Monday, December 22, 2008

'Tis the Season for Action

Christmas is just around the corner. I'll be joining the other member of the Keanu Reeves Fan Club, along with the rest of my family, in Austin, Texas this year for some temperate weather and general merriment. I hope that you are yours will be doing something similar, and we wish you all the best.

As a gift to you, our readers, I give you the top five best Holiday Action Films of all time.

1. Die Hard (1988)/Die Hard 2 (1990): You'll recall that Hans Christian Gruber and his cronies crashed Holly's holiday party in the Nakatomi Tower penthouse. You may also remember the closing scene in Die HArd 2, where Captain Lorenzo throws McClane's shredded parking ticket into the air, like so much confetti, while crying out "It's Christmas!" Ah, how I do love the holidays.

2. Lethal Weapon (1987): I almost forgot about this one. But how could you forget the final fight between Gibson and Busey (previously featured on Action Direct), framed by Christmas lights and mistletoe. It's true, the original Lethal Weapon, with Gibson's underlying mental instability (highlighted throughout by lonely saxophone riffs), and Glover's not so subtle self-doubt, is a Christmas movie, and a damned epic one at that. I'll be revisiting this one come Christmas Even with the fam...

3. First Blood (1982): The good folks over at Cinematical pointed out that First Blood is in fact a Christmas movie, albeit subtly so (they also put Reindeer Games in their top five... what?). And they're right. Think back to the cheesy lights adorning the streets of the once sleepy town. Christmas can be hard for folks that don't have anyone. I would say that John Rambo exemplifies this statement in First Blood.

4. Ghostbusters 2 (1989): All right, so this is more of a New Year's pic than a Christmas pic, but come on, don't bullshit me. I love this movie, as much or more than the first, if you can believe it. I think that the first one might also have Christmas overtones to it, but I could be wrong. 

5. Gremlins (1984): Yeah, you might have thought that number 5 would be Batman Returns, or something will a little more substance. But for me, it's Gremlins. I love Gremlins. I even like Gremlins 2. I think that more than anything, it has to do with the fact that I watched them both many many times as a child. I will always have a place in my heart for Gremlins, and it's as Christmas as they come.

6. Batman Returns (1992): All right, Batman Returns deserves a spot. Michelle Pfeiffer will always be Catwoman in my eyes. And, Phillip Seymour Hoffman or no, Danny Devito was an amazing Penguin. This is a great movie. And the super nintendo game is also worth checking out... 

So there you have it. Update your Netflix and have yourself some Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best Action Scenes of All Time

My good friend, and action film authority, Sean, recently requested that we do an entry on the "Best Action Scenes of All Time". This request is, to say the very least, daunting. His off the cuff suggestions are strong, citing scenes from Aliens, Predator, The Fugitive (actually, this one is a little suspect), Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (which gets extra points for the "Duel of the Fates" soundtrack), Gangs of New York, and Last of the Mohicans. 

I am overwhelmed with the stream of memories coming to me now as I revisit the first time I saw each if these. A tear comes to my eye as I think back on my love affair with the final scene of Last of the Mohicans. And my fingers clench into tight fists as I think about the intensity of the opening scene in Gangs of New York and the disappointment of the last scene in the same film. My god, has it been so long? 

While I don't think I have the authority to assert what are and are not the best action scenes of all time, I will gladly share with you my top three. My list will be incomplete and, as such and as always, I would love to hear you're suggestions. Okay, here we go:

1. Last of the Mohicans (1992) - This movie makes my top three without a doubt. But which action scene to choose is a bit more difficult. Three candidates come to mind. First, the scene where Nathaniel covers the runner with his expert sniper skills from the ramparts of Fort William Henry. Holy shit! I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it! Second, the scene where the British are ambushed in the valley and Nathaniel tears apart the huron who is about to kill Cora Munro. And third, the final scene where Nathaniel and Chingachgook run up the mountain killing huron after huron without loosing stride, culminating in Chingachgook ending Magua with his war club, the likes of which has never been replicated in ANY other movie. 

Now that I think about it, Sean hit it on the nose. The final scene is by far the most epic. What makes it so amazing? The truth is, there are a number of things that make this scene the best action scene of all time. First of all, this is the final scene in the movie. By this point, we have developed a strong bond with the protagonists. We've just scene Uncas disgraced by Magua, and we are fired up. The location that they chose or this scene is amazing. We are talking about these awesome cliffs with menacing walls towering overhead. And finally, the soundtrack of this movie is freaking legendary. It sets its meat hooks firmly in your shoulder blades and drags you along an emotional roller coaster, climaxing in an orchestral explosions of violins and long rifles.... give me a minute....

2. The Matrix (1999) - You've heard it from me before. I love this movie. Despite the garbage that the original matrix has spawned, we must always remember that this film was a behemoth. The scene I have in mind is the one where Neo and Trinity walk into the building where Morpheus is being held strapped to the teeth with munitions. Neo is wearing a trenchcoat and some kickass boots, and Trinity has that cold look reflecting in her mirrored sunglasses. Neo goes left, Trinity goes right, and hell follows with them both. 

Once again, the badassery of this scene is enhanced by a soundtrack which sent me on a downward Techno spiral for years. But this was also one of the first scenes where we saw Neo really showing his stuff. He has accepted that he is not the One, and in accepting that fact, is able to fulfill his true potential. This man can now do one-handed cartwheels while firing an assault rifle and avoiding more bullets than I care to think about at the same time. Also, Trinity does her now signature running off the wall move, which I have since tried to duplicate more than once... and failed. Finally, this scene wraps up in a very N64 Goldeneye kind of way. Havoc has been wreaked and the elevator music plays on. 

3. Aliens (1986) - It's a tough call, but I think my third place goes to Ripley fighting the queen alien in the hangar with the mechwarrior outfit. I think it is her, "all right, let's do this thing" attitude which does it for me. It's like she says to herself, "There is only one way that this is going to end well. And that's if I use this mechwarrior to totally $%*& up this beast." And that's exactly what she does. Amazing. I also really like how the alien takes a step back to size Ripley up before attacking. Aliens are notoriously intelligent and even more deadly, what with their rapid-fire death tongue, super-strength, and acid blood. But when Ripley gets into that machine, the alien takes a step back. Even the queen has to pay some respect.

