Archive for the Action Category

Movie Review: “Sucker Punch” is the year’s most interesting failure

Posted in Action, Movie Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by judsonw

Zack Snyder sure knows how to make visually stimulating movies. His talents as a writer, on the other hand, don’t come close to his talents as a director. Sucker Punch was released this past March and was expected to be a smash hit, Snyder’s first completely original movie. Unfortunately, critics and audiences alike ravaged the film, claiming its incoherent plot made for an uncomfortable 2 hours. So is it really that bad? Well, in my opinion, no. Actually, I kinda dug it!

Sucker Punch is one thing so many bloated, mediocre blockbusters aren’t today: ambitious. Snyder attempts to tell a story that takes place in 3 different dimensions, or “dreamworlds.” We have our main character, Baby Doll, who is sent to a mental institution by her evil stepfather for accidently killing her sister (his fault). Once she’s at the institution and she hears word of plans to lobotomize her, Baby Doll teams up with a few of the other female inmates in an attempt to escape. The movie opens with a red curtain raising up, which is appropriate because from this point on the entire movie is virtually indistinguishable between reality and fantasy.

First, we have the actual reality of the girls in the mental institution which is rarely shown. Second, we have the fantasy of the girls in a brothel-like institution where they are forced to dance scantily clad in front of rich old men so the owner can get rich. It’s in this dreamworld that the girls band together to escape. Baby Doll determines that they need to find 5 objects to become free: a map, fire, a knife, a key, and something else. So a map of the institution, a lighter for a distraction, a knife for protection, and a master key for the institution’s doors. The strange thing about the movie is that whenever the girls go after one of the objects, Baby Doll imagines a world where they are kick-ass machine gun-toting babes battling slow motion-style through breathtaking set pieces and landscapes. In one scene, they fight masked Nazis to retrieve the map. In another, they must slit a baby dragon’s throat to retrieve the fire. While it may not make much sense, it’s pretty damn entertaining to watch.

Another aspect of the film I really appreciated was the soundtrack. Snyder used to direct music videos for a living and you can definitely see that here. All the fight scenes are almost dance-like in their nature, with the girls in perfect synchronicity with the song/music. It really does come across like a video game mixed with a music video. Though there are a lot of things I enjoyed about Sucker Punch, overall it’s not a great movie. The plot is simply too convoluted to fully follow and becomes quite frustrating after a while. That being said, the film can be looked at in so many different ways after its ambiguous ending and is certain to spark debate and conversation among film fanatics.  It’s a shame because I think that if Snyder was a better writer or really fine crafted his storytelling techniques Sucker Punch could have been something spectacular. However, I won’t be surprised if a few years from now Sucker Punch becomes a cult classic.



So long, Harry!

Posted in Action, Drama, Interesting..., Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by judsonw

Like many others of my generation, Harry Potter represents something so much more than a young adult book series or movie franchise. It represents growing up, out of childhood into adulthood and all the pains and joys that go along with it. I read the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when I was 10 years old. I remember where and when I bought it (some old dusty book store right before closing) and how fast I read it (all through Sunday school the next day). I read the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Now, the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” is being released when I’m 22 years old and fresh out of college! This story has been with me throughout the most important years of my life and I’m going to be a sad mope when the story concludes on July 15th.

While the books are definitely more complete and satisfying than the movies, the films themselves are actually all pretty solid. I’m able to separate both mediums…the books are the books and the films are the films. That being said, the movies are special. What other movie franchise has lasted this long (10 years) with pretty much the same cast throughout? What other movie franchise has captured its three main stars growing up and maturing both as characters and actors before our eyes? None, I tell you! Harry Potter recently passed James Bond as the most financially successful movie franchise of all time and it’s well deserved. The movies are pure cinema and the climatic battle in the final film will be a sight to see.

In preparation for the FINAL representation of the Harry Potter narrative on screen, here are some of my favorite things from the film series.

Best movie

There are things I like about each film and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. The third movie, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” however, is the most well made and marks the series’ turn from a children’s flick into a serious and dark form of artistic filmmaking. Director Alfonso Cuaron completely changed the tone of the series and got the best performances out of the trio. The final 30 minutes or so consists of one of best time travel sequences of all time and is incredibly emotionally resonant.

