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The Godfather Part II
Family Guy (2009)
Top Gear (2010)
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
A Great Story Driven Comic Book Film
If something doesn't work or something isn't working what is the best possible solution? Well redo it of course! No more than 5 years after "Spider-Man 3" (2007) was released to huge box office success shattering many records, a new series with its first film is being released after their actor dropped out after their director was fired. Rather than recast and hire a new director Sony Pictures has opted to just simply start fresh with a brand new series. Some -me including- were wondering (or already thinking) if it was too soon for a reboot? Sam Rami's series was still very fresh in people's minds and maybe it just wasn't time. Well for some it seems it is still too soon to fully accept this new Spider-Man but for many, more open fans like me have been proved wrong and fully chariest this new version of the story. For "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012) is a darker, witty, story driven, action pack tale filled with great acting and for the most part good writing even with its flaws.
The film opens up after Peter Parker's parents disappeared and shows him living as an outcast in his school while living with his aunt and uncle. But one day Peter discovers an old briefcase in his basement and may present some clues to his past and his parents.
If there is two most notable differences between this film and the past ones they would be the story and the acting. Also forgive me if I compare this version and the last one too much I will try to keep it as minimal as possible. In this film there is a much clearer story in this film and is so much character driven and takes the time to flesh out the characters throughout the story. I always have said that "Spider-Man" (2002) was more like a "cliff notes" version of the story line in the comics and really just kept the bare bones stuff and tried to get through it as quick as possible so we can see Spider-Man battling it out with his foe of week. In this it takes just about an hour before we see Spider-Man in the suit and fighting crime. The film takes its time and that is a very strong aspect of the story.
The origin story in this film is more intriguing than the last one. This clearly draws from two comic series in the Spider-Man universe, "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Ultimate Spider-Man." The whole mystery behind Peter's past is interesting and we get a post credits sequence that tells us that, that story isn't over yet which is good because there were a couple unanswered questions.
Going back to the characters in this story the written dialogue is so much better. The character exchanges between two of them are much deeper and much interesting than the previous ones. Stuff between Peter and his Uncle Ben are much better much more fleshed out and develops the relationship in a perfect way making his demise all the more tragic and more impact on the character because you see it happen and you see what type of man Uncle Ben is and Peter's reaction hits in a much sad way.
Also the more dramatic moments hits closer to home and is much better done and will keep out attention and you I noticed that the film's dramatic moments stayed with me after the credits were done rolling. More than that the dialogue is also witty and with funny exchanges that does lighten the mood up when it needs too and will have us laughing at the actions and what was said on the screen.
This all being said the film's story does have some problems. There is a sub-plot that gets ignored later in the film and gets unresolved. Also in the second half of the film the pacing speeds up a bit too much and it ends rather quickly. Also there are some questionable plot devices that feel cheap.
Something that is better in this is the acting. Andrew Garfield is the new replacement playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man and is a large improvement over Toby Maguire. Andrew is awkward as the nerdy Peter Parker who has some confidence problems and trouble talking to girls. He is also a great smart ass as Spider-Man and fits Spidey's personality perfectly. He is also able to pull off those dramatic scenes with great depth and has great chemistry with his co-star Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacy. Emma Stone is perfect for the role and strikes all the right notes playing the love interest that is very developed throughout the film and you do want to see this two together.
Director Marc Webb was an interesting choice for his last film before this was "500 Days of summer." (2009) He does do a good job with the material and good directing even if he gets sometimes a little too experimental with his camera choices. But he handles the action sequences good, which are fast and a bit more brutal than the previous films but all done correctly with the mood and style of the film, and provides an interesting act direction.
All this said the film is not perfect but many of the flaws you are able to look past because of all that is good in this film. This is a firm start and I would put as #2 for best Spider-Man films, which succeeds with its more driven focus of the story and its characters and the mood. The acting is great and the action sequences are good. Yeah there are flaws like many will notice in the story that some of the same plot points are revisited. It doesn't bother me too much it might for some and maybe they could have done more to separate but it's not a huge deal.
