Film Review – John Wick: Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves returns as Baba Yaga, the Boogeyman, John Wick in this sequel to the 2014 surprise hit John Wick. The original film came out of nowhere was quite the surprise for moviegoers as we watched a terrific action film combined with an instantly likable character whose motives were understandable. John’s personal story may have concluded, but John Wick: Chapter 2 opens things up in terms of some great world building in John’s profession.

The film’s plot involves John receiving a “marker”, or blood oath from a former associate of his. After his initial refusal, John reluctantly accepts and sets out on another assasination that involves higher ups in his organization, double crosses, revenge and a whole lot of flying bullets.

If I made a comparison between John Wick: Chapter 2 and another film in terms of what the film sets out to accomplish it would be 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. This film uses the time to expand on the concepts of the world it presented in its predecessor. George Miller’s 1979 Mad Max tells the story of Max himself. By the end of the film, that story is told and the sequel then tells the story of the world Max now inhabits. John Wick does the same.

Both films even share shots of the main character and their pet dog.

 We were introduced to the hotel Continental and the rules that you can’t conduct business on hotel grounds. Now we find out about many more concepts and the world building is so well incorporated into the narrative that it’s never overwhelming, distracting or annoying dumps of exposition.

The fantastic action scenes that have John eliminating opponents with video game precision are back and they are even louder and a bit bloodier that the last film. These films have great action choreography that puts films like the Jason Bourne series to shame. It’s coherent and easy to follow. It’s fast paced with no fast cut edits. Oh and without spoiling, I’ll just say there’s one scene that may have you wincing the way a similar scene did in a particular superhero film. 

The film clocks in at 2 hours long. It’s about 20 minutes longer than the original. Most of that length appeared to consists of at least to me, more extension of the action scenes. I personally loved watching them go on, however this may wear on some viewers after a while.


John Wick Chapter 2 continues the surprises of the original with more amazing action and some awesome world building. This series continues to be a breath of fresh air in the action genre.

Final Rating (4/4) John Wick continues be a great action series with this second entry that opens John’s world up even more. The action still impresses and never feels stale.

Remembering a classic – Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

There is a fantastic scene in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm that elevates it so far above other Batman films in terms of its story and character development. 

The scene is a flashback to when Bruce Wayne was developing the Batman persona. He has been out fighting crime, but realizes that criminals do not fear him and decides to craft an identity that will be the next step in honoring the promise he made to his parents. During this time, he is dating Andrea Beaumont who he considers stopping his vigilante operations for to propose marriage. Later when Bruce visits his parents grave on a rainy night he pours his heart out to them. Asking if he’s doing the right thing. He mentions how he can give more money to the police to hire more cops and other ways to help the city. Breaking down, he tells them, “I know I made a promise, but I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t count on being happy.” Shortly after Andrea surprisingly leaves Bruce for reasons unknown to him at the time. Believing he has lost his one chance for normalcy, he dons the cape and cowl for the first time.

This scene is one of many that highlight the greatness of this gem of a superhero story. 

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was originally planned to be a direct-to-video release. Warner Bros. then decided to give the film a theatrical release. It was released to theaters on December 25th 1993 and while it received critical acclaim, it did not succeed at the box office despite the popularity of Batman: The Animated series, which was on air at the time. The movie basically died on the vine due to the short notice in which it was released. I was 8 years old and loved the animated series so I certainly would have wanted to see this in theaters. I dont remember seeing a commercial and didn’t see it until it arrived on VHS. It’s a shame becuase more people needed to see that movie then and perhaps we would have gotten more superb animated films in that particular DC universe.

Mask of the Phantasm takes its cue from mystery/noir films of years past. There’s the main character who is a detective as well as a woman who plays a major part in the story. That makes it work much better as a cinematic experience as opposed to it being another tale with one of Batman’s rogues as the source of conflict. Although one of his rogues does play a part in the game, it’s not in the way you usually would see it. Going back to the noir aspects, I loved getting the chance to see Batman in his detective mode on screen. We are used to seeing it on television or in video games, but on the big screen it is either in limited amounts or not at all.  Always enjoyed stories where the action circles Batman as he tries to solve it as opposed to it being strictly about Batman. That’s what makes this film great. It’s a mystery involving the Dark Knight, but not about him.

(I’ll admit, even as a child watching a world I was already familiar with, the Phantasm is an intimidating character.)