Best performance

This is a tricky one. Emma Watson is definitely the most talented of the trio but definitely not the strongest of all the actors. I would have to give that honor to none other than Dolores Umbridge herself, Imelda Staunton. Though she appeared in pretty much only one film, “Order of the Phoneix,” Staunton was able to create a character as evil as Voldemort and made you absolutely loathe her. Really though, it seems as if every single great British actor has appeared in these movies.

Best action sequence

Voldemort vs. Dumbledore. Fire dragons and water spheres. Bad ass wizards. Harry trapped physically and emotionally after the death of his godfather. A batshit insane Bellatrix Lestrange. Some incredible CGI. ‘Nuff said.

Most tear inducing scene

It’s pretty amazing that the filmmakers were able to take a character who was pretty much a joke for one film and turn him into the most tragic hero of the series in about 5 minutes of screen time. Dobby’s death on the beach in Harry’s arms is so touching that it had to have made millions of grown men cry. Just thinking of his final words “Dobby is with friends” makes the water works start running.

Best magical creature

Thestrals. Sure, I could chosen the enormous dragon or the loveable hippogriff. But there’s just something so mysterious about these flying skeletal horses that can only be seen by those who’ve seen death.

Best moment

There’s so many to pick from…Harry’s first Patronus, Sirius’s death, Dobby’s triumph, Voldemort’s return. But the most emotionally affected I’ve been during one of these movies occurred during Harry’s first flight on Buckbeak the hippogriff in “Prisoner of Azkaban.” The scene is relatively short but in those few moments, Cuaron managed to recapture my attention to a lukewarm franchise and ignite a fire in my heart. Like ET flying Elliot across the full moon, it’s pure magic.

Even though the story is finally ending on the screen, the story will be sure to live on through every generation of children, teenagers, and adults alike in the future. Here’s hoping for a satisfying conclusion!

The “next” Harry Potter? A look at The Hunger Games as a movie franchise

Posted in Action, Film Industry, Interesting..., Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by judsonw

On July 15, the final piece of the Harry Potter saga will unleash itself upon the world. After “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” arguably the most popular and loved series of books will officially end as a narrative (there will of course still be theme parks, online experiences, etc). So what new book series will take its place? The Twlight series may come close to Harry Potter’s rabid fan base, but that movie franchise is also coming to an end next year. And is there really a legitimate comparison between the two anyway?

The “next” Harry Potter franchise that everyone keeps talking about is The Hunger Games. Written by Suzanne Collins, the trilogy of young adult novels is about a post-apocolyptic America that is now called Panem. Panem is separated into 12 “Districts” that all serve the ruling “Capitol.” Each District has its own speciality. For example, District 12 is the coal mining district while District 4 is all about water. Long ago, the Districts held an uprising against the totalitarian Capitol, but eventually failed in their attempted fight for freedom. As punishment for this attempt, the Capitol now requires two “tributes,” one male and one female aged 12-17, to be sacrificed from each District. The tributes are then thrust into something called The Hunger Games, a reality television program where the kids are forced to fight to the death for all of Panem’s viewing pleasure. The Games continue until one tribute remains.

The protagonist of this story is Katniss Everdeen, a tough-as-nails 16 year old girl from District 12. Skilled with a bow and arrow, Katniss spends her days hunting for food so she can keep her mother and younger sister, Prim, alive. Katniss’s nightmare comes true when 12 year old Prim is selected for The Hunger Games. Katniss takes her place, immediately changing the lives of herself and everyone she knows.

The first novel, “The Hunger Games,” is an insanely addictive read. Ultimately a tale of survival, it features strong characters, great world building, and enrapturing action. It is currently being filmed for a March 2012 release. Here are five reasons it should succeed as a movie franchise and five reasons it may fail.