The Hunger Games (2012)
A Raw Gripping and Emotional Triumph
This is the age where almost every popular book series has to be translated into a series of films; this is met with various successes. The best in this century is still "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy that is not only good adaptations but also some of the greatest films ever put onto the screen. The "Harry Potter" movie series has finally ended after 10 years with the film's ranging from good-excellent. These are the two greatest of the novel adaptations thus far. The "Narnia" series was good but is having a little trouble at the box office. The "Twilight" series is ending soon and although has been good box-office successes the films were mediocre at best. Many other series failed to find footing from the "Percy Jackson" Series (regrettable) to the "Golden Compass." Book fans always hold their breaths when their favorite book series heads for the big screen and now the "Hunger Games" series is next to head to the big screen. I have no personal read the series but after this outstanding film I think I will take them up. 'The Hunger Games" is a winner from beginning to end with only the smallest of flaws this is a film worth watching.
The film (as well as the book) is set in a dark future where the capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of it's twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games which a vicious fight to the death and survival. 16 year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games but nothing could prepare her for all the choices she most make in the games and what her actions would weigh on their society.
As I have stated before I have not read the books (but I might now) so I can't comment on how well of an adaptation this film is but as a film it is pretty impressive although the story itself isn't all that original. Stories and events like the ones depicted in the film have been around as early as the Greeks and Romans. These types of stories have influenced many different writers and filmmakers and there are many around. As many detractors of the "Hunger Games" have noted the striking similarity between this and a Japanese film called "Batter Royal." I wouldn't consider this derivative from that because they are both clearly influenced by past cultures.
The more important question is why have there been so many stories similar to the one in this. I think the answer is that it can play to the audience's emotions. This is something this film does it really lays the emotion in heavy and you get sucked into this dark world and into the character's heads. You cannot help wanting to help on screen and rooting for the leads even though you know they might have to take each other's lives.
These two leads named Katniss and Peatnis are the vocal part of this film. You do get to know the characters pretty well and you pretty much from the get go love and care for them even if their relationship together is a little underdeveloped in the film. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen and delivers very strong work in this film. She comes off as smart and intelligent and caring but at the same time tough as nails and maybe Jennifer might be a little on the old side to play this role but she nails it perfectly strumming all the right notes. I believe she is stronger in this role than she was in her outstanding performance as Mystique in "X-Men: First Class" (2011).
Josh Hucherson plays Peatnis and I was a bit skeptical at first because I never found him to be that good of an actor but he did prove me wrong in this film. He comes off just right as the conflicted strong friend that doesn't a lick of confidence (okay maybe some) in his body.
As I stated before what makes this film so strong is the emotion and the power in this film. There is several moments throughout the film where stuff hits you hard in this violent and graphic PG-13 movie. Director Gary Ross clearly knows what he is doing behind the camera and provides excellent camera work that only enhances the powerful moments. Scenes like the riot and several death scenes are brilliantly executed and the lead up too the games starts when the countdown starts is genius. One of the few flaws with the film is the script does leave a few things unexplained and maybe moves a bit too frisky in the beginning but these are very minor problems when stacked up against everything else.
The rest of the actors do very fine work in this film as well. Liam Hemsworth does pretty good work here as is a particularly strong Woody Harrelson. Elizabeth Banks does some very fine work as well as does Lenny Kravitz and Stanely Tucci. Donald Sutherland strikes great notes as President Snow a low-key evil.
One other little flaw I had with the film is the decision to go with fake fire. Director Gary Ross does a great job of using practical effects throughout the film and never resorting to unnecessary CGI. That being said the fire used did look a little on the fake side and the way they used it would have been tough to use real fire.
The film leaves itself up for a sequel just like the books do and it will be interesting to see what direction it goes in. I hope the entire crew return for the next film and this one certainly made me want to read the books for this is a powerful, well acted and very well directed film. One of the best of 2012.
Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
Fun but lacks the Heart of the first one
After the very successful animated film Ice Age we get treated too a sequel. 4 years since the release of the first film and in that time frame you would expect that the filmmakers would come up with a good sequel. I will say that the film is creative and fun but the film is missing something that the first one had makes the sequel decent but not great.
In this film we have our three heroes returning for another adventure. When it seems like the entire world is melting, Manny, Diego, Sid all set out to find a "boat" at the other end of the valley when Manny begins to think that he might be the last Mammoth on Earth he finds another one with a very unusual problem.
The story I find in this one to be much more creative than the first one. Enough though to some existent it a "Noah's Ark" story but the first one was really a hybrid between Shrek and Monster's Inc but the film had enough charming characters and laughs to let us look away from that problem. So I give this film a lot more credit for trying to come up with something different than the rest. The film does get pretty creative in the environment that it is set in. There is a lot more personification in this film than the last one making the animals more human than the last one. I think this takes away from one of the aspects that made the original so charming and funny was the characters were pretty much just like the animals they were portraying and didn't involve too much human like behavior. In this film they have schools and pools and swimming and granted this is an animated kid's film but I think sticking to the first one's style of play would have been better.
The Humor in the film is also for the most part very good. Just like in the first one we get a little bit of everything. There is some smart humor that might blow over the heads of the young children however not that much. We get some great slapstick humor which will have the children and adults laughing and some dirty inside jokes that is kept very low key and very much implied but as quagmire once said in family guy (paraphrasing slightly), "You know where this is going, it's all implied. The kids don't know but we do."
However with that being said the humor just doesn't match the humor of the first one. Although this film is funny and does have some great laugh out loud moments it just doesn't have the same charm and comedic timing and trimmings that the first one had. This one lowers itself down to mostly potty and slapstick humor. It feels a bit lazy and the younger ones won't mind and it will entertain all but for most of us we were hoping for a bit more. That's not at all to say this movie isn't funny.
There is something else that is missing in this movie that the last one had. That little something is a very basic element of the human spirit. That basic element is the heart and soul of this movie. The first one we had Manny's dark past and Diego's change of heart and Sid's lovable, want everybody to be a family type character and all that wrapped into one big quest to big a lost child home. That was the heart and soul of that film and it succeeded because that emotional heart and center. Also all those themes and stories were all interconnected and played in and out throughout the film. In this we don't get much of that and this is the main reason why I think this film is not nearly as good as the first one. This one we get mostly a comedy with not much of anything else. In this we get a silly romance that doesn't hold much weight. Manny has insecurity issues with the possibility of being the last Mammoth. Diego has a fear of the water and Sid thinks he deserves more respect (and nearly kills himself in the process of trying getting some). All in all there isn't much here. That's not to say the film isn't entertaining because it certainly is and you will have fun watching it but don't expect any more of it.
The stars have returned from the original first film to the sequel and deliver some good voice work. Ray Romano returns as Manny and is funny as he always is in whatever he does. Denis Leary also returns as Diego and his role is dumbed down to a funny sidekick but Denis does great voice work. John Leguizamo is back as the funny; stupid but lovable Sid the Sloth and we get the same funny character we got last time and always provide us with a great laugh.
Scrat is back! The little dopey Wild Coyote of this generation. He has absolutely nothing to do with the main storyline and you know what? I could not care less he is a welcome distraction as his quest for the nuts continues and gets himself involved in more wacky situations.
A newcomer to the cast includes Queen Latifah as the Mammoth that is having an identity crisis and is funny but nothing special as Ellie. Josh Peck and Seann William Scott play a possum gang of brothers who loves causing trouble and is the best new addition to this film. Both brilliant with great chemistry and remain funny throughout.
The film with everything together is a very entertaining film and remains funny throughout however lacks the good heart that made the first so great and the humor is up to par with the original however it is a decent sequel.
