Some good movies so far this year. Very surprising. I think we may have turned a corner in terms of action movies, and a new action renaissance like the 1980s may be upon us.

Robocop – No, it’s not as good as the first Robocop, but were you really expecting it to be? This reboot is a completely different movie with a completely different tone. It shouldn’t even be compared to the original. A decent movie but it was sorely lacking in action. And by the way, Jackie Earl Haley is ultra awesome…one of the best Alpha Male actors in movies today. Just about any move he does, I’m there.

3 Days To Kill – Surprisingly good. I wasn’t expecting much from this Kevin Costner flick, but wow, what a good movie. It’s very disjointed, and the tone is all over the place, going back and forth from brutal action movie to family movie. However, once you get the hang of it, this is a good film. I highly recommend you watch this on video when it comes out if you missed it in the theaters.

Pompeii – Going into this movie I was expecting a pile of shit. And yeah, it was a pile of shit. The final destruction scenes where the volcano explodes and kills everyone were fun, especially when the city floods and giant boats are sliding around the streets crushing screaming Romans. Good times. But other than that, the plot, dialogue, and action scenes are all lame. Kiefer Sutherland was pretty good though…he actually played a character which I’ve never seen him do before.

Non-Stop – Yet another fantastic, near-perfect action / suspense movie from Liam Neeson. I’m seriously starting to think this guy can do no wrong. (Let’s not talk about Taken 2.) Yes, like all airplane movies, there are plot holes if you look carefully enough, but other than that, this is a film that does everything right. There wasn’t one minute of this movie where I wasn’t entertained. Even my daughter liked it (I took her to this one), and she hates action movies. Fantastic.

300 – Rise of an Empire – Eh, not bad. The first 300 is one of the greatest movies ever of course, and this is nowhere near that movie. Yet similar to the Robocop reboot, on its own it’s not bad. Eva Green is a phenomenal actress, and she’s one of the best scene-chewing female villains I’ve seen in a very long time. This movie also has probably the best sex scene I’ve ever seen in a mainstream Hollywood movie. Who knew something like that would be in this? Crazy.

Need For Speed – Here we are with yet another surprisingly fantastic action movie I was not expecting. Wow. Need For Speed is probably the best example I can think of where a very skilled director can take a film with an insane and ridiculously unbelievable plot, mediocre dialog, bland characters, and adequate actors, and turn it into a very well-crafted, entertaining movie that will keep your attention for two full hours. Highly recommend this film, even despite (or perhaps because of!) its flaws.

Sabotage – The first major disappointment for the year. I mean, damn,, this is a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington (that means there were two Terminators in this movie!), Terrence Howard, and Josh Holloway (Sawyer on Lost), and it was directed by the same guy that made Training Day and the first Fast and Furious. How can you screw that up? This should have been amazing. Right? Wrong.

Three main problems with this film.

1. It was extremely dark and depressing. Yes, depressing. I want to be pumped up when I see an action film, not depressed

2. It was extremely gory for no reason. Now look. I like violence. That’s fun. I don’t like gore. That’s stupid. That’s why I can love a movie like The Raid 2 (see below) with extreme violence but hate a move like Sabotage that has tons of gore. If I want to see gore, I’ll see a horror movie. No thanks.

3. All the characters in this movie are irritating jerks. All of them. There are no reasons to like any of these people. But plenty of reasons to want them to all get killed.

Arnold really screwed up with this one. Such a shame.

Noah – What a beautiful film. The cinematography in this movie is so enjoyable to watch. Russell Crowe is at the absolute top of his game here, and he actually acts in this movie. Very impressive. As you may or may not have heard, the story has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the biblical tale. There are giant rock monsters in this movie. Yeah. But hey, who cares? Did all these angry conservative Christians really expect left-liberal Hollywood to make a 100% biblically-accurate movie? C’mon guys. The movie runs a little long but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Great job.

Captain America 2 – The Winter Soldier – I went into this movie with very high expectations…and they were met. Great action, great special effects, great story, great direction and flow. The characters could have been a little more interesting but that’s a minor complaint. I really want to knock airplanes out of the sky just by throwing a shield at them. Seeing Robert Redford play the type of part he did (I won’t spoil it) was also very cool.

The Raid 2 – If you can handle the violence in this film, which is extreme, this will be one of the best action movies you will ever see in your life. Yes, it’s that good. As compared to the first Raid film (which was also amazing) The Raid 2 is quieter, darker, more violent, visual, and complicated. There are some great visuals and the fight scenes are so well done I know I’ll be watching them over and over again on video. It’s a long movie, and it’s one of those rare movies that gets better as it goes along. This is a must-watch.

Next time, we’ll be tackling the summer blockbusters. It will be a full summer! Transformers, Spider Man, Godzilla(!), EXPENDABLES 3 and many others. Can’t wait…

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