5 reasons it should work:

The cast

If you’ve ever seen “Winter’s Bone,” then you know Jennifer Lawrence can completely transform into a character. Katniss Everdeen is almost the exact same character as the character Lawrence played in that film, minus the bow and arrow. The casting for the main character couldnt have been more perfect. Josh Hutcherson (“The Kids are All Right”) shows some of the most promise of any young actor working today. He will be taking on the role of Peeta, Katniss’s fellow tribute from District 12 and sometime love interest. Woody Harrelson will play Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta’s mentor for the Games and a former winner. I couldn’t imagine a better person to play a belligerent drunk with a heart of gold (and that’s a compliment!) Rounding off the pitch perfect casting is Elizabeth Banks as the spunky Effie, Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’s stylist Cinna, Stanley Tucci as the Games flamboyant host, and Donald Sutherland as the Capitol’s evil President Snow. If this movie fails, it won’t be because of the lack of talent on board.

The director

The best way to predict if a movie is going to suck or not is to look back at the director’s previous work. Gary Ross has “Pleasantville” and “Sea Biscuit” on his resume. I’m sold.

The fan base

While The Hunger Games’ fans aren’t as widespread or rabid as Harry Potter’s, there’s still a fairly large following out there. Lawrence already made the cover of Entertainment Weekly in her Katniss garb, and more and more people are picking up the book every day. Come March, The Hunger Games may have as many fans as any other young adult book.

It appeals to both sexes

The Hunger Games is in the fortunate situation of doubling as a war and romance story. Katniss is a kick-ass, independent female hero that will be sure to draw in girls of all ages. There’s also a love triangle that is constantly building up underneath the surface between Katniss, Peeta and Katniss’s best friend, Gale. All of this is wrapped up in a testostorone-filled war zone with violent killings and explosions so you better bet that the marketing behind the film will push that to attract the male demographic as well.

No more Harry Potter

After this summer, the Harry Potter book and movie franchise will officially be over. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but there’s always another great story around the corner.

5 reasons it may fail:

The Twilight effect

For some reason The Hunger Games keeps getting compared to that vampire love story adored mostly by tween girls. The two series, however, couldn’t be any less alike. For one, the female main protagonist in The Hunger Games is actually a realisitic human being, not dependent on a man and not annoying as fuck. Katniss is what every young girl should strive to be…Bella is what every young girl should avoid becoming. While there is a romance angle to The Hunger Games, it isn’t as centrally focused as in Twilight. However, the Twilight franchise is currently bringing in the bucks, so sadly the people behind The Hunger Games films might play up the love triangle angle, resulting in an inferior product.

It’s too bleak and violent

At least on the page, The Hunger Games is gruesome, brutal, and sometimes hard to read. Collins is very descriptive in the tributes’ deaths, ranging from an arrow through the neck to beheadings to flying limbs. Mainstream America may just not be ready to accept a blockbuster about kids brutally murdering each other. The film is reportedly going to be rated PG-13, further proving the fact that the MPAA has no problem with kids-on-kids violence, but shudder at the sight of a nipple. Let’s hope for a hard PG-13 similar to “The Dark Knight,” and not a watered down version of the source material.

There’s not really an ending

Each book in The Hunger Games trilogy literally leads right into one another. There is no span of time between each book. If it’s faithful to the novel, the movie will end on a semi-cliffhanger, most likely upsetting many audiences who want more. A similar problem occured with “The Golden Compass,” which pretty much solely acted as set-up for a franchise that never happened.

The Games themselves

The largest, and most exciting, portion of the first book is the actual televised death match that Katniss tries to survive. During these Games, however, Katniss is mostly by herself, alone with her thoughts. Translating that to the screen will be difficult as her inner conflict over killing innocent people and trying to decide whether to trust Peeta make the book so hard to put down.

No more Harry Potter

As much as I love The Hunger Games, it doesn’t come close to the epicness of the story of the boy who lived. The final installment of the Harry Potter screen version may (hopefully) be so satisfying that audiences wont want another potential book adaptation movie franchise thrown in their face. Everything may just pale in comparison.

We’ll see what happens come March.