Ice Age (2002)
Although it may not be Original we are Won Over by the Great Characters and Humor
Around the early 21st century computer animated family films had really taken off. Through the recent hits of Shrek and Monster's Inc, people started seeing money in this business. So in Blue Sky's first ever animated film they may have not been very original but the film known as Ice Age has enough charm and laughs to be very acceptable.
The film takes place in the Ice Age when a sabertooth cat, a sloth and a mammoth take in the care of a lost baby and attempt to return it to the humans who have lost it.
Now the story is really a cross between Shrek and Monsters' Inc. In Shrek we have the lonely character (in this film is Manny) getting crossed in the path of a lovable idiot (Sid the Sloth) that is faced with a quest and in this film it's returning the baby. Returning the baby part is just like Monster's Inc. where the characters have to return a little girl back to her room. So really story wise the film isn't that original and it's not like a good homage, it feels a little too noticeable in places. Usually when a film does this it takes me right out of the movie but because of the characters and the funny stuff they get themselves into I can't help but ignore this "big" problem.
The characters are the best part of the film. Manny the Mammoth is the lonely character that would rather be left alone then be bothered by anyone else. He doesn't like people (or the other animals) and he really doesn't want to deal with stupid things. Yet for an animated film he has a rather deep character with a dark past that is explored in more detail later in the film. But also he is really funny making the sarcastic remarks and other smaller jokes that is really funny. Ray Romano really shines in this part and makes a mark as a different character and doesn't play Raymond Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond.
The next character is the stupid and lovable and funny Sid the Sloth. He isn't that deep of a character but he really doesn't need to be. All we need to know is that he cares a great deal about the rest of the characters and just wants to be accepted. Other than that he really is "the funny guy" and he is really funny. John Leguizamo creates a very memorable character filled with great jokes and gags and memorable lines.
The final character out of the main ones is Diego the sabertooth cat (tiger)and he is another fantastic character. He is at first set up as the villain and throughout the film you can never tell whose side he is on but you can tell that he starts to care for the other characters. Denis Leary voices him and is a great talent and a great voice. He can be serious and funny at the same time and just like the rest gives us a great show.
As a bonus we get a side character named Scrat. He is the Wild Coyote of our times. He presents us with no dialogue but a good dose of some fantastically funny slapstick humor that will always make you laugh. The character has nothing to do with the story and he is just there to give a few extra laughs and the character works.
The humor is the film is very well done. It may not be ground breaking by any means and some jokes are recycled from other films but really the rest of it works completely. We get slapstick humor, smart humor and some plan old good old fashion jokes. All work well and should be enjoyable for every age group.
There are also some good animated action sequences, some of them really fun (like the ice cave sequence) and some of them very tense and exciting. All of them of course have jokes in there even the more serious sequences with the exception of the fight at the end. These sequences are great for people of all ages and will be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Another thing the film has is a lot of heart. Throughout the film you get this theme of family and love and even loyalty along with friendship. Parts where Manny's Character is explored more is very touching and might even come as a surprise. Also near the end where we finally see Diego as he true self is also very touching and well done. Also where the characters first save the baby after the rest of the humans lose it is also very well done. In fact this film was originally supposed to a Drama instead of a family animated film but Fox would not accept it as a Drama and wanted it to be a family film. But I think a lot of the Drama Elements still carried over to the final film without being in your face about it. The film has a lot of themes and really a lot of heart which is something that is missing is a lot of recent non-computer animated films.
The animation on the film is really good too. It might not be as good as Pixar or DreamWorks buts it wasn't trying to be. The film has animation that looks very good and state of the art but it maintains a more classic animated film. So the animation is good but it's nothing grand and I think it works for a film like this.
The Bottom Line is this is a very funny animated film that has some great animated characters and is very well drawn out and funny and even though the film sometimes feels like a copy of other films the film has enough charm and touching moments to make us forget about it.
