his father. The writers thought that an amnesia storyline would work better. Add Sandman being the one to kill Uncle Ben and a new villain being shoehorned in and felt more like an episode of The Young and the Restless than a superhero movie

Paranormal Activity

Unique at the time they advertised the film by showing reactions from members of the audience. Seemingly on the edge of their seat there are plenty of shots of people screaming and jumping in fright. A variety of terrifying scenes were shown while we get quotes from sites like Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central. By showing not just clips but reactions it really is an effective way of selling the movie.

Well you certainly can’t say there’s no truth in advertising because all of these scenes are in the movie. As it turns out they were pretty much all of the big scares in the movie. While the context of why they happens helped the movie loses something when you are able to predict what is coming next. While they would use original or alternate takes in future trailers I definitely left the original thinking I had already seen everything.


Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace

Released in 1999 Episode I wasn’t just a movie, it was a cultural event. In case you are too young or were living under a rock I can’t express enough how big Episode I was at the time. The promotional push was massive with Taco Bell cups, fake bronze busts in cereal and Pepsi cans for even minor characters. Heck ‘Dual of the Fates’ was frequently on Total Request Live, official tastemaker of 1999. And it all began with the first trailer. Based around Anakin Skywalker’s time before becoming Darth Vader what we got a saw seemed like perfection. The return of beloved characters, a mysterious new villain and the familiar John Williams score made us all think that George Lucas had down it again.

Now the prequels have been critiqued to death and I don’t think I can say anything not already mentioned by thousands of others. Pretty much every Jar Jar Binks joke has been made at this point and most seem to agree that the pod racing scene was way too long. What I will say is that I guarantee nobody saw that trailer and expected overly long scenes involving a galactic trade federation.

Did I Miss Any? Do you disagree with a pick? By all means let me know and hit up the comments section.

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The Purge: Election Year Review

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The Purge is one of the most unique movie series in recent years. Written and directed by James DeMonaco it is one of the few franchises to change genre as it went on. 2013’s The Purge, while financially successful, was a fairly unremarkable home invasion film. Fine for what it was it was disappointing due to not really meeting the concept’s potential. Released just a year later 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy switched things up and was more action-thriller than horror film. With the change in genre it set us up for a “get to safety” survival and showing more scope than it’s predecessor. Two years later, and with the United States more divided politically than ever before, writer-director DeMonaco returns with The Purge: Election Year.

Having lost her family due to the Purge, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is gaining steam as a presidential candidate. Her platform, ending the bloody tradition once and for all. With her opponents planning her execution Roan and bodyguard Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) have to traverse the streets of Washington DC and hope they survive the next 12 hours.

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Like past entries in the series we have two main groups that the film follows. The first is the duo of Senator Roan and Barnes. I’d be lying I said they were the most interesting two people. It isn’t that they’re bad at their roles because they’re not. Mitchell is fine as the sympathetic politician and Grillo has mastered the grizzled soldier (or bodyguard in this case) role at this point. I just don’t think they are given too much to do. Their story arc is very point A to point B. It is pretty standard stuff until they meet the other heroes Joe, Marcos and Laney. A group of working class citizens the three are trying to protect Joe’s Deli and protect the senator from the ensuing chaos. By being ordinary citizens they provide a sense of humanity that this kind of movie needs. They aren’t important people or epic badasses just regular people getting through the night. Well one of them is a badass.

If there were a breakout star for the film it would be Laney (Betty Gabriel). Presented as someone with a troubled past she spends Purge night providing medical aid. That’s right on a night when everything goes to hell she provides help. All, seemingly, to make up for her past as the legendary Purger Pequeña Muerte. Someone using The Purge to make up for past sins is great and she has the biggest crowd pleasing moment of the movie. If they continue the series I can only hope that she is brought back.

One of the highlights of each film are the different gangs that are encountered during The Purge. The Purge: Election Year is no different with two very distinct gangs taking the forefront. The first being a group of spoiled schoolgirls with a grudge against Joe. Coming in to Miley Cyrus’s ‘Party in the USA’ their colorful mix of ratchet and club kid is far an away the most unique. What they have in style they lack in substance with fairly one note personalities. The other being a group of foreigners who travel to the US to participate. As a newscaster calls it in the movie, purge tourism. It is an concept that isn’t explored nearly enough.

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Similar to the past film the main villains are the New Founding Fathers and they are as evil as ever. Just like before they are a group of hardcore right-wing caricatures. No matter what your politics though it is hard to be offended when they are little more than mustache twirling villains. When they aren’t overacting they buy off Roan’s other bodyguards and hire a team of mercenaries to take out the senator. Their choice of assassin, a militia made of up neo-nazis. That’s right, Nazis. Wearing black ops fatigues and a variety of Nazi paraphernalia they are the most bland of the gangs we enconter.