Aside from that, the thing that has always really inspired me about the Alien movies (well, the first two), is how in the end, it always ends up being Ripley against the beast. It's not as if she is the most qualified person to handle it. It's just that everyone else is dead and if she wants to live, she needs to kill the alien. Simple as that. This is a survival story more than anything, and Sigourney Weaver is freaking amazing at making you believe that she is at the point of utter desperation. Every time I watch this scene, I believe it could go the other way. She got lucky getting the alien's head in the mechwarrior death grip. and that tail could have gotten her at anytime. But in the end she wins out because, when all is said and done, Ripley does not want to die.

Man, I feel like I just passed a stone or two. What do you think? 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nothing Says Action Like Voting!

This action junkie just wants to remind everyone to get out and vote for Captain America today. This young and talented senator from Illinois will bring to the table some much needed intellect and charisma, not mention the experience of having been a super soldier during WWII.

So get out there and vote today! If I hear that any of you decided not to vote, I'll have to sick Keanu on you.... and he looks pissed. VOTE!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from Action Direct

I hope that you all have some lovely masquerades and/or schinnanigans planned for this evening. My friend Justin sent this on to me and I thought that it would be an appropriate way for the Action Direct team to send you off on this year's All Hallow's Eve. Happy Halloween everyone.

Samuel L Jackson Reads Action Direct!

Samuel L Jackson announced today that he has signed on to Inglorious Basterds, the latest and greatest Quentin Tarantino movie. You of course all remember his roles in Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Kill Bill: Volume II, which I think were some of his best (particularly in Pulp Fiction). Apparently, his role in Inglorious Bastards will be as a narrator, which I know isn't the same as playing a Jule Winnfield character. But I'm still pleased.

I'm a firm believer in rational thinking. And the only rational explanation for this sudden turn of events is that Jackson sat down at his computer last night and read my post yesterday, the muted plea of a disillusioned fan. It's good to know that even the little guy can make a difference. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Am I the baddest mofo lowdown around this town?

If you know the answer, then you'll be interested to hear that Samuel L. Jackson has been cast as Sho'nuff in the upcoming remake of The Last Dragon, an epic tale which follows the path of Bruce Leroy through the streets of New York until his ultimate ascension to the level of... you guessed it... The Last Dragon.

Now, I'm a fan of the original film. And I am excited to see what modern cinematography will do for this legendary piece of americana. But the choice of Samuel Jackson as Sho'nuff raises a few questions as to the credibility of this remake. You'll have to agree that Jackson hasn't exactly been at the pinnacle of his career for quite some time now (that is to say he made seven movies in 2008, none of which I was inclined to see and few of which I even heard about). It seems like he has lost any ability to screen for crappy parts, or, maybe he just doesn't care...? While Christopher Walken is rumored to never turn down a role, be it minor or otherwise, this has only seemed to augment his mystique. Jackson's failure to throw away a crappy script (eg. Snakes on a Trai... er... Plane) has really made me doubt his judgement. I'm a believer in his talent, but come on, are we really supposed to take him seriously?

Anyway, no news on who will be cast as Bruce Leroy as of yet. Keep your eyes peeled for more Last Dragon updates.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Extended Watchmen Trailer

It's been a while since we've posted anything about The Watchmen here on Action Direct. The truth is, after I heard that Fox was trying undermine the whole production I decided to distance myself from it. I was getting too close to the whole thing emotionally, and I just needed some space....

That being said, recently an extended trailer aired during the 2008 Spike TV Scream Awards (which, frankly, does not please me in the least). So if for some reason you just had to miss the Scream Awards, here is the trailer in all its glory. 

Things that please me: 

Most of what I've been seeing in these trailers is just radical. The Comedian is maybe my favorite character in the footage that I've seen. He looks seriously gritty, which is perfect. I know that I've expressed my worry about Nite Owl in the past, but in the end, he looks freaking awesome too. Basically, as long as they keep their eye on the story and let the CGI play a secondary role rather than the other way around (i.e. the shit they pulled in 300), this has got all the makings for greatness.

Things that concern me: 

Alright, so in comic books, spandex are cool. But in real life, they are much more difficult to pull off. I'm excited that they are staying true to the comic art. But let's face it, the comic art in the Watchmen isn't great. I just hope that some of these characters don't come off as cheesy (i.e. The Riddler in Batman and Robin). 

I also hope that the guy they got to play Ozymandias pulls it off. He needs to be someone who can exude intelligence and confidence, but not be overtly arrogant about the whole thing. Matthew Goode, the actor cast as Ozymandias, looks a little young. He's going to have to convince me that while he's young, he's also wise beyond his years and crazy enough to want to destroy the world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Throw 'em 'Bows

Who among you was blown away, or at least mildly impressed by Ong-Bak: Thai Warrior's flying elbows and generally kick-ass action? I remember seeing the trailer and being really pumped, and then seeing the movie and thinking, "Well, it wasn't as good as the trailer made it out to be. But it was pretty damn good. And did you see those 'bows fly?" 

The trailer for Ong-Bak 2 has left me feeling much as the first did, except that I am now expecting to be unimpressed by the plot and even more blown away by the action. I just hope there are at least 50% as many flying elbows in the second installation, since, as you might have gathered from this entry, I think they were the strongest aspect of the first.

PS- I realize that my absence from the blog has been difficult both emotionally and spiritually for many of you. For this, I apologize. I can only hope that you will forgive me and enjoy the few entries that we do post here on Action Direct.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Zombie situation

There are not many things that make me lose sleep at night, but this picture combines the two real fears I harbor in my day to day life:

1. John McCain/Sarah Palin taking over the White House for the next 4 years.
2. The one devastating problem we as a society/species have no solution for: Zombies.

As we see clearly illustrated in the picture here, no one, not even a high powered politician is exempt from the dangers of turning into a member of the undead. And believe me friends, it only takes one poor, infected being to set off a turn of events that could turn this beautiful, albeit a little crazy world into an apocalyptic nightmare of such proportions it could extinguish life as we know it. In an effort to educate and hopefully prepare our readers for an upcoming event such as this, I would like to brainstorm on the best places to hide out during a class 4 (cross continental) zombie outbreak.  Some items to consider-

1. Safety of course is key. Are there walls? Is it easily defendable by only a few members of your party?
2. Sustenance. Can you plant a garden? Purify water? How do you sustain life in your zombie fortress?
3. Opportunity for growth. If you are stuck in this fortress for decades, it is highly possible that you will take on other survivors and that children will be born and raised within your fortress walls. How will you account for growth of the party?
4. Location. How will the temperature and climate affect your fortress? If the fortress is outgrown or overrun, what will you fall back on to escape? Are you near an ocean for marine travel? Can you survive an arduous trek across a hot desert?

