Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon
The first one was… ok, but nothing special. I didn’t really expect a lot from this, not least because it’s a prequel, but I was pleasently surprised – and well entertained. It’s starts off nice enough, but what really made the movie for me was it’s showdown, featuring a different kind of “sea horse” (seriously, though, what is it with horses on ships in 2014? First “300: Rise of an Empire”, now this) and lot’s of crazy action and impressive visuals. I also quite enjoyed the performances, and the story, while lacking in the mystery-department (not unlike it’s predecessor… or successor… or whatever. Gosh, that prequel/sequel/business sometimes can be just as headache-inducing as time travel movies!), was at least serviceable and moved at a good pace. If you like eastern action-fantasy-movies, give this one a try.
I was pleasently surprised by this movie, because it’s just so different from what we’re usually getting from native german movies. The visuals are often quite stunning, the performances top-notch (especially from the two leads, with an appropriately quiet but nevertheless haunting turn by Michael Diercks, which perfectly contrasts Pit Bukowski’s unrestrained, bat-shit crazy performance), and the atmosphere and mood are absolutely stunning. What I didn’t like: There’s a scene near the end where I just couldn’t get on board with Jakob, and didn’t quite get why he did what he did. And I really wish they would have skipped the “dream-kiss”, because a) it’s a stylistic device that I’m really sick of, and that also sticks out from the rest of the movie because it’s the only time they do that, and b) it kinda goes against the homoerotic undertones and the indications that Jakob may be gay (and that the “wolf” is as much a representation of his darker side as his repressed homosexuality). Still, I’m really glad that I saw it; it’s a weird little genre gem, and I’m very eager to see what Til Kleinert will have in store for us next.
The Raid 2: Berandal
It’s cinematic confession time again: I wasn’t all that thrilled with “The Raid”. In my opinion, it was a little too restricted, especially in the story-department. And while some of the fights were killer, it pretty much was the same action scene over and over and over and over and over again. I didn’t hate it or anything, it was a nice, decent action movie – I just wasn’t as blown away by it as many others were. So please keep that in mind when I’m telling you that a) I enjoyed the 2nd one a lot more, but b) still wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. I liked the larger scale of the movie, which spanned a couple of years. The fight scenes were very impressive (the prison fight stood out especially for me, but the one in the club or the final showdown in the kitchen were great too), and also more varied (with a later car chase which also was exceptionelly shot an especially welcome diversion). And I loved the showdown with it’s range of bad-ass foes, and ever-changing locations. The story however, while more complex than in the predecessor, is still nothing to write home about, and essentially your typical undercover-cop-trope. Also, rabid fans of the first one might miss it’s simplicity and clearcutness. Still: If you love action movies, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to catch up on the first one before the screening of the 2nd, so I came to this totally unprepared and without any expectations. Which wasn’t really a problem, since they recap the first one anyway (Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend watching the 2nd first, since it’ll ruin the 1st one for you; I don’t really see the point watching it any more, since the recap gave the whole plot – and the ending – away in g(l)ory(ous) detail), so I had no problem finding my way into the movie. Obviously, though, I can’t really compare it to the first one. “Dead Snow 2”, however, was a bloody good time (emphasis on “bloody”). Nothing sensational, but quite entertaining, and with some very funny moments (I especially enjoyed everything about the zombie squad). Interestingly enough (and always especially problematic), I thought that the weakest part was the showdown, which didn’t really thrill me as much as what came before. I just didn’t find it especially exciting. And, of course, the stuff with the posessed hand makes you inadvertently compare this one with “Evil Dead 2”, where it unsurprisingly comes out on the short end. Also, the recap of the first one gave me the impression that it was more of a straight horror movie, while this one puts more emphasis on the comedy than the horror. Still, since most of the gags hit home, and they didn’t pull any punches gore-wise, I didn’t have a problem with that, and left the cinema quite entertained.