Which leads to my biggest issue with the film, it’s lack of subtlety. I don’t need it to discuss political theology but it is so on the nose here. By the time David Bowie’s song ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ played at the end it became comical. Then again The Purge: Election Year is an action movie not a political thriller nor does it try to be.

Speaking of the action I found it quite enjoyable. Like it’s predecessor it goes for a grimy, grindhouse feel and it still works. Grillo is as believable as ever in the action scenes never looking out of place. He even pulls off the increasingly rare knife fight so that’s a plus. Similarly like before the coolest bits are the unexplained happenings we see from other people. The coolest, and most mysterious, being a woman watching a body burn. No reason, no explanation, just another crazy thing we see happening during the annual Purge. It adds a sense of world building that you don’t see in most horror or action movies.

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After watching The Purge: Election Year I couldn’t help but think how similar it was to the last one. A Warriors-esque chase movie it tries to provide social commentary but it is too blunt for it to be taken seriously. As a story it’s kind of a retread of the last one. With that said it is also just as entertaining as the last entry. With a stylish look and a bloodstained veneer it is a welcome deviation from most of the sanitized fare most studios produce for the summer. While far from perfect it is the perfect summer blockbuster for those looking for something a bit darker.

Rating- B-

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Purge and Purify: 5 Spin-off Ideas for The Purge

NOTE- Slight Spoilers Ahead

While it is only June there’s no denying that it has been a good year for genre cinema. From the success of the long-delayed Deadpool to the surprise success of The Shallows there’s no denying that, so far, 2016 has been good for science fiction, superhero and horror fans. The latest been The Purge: Election Year. Seemingly a success with critics (the second highest rated on Rotten Tomatoes by 2%) and at the box office ($30.9 million opening weekend) the natural question becomes what’s next?

One of the cooler thing about The Purge series is how detailed the world is. Throughout each film we get little bits seeing what’s happening around the city. From themed groups using the night to hunt to random survivors of the night. It not only makes for cool visuals but also opens things up to lots of intriguing stories. No matter where they choose to go with the main plot there are tons of stories for full separate movies. Think a bloodier version of Rogue One. So with that in mind lets look at 5 Spin-Off Ideas for The Purge.

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    The Purge: Brexit

Great horror films have always tried to be part social commentary and The Purge is no exception. Since the beginning underneath all of the bloodshed and violence it has tackled issues ranging from class inequality to government corruption. The latest and most important world event has been the United Kingdom voting to withdraw from the European Union aka Brexit. As callous as it may sound this is kind of the perfect set up for a Purge movie. The concept of The Purge was enacted because the United States was in crisis so why not the UK? It could certainly get more creative with the kills with guns being less prevalent and the culture is so different from the US that it would benefit from a new setting. Again it may be too soon for this to happen but it would certainly be a fresh take on the premise.

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    The Purge: Pequeña Muerte

Far and away the stand out character in The Purge: Election Year is Laney played by Betty Gabriel. Playing the role of a medic during the purge we hints of her past purging. She was so vicious she earned the title Pequeña Muerte which translates to the little death. This leaves so many questions. How did she earn the name? What did she do? Why did she change her ways? There’s an interesting story here that I would love to see played out.

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    The Purge: Carmelo’s Last Stand


One of the coolest things to be introduced in The Purge: Anarchy was Carmelo Johns. Played by Michael K. Williams he was a freedom fighter leading a resistance trying to take down the New Founding Fathers. During Election Year a newscaster throws out that Carmelo has died and fellow revolutionary Dante Bishop is leading the group. Considering how explosive and cool came off it was an interesting decision to kill him off screen. Like Laney for all the development we get there seems to be a whole story playing out in the background. I would love to see how Bishop went from a victim in the first film to being the protege for Carmelo Johns. If they can somehow make it that Carmelo is actually Omar from The Wire, even better.

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    The Purge: The Bloody Stranger

Each Purge movie takes time to view the mayhem going on around the city. From grainy riot footage to full on guillotines being used there always seems there are a plethora of crazy stories that just aren’t told. The one that has plagued me, the bloody stranger in The Purge: Anarchy. As Leo Barnes and his comrades drive around Los Angeles they see a woman on the side of the road. Shell shocked by whatever happened she stands there drenched in blood. There’s no explanation and it doesn’t even last a minute. I was curious when I saw it in the trailer and even more so all these years later. With the main story seemingly wrapped up (for now anyway) I think this could be the perfect thing to revisit if they ever wanted to return to the horror genre.