These are a a scant few items to consider when choosing your hideout. And just to illustrate how quick and devastating a zombie outbreak can be, I offer you this dramatization of  a zombie take over (courtesy of Zach Snyder's 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead").

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Action in Politics

If you're like me, then you're feeling that all of the political hoopla surrounding the elections is growing tiresome. Obama or McCain? Well, Obama clearly. But if you're on the fence or don't feel like either candidate would represent you, then perhaps you might be interested in this late entry from the conservatively badass (or was it liberally freaking sweet?) party, John McClane. Have a look here for a summary of his stance on the issues and click here to donate.

Unfortunately, Sonny Landham dropped out of the Kentucky senatorial race earlier this year, denying the world a trifecta of Predator action stars in office (Arnie Schwarzeneggar and Jesse Ventura being the other two). Actually, maybe it isn't so bad... read here. Evidently, he's still got his eye on the gubernatorial race in 2010.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hard Boiled (1992)

Why didn't anybody tell me that I've been missing out on an entire other perspective of the 80's and 90's action genre? On my friend Justin's advice, I bumped Hard Boiled, a John Woo classic starring Chow Yun Fat, to the top of my queue this week and the results were outstanding. A brief synopsis:

Tequila Yuen (Chow Yun Fat) is a hard-boiled cop on a mission: find those bastards that killed his partner. "Those bastards" turn out to be a bunch of gun smuggling mobsters in the middle of a gang war on the Hong Kong streets. Tequila teams up with an insider named Tony (Leung Chiu Wai) working both sides of enemy lines to uncover the mob's secret munitions stockpile. Lots of people die.

Man, cheesy jazz music framing a loner cop against the backdrop a lawless city. Amazing. John Woo makes no apologies for the civilians killed in the middle of spectacular gunfights. Nor does he shy from sub-machine guns with endless magazines and revolvers which only misfire when at point blank range with Tequila's head. The resulting film is one full of extended fight scenes with bullets flying for the duration. Generally, bad guys get six or seven shots in the chest before they go down. Further, good guys take six or seven shots before they need to go to the hospital. Hard Boiled is pure action. Ultra violent with little semblance to real life.

I think my favorite scene is the first one in the tea house. There is something really cool about all of the birdcages hanging around while good guys and bad guys exchange gunfire like its going out of style. 

It is pretty clear that the reason I like this movie is because it does a great job of taking all of the symbols and themes of the american cop action movie (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, etc) to the extreme. The gunfights are more outrageous, the main cop is inexplicably tougher (but with a sensitive, clarinet playing side), and the cop partner relationships are as stereotypical as The Simpsons makes them out to be. Ill be sampling from the John Woo catalog for the next few weeks. Keep you eye out for more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Best Fight Scene Ever...?

If anyone can tell me where this clip comes from, I will give you everything I have and more.

PS- I was having trouble with the feed earlier. Click here to go to the source.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Last Jedi

The more home movie projects I see, the more I'm beginning to wish that I had a lot more time on my hands. They just keep getting better and better and I want in. Anyway, here is the latest a greatest internet video, Star Wars VII: The Last Jedi.

Kind of a vicious ending right?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Appaloosa at the Boston Film Festival

Under the silly impression that the entire cast of Appaloosa would be at the opening of the Boston Film Festival, a couple of friends an I ventured into East Cambridge last night. While the promises of superstar attendance turned out not to be true, the movie turned out to be a pretty good one. Appaloosa, based on the novel by Robert Parker (a Cambridge native), is a true to the genre no frills western of the best kind. The story goes like this: 

Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) heads west to expand his mind after spending a few years serving in the military during the presidency of Chester Arthur. He meets up with Virgil Cole (Ed Harris), an established peacemaker with a taste for Emerson, somewhere out west. From that point on, Hitch is Cole's right hand man, his back-up with an 8-gauge shotgun constantly poised on his shoulder and a moustache to boot. The two find there way to the sleepy town of Appaloosa somewhere in New Mexico territory. Turns out a rancher by the name of Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) has been terrorizing Appaloosa, most recently by shooting down the sheriff and his two deputies. The town officials hire Cole and Hitch to take care of business, and badassery ensues. From here on, the story isn't too surprising, awesome shots of the New Mexican ladscape punctuated here and there by cool gunfights and a shoddily cast Renee Zellwegar. By the end, we've seen the two gunslingers escort their prisoner across the desert, fend off marauding natives, walk into a gunfight with the odds weighted heavily against them, and drink more than a few shots of whiskey in the middle of the afternoon from dirty shot glasses in an even dirtier saloon. Pretty standard western movie stuff.

I am going to say that I liked the movie. It was an interesting western. Your standard western has a single protagonist (Eastwood, Wayne, etc) who takes it all on. But Appaloosa gave us two, which was interesting. First off, both Harris and Mortensen are true badasses, Mortensen perhaps a bit more. So it was kind of like getting twice the bang for your buck. But, having two protagonists, male protagonists at that, in a western movie added some interesting undertones to what is generally a pretty macho genre. This movie was really about the relationship between two straight men. But this was no Brokeback Mountain. It was more like Lethal Weapon (you know how Riggs and Murtaugh kind f have that more than friends relationship, but it isn't anything sexual?).

I think that the Renee Zellweger character was crap. Basically, she just wasn't a realistic person. This isn't the fault of the director so much as it is the fault of the original author. Or maybe it's both their faults? Regardless, she didn't add much to the movie except that she made you think twice about Ed Harris' character for loving her, which I guess added depth to his character. 

The best part of the whole thing is Viggo's facial hair. Holy shit! Check it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Darth, You Trickster!

This is hilarious! I just love the look on the guy's face.

Thanks cinematical.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Possible confirmation of the next Batman Villains?

