Poor acting combined with the plausibility level of a G.I. Joe cartoon haunts Cradle 2 the Grave from the start. Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) presents the audience with two highly specialized entertainers unable to break out of their typecast niches. For Jet Li, whose English is barely comprehendible, he cannot bond with X unless its through the universal language of fighting, and for X, while he can flex his tattooed body and be intimidating as anyone, his "tough guy" persona is limiting. So we have two Alphas with no sense of humor, facing a noticeable language barrier and an inhibiting script. No doubt the film would have been better if the villain Ling, played by Mark Dacascos (The Brotherhood of the Wolf), were to have switched roles with Li. Then at least he and X could have had at least one much-needed bonding moment. Instead, our heroes are left simply staring at one another in awkward downtime as they wait for the action to arrive.
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Indeed, Red Planet makes for a far better film than Mission to Mars. While that's not saying a whole lot (since Mission currently ranks as the worst movie I've seen all year) Red Planet is at least competently constructed and mildly engaging, so long as you put aside the sappy melodramatics. Of course, this isn't that easy to do.
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Let's not sugarcoat it. Tall remains a one-note genre picture specifically tailored to its shining star - The Rock. For what it is, though, Tall is quite good. It has fun with its limitations. It boasts strong fight choreography and interesting direction by Kevin Bray, who keeps the spotlight on its charismatic and camera-friendly leading man.
Continue reading: Walking Tall (2004) Review
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