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    The Purge: IN SPACE

As much they try to shoehorn in social commentary at it’s core it is a horror/action movie. It has much more in common with Grindhouse than Night of the Living Dead. So why not take the final step all horror franchises take and have a chapter in space? The possibilities are endless whether you want to do it on another planet ala Prometheus or on a space station like Lockdown. Would this be jumping the shark? Most likely. But my god what a shark it would be.

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Halloween In June 3: Season of the Witch

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I have a confession to make; I have been slacking in my horror watching game. While I’ll see something every now and then for the past year or so I have seemed to focus more on action movies. That is about to change though. Despite an unusually busy June it’s that time of year to celebrate Halloween in June. While not the week long marathon it was last year I still have 3 bite sized horror reviews for you.

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Clown

I remember hearing about this a couple of years back. A movie about a clown curse produced by Eli Roth? Sounds like a something I had to see. Then… nothing. It just kind of disappeared. Lo and behold it finally found a distributor this year. Was it worth the wait? For the most part, yeah. The idea of a clown being some kind of ancient demon who eats children is certainly interesting and they pull it off pretty well. The effects are pretty good bringing a level of body horror we don’t usually see. My only real problem is how formulaic it feels at times. Despite it’s cool concept it is basically Thinner but with clowns and follows the same beats. I would say it’s definitely worth a watch though.

Rating- B-

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The Funhouse Massacre

I’m always skeptical of horror-comedies. While there are some certified classics far too often they are, for the most part, underwhelming. So going into The Funhouse Massacre I tried to keep my expectations in check. Coming out of it, I was pleasantly surprised. Not necessarily by the comedy because, in all honesty, I found it a bit inconsistent. A lot of it being fairly typical teen comedy with “Oh that body looks so fake” when it’s real type jokes. There were bits of comedy gold scattered throughout though. The best example being Gerardo, an older guy dressed as Machete tagging along to the funhouse, refusing to go in. “Nope it is too scary,” he says deadpan as soon as they walk in before leaving. It is a good half hour before he’s brought back into the movie. It’s such an little, understated thing that happens and it totally works. While the movie lacked on the comedy side it delivered on the horror side of things. From a production stand point it is great. The scenes inside of the funhouse look amazing. Like real life funhouses each room has it’s own cool look. Each, not so coincidentally, matching the six slashers. This top-notch set design is one-upped by the effects. Going for an ultraviolent, over-the-top tone it doles out blood and gore that looks way better than most indie horror. If there is one problem, and it is a big one, and it’s the plot. Like Clown while the concept is great everything about it feels like a rehashed story arc taken from better movies. Still this is easily forgiven when the movie is as fun as it is.

Rating- B

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The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring was the first movie where I was really sold on James Wan. While I think Death Sentence was underrated I was underwhelmed by Saw and saw Insidious long after it came out. Still with a lot of hype behind it I quickly became a believer after The Conjuring with it’s retro feeling scares. After a brief return to action with Furious 7 he returns to horror with The Conjuring 2. Set several years after the first film we follow Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren and them dealing with the Enfield Hauntings. For the most part the film is great. While the term “master of horror” gets thrown around a lot Wan proved once again that he deserves the title. Like it’s predecessor it uses classic suspense building as opposed to gore to great effect. Scenes like the Nun following the Warrens home are some of the best horror scenes I’ve seen in some time. Not to mention the Amityville house scene which, without hyperbole, may be my favorite version of the story. Wan also smartly introduces some skepticism into the film series. Instead of just relying on the “based on a true story” tag several characters are introduced as skeptics of the supernatural. Little details like this make it stand out from the glut of ghost movies at the moment.

Unfortunately, and I know how silly this sounds, it just isn’t as good as the original. As good as the scares are an excessive amount of seeing the old man and the demon nurse hurt their effect for me. I also found a subplot about Lorraine predicting Ed’s death to be a bit of a waste. While Wilson and Fermiga are absolutely great together for the most part the scenes could have been taken out and the film would be just as good. Still these are relatively minor nitpicks. At no point do these little things ruin the movie or prevent it from being one of the best horror films of the year. I can only hope the Nun spin-off film is better than Annabelle.

Rating- A-

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7 Opening Scenes Better Than Their Movie

One of, if not the, most important part of a movie is the opening scene. It’s what is used to grab the audience, get them hyped, and prepare them for what’s to come. Well at least that’s theory. For some films it sets such a high standard that the film itself just can’t match it. For others it’s just the best idea the writer had and it’s all downhill from there. Either way it can be frustrating.