I know we have speculated on this in the past, but it looks as if the Depp/Hoffman team up in the next installation of Chris Nolan's Batman has some weight to it. According to MTV's Splashpage, Michael Cain let slip a little tidbit concerning Johnny Depp as the Riddle and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin. This rumor has been going around for awhile now, but never from the mouth of such an involved party. While both of these actors are impressive in their own rights, I'm curious to see how they would hold up in Nolan's gritty take on the Gotham universe. I've never been fond of the Riddler, but maybe we culd see him reborn as some kind of intelligent yet quirky serial killer type who enjoys leaving clues at the scenes of his brutal murders. I could also see Hoffman play a nasty, sweaty, child porno loving Penguin character. That would be a newer realistic take on the characters that I might be able to find a bit more threatening than their past iterations. I'm just spit balling here though, what does everyone think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

EcoSaber? Really?

I was over at /film this morning where they were featuring this hip little tee under their "Cool Stuff" post of the day. As I was looking at it, I had mixed feelings. Is this cool? The Obama supporter in me wants to say yes. Yay to energy efficiency! Yet, the Star Wars fan in me is conflicted, and I'm not sure why.

I think it has to do with the fact that the lightsaber is sacred to me, a symbol not to be tampered with. For my birthday one time, my friend Sean made me a lightsaber out of a plumbing material (piping, nuts, etc). It's freaking sweet. I don't have to keep a bat in my house because I know I can mess up an intruder with my lightsaber if needed. Of course, it doesn't work (refer to our previous discussion on working lightsabers and such), but that isn't the point. It is a pure symbol. It's pure badassery.

Then again, maybe I'm being too hard on this shirt. It is clever, and it will likely make money, which is really the point. I guess that more than anything this shirt makes me realizes that I should be able to get over my boyish dreams of becoming a Jedi and man up to maybe more important things in life (like global warming?). In fact, maybe this shirt is the perfect way for me to show what's important to me and at the same time display my love of sci-fi action?

I don't know. Maybe it's the color.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lucas' Hidden Fortress?

Apparently, I missed out on the Star Wars Geek Pack that fully outlines George Lucas' links to Kurosawa. That's fine, and I'm not at all surprised that another acclaimed director (in his former years) that is close to my heart was influenced by the clear genius of Kurosawa films. In any case, I watched Hidden Fortress the other night, which is the Kurosawa film which supposedly provided the seeds of inspiration for Star Wars: A New Hope. Here's what I have to say about it, which may or may not be the same things that Star Wars fanatics have been saying for years.

The connection between the two bumbling idiots of Hidden Fortress and C-3P0 and R2-D2 is undeniable, both in terms of perspective and in terms of the somewhat slap-stick humor the bring to their respective films. But Tahei and Matakishi do not serve so much as sidekicks to Rokurota as consistent pests to be exploited. Their greed drives them more than their altruism, whereas the droids of Star Wars fame demonstrate a degree of loyalty and selflessness which in the end is endearing. 

Then of course, the Princess Yuki character has obvious connections to Princess Leia. Although the characters are quite different, they share a strength and bravery that is likely not coincidental. And the whole idea of a protagonist serving as guide and bodyguard to a "rebel" princess leader is clearly inspired by this Kurosawa piece.

Aside for these similarities, which are the most obvious, I would say that Lucas definitely took a few cues from Kurosawa's use of misdirection in this film, and probably a few others of his. The Jedi mind trick could very well have been the result of a long, introspective brainstorming session of Georgie's after watching Rokurota distract the border patrol to allow for safe passage of a wagon carrying the Akisuki clan's fortune. At least, that's how I see it. Of course, one could argue that the whole concept of misdirection is something that was not novel to the Kurosawa film. But, I think it is the way in which it is used that is very reminiscent of its use in Star Wars. I couldn't help but think about Obi-Wan Kenobi tricking the storm troopers on the Death Star when I watched this scene in Hidden Fortress. 

I'm always taken aback by the timelessness of the Kurosawa stories. The fact that many of his ideas have been retold and retold again in forms that are different, but fundamentally the same, is really just incredible. Think about it. Lucas. Leone. Tarantino. Star Wars. A Fist Full of Dollars. Kill Bill. Incredible.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Little Green Monsters

Hey guys, sorry I've been MIA for the last few days. Moving across the country doesn't afford a whole lot of time for action movies. 

So I was (am) one of those people who watched (watches) one movie over and over until I knew (know) all of the lines. In fact, my life has been punctuated with these periods, so much so that I can relate different eras of my development to different movies that I watched on repeat. Middle school was The Craft (don't judge). Early high school was Pulp Fiction and later high school The Matrix. Freshman year of college was The Big Lebowski. First year of graduate school was Dune. And so on. 

One of those movies was Gremlins. And, in fact, it was the lesser of the Gremlins movies, Gremlins 2: The New Batch. So you can imagine the nostalgia I felt when I ran across this little number

I would say that this is nothing short of genius. Truly inspiring and an homage to my early teens. Thank you, whoever you are.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Alright, I saw all of the hype and I watched the Academy Awards, so I knew that a lot of people were all about this film. However, for some reason I had an aversion to watching this movie in the theater and it took me ages to finally put it in my blu-ray player. Somehow, I had the notion in my head that this movie was a long, boring, wanna-be action movie that allowed all of the artsy, Cannes crowd to point and say "See, I like shoot em' up movies too".  Imagine my surprise when 1/3 of the way into the movie Javier Bardem kills a man with a compressed air gun with the composure one might witness in the maitre d' of a fine restaurant. At that point, the rest of the movie could have been a bad reenactment of the teletubbies and I would have watched it. Not only is the film expertly shot (there was some of the best attention to detail I have ever seen in a movie with a silenced shotgun) but the Coen bros. managed to turn an extremely simple, cliche of a plot into a twisted, nail- biting thriller. Give me a moment to point out some of the sweet spots that I loved about this film:

 The characters were tops. Tommy Lee Jones delivered one of the best Texas drawl filled performances of his career that included some of the finest cowboy tough guy lines a man can create. For example,
   "I sent a man to the 'lectric chair. He kilt a 14 year old girl. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. 'Be there in about fifteen minutes.'"

Plus, our protagonist on the run, Llewelyn Moss was no lolly gagging local yocal. He managed to outsmart the Mexican Mafia and a highly trained assassin several times before they finally got to him. 

