• Snakehead Terror
    • A 3.8 rating on IMDb promises some really bad acting, and this movie does not disappoint - the useless screaming girl, the hapless city mayor (could be straight out of Jaws, minus the actual acting), the heroic police chief who saves the day with the pretty biologist - they're all there. As are lots of victims of snakehead fish that have mutated to become much larger with the help of human growth hormone and can also attack on land now.

  • Die Mannschaft
    • As in Titanic, the ending to this one is known beforehand, but to any German soccer fan, it's a nice reminiscence of a summer spent hoping and fearing and cheering. In difference to Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen it's an official movie, so somewhat more tame in its choice of scenes, but still good entertainment.

  • V for Vendatta
    • A modern day Guy Fawkes plots to blow up the British Parliament in a country that has come under the spell of a 1984-style dictator. That a lone plotter -bar some unlikely help from Natalie Portman's character- succeeds in a police state is somewhat of a miracle, but being set in 2020 we may excuse some flights of fancy. And a group of well-known British actors (Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt) make this an enjoyable film.

  • A Most Wanted Man
    • One of the last movies to star Philip Seymour Hoffmann, and set in Hamburg and Berlin -cities I've lived in-, it was a nice coincidence to be able to see this on board a transatlantic flight. A down on his luck German domestic intelligence agent hunts down what he imagines is a terrorist financier. In the end, "help" by the CIA turns out to be losing out to the CIA and their questionable methods. It's a great performance by Hoffmann, and one can't help see parallels between his drunken character and his real life.

  • Battleship
    • This one scores highly on the ridiculousness scale, for example for getting a battleship that's been converted into a museum 20 years ago operational with 30 men in a matter of hours. But hey, this is a movie about an alien invasion so anything goes. It's OK to watch once, and entertaining as far it goes, but no more than that.

  • Gone Girl
    • Vox called it one of the best movies ever made about marriage, and since that review puts it so well, I'll let its words speak for me: It's a potboiler thriller. It's a twisty, turny series of big surprises. It's the blackest of black comedies. It's a series of dueling character studies. It's a bracingly feminist corrective to much Hollywood storytelling, a wicked satire of cable news, and a sleazy crime drama that nonetheless has a surprising amount to say about the American class system. Very much so, and great entertainment that keeps you glued to your seat for 2.5 hours. With Ben Affleck you never know which way his characters lean, but having last seen Rosamund Pike in Pride and Prejudice, let's just say: this one is very, very different.

  • The Bourne Legacy
    • This Bourne movie without Jason Bourne takes the franchise into a slightly different direction, adding new secret programs and resources that need to be shut down, or which can be activated to help shut down the previous ones. But Bourne is still alive, as is a participant of another program who can hear incoming drones and keeps the CIA on their toes (new bad guy: Edward Norton). No doubt he'll team up with Bourne in the next installment.

  • At Point Blank
    • Scandinavian thriller about a group of robbers that manage to install one of theirs as boyfriend of the main investigating detective. It's all a bit unbelievable as no background is ever given how it all comes together. But in the end, it's nonetheless the lone detective who hunts everybody down. Fast-paced and thrilling, but no more than that.

  • The Fog of War
    • Fascinating insight into the thinking of Robert McNamara?, US secretary of defence under Kennedy and Johnson, into both World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as to applying statistics to fixing the Ford Motor Company in between.

  • Supershark
    • With a low 2.4 rating on IMDb, this movie lives up to what one would expect given how many of the actresses are listed simply as "Bikini Girl" (a.k.a. shark fodder). So the shark is huge (watch out, submarines) and can walk on land, where a lone marine biologist can finish it off with a C4 package delivered straight into the mouth (not before a troop of soldiers fails at the task and gets eaten, of course).

  • Die Möder sind unter uns (Murderers Among Us)
    • Morality runs thick through this movie shot in war-ravaged Berlin in 1946. I doubt that war crimes committed by low-rank soldiers would have been an issue at that time already, and the romance between the protagonists blossoms out of nowhere. Also, the complete absence of any official figures (occupying soldiers, policemen, anybody) is very strange. So it feels like a thin veneer of a movie plot transporting a politically expedient message - more a propaganda film than a credible treatment of the subject. Wolfgang Borchert's Draussen vor der Tür does a much better job than this.

