Encapsulated Cinema: Chinese Zodiac, John Dies at the End, and Dredd


Chinese Zodiac (2012) Movie Image

Chinese Zodiac (2012)
Action superstar Jackie Chan’s last foray into the cinematic world of death-defying stunts is sure to rub a number of his long-time fans the wrong way. Instead of going back to basics, Chan goes completely over-the-top. Unfortunately, the film tends to suffer as a result. Chan stars as JC, a worldly adventurer who is known for his ability to find and retrieve rare artifacts from around the globe. His latest mission is to recover a number of relics stolen from the Old Summer Palace years ago. Chan’s excursion takes him to a number of exotic locales, which allows for a number of goofy action-packed set pieces. Sadly, the story driving these confrontations feels like an unproduced episode of “Jackie Chan Adventures.” While Chan does participate in a few cool fights towards the end of the feature, those of you hoping for an old school Jackie Chan flick will walk away from this particular endeavor feeling greatly disappointed. If you hated “Around the World in 80 Days,” then you’re definitely going to loathe “Chinese Zodiac.” Although I did enjoy the experience overall, it’s definitely not the finale fans were hoping for. Fun and entertaining, though certainly not without its flaws.

John Dies at the End (2012) Movie Image

John Dies at the End (2012)
Theoretically speaking, I should have loved genre veteran Don Coscarelli’s latest horror/comedy. It’s weird, it’s original, and it’s loaded with plenty of gore. For whatever reason, the whole thing didn’t really click as a package. The film tells the story of David Wong, a man who discovers a strange new world thanks to a drug known as Soy Sauce. As it turns out, sinister things are afoot, and only he and his friend John can save the planet. The film is a mixed bag of overplayed horror elements, surreal imagery, and a script that thinks it’s smarter than what it really is. I was on-board for the whole absurd journey until the end, which is as ludicrous as it is poorly-executed. There are people who love “John Dies at the End” with every fiber of their being, and I totally get why they adore the story and the characters. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come together for me when all was said and done. Chances are you’re going to enjoy Coscarelli’s weird cinematic adventure. I wish I could say that same. However, know this: Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown are, as always, total badasses. And that’s an official statement.

Dredd (2012) Movie Image

Dredd (2012)
For my money, action movies really don’t get much better than director Peter Travis’ “Dredd.” The film reminds me of the action flicks I grew up watching as a kid; it’s lean, it’s mean, and doesn’t take it’s time getting to the good stuff. Karl Urban stars as the title character, a futuristic law enforcement officer who is taking his rookie partner out for her first spin. Before long, the two are trapped inside a mega structure filled to overflowing with heavily-armed villains under the command of Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). All sorts of bloody chaos ensues. Travis and company pack as much action as humanly possible into the film’s slim 90 minutes, infusing his gory set pieces with an abundance of gore and some neat visual trickery. The film might be style over substance, but that’s exactly “Dredd” is selling. This thing isn’t high art, nor does it pretend to be. Travis and Karl Urban have delivered one of the best straight-forward action flicks of the year. It’s just a damn shame nobody turned up to see it in theaters. Although I’d love to see a sequel, I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. That kind of makes me sad.

Author: Todd Rigney

Todd was raised on a steady diet of Hollywood blockbusters, late-night Cinemax programming, and USA’s “Up All Night,” which may explain why his taste in movies is more than a little questionable. When he isn’t providing news and reviews for Beyond Hollywood, he can be found lounging lazily on his couch, perched in front of his television, or dwelling in places where direct sunlight can be easily avoided. He's happily married, in his 30's, and totally badass. If you'd like to reach Todd, you can follow him on Twitter or send him email/scoops to todd (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • http://twitter.com/Naztradamix #LordofBadassery

    I totally agree about DREDD. I’m mad I didn’t get to see it in theaters as I was hoping to. The movie sold out at Best Buy forcing me to hunt it down at 3 locations before I could get my hands on it. That’s a good sign.

  • rt2012

    Just watched Dredd (also missed theater release), I liked it more than The Raid: Redemption.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com Todd

    Dredd is a ridiculous amount of fun. I just wish more people would take a chance on it.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    I really hope Dredd gets a sequel!!!

  • Zero

    Completely agree about Dredd! Saw it in theaters twice and bought it on Bluray the minute it came out (thank god for the local 24hr Wal-Mart). About John Dies At The End, I just finished the book this afternoon and rented the movie on PSN immediately after. The movie was somewhat poorly directed (no offense to the otherwise solid Coscarelli) and the script doesn’t do the book a sliver of justice. Scott Pilgrim is a good example of how you can take enough of the core elements of a long story and trim it down to a feature-length movie without losing it’s spirit. John Dies is not. Trust me, read the book. Muuuuuuuuuuuch better (although I did enjoy the movie, and I’ll probably rewatch it again when the book isn’t so fresh in my mind to give it a fair chance).