Anton Chigurh is one of the sweetest assassins I've come across since they invented the ninja, and he puts down the only character I wasn't wild about (Woody Harrelson, aka Carson Wells) in such a nonchalant, no nonsense manner that I immediately decided it was worth Carson's presence in the movie just for that death scene. I could go on for hours, but instead, I'll let you take a look at this rockstar scene in which Anton forces a local gas station clerk to flip a coin for his life (badass!).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Luke Skywalker = Samurai

While to some of you this may be old news, I was surprised to read the other day that Tarantino is not the only director to take his ideas from old Kurosawa films. Turns out, George Lucas has also admitted to the influence of the japanese director on his very own Star Wars: A New Hope. 

I had no idea, and frankly, I was a little upset at first. I felt disoriented and confused. Star Wars has always been to me the original and complete telling of the hero's paradigm. But to hear that the first sparks of creativity for Lucas' opus were not his own threw me for a loop.

Since then I've calmed a bit. Most of the internet sources claim that Lucas only loosely based C-3PO and R2-D2 on Kurosawa characters. I think I can live with that. If it had been Han Solo or, god forbid, Obi-Wan, I would have been a bit more distraught.

Hidden Fortress, the Kurosawa film of interest, is next in my queue and, rest assured, I will give my full analysis right here on Action Direct once I've watched it. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mini Joker

I don't know about you, but I was an avid collector of all different kinds of action figures. To this day, it pains me to think about losing both my rubber head Raphael and my brother's original Stormshadow G.I. Joe. 

Maybe I can make it up to him with this 1/6 scale Joker action figure, to be released by Hot Toys. The thing has 32 points of articulation! Amazing! 

Check out more photos at /film.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Woody Harrelson to Star in Zombieland

I had to post this for two reasons. First, I love Woody Harrelson. And second, I love zombies. To hear that the two will be together in a movie called Zombieland makes me all tingly. 

Woody will play a character named Albuquerque (which is a great name and also my home town) who is "the most frightened guy on Earth" in a world overrun by zombies. Apparently, the title refers to "an old funeral home that is turned into a morbid attraction called Zombieland". 

Sounds a little stupid, but we'll have to wait and see. Check out this Zombieland game in the meantime.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Tribute

Where were you when you first watched The Matrix? I remember that it was a Thursday, the day after its release. I had just turned 16 and my friend Jack and I went to see it on a lark. The hype still wasn't out yet and I don't think anybody knew just how amazing it was going to be. My god, I was blown away.

Now when was the last time you watched The Matrix? Too long ago, I'll bet. Much like the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones, the greatness that was The Matrix was tarnished by sequels (and prequels). But lest we forget that there was once a dream called The Matrix. This is a tribute to that dream. 

I still believe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

If you can't laugh at yourself...

Well, he is one of the most highly accredited action stars of the late 80s/90s, but we haven't seen Jean Claude Van Damme in a new film in quite some time. Suffice to say, his career isn't exactly in its prime. That's why it warms my heart to see the man star in a parody based on his very own action styled movies coming out soon in Toronto. Apparently, it is set in his homeland of Belgium, but beyond that, who knows what kind of crazy, terrorist ridden, kung fu packed, splits doing hijinx will ensue. I'm interested to see what they come up with. Take a look at Reuters report here for more details. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Poster Challenge

One of our reader's sent me this link the other day, and I'll be god damned if I only got a handful of them correct! I must not be the most visual learner. 

Give it a shot and tell me what you get.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Over the Top (1987)

For the longest time I thought that I had seen this movie. I used the "over the top" move every time I got into an arm wrestling match and referenced it whenever it made sense to reference an movie about a truck driver named Hawk who dominates the underground arm wrestling rings. But when I sat down to watch Over the Top last night, it became apparent in the first five minutes that I had never seen it before. Go figure.

So let's talk about Over the Top, starring Sly Stallone as Lincoln Hawk. The story goes something like this: When Lincoln Hawk's ex-wife falls ill, she asks him to pick up their son from military school and drive him home. Hawk pick's up his ten-year old son, Michael (who he hasn't seen since he walked out on his wife for no good reason) and starts on what proves to be a road trip to remember. Michael is first hesitant to get to know his father and confused about how to feel (or at least, that's what his acting coach told him to think about). But after witnessing Stallone stomp some big dude at a truck stop at arm wrestling, Michael starts to think a little different. Long story short, Hawk's wife dies and her father wants to take custody of Michael. Instead, Hawk goes to Vegas and wins the national arm wrestling championship... Michael and Lincoln Hawk live happily ever after.

Okay, the truth is I was a little disappointed  in the lack of action in this movie. There is lots of really good arm wrestling. In fact, I've never seen better arm wrestling footage. But there was almost no fighting, no gunshots, very little badassery. Plus, the kid in this movie (David Mendenhall) is hugely annoying. A look at IMDB shows that his career has since amounted to a couple of Law and Order episodes as well as a cameo on "A Pup Named Scooby Doo". Next, I don't really care for much of the story. It didn't bother me when the mother died on the operating table or when the kid cries "You were never there when we needed you!" But I was pretty pumped when Stallone tells his kid, "Wait here. Daddy'd got to work." and then proceeds to win a $1000 arm wrestling. Very nice.

The good thing about this movie is Stallone. I'm pretty sure the entire point of this film was to showcase Stallone's right bicep. It's is huge! And get this, the guy drives around in a semi truck with a weight-lifting machine set up to work out his right arm exclusively. I'm surprised he doesn't look more like Freddy Rodriguez in Lady in the Water the way he works that thing. The second best thing about Over the Top is the arm wrestling competition in the end. It's awesome. They treat it like an ESPN television program, cutting to interviews with the contestants in between matches. Hilarious! 

Check out this montage of the final tournament.

Anyway, it's a fun movie worth renting and watching with your best friends and a six-pack of beer. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do it Baracky!

I especially like that they chose Mr. T for McCain. Keep an eye out for Michelle Obama. She makes a few pretty great appearances in this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cool New Art from Gallery 1988

This place in LA, Gallery 1988, is doing some pretty cool sutff. Next up is there Crazy 4 Cult 2 exhibition. This piece is by a guy named Sean Clauretie. 

Check out some of the other cool pieces here and here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Time Travel Just Ain't Easy

I was watching Timecop on my pirated copy of every Van Damme film ever made the other day and could not help but wince at the hoard of time travel no-no's. This is a movie that has some great action, and arguably the best intro scene to a Van Damme film ever, but makes almost no attempt to account for the issues associated with traveling to and from the past. It is just horrible.

