Predators (2010)- 7/10
After one bad sequel (Predator 2) and two shitty spin-offs, it's safe to say Predator falls into that group of film series, where nothing really comes close to the original.
Still, Predators is a solid sequel, and it's much better than Predator 2. With Adrien Brody leading the way as a decent main character, Predators returns to its roots with a familiar setting, and I've always enjoyed the little nods and homages to the original. The dead soldier's failed trap, Hanzo's last stand mimicking Billy's last stand in the original, and Brody covering himself in mud during the final battle. Oddly enough, Predators works as a standalone film and a sequel, because the movie is able to form its own identity, and they only make slight references (Alice Braga's character telling the story of Dutch's debriefing) to the 1987 film. All things considered, I prefer the vague approach. The nostalgia winks are there, but it never reaches a point, where they feel the need to rely on it in every other scene.
Predators is predictable and generic, and a Predator film featuring a storyline about the protagonists fighting multiple Predators on their home turf doesn't live up to its full potential, but it's a fun ride, with a lot violence and gore. Looking back at the series, Predators truly is a breath of fresh air, when you compare it to the other films, and Walton Goggins and Laurence Fishburne are hilarious.
Casino (1995)- 8/10
De Niro is the leading man, but Casino is Joe Pesci's film, because he simply steals every scene he's in. I can't remember the last time I watched this one from start to finish, but man Sharon Stone plays one of the most genuinely detestable characters you'll ever see. With Lester Diamond pulling the strings and Nicky dumping her like yesterday's trash, she's someone you want to feel sympathy for, but at the same time, it's damn near impossible to ignore her malicious treachery. The downward spiral for Ginger's looks pulls everything together, because during the early stages of the movie, she's this desirable and irresistible woman, but as the story progresses, she slowly turns into a toxic trainwreck/junkie.
If we're ranking Scorsese's crime dramas, I might put this one behind The Departed, but there's no denying Casino is one of Scorsese's best films. An outstanding cast from top to bottom with De Niro, Pesci, Sharon Stone, Frank Vincent, James Woods, and others. For a movie that has a runtime that goes 2hrs. & 58 min., Casino never drags and it's not a chore to sit through. Excellent pacing, and so many great moments and scenes, including Piscano's rant, Nicky warning the rude cowboy ("You took your boots off? You put your feet on the table... you shit-kicking, stinky, horse-manure-smelling motherfucker you! You fuck me up over there, I'll stick you in a hole in the fucking desert! You understand?"), Nicky confronting Sam in the desert, and for a number of reasons, Nicky and Dominick still have one of the most brutal death scenes I've ever seen.