Rescue Dawn – Review

Do you have that list of movies that got no love at the box office, but are pretty good? My list has films like The Saint, The Ghost and the Darkness, Memento, and now Rescue Dawn.

Christian Bale plays a pilot who gets shot down over Vietnam before the war actually starts. He survives the crash and gets thrown into a POW camp. The movie is “based on a true story” but this is Hollywood, so you know how that goes. Regardless of how much of the story is true, the blurb at the end about the guy is pretty fascinating. I may try and find a documentary about him.

Bale is becoming one of my favorite actors. I’ve seen him recently in Batman Begins, 3:10 to Yuma, and now this. Never once did I think I was watching Bruce Wayne in ‘Nam. There’s not too many actors who you can say that about.

But the best acting comes from Steve Zahn. Normally, he’s cast as Plucky Sidekick #1 like in Sahara and National Security (Yes, I saw that. Shut up.). But like Bale, he plays a completely different character. I swear the director got these two together on the first day and said, “Christian Bale, you are not Batman. And you, whatever your name is, you are not Plucky Sidekick #1.” However it went down, these two did a great job.

I should mention that this movie is rated PG-13 for “some sequences of intense war violence and torture.” Being an American, war violence doesn’t really bother me, but the torture scenes caused a grimace or two. This is also one of those movies where you can tell they edited it down to get the PG-13. I’ll let you decide if that was the right thing to do, but I don’t recall seeing a movie where the cuts were so obvious.

Anyway, this is a solid movie – definitely worth a rental.

Grade: A-

Appleseed: Ex Machina – Review

So I’m not the biggest anime fan. I’ve seen some of the more famous ones, like Ghost in the Shell, but it’s not a genre I’m all that familiar with. For Appleseed: Ex Machina, I happened to catch a trailer for it on another movie and I was so impressed by the animation, I had to throw it in the queue.

Side Rant: I realize that I’m now the poster boy of why studios put trailers on the first track of the DVD. However, this new trend of not being able to skip those trailers is getting very annoying. There are “next track” and “disc menu” buttons on my remote. Please let me use them.

Before said trailer, I’d never heard of Appleseed: Ex Machina. Apparently, this is the second film in the series (based on a Japanese comic). I didn’t know that until later, but this movie stands fine on its own. I enjoyed it so much, I’ll go and catch the first one soon.

Not knowing anything about it, I went in expecting typical Japanese anime. And that’s exactly what I got. Giant utopian city set in a post-apocalyptic world? Check. Giant Robots? Check. Guys who look like pretty girls? Check.

I also didn’t know that John Woo helped produce it. So in addition to a typical anime, I also got a typical John Woo flick. Heroes firing dual-wielded pistols while jumping in slow motion? Check. Bullet tracking? Check. Doves? Check.

So yeah, the movie is one giant cliché. If you’ve never seen an anime or a John Woo film, then this might all be new. If that’s you, your list of “must watch” movies just increased dramatically, so you got other things to worry about. “But John,” you say. “You said this was good.” Appleseed: Ex Machina is mindless, cheesy, and convoluted, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. That animation I mentioned earlier? It’s unbelievable. I’m not sure if my words can do it justice, but it looks like hand-drawn CGI with lighting, shadows, and particle effects. It’s worth seeing just for that. Download a trailer off the internet. You’ll see what I mean.

If giant mechs piloted by girly men ain’t your thing, I can’t blame you. But if you just bought the Costco Tub o’ Popcorn and are looking for something to go with it, this’ll do nicely.

Grade: B