So has there ever been a movie that does a good job with time travel? The answer is of course, yes. Back to the Future was genius and I'm a huge fan of Primer. But neither of these is without its flaws. Not by a long shot. Rephrase the question; has there ever been a good action movie that does a good job with time travel? Well, again, the answer is yes. So here they are, my top five action movies that involve time travel
  1. The Terminator (1984) - Need I say anything about the Terminator? The basic premise is this, the rise of the machines is inevitable. But in the future, John Connor leads the resistance against the machines. One machine is sent back in time to terminate John Connor's mother, Sarah. A human is sent back to protect her and impregnates her along the way. The resulting child grows up to be John Connor. Yes!

  2. The Terminator 2 (1991) - Similar to the first, except this time the machines send back a more sophisticated machine to kill John Connor while he is a kid. The humans rise to the challenge by sending back their own machine, although one of lesser technology, to protect young John.

  3. 12 Monkeys (1995) - A virus has forced the human population underground, supposedly by a secret army called the 12 Monkeys. In the future, scientists use a crude and inexact form of time travel to send back convicts on reconnaissance missions. One time traveler, James Cole, is particularly successful at unearthing clues about the 12 Monkeys. Inadvertently, Cole winds up enabling the spread of the killer virus, and the cycle starts all over.

  4. Flight of the Navigator (1986) - Okay, admittedly, not an action movie. And also not your traditional time travel story. David Scott Freeman falls in a ravine and wakes up 8 years later having maintained his youth while the rest of the world aged on. Scientific experiments reveal the blueprints to an unidentified aircraft which the military recently discovered. David and the craft are eventually reunited and proceed to fly all over the universe together. In the end, David opts to return to 1978 rather than live a life of a NASA guinea pig.

  5. The Butterfly Effect (2004) - Also not an action movie, really. But definitely a surprisingly good thriller. From a young age, the Kutch suffers from blackouts. A doctor advises him to keep journals which seems to solve the problem. When he revisits his notebooks as a college student, he finds that he is able to relive those moments in which he blacked out as a child and change the past. Each time he does so, he changes the future in ways that he doesn't anticipate, ultimately affecting those around him. Eventually, Kutcher is forced to go back to the beginning and take himself out of the lives of those that he loves most to protect them. One of the cool things about this movie is the alternate ending where the Kutch goes back to when he's still a babe in his mother's womb and strangles himself with his umbilical cord, thereby ending the pain.
All right, not a comprehensive list, I'll agree. But a good one. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Much Bond, So Little Time

OMG! This is amazing! Every James Bond title to date can be yours for less than 100 clams, or bones, or whatever you call them. 

If my mother is reading, please add this to Casey's Xmas list.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Action Direct in Real Life

In the spirit of the Olympics, and since climbing is not an Olympic sport, I give you Dai Koyamada climbing Action Direct (which also happens to be the namesake of this blog).

I know this is not on topic. But I found it, and I just thought it was too badass not to post. I hope you liked it.

Boba Fett Does the Mandalorian Dance

I always knew that Boba Fett had a lighter, more creative side to him.

Priceless. Thanks to /film for this one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LadyHawke (1985)

I've been meaning to do this review for quite some time now. I was inspired to revisit this movie after I heard an interview with Rutger Hauer on Movie Geeks United about his new autobiography, All those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Bladerunners (review to come). I'm a huge Hauer fan, originally for his performance in Blind Fury and then later for his pure badassery in Bladerunner. He's amazing, and I love him...

In any case, this review is about the classic fantasy-action film Ladyhawke, starring Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Matthew Broderick. It's a pretty epic tale. The story goes like this:

Captain Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer) was once the captain of the guard at Aquila. But when the powerful Bishop of Aquila finds that Navarra and Lady Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) are in love, he curses them in a jealous rage. Navarre and Isabeau escape from Aquila, but not from the Bishop's curse, which changes Navarre into a wolf by night and Isabeau into a hawk by day. The two wonder the country as forsaken lovers until they happen upon Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick), the Mouse who is himself on the run after escaping from the dungeons of Alquila. Navarre forces Phillipe to lead them into Alquila so that he might exact his revenge upon the Bishop. Along the way, Phillipe and the cursed duo become friends. In the end, with the help of the monk who betrayed Navarre and Isabeau to the Bishop, the Bishop's curse is broken and the Bishop gets his just deserves. Fin.

Classic, right? I love it. The metaphors are unmistakable: Navarre who is human by day wears only black. Isabeau, woman by night, wears only white. It's a clear-cut story of good and evil. Simple, but effective. I particularly like the role that Broderick plays in this movie. At first, he is depcited as a crafty thief with little to no courage, and even less loyalty. But by the end, the Mouse takes on the role of a kind of relationship broker for Navarre and Isabeau, whose relationship is suffering under the burden of the curse. He uses his wit and talent as a liar to convince Navarre that their love is worth saving, as opposed to killing the Bishop and in essence, giving up hope.

There are also some pretty good fight scenes here. The first time we meet Navarre, he takes down about 50 (or maybe five) of the guards from Alquila, including the new captain. But before he fights them, one of the guards recognizes Navarre, and is still loyal to his old captain. Before he has a chance to greet Navarre, however, the new captain of the guard pushes him onto Navarre's gigantic sword. Ouch. But nice move.

Also, the Bishop goes down really hard, which I like. Imagine William Wallace's sword, and then imagine it being thrown like a spear and pinning a frailed old clergyman against the wall. That's basically what happens. Kind of like when Azim kills the witch in Robin Hood (By the by, I'm pretty sure that Kevin Reynolds watched this movie on repeat for about a month before he made Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, because the influence is unmistakable. The only thing he didn't steal was the awesome soundtrack, opting for a steaming pile of dog poo instead). 

Speaking of the soundtrack, get this, Ladyhawke actually was nominated for two (count 'em) Oscars! Both were sound related, which is hilarious given the intensely 80's techno soundtrack. No joke, it sounds like the theme music to Cutman's level in Megaman. Seriously, awesome.

As an added bonus, you get to see Alfred Molina (i.e. Doctor Octopus) get his head stuck in a wolf trap, literally.

Overall, I would say it's a must see. Especially if you are a Rutger Hauer fan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

If I Could Have One Power....