In Time (2011)
Such an Intriguing Idea Gone (for the most part) to Waste
What an intriguing idea. This is the type of SC-FI that I usually tend to like over just another film with space battles. SC-Fi films that make you think and make parallels to real life. Once I saw the previews to this film I thought this film would be something special. Not only did the film have an intriguing idea but only draw from mythic arc types like Robin Hood and numinous of great themes but the film falls short on such a great idea with a failure to really understand what type of scope there really could have been with this story along with a less than stellar cast the film is entertaining but only a footnote of what it could have been.
The film's concept is a future where humans have been genetically engineered to stop ageing after age 25 but after that you have only one more year to live. Time is the currency of the time, no such thing as money. You work to get more time but it is a bleak future where the rich have all the power and all the time. Meanwhile the rest live in the ghettos where almost everyone has only has 24 hours to live and they live by the clock.
While the story opens with a man in the ghetto named Will Salas is given the gift of time from a man who doesn't care to live anymore from the rich-infected lifestyle. Will is then accused of murder and on the run from a police force known as "timekeepers." With a rich man's daughter at his side he hopes to effect change in the system.
The film's story should have been one of the best of the decade. I mean the idea is so good it feels awful that it was a bit wasted. The film story does a good job on laying out the ground rules of the universe they live in. This was great about it a short speech in the beginning and then you are trusted into the life of Will Salas. You get a pretty good picture on how he lives just from the first 10 min. You learn a lot about the world and the film starts to set up some story lines but that's where a lot of the film's really strong points end.
The film starts up several story lines and just never delivers. Some just seems abandoned by the end and others that kept building and never got the final "crescendo" or pay off. It seems like not only that with these great ideas and scary parallels to real life class warfare the idea could have been bigger than it ended up being, It hard to say exactly what it was missing. I feel like the film could have been even bigger with its ideas and themes. It fact with this idea the film could have been a great long SC-FI epic. Maybe my expectations for the film was just too high but I feel I was let down by story because of the potential it had and that's just aside from the plot holes and incompletion of certain story lines. There were also some scenes I honestly thought could make for some classic scenes like when we finally get to see what "a fighter" is and how they fight. The scene was too short and was a number of others felt a little short in fact the film overall felt a bit short without a real good conclusion.
The film seems to leave the possibility of having a strong story oriented film instead opting for an action fueled story. The film has no shortage of action sequences and that is properly the saving grace to the film. It does keep the viewer entertained and it does keep the story moving. Without this factor the film would unsalvageable. There are some good car crashes and also on foot chases. A good number of gun battles to be boot. Even with the PG-13 rating it is able to have some real action and violence. However I think I could have done without a couple of these so we would have a stronger story.
The acting is also questionable. I would have made different choices. Justin Timberlake stars a Will Salas and Justin is good here for the action sequences but he isn't the greatest with the dramatic scenes. This is a shame because I thought he would because I really liked his performance in The Social Network (2010). Amanda Seyfried's performance falls flat in my eyes even though she had some nice chemistry with Justin. Cillian Murphy is amazing as the timekeeper Raymond Leon. This is an outstanding performance from Murphy as he usually delivers. The rest are decent but nothing special. Shyloh Oostwald is okay; I liked Johnny Galecki as Borel. I didn't love Olivia Wilde even if she didn't have a big part. Alex Pettyfer is finally getting better roles since his role in Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (2006). He is good here as Fortis the "minutemen" which a "gangster of the future."
Andrew Niccol is a great talent behind the camera and I don't doubt that either. His look to the film to perfect for this film. Also his of practical effects over CGI heavy effects is defiantly noticeable in a good way. The music by Craig Armstrong fits perfectly.
Really with this type of idea it really could have been something special. The acting hurt the film a bit with the exception of Cillian Murphy. But with a talented director behind the camera and talent behind the scenes also with some really entertaining action sequences makes the film watchable but you can't help but feel it could be so much more. If there was a film that I would like to see remade, this would be it.