  • Das Leben ist eine Baustelle
    • Life can be messy and unpredictable, and especially so in Berlin in the 90s. As a young couple tries to find each other, curveballs abound, and their families and friends, as well as outside events, contribute distractions to keep them on their toes. Sweetness and heartbreak go hand in hand, but a fine cast of actors pulls off a sort of happy ending without resorting to cheesiness.

  • Resident Evil: Retribution
    • This one takes the show to Siberia, and introduces a murderous outsized new mutant as well as weapons that never need to be reloaded. Turns out some of the previously good guys and girls are alive, but now are bad guys and girls. But just ripping off their bad-guy medallion is enough to bring them back to being good, so no sweat. Next stop: humanity's last stand at the White House. I kid you not.

  • Resident Evil: Afterlife
    • Yep, it starts with an army of Millas on the attack, which is enough the bring the next facility of the evil corporation down. And it has some elements of The Matrix in the evildoer and a 4m tall berserker (that one's done for at the end) but the evildoer escapes and still has an army under command. The West Coast is still toast, but Alaska still beckons. Seems like the fight goes out to sea now.

  • Resident Evil: Extinction
    • What's better than Milla Jovovich? Yep, two Milla Jovovichs. And if the grand finale is right, in the next installment it will be more like 200. Oh, what happened? Well, the Raccoon City facility is toast, as are the lower 48 states of the USA, and pretty much the rest of the world. But that was just the beginning. So this one is post-apocalyptic; think Mad Max with a prettier cast (well, except the undead).

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
    • Infiltrating the Kremlin between breakfast and lunch? No sweat. Then moving on to Dubai to scale the Burj Khalifa on the outside? Consider it done before dinner. But all the high tech counts for nothing, because in the end you still have to disarm the nuclear device by physically destroying stuff. What's the acting like, you ask? Well, it's a Tom Cruise movie, isn't it?

  • A Long Way Down
    • What starts out with a charming idea -a rooftop at New Year's Eve where you have to get in line to commit suicide- unfortunately takes a turn into something rather more sappy, with a much too happy ending for everybody involved. What carries the movie are the performances of the main characters, played by nicely cynical Pierce Brosnan, fine acting Toni Collette, nicely brooding Aaron Paul and a fantastic whirlwind performance by Imogen Poots.

  • Shark Attack 2
    • Yet again mutant great white sharks prey on beach revelers, this time hunting in groups. But individual heroics once again triumph over raw power, justifying the 2.9 rating on IMDB.

  • Killer Elite
    • Jason Statham beats Clive Owen in a battle of men-with-just-a-single-facial-expression. Robert de Niro is in there as well, but just as a supporting act. Supposedly loosely based on true events, the story of 3 outsiders taking on a shadowy organization on the fringes of the SAS becomes a bit unbelievable, leaving just a solid action film behind.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • A wonderfully whimsical movie with an all star cast. Fantasy personnel in a fantasy hotel in a fantasy country, yet acting as if it were entirely realistic. Some wonderful performances by A list actors in small roles - all around great entertainment.

  • Resident Evil: Apocalypse
    • In part 2 the action moves from the underground lab to the city above. Only the heroine and a small chance group of people manage to escape the city before it gets nuked. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the group includes another female fighter just as shapely as Milla Jovovich, and just as sparsely clothed. Also a black man, a white man, and a child: very politically correct. I'm getting hooked on these films; I'll have to get to the remaining ones as well.

  • Prisoners
    • A search against time for two missing girls brings about vigilante justice, a decades-old crime, police caught between cluelessness and quiet competence, some family despair, and an unlikely perpetrator. Jake Gyllenhaal does a credible impression of "man with one facial expression". OK, not great.

  • Hanna
    • What starts out as an assassin being trained in a log cabin in the Arctic, turns out to be a revenge thriller with a very unusual main character. Apart from the action scenes, the film has fascinating visuals and soundtrack, and a unique view of the world through the eyes of Hanna. Very enjoyable, and not standard fare.

  • Planet 51
    • Animated film about a planet full of charming little green beings being invaded by hideous space aliens from the planet Earth. Lots of references to just about any space movie ever made are to be discovered.