Even worse it can effect a variety of movies. Poor opening scenes have effected all kinds of films from beloved superheroes to beloved cult classics. Still don’t believe me? Here’s a list of 7 Opening Scenes Better Than The Movie.

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Ghost Ship

If there were a definitive example of what I mean by an opening being better than the movie it would be 2002’s Ghost Ship. We open on the luxurious Antonia Graza in 1962. An elegant dance under the stars with a young girl dancing with the ship’s captain at its center. Suddenly a steel cable is cut and tears through the crowd. Nobody can react before their bodies are cut in half. Bloody, mysterious, intriguing it is the perfect set up for a haunted boat film. What we get instead is a slog of a movie with a random nu metal song because, well, it was 2002.

Watchmen

Watchmen

Adapting comic books has to be a daunting task. From creator and studio input to hardcore fans analyzing your every choice you make it has to be frustrating. Doubly so when it’s an adaption of something as critically and commercially successful as Watchmen. Still relatively new (at the time) director Zack Snyder was up to task and the results were divisive. The biggest point of contention being it’s (sometimes over) faithfulness to the comic. Whether you liked it or not it led to an epic opening to the film. A panel-by-panel recreation of the comic of The Comedian’s murder Snyder meticulously gets every detail right. From the positions the actors are in to the angles used it is the perfect way for us to enter this murder mystery. It’s followed by one of the coolest opening credit scenes in recent years. Set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times Are a Changin” we follow the rise, and fall, of the original Minutemen in the 1930’s. It condenses a decades worth of character and backstory into a stylish and effective montage. While it’s easy to mock Zack Snyder now perfectly crafted scenes like this are perfect examples of why he is popular in the first place. Speaking of Zack Snyder…

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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The only other group as dedicated as comic fans are horror fans. When a classic like Dawn of the Dead is remade they will go in with their knives sharpened. Snyder must have known this because he opens things up with a bang. Nurse Ana is wakes up to what seems like a normal day only to be greeted by a neighborhood girl with blood smeared on her face. Trying to help the child Ana’s husband is bitten by the girl and instantly turns. Ana escapes from her home to see a world ravaged by the virus. Without hyperbole this is my favorite representation of the zombie virus spreading. With gore, suspense and even a Johnny Cash song it is the perfect set up for a fairly fun zombie movie.

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Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

How will Jason Voorhees die this time? That’s one of the most fun questions about the Friday the 13th series and Jason Goes To Hell wastes no time with the answer. Lured back to Camp Crystal Lake he chases after a helpless, scantily clad woman. Or so he thinks. He is led into an opening when flood lights illuminate the slasher. An FBI strike team comes in guns blazing and quite literally shred Jason to pieces. It is an epic opening to a movie that quickly falls off a cliff.

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28 Weeks Later

All things considered 28 Weeks Later is a good sequel. It’s a very fun action-zombie movie it just happens to not be as good as the original. The closest it gets is with its intro which, just so happens, to happen during the first film. Don, his wife Alice, and a group of survivors are squatting in a cottage outside of London. Letting in a boy looking for shelter they quickly realize that he was being pursued by a legion of the infected. Don, Alice and the boy are forced upstairs while the others are eaten one by one. With Alice refusing to leave the child behind Don escapes through an open window just before the infected kill his wife. It’s is a thrilling and heartbreaking set up for Don and explains his (quite frankly ridiculous) actions later in the movie.

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Belly

Belly was hip hop’s attempt at making a gangster movie classic. It was alright. What makes it stand out from countless direct-to-video movies is the film’s beginning. Feeling more like a music video (which makes sense considering Hype Williams directed Belly) the scene is set to an acapella version of Soul II Soul’s song “Back to Life”. Legendary hip hop spot The Tunnel is drowned in black light and dancers as Nas and DMX enter the club. Separating we watch their gang prepare and rob the night club, killing 5 people. It’s a beautifully shot piece and is the perfect encapsulation of the style and excess of late 90’s hip hop.

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The Conjuring 2

Now before we start I think The Conjuring 2 is a fun movie. Like 28 Weeks Later it just has the misfortune of coming after a great first film. That said the best part happens in the first five minutes. The Warrens are holding a séance in the infamous Amityville home. Seeing if Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s murders were the result of demon possession Elizabeth Warren relives the massacre. She reenacts DeFeo’s actions in brutal detail before being lured away by a demonic presence. Vera Famiga sells the whole thing beautifully and James Wan’s ability to create chills is impeccable. Not only is it the highlight of The Conjuring 2 but better than any of the actual Amityville movies.