A Let Down
Finally we have reached the end of the journey for the solo Marvel Avenger films. This is the final film before we finally get to see the Avengers (2012). The series has had many good films but some rough spots. While Iron Man (2008), Incredible Hulk (2008) have been high points in the series. Iron Man 2 (2010) however was without a doubt the worst film in the series. Still being the worst film in this series isn't still the worst movie ever. So where does this film land in this scale? Well I wish I could say that it was up there with Iron Man (2008) and Incredible Hulk (2008) but however Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) is down there with Iron Man 2 (2010). I have yet to see Thor (2011) but for now it is one of my least favorite films in the series.
The film shows Steve Rodgers wanting to serve his country proud in WWII but is deemed unfit for duty but his heart knows no bounds and wants to serve no matter what the cost. He is then chosen for a secret military project that is trying to create the ultimate super-soldier.
I would say the first half of this film works the best. The film crafts the origin story brilliantly. We really get to know Steve Rodgers and give us a reason to care about him while we learn just about everything possible. We learn about his desire to serve his country and what it means to him. Also the film does a good job with the WWII setting. The film also ties in well with the other films in the series. There are plenty of little references to the other films that fans. The villain is the Red Skull which is set up nicely throughout the film and is a villain that is underused. I am not a big believer on giving the villain a ton of screen time if it distracts from the main protagonist but the Red Skull is really underused completely.
However the film's second half falters big time. The film's story goes through some major pacing problem. The film starts to rush through the story devoting very little time to the scheme of the Red Skull which is never really explained very well either. Also the film never gives Captain America a very tough challenge. He just keeps on prancing through the film beating the crap out of whomever he faces. Not even morally and emotionally with the exception of two parts and both could have been guessed from last year. Not only was it predictable but it was devoid of really any emotion. The second half really hurts the film badly and I guess the film wasn't trying to be anything more than popcorn film but the other marvel films did have a bit more emotion and was expecting the same from this film.
Another problem is the action sequences are boring and un-exciting and stuff we have seen before. One of the problems I find with them is that Captain America doesn't really face much of a challenge at all. He throws his shield and kicks and punches people all the way to the end. It is the same thing every single time with a different setting.
Choosing director Joe Johnson was an interesting choice. I still am not convinced that he is really a capable or consistent director. To me he has been really up and down throughout him career. I enjoy his 1989 debut film "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" and his 1995 film "Jumanji." I found them fun family adventures and nothing more. Then "October Sky" in 1999 was a really well handled film but after that he goes to shaky ground. "Jurassic Park III" just kind of ruined the series in 2001. Hidalgo in 2004 was an uneven film and didn't end up being very good. I did however just plan love his "Wolfman" remake in 2010. So with 2 fun family movies, 1 really good drama, 1 great werewolf movie, and 2 bad movies what did I have to expect from this film? Well I have to say as a director his directing and camera choices might be his worst yet.
He uses a lot of quick moving zooms and pans he camera effects look terribly cheesy on screen. Even when watching the film in 2D I could clearly tell where the 3D effects were supposed to be and it looked again cheesy. The special effects used in the film except for the effects used on Chris Evens looked painfully fake and he overuses the CGI nothing looks that good. The actually look of the film is very beautiful and great to look at for that reason but really that's where it ends. The music is not memorable at all thinking about it now I can't think remember it.
The acting I have to say is pretty good though. Chris Evans is excellent as Steve Rodgers/Captain America really portrays him well. Tommy Lee Jones is above excellent as Colonel Chester Phillips. The man is so funny and is able to display leadership all at the same time. Hugo Weaving is also great as the underused villain Johann Schmidt / Red Skull. Dominic Cooper has really strong supporting as Howard Stark. And the rest of the supporting work for the most part is good too. However Hayley Atwell is incredibly wooden as Peggy Carter. It doesn't help that the fact that the romance between the Cap and her was so under developed.
The final film before The Avengers (2012) is a bit of a letdown. Don't get me wrong I really wanted to like this and it looked really good fun well-made adventure. However most things just seem to fall just a bit sort. I will give the sequel "Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) a chance though.
Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
An Uneven Batman Film
The ongoing animated series DC Universe continues with its third entry. This would be the first of the series that was not based off a graphic novel or past series of comic book entries. This would be set be loosely set within the universe set by Christopher Nolan's Batman series. And what they attempted to do however somewhat failed in more ways than one.
The film is about a collection of tales the Batman that would show Batman's Journey from Batman Begins (2005) to the Dark Knight (2008).
Even though the film is suppose to bridge the gap between those two films it's a lot better to think of it as an inspiration from those two films, there are several differences between those and these. "These" are a collection of 6 different 12 min tales. It's all apparently interlocking but they really do not. With several different directors helming each different segment it never feels like each one is connected. And when you are watching the movie you as the viewer are never sure what this film is trying to be. When the film ends you are neither happy nor sad you feel nothing at all. You will go "that's it?" Some segments are better than others but none are great, they range from bad-good. Since the segments are just 12 min in length there is nothing you can really do story wise that is really that compelling. Some of them try but each one falls into the same trap as the last one. Each one just becomes about the action which wouldn't be so bad if the action was any bit exciting. I think that's partly due to the stiff animation. I will admit I never really liked anime and this film didn't change my mind either. But I feel like since that each segment feels on its story so I feel I should talk about each one.
The first segment is called "Have I got a story you" is about a bunch of different kids telling about their experience seeing Batman. This is a weak story, and is basically the same story that was told in the "Batman: Animated Series." That episode was called "Legend of the Dark Knight" and with a shorter running time and far weaker animation this segment becomes nothing more than a weak carbon copy of the other episode.
The Second segment is called "Crossfire" and this is about one cop having to get over his distrust for Batman while coming under fire from the Irish mob. This starts off good from the good talks between the two cops. The animation had improved, except for the animation on the faces which needed to be improved. But after this it becomes nothing more than a shoot em up episode with Batman saving the cops butts. The action is stiff at best and is not too exciting. So all in all it's nothing too special.
The Third segment is called "Field Test" and this is nothing short of pointless. All this segment ended up being was a big fight after a golfing session. It's about Batman trying out a new suit. Just like "Crossfire" the action is stiff and the animation is even worse than "Crossfire."
The fourth segment is called "In the Darkness Dwells" and this one is the best one out of the first 4. Its animation is nice and the atmosphere is well done. This is about Batman tracking Scarecrow in the sewers. Even though the segment is mostly all about action it was nice seeing Killer Croc on the screen along with the Scarecrow. Also the action is still not the greatest but it's still better than the rest.
The Fifth segment is called "Working Through Pain" and this is the most satisfying out of the bunch. This is about Bruce Wayne going to an Asian village to work through his pain. The animation is decent but the story is really good. It's got a lot deeper layers that you can analyze and it's a lot of better but it's still too short. The fights are however too marital artists for my taste. Batman/Bruce Wayne has a style of fighting that is not present here. This is the best one out of all of them but it's still not perfect
The Sixth segment is called "Deadshot" and this is one of the better ones on this set. This is about Deadshot being hired to kill Batman. This is got a sleek style that is very appealing and I really like. Even though this mostly action, the action is very well done in this one and is entertaining to watch and not only that but its animation was decent as well.
Now the reason I don't really like anime is because it feels stiff to me. It feels like the characters are having a hard time moving and doing an action. Now it's not always like this but a lot of times it is. Also when the characters are talking it just looks like their mouths are moving and that all. It doesn't look like the mouth is projecting anything instead it's just moving. Now I will say some of the segments looked very good and other ones just look awful. Also some of the designs for the characters did not match up with the actor's voice, mainly the design for Bruce Wayne in "Field Test" where Kevin Conroy's voice does not match. I love Kevin Conroy's voice for Batman but it doesn't work for that segment. Now if you like anime then you will like this but if you don't then you should properly steer clear of most these segments.
