Try as we might, we can’t see everything that comes out but that’s where you guys come in. Our new feature “Reader Reviews” lets anyone write in with a review of something cool, or not so cool, that they’ve seen recently. Today we have two reviews from reader Michael G. who recently watched Van Damme’s latest Universal Soldier movie and Kiefer Sutherland’s bad guy tour de force Phone Booth.
15 minutes into this, I noticed something strange. I didn’t want to turn it off which is pretty rare when talking about most of Van Damme’s movies over the past decade. The story if fairly simple and nothing we haven’t seen before, but you know, who cares? A nuclear reactor has been taken over by a terrorist group, demanding the release of their fellow comrades. If their demand isn’t met, they are gonna make the reactor go boom boom. Like I said, nothing new. Lets face it though. This is a Universal Soldier movie and we want good action and violence…with a somewhat decent story line. Did they succeed? Hell yes they did!!!!
The thing that might kill this movie with some fans though, is that it is so different from the great original. It is not a polished Terminator type action flick like the original was. Director John Hyams’ retelling is much grittier and with some of the locations and fights, it almost has more of a Bourne style feeling to it. The action is furiously directed…very quick with no dopey slow motion. The acting isn’t great but it’s decent and convincing enough…two qualities that have been lacking in recent Van Damme DTV casts. It is true that Van Damme is only sprinkled throughout, but the film is so fast moving, before you know it, you are already at the final 40 minutes …and he owns the **** out of it!! There is a long tracking shot of him tearing up terrorist ass and it’s probably the best action sequence he has ever been a part of. It truly gets the heart pounding, and like me, you will probably re-watch it about 10 times.
It’s also a refreshing blast to see Lundgren on screen even if it is pretty brief. His and JC’s fight is completely different from the one in the original. There is no Hollywood gloss to it at all. This is how the fight would be if these two met up and decided to scrap and it comes of very effective. You can feel the anger and rage. All in all, Unisol: Regeneration is a solid little action flick. Other than JCVD, it’s easily his best movie since Sudden Death, which happened to be given to us by another Hyams…John’s father, Peter. It may not be a masterpiece and isn’t quite on par with the original but it`s still a lot of fun and it`s definitely a worthy addition to my Blu-ray collection. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on director John Hyams. I’d like to see what he can do with a decent budget and some better filming locations. The subtle synth music score was well done too. Think along the lines of Vangelis, who created the Blade Runner soundtrack, or something John Carpenter might have composed back in the day.
4 out of 5
Before I watched this thriller from director Joel Schumacher, the scariest thing I could imagine being on the other end of a phone line is a telemarketer.
Cocky publicist, Stu Shepard, would do pretty much anything to get a client, whether the situation called for him to lie, cheat, or simply step on another human being. That is until he answers the wrong phone at the wrong time. He then finds himself at the mercy of a sadistic sniper who feels Stu is in need of one hell of a confession about his current lifestyle. If he tries to run, our friendly neighborhood gunmen will leave Stu with an “exit wound the size of a tangerine”.
Creating a movie such as Phone Booth is not an easy task. The entire film is staged around a single phone call. There are no extravagant sets or special effects…just Stu, a phone booth, and plenty of dialogue. In order for it to succeed and not send audiences running for the exits, Phone Booth had to be handled with a certain amount of finesse. Schumacher(who is known by many as the guy who ruined the Batman franchise) gives the movie, as well as the viewers, the style and suspense that was needed.
Not all the credit can be given to Schumacher though. It is Colin Farrell’s over the top performance as Stu and Kiefer Sutherland’s evil yet intelligent portrayal as the crazed sniper, that drive the movie home. Farrell has the movie riding on his shoulders considering he has to exchange dialogue with a phone throughout the film’s entirety. He pulls it off though with a charismatic and intensely believable performance. As for Sutherland, the audience will have a blast listening to his chilling demeanor as he delivers Stu the worst phone call of his life. Forest Whitaker costars in what is probably Schumacher’s best film since A Time to Kill.
4.5 out of 5