It would probably be the power of flight. But I'm sure some of you would consider invisibility as your top choice, possibly top three*? Well, today modern technology has taken us one step closer to attaining this particular dream. Looks like scientists have taken another step toward creating an invisibility cloak... or something along those lines. Look to the next edition of Nature and Science for details.

So, we're close to invisibility. Teleportation is in the works. When the hell is someone going to make a decent lightsaber?

* I personally don't rank invisibility that high because I saw how it messed up Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trekkie Porno

Call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed all of the Star Trek movies. That includes Star Trek: Generations. I wouldn't call myself a Trekkie by any means, but I will say that there was a time in my life when I watched The Next Generation daily. In any case, the talk on the street is that the new Star Trek movie is going to be pretty good. Evidently, at Comic Con they released some posters revealing the casting decisions of a few key players.

We have John Cho as Sulu (top left), Simon Pegg as Scotty (top right), Karl Urban as McCoy (bottom right) and Anton Yelchin as Chekov (bottom left). I guess each panel is available as an individual poster. You can check these out in higher resolution at TrekMovie.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Movie Remakes

Found this on Obsessed with Film, and I thought it was worth sharing. 

I would disagree that the remake of War of the Worlds was good and I actually liked the new Island of Doctor Moreau, but that's just me. 

What would you add to the list?

* The above pic is an exploding zombie head from the original Dawn of the Dead. I think this might be the best remake ever.

Ultraman and Megawoman Engaged!

Action Direct would like to take a minute to congratulate two of our readers on their recent engagement! 

Congratulations guys! 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who Would Win in a Fight: Samantha Caine versus Maggie Hayward

Some of our readers have noted the overt lack of female action stars featured on the blog. This one's for you guys (gals): 

Today's event pits Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) of Long Kiss Goodnight fame against Maggie Hayward (Bridget Fonda) from Point of No Return. I personally enjoy both of these movies (although I'll say now that Long Kiss Goodnight is a better movie). You know the drill, Samantha and Maggie are tossed into a concrete pit with nothing but their wits. Who would win in a (cat)fight?

Casey: Both of these characters are trained assassins. Sam is deadly with a knife and Maggie is a dead-eye. I think as long as Samantha Caine knows that she's a killer (i.e. her memory has returned), she takes this one. Over and over, Sam shows her ingenuity in tight spots with instinctual ease and surprising strength in Long Kiss Goodnight. Like when that bald guy with the crazy eye shoots an RPG at her and she uses the refrigerator as a shield. Or when she throws her daughter out of the window and into the tree house to protect her. She is tough and scares me a little bit. Plus, that platinum blond hair adds a degree of badassery which Maggie lacks. Further, any chick that makes Samuel Jackson think twice (especially a Sammy J playing a deadbeat private eye) is one that should not be underestimated. 

I just think that Sam is much more likely to get brutal in there. The way she ended the injured stag was enough to make me shiver. If it were a competition to take out a mark, well, then maybe Maggie would take it. She is crafty and extremely good with the sniper rifle. Plus, she's got balls (figuratively speaking). And she has that street kid mentality, which could go a long way. I guess it's possible that Maggie's desire to live a long and happy normal life with her boy-toy, Dermot Mulroney, could give her an extra edge. But the thing is, Sam is fighting for her family too. And nature tells us that maternal instinct is more powerful than fraternal.

Needless to say, it would be a hot fight. I would probably make sure that it was 107 degrees in the pit and only let them wear white cotton shirts... Chris?

Chris: Sam has got at least a 6" reach advantage over Maggie, and given the pit fight situation, I'd say that already has her in the lead. I guess you could argue that Maggie has a lower center of gravity, but we're not playing football here, this is a death match. I agree with Casey in that the motivation behind each character is strong, but he struck gold when he points out that Sam is fighting to protect her den of cubs. She'd be like a goddamn wolverine in a pit (especially considering that mouth of hers- it's fuckin' huge!), and Maggie would most likely end up on her back with a glassy eyed stare and her entrails laying all about her. Then Sam would smile with about 250 oversized teeth, climb out of the pit, and go home and cook a delicious casserole for the kids. 

A little more Watchmen to wet the palette...

I know we are going over the top with our promotion of the Watchmen, but I just can't help myself. Take a look at the making of the Owlship: 

You Definitely Are Too Old For This Shit

According to, Shane Black has written a spec script for Lethal Weapon 5, and both Gibson and Glover are interested. Apparently, the plot is something like this:

This time, homicidal Riggs (Mel Gibson) is about to retire, but pulls Murtaugh (Danny Glover) out of retirement to solve one final case, before they both officially head off into the sunset

I, for one, have mixed feelings. The truth is, I liked all of the first four installments. Jet Li definitely helped in the last one. But, I'm sorry, much of the charm that made Lethal Weapon lethal is now gone. Murtaugh is too old and Riggs settled down. This is no longer the story of a cop on the edge and his grounded, but also badass, partner. No, this is now the story of two over the hill cops telling stories about the time they got in a fight with Gary Busey.

I mean, I guess it could be all right. Riggs is still "homicidal", and I guess that helps.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All Van Damme All the Time

Back from Ghana, my friend Allon presented me with the one and only gift that every action junkie ardently desires: a single pirated DVD containing the entire Van Damme filmography!!!

Don't be surprised if for the next few weeks I am dropping not so subtle references to Sudden Death and Timecop.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hey Johnny!

Senator John McCain experienced a transient jump in the polls on Thursday when thousands of voters simultaneously realized that he had a cameo appearance in the 2005 film, Wedding Crashers.

Unconfirmed sources claim that Senator John McCain repeatedly asserted, "This is freaking sweet" while on the set.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Hail Stan Lee

So this is a bit belated, but I still thought that it was worth mentioning because it is rather awesome.

Earlier this year Gallery 1988 in LA put on an entire show dedicated to the father of many of our favorite comic book characters, Stan Lee. The video below (6:53) is really cool and some of the art is radical. 

Thanks to G4tv for the video.

New Watchmen Pics

Empire Online released new images from the upcoming film adaptation to Alan Moore's, The Watchmen.... and I'm concerned. 

Here's the problem I foresee; The Watchmen is a story about aged superheroes donning their spandex costumes again after a long hiatus. Part of the charm of The Watchmen, not unlike Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or even Pixar's The Incredibles, are the trials and tribulations that middle aged superheroes face when taking to the streets to fight crime again. 