I know it’s over 20 years old at this point, but I don’t want to talk too much more as to not spoil anything (if anyone is checking this out for the first time I want them to go in fresh). Batman: Mask of he Phantasm is a great addition to the Batman mythos. It’s gripping and atmospheric. It’s character focused and well-written. It’s one of the best Batman stories on big or small screens by a team who already made a timeless adaptation of the character. It’s a shame this was never released in high definition formats. This is long overdue for an intensive special edition treatment. Yet if you do want to check this out and never have seen it, it’s dirt cheap on DVD. I highly recommend this one. It’s worth your time.

Film Review – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Quick housekeeping note: I have made a change to the review format. It will now be out of 4 as opposed to 5 in reviews past. To see my reasoning Click Here.

Thank You!

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice in the sixth and reportedly final film in the Resident Evil film franchise. Does this film wrap up the story of this superwoman fighting zombies, monsters and evil corporations?
This film series is something that sits in the middle for me as a movie watcher. There are people who do not like that it shares the name with the beloved horror video game franchise that they are loosely based on. I don’t have that connection with the games, so that doesn’t play a role for me. I never found the movies unwatchable, but there certainly isn’t any aspiration to be found with them. Paul W.S. Anderson, who directed this installment as well as the first, fourth and fifth films in addition to penning all six never seemed to be a bad director to me. Just servicble. And that’s always how I see these films as well. I’d like to think that in 20 years these movies will be seen as fun distractions or Saturday afternoon movie marathons.

So what about the actual movie?

The story continues Alice’s battle against the Umbrella Corporation. Alive learns that the last settlements of humanity will fall within 48 hours unless she can return to The Hive, the location of the events of the first film. There she must retrieve a vial of the T-Virus’ antidote and release it to the world or see the extinction of mankind.

I’ve always found it great fun to see Milla Jovovich kick ass in these films. Regardless of what you think of the overall quality, it seems she puts her all into the role and enjoys making these movies along with her husband/director Anderson. We also have some returning cast and characters as well. Ali Larter is back as Claire Redfield, Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker and Iain Glen as Dr. Issacs.

The film has a rough opening third. It’s basically 20 odd minutes of Alice killing creatures left and right before being captured in a pseudo Mad Max manner. In addition to the meandering going on, most of the action going on is edited in so many fast cuts you can’t focus at all. Once we move on past this we do have a sequence that is pretty cool. If you love the Lord of the Rings, this is basically Resident Evil’s Battle of Helms Deep. Once the film settles in a we follow Alice and crew to the Hive, the film then becomes your standard Resident Evil film experience. Take what you will from that. I did like that we got to see the setting of the original film again. Some nice fan service there. There also is a little bit of a character moments for Alice. It’s a shame that what you learn about her in this film wasn’t a thread in the previous five, it would have made those at the very least more interesting overall. Pretty much, if you’ve seen these films before and have enjoyed them, you probably will this one. If you’ve hated them since the first, then you’re probably gonna hate this too.

I won’t lie, as modern B-movies go I enjoy the Resident Evil films as chilling with my wife, popcorn entertainment. I don’t think they take themselves seriously at all and neither do I. However, if his is truly the final chapter for Alice, I would hope that Screen Gems takes the time to carefully reboot it and give it a much needed refresh with true horror cinema in mind.

Final Rating (2.5/4) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is more of the same. It’s glaring issues are a slow first third as well as some tough to comprehend fight editing. It’s no surprise what you’re getting into.

A Quick Change

Good day everyone! I wanted to take this time to inform you of a minor change that will be coming to DeaconsDen. 

In the past for my film reviews, I graded them on a rating out of 5. As of today, February 6, 2017, I will be changing to a rating out of 4. The reason for the change being that I was coming across movies in my spare time that I may not cover and noticed that they fell in the range of 2-2.5 for me. Some of these films were still enjoyable but flawed. If I continued to base these out of 5, I feared it looked like I was confusing my message. I also realized that there weren’t too many films I gave that highest rating to anyway. If I did then that film has to be something really special and important to filmmaking.

The films I’ve already reviewed will remain the same. I’m not retroactively changing those. My words still stand for them. I just wanted to make a change that I think will better express how I feel about films. I will admit, I’m a bit more forgiving than most and hopefully this will better help me in determining a more accurate analysis for me.

Thank you all and keep reading! I appreciate it!