Movie Review: ET + Cloverfield x The Goonies = “Super 8”

Posted in Action, Movie Review with tags , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by judsonw

As soon as ET flies across that moon in the Amblin logo before “Super 8” begins, we know we’re in for something special. Behind such classic sci-fi films like “ET” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the involvement of Steven Spielberg’s studio instantly suggests a type of quality science fiction movie that is so rare in Hollywood today. The man behind this movie, JJ Abrams, grew up making films with super 8 cameras just like his idol, Steven Spielberg. The two somehow found each other years later to make this little passion project about kids who encounter a paranormal creature while filming a movie.

As soon as “Super 8” began, I was instantly hooked. All the kids were great, unknowns that actually acted like friends instead of a Hollywood representation of kids being kids. The dialogue between them is authentic and enjoyable to watch, as each kid takes a role in the filmmaking team. While the director of the group stands out, it’s Joe (Joel Courtney) who takes center stage as the heart of the movie. His mother recently killed in a work accident and his father (Kyle Chandler) not knowing how to deal, Joe focuses on helping his friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) finish his film over the summer in a small 1979 Ohio town. His plans take a 360, however, when the kids witness a train crash while filming a scene after hours.

The train crash itself is absolutely exhilarating, a piece of action filmmaking hard to find these days. From this point on, I was geared up for something massive, something monumental the film would build up to. The problem with “Super 8” is the fact that it doesn’t really build up to anything significant. Abrams instead decides to focus on the relationships between the characters as something on a grander scale takes place in their peripherals. Because the characters are so well developed, this doesn’t bring the film down at all. Everything between the opening and the close kept my attention even though the lack of monster action became a tad bit frustrating. Like “Cloverfield,” the creature is only shown in glimpses. Since those glimpses don’t really offer anything intriguing, the constant mystery becomes more of a nuisance than a reason to keep watching.

So how is this movie like “ET?” For one, the score by Michael Giacchino brings back memories of John Williams’ work on that film, among others. The small town setting, dysfunctional family, and realistic child actors seal the deal on one nostalgic experience. Despite some minor flaws, “Super 8” is a movie definitely worth watching, if only for the fact that it’s a completely original film in a summer full of adaptations and sequels. Abrams is certainly a better director than writer, in this case at least, but the sometimes uneven script doesn’t bog down the experience of watching a completely original and refreshing film.


How does this exist: Kids murdering kids in “Battle Royale”

Posted in Action, Interesting... with tags , , , , , , on April 5, 2011 by judsonw

“At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act, AKA the BR Act….”

This is the title card that opens Kinji Fukasaku’s 2000 film “Battle Royale.” What is the BR Act, you ask? This act forces classes of students, who the adults are simply sick of being so disrespectful, to an isolated island where they are forced to fight to the death until one student is left standing. The teenaged kids are all gassed on the bus ride for their “class trip” and wake up with the scary realization that they all now have electronic collars fitted around their necks. Where are they? And what exactly is going on?

Well those questions are quickly answered when the students’ teacher appears and explains just why the kids are here. With the guide of a dementedly humorous video from a quirky Japanese bombshell acting like a kindergarten teacher, the rules of the game are laid out. The kids have 3 days to kill each other until one is left. If after 3 days there is not one student left standing, all the collars will be detonated and explode around their necks, killing them instantly. These collars also prevents the kids from going into certain “danger zones” on the island, forcing them to confront each other.

At this point in the film it’s hard to take this teacher’s words for real. There’s no way that the government would allow innocent children to die horrible deaths, right? Think again. To prove his point, the teacher chucks a knife into a young girl’s forehead for whispering and then demonstrates what happens when the collars explode on a certain mischievous student.

The whole sequence is shocking, disgusting, and incredibly sad to watch. Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes away from what was happening on screen. From this point on the movie becomes an insanely tense action movie that tests the depths a human will go to survive. Alliances are formed while most of the kids stick to the cliques they belonged to in school. Others go after the cliques that never accepted them, murdering them in cold blood. Each student is given a bag. The contents of the bag: food and water and a weapon. However, every kid’s weapon is different. One gets a machine gun, one gets a pot lid, while another gets a glass of poison. It’s the luck of the draw.