What I'm seeing in these images are young, fit, and thin superheroes. How are they going to convey the fact that Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) is a huge nerd with a confidence problem when they have him played by a strapping youth with a chiseled jaw and washboard abdominal muscles? The only person that has any right to be in that kind of shape is Rorschach. In any case, the casting and creative direction concerns me.

I will say that the Comedian looks perfectly done and Doctor Manhatten is stunning. And the trailer is really just f'ing amazing, one of the most exciting that I've seen. So I guess I'll just hold on to the hope that editing and the director's vision will make these characters work better on screen than they do in these new pics.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Action Direct RSS

Dear Readers,

As part of our revampification, we thought that we'd experiment with an RSS feed. Let us know what you think about it. Just click here, and then click on the right hand side to subscribe in your mail, or whatever you might like to do. 



Action Direct weighs in on The Dark Knight

Now that everyone has had their say about the Dark Knight, it's time that the Action Direct duo steps in to set the record straight. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then be warned that we speak freely about all aspects of the movie and you might want to consider waiting. But really, if you haven't seen it yet, then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.

Chris: What can I say about the Dark Knight that hasn't already been said? It is hands down the best damned Batman movie out there and it seems that few would argue differently. From it's opening Bank Robbery sequence through the high tech Hong Kong kidnapping to the amazing execution of the Two Face origin story, this movie delivered on all fronts. Don't you just love it when all of your friends and the media and Jesus build up a movie like crazy and then it still surprises you with how awesome it was? That was my Dark Knight experience. Alright, here are a few of the specific highlights in my book:

I suspected Heath Ledger was going to be an excellent Joker, but worried that he would pale in comparison to Jack Nicholson's portrayal in the original Tim Burton version of Batman (1989). However all of these fears were quickly put to bed upon The Joker's magic disappearing pencil trick. From then on, I knew we were all in for an extraordinary performance. Convincing would be the word I would use to describe his performance. Utterly convincing. There were times that I had to stop and remind myself that this was indeed an actor (RIP) and not an actual psychotic agent of chaos on the screen before me.

And what about Eckart as Harvey Dent/Two Face? I found myself rooting for Dent in spite of the knowledge that he would shortly be transformed into Batman's double sided enemy. Seriously, I liked him as Dent. I wanted him to make it. Any thoughts Casey?

Casey: Let me first start off by saying that I was also pleased as punch with the most recent Batman installment. I had the fortunate experience of watching it at the Seattle Center IMAX, an experience that will likely not be rivaled until my first born enters the world, and possibly never. It was great. Really just great.

Okay, best things about the movie: the Joker was, as Chris puts it, utterly convincing and, as it turns out, well researched. My girlfriend  was telling me that the thing that the Joker did with his tongue (f the old Barty Crouch, Jr flick) is actually a common permanent side effect of anti-psychotic drugs which are used in the treatment of schizophrenics and psychotics. Holy shit! Was the Joker admitted for schizophrenia at some point in his life? Are the other mentally ill lackeys that he hires former inmates of his psychiatric treatment center? The possibilities are endless. This tiny detail offers just the littlest bit of insight into the origins of a character that is clearly one of the best villains in a comic book movie to ever grace the silver screen (sorry Jack). Amazing.

As far as Harvey Dent/Two Face is concerned, I know exactly what you mean Chris. I've read a couple of different reviews claiming that Eckart was the soul of the movie. While I don't totally agree with this, I have to admit that he was fucking good. Even knowing the whole history of Two Face, I really did want to believe in Dent. And the truth is, he had me so thoroughly convinced that I didn't really believe it when he started to kill people. I was like, "Harvey, no!" And what a twist to have Gordon and Batman make a martyr of him, rather than soil the name of Gotham's White Knight.

One more thing. How awesome were the throw-backs to the original movie? Like the North Korean cargo plane with the all too familiar Batwing scissors on the nose cone? And how about the Batman/Joker last fight in an abandoned building lit only by the floodlights of hovering police helicopters? I was just so happy with how true this film stayed to the original, and yet  went as far as it did in the exact right direction.

Was there anything that you didn't like about this movie Chris?

Chris: I was upset at first that they killed off Two Face at the end, but after a bit of thought, I realize that they could easily manipulate that into a false death situation. I say this because 1. They never actually said outright he was dead, they just said that Gotham couldn't find out about his 'condition', and 2. Faking his death and locking him up in Arkham Asylum would be a great solution to the publicity problem Harvey's psychosis would present (possible sequel material? Anyone?). 

I suppose that was the only thing that didn't really sit right with me, but the more I focus on the subject, the more I realize it was just an all out badass film. I am incredibly upset that we will not see Ledger reprise his role as the Joker in later films, but that is a given. I will also say that I was happy to see Rachel Dawes bite the bullet. If there is one thing I hate, it's a lead female character who is constantly trying to convince the protagonist to hang up his guns with a promise of a calm, regular life. We saw it happen to Christopher Reeves in Superman 2, and we saw it happen to Tobey Maguire in Spiderman 3. The only difference is that Mary Jane and Lois Lane didn't get turned into burnt toast half way through the movie.

Casey: Yeah, that's my main complaint as well. I feel robbed of a Two Face centered Batman epic. If they don't bring him back, I'll be pissed. I mean, what kind of a chump villain dies after falling 25 feet onto soft dirt? That's bullshit! But, you're right. It isn't definitive. They just better make the right choice in the next cash cow.

I think that I also could have done without Alfred's jewel thief story. Don't get me wrong, I liked the story. But I didn't necessarily like hearing it from Alfred. It seemed a little forced, and given what little we know about Alfred, it just doesn't make that much sense.

I've read that people's main complaint with the movie was its length. But to me, the length was a pro. It's like when you're watching The Return of the King extended edition, and the whole time you're thinking to yourself, "Why the hell did they cut this out?" Well, Chris Nolan had the guts to leave it all in there, which really did give it the graphic novel feel that it deserves. Episodic with multiple plots that ultimately wrap up, leaving a few loose ends for the next volume.

And yes, I'll agree that Rachel Dawes' death was both essential and satisfying (although I must say that Gyllenhaal was a vast improvement over Holmes). 

Overall: A very enthusiastic two thumbs up from Action Direct! What's your opinion?