Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A (Critics) 25% (Audience)
Director: Jonah Loop
Writer: Tony Giglio and Michael Hultquist
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz and Johnny Messner
Studio: Stage 6 Films
Synopsis: ARENA is an action flick that finds TWILIGHT‘s Kellan Lutz as David Lord a former marine turned paramedic and semi-pro rugby player being forced into gladiatorial combat by Samuel L. Jackson, the nameless head of a “Fight Club to the death” show called Death Games that is broadcast online.
This movie is abysmal in every way. It’s badly directed, badly acted…just plain bad. Kellan Lutz may be the worst actor to ever be paid to read lines written for him. He alternates between line readings that are devoid of all inflection or personality to adding too much inflection in scenes where there is no reason for it. About the only thing he does well in this movie is scream and drool. Oh and he also showed a great skill at spazzing out in the most unintentionally funny way I have ever seen in my life every time he is tasered by the security team of the Death Games. It is such an awesome display of goofiness that I had to put a few of them together and share with the class:
That’s good stuff right there.
Samuel L. Jackson eats every piece of scenery he comes into contact with as he preens about dressed like a high class pimp with an odd attachment to crushed velvet blazers. He also has two Asian tech-wizard sister wives who control his digital empire with hyperactive hand movements at their futuristic touch screen control panels. At the very least it is obvious that Jackson is having fun with the absurdity of the entire affair but I am beginning to question his script choices with this movie. I can’t believe that there was anything about the pitch or script to this film that should have piqued Jackson’s interest. I guess he just did it for the paycheck and a chance to grope two cute Asian chicks.
Nina Dobrev of the VAMPIRE DIARIES is also in this movie for about 4 minutes playing the pregnant wife of Lutz’s character. I mention her just to say that Dobrev was less convincing at being pregnant than Arnold Schwarzenegger in JUNIOR. And to add to the cameos by stars from genre TV shows, Daniel Dae Kim pops up as another forced combatant who forms a bond with David. I like Kim but he was wasted in this movie and the crux of his storyline was so hackneyed and sloppily executed that it could have been removed and the movie would not have missed a beat.
There is also this British chick Milla played by Katia Winter who does forced recruitment for Death Games and whose presence leads to the most unrealistic turn of events in moviedom. After abducting Lutz’s David Lord character mid-seduction in a rundown motel in Mexico and being party to all manner of torture being perpetrated against him from waterboarding to sensory deprivation to forcing him to commit murder in the games the audience is supposed to buy that these two fall for each other. And its not just a sexual thing, nope Milla and David begin to co-habitate in a monogamous relationship while David is being held prisoner and forced to fight to death in return for his freedom. It was telegraphed from the moment the two characters met that this was the road that the movie would go down but even having that sneaking suspicion I was dumbfounded that the minds behind this movie would actually see it through.
And I would be remiss to not mention the fight scenes since that is what this movie is actually built around. The fight scenes in ARENA are terrible. I’m assuming that to compensate for the lack of fighting skills of the movie’s stars the director decided that an overuse of quick cut editing and slow motion would make it all better. And when those techniques still failed they just decided to douse everyone in buckets and buckets of fake blood.
And there are a couple twists at the end to explain some of the shit that would be otherwise completely fucking nonsensical but these reveals lead to our lunkheaded hero being brought back from the brink of losing his humanity. Of course these scenes are just more chances for us to see just how bad an actor Lutz is.
Final Verdict: This movie is just a colossal pile of shit that is not worth anyone wasting their time watching. Everyone involved should be ashamed and embarrassed. F