One of the reasons I loved “Battle Royale” is the fact that a movie like this would never be made in America. Can you imagine a movie where Abigail Breslin shoots a crossbow into Dakota Fanning’s chest, narrowly missing the ax heave from behind by Selena Gomez, who’s teamed up with Joe Jonas to fight to the death? Parent and religious organizations would be rioting in the streets. If a harmless risque photo spread of the Glee kids causes a controversy, what would happen with a movie like this? Foreign cinema, Japanese films especially, take risks that can’t be found at the average American multiplex.

Movie Review: “Battle: Los Angeles” a soulless representation of everything wrong with action movies of today

Posted in Action, Movie Review with tags , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by judsonw

The summer blockbuster movie season seems to start earlier each year than the last and 2011 is no different. The upcoming buffet of big budget special effects-laden movies starts off this year in early March with a plate of an alien invasion film entitled “Battle: Los Angeles.” The question is, will “Battle: Los Angeles” live up to past successful alien invasion blockbusters like “Independence Day” and “World of the Worlds” or fizzle like recent turkeys such as “Skyline?” Unfortunately, “Independence Day” could be considered a masterpiece next to this soulless and brainless mess of a movie.

“Battle: Los Angeles”, as can probably be guessed from the title, is about aliens invading the world, and the film focuses on the fight to save Los Angeles. If you’re looking for more detail than that, you won’t find it here. Thus lies the biggest problem with “Battle: Los Angeles.” There is absolutely no story to be found in the film. Characters are briefly introduced; the aliens attack, and the soldiers fight back. The film is very similar to a videogame, where instead of deep characterization and a coherent storyline, the viewers are essentially thrust into the middle of a battlefield. The problem is that here the audience is forced to sit and try to comprehend who is winning and losing, rather than taking part themselves with a videogame controller. The videogame comparison doesn’t stop there, however, because it’s very believable that “Battle: Los Angeles” was written by a 10-year-old gamer after a 12 hour Halo binge. The dialogue moves past simply being mediocre and becomes hilariously awful. With such gems as “I didn’t get this far because of my good looks” and “that was some John Wayne shit,” it’s hard to resist from bursting out laughing at the unintentional hilarity of it all.

Once the aliens make contact, the film becomes a non-stop action romp. In spite of this, the movie is still a bore to watch since the overreliance on shaky cam leads to hard-to-follow, headache-inducing action sequences. Five minutes into the first battle sequence, I already found myself dozing off. Because the film puts close to no effort developing memorable characters or a story, the action is the most important component of its success. With that being said, the movie fails miserably in that aspect.“Battle: Los Angeles” boasts some great acting talent from such actors as Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, but unfortunately all that talent goes down the drain with a terrible script. Poor Rodriguez gets the brunt of the cringe worthy lines. It’s a wonder she was able to keep a straight face, uttering off lines such as “they’re going down like bowling pins!” It’s never a good sign when you can’t name a single character’s name after seeing a movie, but that is exactly what happened to me after seeing this disgrace of a film. Though some actual character development would have been appreciated, it doesn’t help when almost every character’s name starts off with the title “Staff Sergeant.” Despite the characters being extremely one dimensional, the film is desperate for an emotional response when one of them sacrifices their life or loses the battle against the aliens, even making it a purpose to throw in some cheesy saccharine music during the death scenes. A film that doesn’t earn my minimal interest will certainly not earn my tears.

The main draw for a film like “Battle: Los Angeles” would seemingly be the movie’s main villains: the aliens. Unfortunately, the film decides to barely focus on the world’s attackers, instead opting to spotlight some of the most dull and unsympathetic human characters put to screen in recent memory. When we actually do get a look at the aliens, they are briefly shown in the distance or out of focus. When they finally do get a close up, it’s hard not to be disappointed by their unmemorable and lazy design. Seeing the aliens in this film raised my appreciation for the effort and work behind such alien invasion films such as “District 9.” Much of the CGI and alien technology on screen here simply does not even measure up to today’s best videogames.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is merely a mediocre videogame posing as a summer blockbuster alien invasion movie. It follows the “Transformers” model, with a lot of loud action with little to nothing to get out of it all. The truth of the matter is that I’d rather spend two hours playing a videogame. At least that way I’d be able to make it an enjoyable and exciting experience, two qualities that “Battle: Los Angeles” does not posses.