Those are 7 Opening Scenes Better Than The Movie. Did I miss one of your favorites? Do you disagree? Hit up the comments section and let me know.

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4 Reasons Lucha Underground is the Perfect Superhero Show

Over the past few years the popularity of comic books have not only penetrated the world of film but made its way onto television screens across the world. After success on The Walking Dead other networks jumped on the bandwagon makings shows about everything from retro secret agents (ABC’s Agent Carter) to zombie PI’s (CW’s iZombie ) and sometimes just straight up superheroes (CW’s Arrow, The Flash). With the recent announcements of Legion on FX and Powerless on NBC this trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. With all the content out there it is hard to believe that one of the best superhero shows may not even technically be a superhero show.

Produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank) and Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City) Lucha Underground is an American lucha libre promotion currently being shown on the El Rey Network. Debuting in late 2014 it quickly gained cult status within the wrestling world for its high flying action, video game-esque characters and serial style storytelling. What hit me though is how similar it is to some of my favorite superhero franchises. In fact at times it can actually be better some of the biggest superhero movies going today. Don’t believe me? Well here are 4 Reasons Lucha Underground is the Perfect Superhero Show.

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Clear Cut Heroes and Villains
One of the biggest points of contention of Batman v Superman was the less than heroic portrayal of their heroes. To put it frankly they never felt like they were actual heroes. This isn’t the case in Lucha Underground though. Taking cues from the El Santo movies of old the luchadores are portrayed as larger than life figures with very distinct personalities. You have heroes like Fenix and Prince Puma as Green Arrow like heroes using only their wits and physical gifts to secure victory. Or how about Rey Mysterio Jr coming in as a revered legend of the sport. On the bad guy (or heel in wrestling vernacular) side are wrestlers like Matanza or Mil Muertes, hulking beasts using brute strength and cheating to win. Then there are the smaller heels like King Cuerno who has a Kraven the Hunter type gimmick. They even have Punisher style anti-heroes like Pentagon Jr who are beloved despite their villainous ways. Can it be a bit simplistic? A bit. But at the end of the day aren’t we all watching superhero movies to see good triumph over evil?

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A Diverse Cast of Characters
The other big knock against both DC and Marvel is an overall lack of diversity. Lucha Underground has not only luchadores from Mexico but talent from the United States, Canada and even South Africa. Even more impressive are the way women in the promotion are treated. Unlike like most companies they aren’t relegated to being just eye candy. On the contrary, they are some of the more promoted wrestlers in the company. The best example of this is luchadora Ivelisse. Paired with Son of Havoc and Angelico the trio not only held the Trios Tag belt but they are one of the most popular acts on the company. Having featured women not only competitive matches but also main events Lucha Underground is ahead of the curb when it comes to things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe let alone other wrestling companies.

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Crazy Telenovela Style Storytelling
Choosing to film the show like a regular TV show as opposed to a wrestling show Lucha Underground had a professionalism to it’s skits most wrestling shows lack. Which is good because the plots used could just as easily fit in on an episode of Supernatural. Part Mortal Kombat and part telenovela Lucha Underground takes the craziest parts of both and uses them for their storylines. Season one alone had a monster eat the face off a wrestler, mythical power stones and a luchador who is supposedly a dragon reborn. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that seemingly every thug in Boyle Heights wears lucha masks. Season 2 gets even crazier with the mythology surrounding the ancient tribes, law enforcement coming after owner Dario Cueto, Lorenzo working for a corrupt government and time travel. That’s right, time travel. Is it ridiculous? Absolutely. But when the stories are told as well as they are it is hard to dislike it.

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The Death Defying Action
Wrestling in the United States has a unique style to it with the focus on showmanship over athleticism. This isn’t the case in Lucha Underground. Like traditional lucha libre the style is more based on high flying and acrobatics. Top stars like Prince Puma and Fenix have shown themselves to be some of the best high fliers in the world. It isn’t just all in the ring either. Over the past two seasons we have seen devastating casket matches, Sexy Star and Mariposa battle in the rafters and Angelico take some suicidal leaps off Dario Cueto’s office. To steal a phrase after seeing some of the things these luchadores can do you will believe a man can fly.

Now I understand that typical pro wrestling isn’t for everyone. To some it is the silly fake fighting and I totally get why it may not appeal to some. But if you are a fan of superheroes or comic books it is definitely worth checking out. With a colorful cast of characters, intriguing (and sometimes ridiculous) storytelling and one-of-a-kind action Lucha Underground has everything you could want out of a superhero series. If nothing else it is more fun to watch than anything Gotham has been for its two seasons.

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