  • Sharknado
    • Continuing the series of bad movies (3.4 rating on IMDB), sharks from the sky are the menace in this one. If you want to see a shark sliced in half by a chainsaw in full flight (not before the sharks have had an opportunity to slice lots of people in half, of course), then this movie is for you. And LA is once again being laid to waste.

  • Stromberg
    • The grand finale of the German version of The Office. I think it compares to how the Simpsons movie extrapolated the mayhem of an average Simpsons episode into movie length - same here for the insurance company that Stromberg works for. Its continued existence is not at all certain at the end of the movie.

  • American Hustle
    • Great throwback into the 70s, with all the attendant fashion, music and lifestyles that go with that. A smalltown con-man gets pressured to go after much bigger fish by a rogue FBI agent, and has to up his game quite a bit to get out of dealings with the mob (great cameo by Robert de Niro).

  • U-571
    • Sort of like Das Boot, minus the good bits, plus some commando action. Either predictable or not credible, in the whole forgettable.

  • Battle Los Angeles
    • I like watching LA being laid to waste (I'm a big fan of Volcano), and this one has a similar ending - the city loses, but the good guys win. Aaron Eckhardt and Michelle Rodriguez meet Terminator - premises for a fun evening don't get much better. If they'd gone a bit easier on the cheesy one-for-all, all-for-one talk it'd have been perfect, but it's still very entertaining.

  • Enemy at the Gates
    • Cat and mouse game between two snipers in the ruins of Stalingrad, with some romance and a conflicted polit commissar thrown into the mix. Not surprisingly, all the bad guys are dead in the end, and the good ones alive. Still, good actors, elaborate battlefield scenes, and a nice mix of high-octane fighting, quiet deadly pursuits, and off-battlefield scenes make for good movie.

  • China Moon
    • Madeleine Stowe, Ed Harris and Benicio Del Toro in a story about committing a murder, covering it up, and then covering up the cover-up by framing the cover-upper. The first half is a bit conventional, but as soon as the detectives start investigating, things get interesting. Worth watching once, but not again.

  • Blood Surf
    • Compared to Mega Piranha's 2.5 user rating on IMDB, this one has 3.2, but doesn't score as highly on originality. It does feature a highly watchable foto model who survives until the final scene, though. Oh, what's it about? A 30 foot reptile that eats sharks for breakfast, and some humans who get in its way.

  • Alles auf Zucker! (Go for Zucker)
    • Zucker could be going for broke, but instead he's all in. Somehow he fits playing pool and having a heart attack right in between burying his mother and grieving with his estranged family while fighting for the inheritance. Good fun about some serious subjects, and a great cast to support Henry Hübchen as Zucker.

  • 12 Years a Slave
    • Depicting the supposedly true story of a free black man kidnapped and brought into slavery in the antebellum USA, I'm having a hard time seeing all the Oscar nominations being justified. While well played, I wasn't particularly impressed by any part of it. Michael Fassbender plays a nasty plantation (and thus slave) owner very nicely, though.

  • The Counselor
    • While Michael Fassbender is in rather over his head -both as actor himself, and also as his character- it's nice to see Cameron Diaz as a really bad woman for a change. It's fun watching everybody else get duly dispatched, and Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz put in good performances as long as they last. Not one for the ages, but good entertainment.

  • Blue Jasmine
    • Cate Blanchett excels as a permanently slightly intoxicated woman whose life has fallen apart, and continues to do so, not least because of her inability to accept changed circumstances. Parallels to A Streetcar Named Desire are obvious, especially as she imposes on her sister who needs a healthy dash of reality and strong will not to let her ruin her life as well.

  • Resident Evil
    • I hadn't seen any one of this series, but having seen lots and lots of posters in various bars showing off the shapely figure of Milla Jovovich, I wanted to check out what it's all about when I got a chance. I was pleasantly surprised, as there are always new twists and monsters thrown into the protagonists' path, until finally the heroine (bad girl though she is) is the last person standing. Good entertainment.

  • Machete Kills
    • Sort of a sequel, but since just about everybody who was in part one didn't survive, it's no plot continuation, just a few of the same actors. And the machete. Plenty of dead in this one, and not all by machetes, and the end leads into part 3 in outer space. If you enjoy severed heads flying about (possibly after a few drinks), you'll like this one.


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