Movie Review: “The Green Hornet” would be nothing without Kato

Posted in Action, Comedy, Movie Review with tags , , , , on February 13, 2011 by judsonw

2011 seems to be the year of the superhero at the movies, albeit about lesser-known names like Thor and Green Lantern. First up on the block is “The Green Hornet,” based on the American pulp hero from radio shows and serialized dramas from the 1930s through the 1960s. Funnyman Seth Rogen shed 30 pounds to don the mask of the Green Hornet, but the real test is whether he was able to shed his reputation as an immature “man child” to become an action hero. Rogen plays Britt Reid, a spoiled party boy who lives off the fortune of his father, the publisher of Los Angeles’ “The Daily Sentinel.” When Britt’s father suddenly dies from a bee sting, he finds himself as the new publisher for a newspaper he doesn’t even care about. He finally meets his father’s longtime assistant, Kato (Jay Chou), and the two quickly form a bond when Britt decides to start a new career fighting crime as the Green Hornet.

“The Green Hornet” is unlike any superhero film in recent memory. Directed by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), it’s filmed with an interesting kinetic visual style, and the fight scenes feature exciting choreography that manages to be both fast and slow paced simultaneously. Many of these exciting fight scenes spotlight the martial arts expert Kato, which leads to the highlight of the film: Kato-vision. Kato-vision occurs when time slows down as Kato’s heart starts pumping during a fight. As if in slow motion, Kato spots the elements and details he’s going to use to his advantage and the results are spectacular. The scenes featuring Kato-vision are the only moments in the film when the 3-D is used to its full advantage, with fists and pieces of glass flying off the screen. Otherwise, the 3-D up conversion is nothing to write home about. At some points in the film I would take off my 3-D glasses and notice no difference on the screen than when I had them on.

At one point in the movie Kato says “the Green Hornet would be nothing without me.” The same could be said for the film, as well. Rogen and Chou have decent chemistry but Kato is truly the star of “The Green Hornet.” It’s the rare case of the sidekick overshadowing the hero, but it’s true. Kato designs all of Britt’s weapons, constructs his “Black Beauty” car, takes out all the bad guys with his bare hands and acts as a surrogate brother to Britt. Though Chou’s Chinese accent is sometimes hard to interpret, he comes across as charming and surprisingly funny. As for that “Black Beauty” car, it would be appropriate to call it the other star of the film. Complete with machine gun doors, bulletproof windows, indestructible tires, a flame thrower, ejectable seats, a record player and even a fax machine, it’s the coolest automobile to grace the big screen since the Batmobile made its debut in “Batman Begins.”

Every superhero movie has some sort of villain, and Christoph Waltz channels his inner evil from “Inglourious Basterds” to take on the role of the self-conscious and unfortunately named Chudnofsky. The head of L.A.’s crime syndicate, Chudnofsky comes across as laughable with his undying attempts to “be scary.” At one point he even claims to have “decapitated real people.” The tone of the movie is very similar to the 2008 action comedy “Pineapple Express.” There are violent action scenes and some deep themes, but it’s all wrapped up in a comedy. The film has its funny moments but other attempts at humor miss their mark by a long shot.

While “The Green Hornet” is a surprisingly fun take on a classic hero, the film is far from perfect. The pace slows down when the story shifts away from Britt and Kato and onto L.A.’s criminals. The final conflict between Britt and a new villain proves unsatisfying and anticlimactic. Cameron Diaz also brings close to nothing to her role as Britt’s secretary. She seems to be in the movie to simply act as part of a love triangle that causes a rift between the two friends. The biggest problem with “The Green Hornet,” however, is the character of Britt Reid. Rogen does a fine enough job with the character, but he merely has close to no character development throughout the film. He’s an unlikeable, immature spoiled brat, and he is essentially the same person at the end of the film as he was in the beginning. Britt is a hard hero to root for, which may explain why Kato is the one shining beacon in the movie.

With all that being said, “The Green Hornet” pleasantly surprised me. The combination of exhilarating fight scenes, nifty gadgets and funny characters make it a fun 2-hour diversion at the cinema.