The Bottom Line is this is a very uneven animated film that is mostly about action and not much story wise and for the most part the anime style fails to work.
The Best Planet of the Apes film since the original
There was a lot of hype going into this film. I was very excited to finally see another Planet of the Apes film. I am a big fan of the original and had fun with the sequels and even after Tim Burton's remake I was still excited for this film and I got to say this is the best Planet of the Apes picture since the original.
This story is an origin story about how the Apes began to rise to power and about a man who is bent on curing Alzheimer's and raising an ape who has been past on the genes of the cure from his mother and what the effects this has on this one ape named Caesar.
The very surprising thing about this film is how story based and character based it really is. From the trailers it looked like just another cure gone wrong and a lot of violence happens but I was truly surprised by this film's story and how well told it was. I do think it needed to be just a tad longer in the beginning showing a little more of Caesar's childhood but it's a small fault and can be overlooked. But it is something truly wonderful to see how truly well fleshed out these characters are in this film especially for a "summer blockbuster." All character motivations are known throughout the film. James Franco's character named Will Rodman really wants to make this cure so he can cure his father. So a lot of us can really connect with him and in seeing he is making this cure for the best intentions. And his boss is the classic wants the cure for money type of character. But the best most drawn out character is the character of Caesar. The chimpanzee that becomes increased in intelligence is the true star of the film. He cannot talk and he is a computer made image and yet you really understand him, love him, and feel for him. Caesar is played by motion capture actor Andy Serkis (his second film as an ape, the other one being King Kong (2005)) brings so much to the table. He breathes so much personality into this ape and it's just truly something to wow at and the writers are very wise to really shift the story over from Will to Caesar as Caesar gets sent into an Ape refuge. While there he gets smarter and learns of the true nature of how apes are treated inside there and decides to take action.
I think it was very smart on the filmmakers to shift the apes from makeup to cgi. I wasn't thrilled when I first heard they would make the apes in the computer but after viewing the film I've realized this was the only way to go really. It would look incredibly cheesy if they tried to do what they did in this film with makeup. The motion capture is some of the best to date and the apes look very real. None of the makeups did as good as job as the motion capture did at creating real ape behavior and also by not making them talk I think was a smart move. I don't think making them be able to speak would make it very realistic which seems to be more of the way the film tries to go with rather than a fantasy.
The action is all mostly at the end of the film which is mostly seen in the trailers. While granted there is a little bit here and a little bit there it's all really at the end. It all is very entertaining and the apes do fight like real apes. There are moments where the filmmakers truly capture an ape aggression and what they are truly capable of. Not a lot of people know just how strong and fierce they can be and the film does a good job of showing that.
But something I don't think is mention a lot is that there a nice magical quality to it. The scene in the redwoods is a very magical scene and I really liked it and never liked how it isn't mentioned.
The acting is all very good and is a driving point of the film. James Franco is great, so are John Lithgow and Brian Cox. Also Tom Felton and David Oyelowo are good. Freida Pinto is good and all but I wish her character was given a better purpose and is one of the few faults with this film.
The Music I thought was very good too. It had a very magical yet dark and exciting feel. Composer Patrick Doyle really gives out his best score in years. It will by no means become be considered a masterpiece it just is an above the average movie score and is a score that I would buy when the soundtrack was released on CD.
The Directing by Rupert Wyatt is very good too. He handles the story written with such care. His choices in camera movements and how to properly handle the story is makes him a great choice. Also he uses cgi to better the project and only really uses it when he needs too which is something I always respected in a director these days.
The writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa have crafted a great story and pay so much tribute to the original films. There are so many nice nods to the original which Planet of the Apes fans will enjoy. They also really know how write convincing dialogue and leaves the door open for a sequel but it could be just an make you think type of ending.
The Bottom line is this is a very good story driven film that includes great special effects and matches the original and is the second best film of 2011
Final Score 9/10
Halo: Reach (2010)
The Best game I have played yet.
I have been a fan of Halo for as long as I can remember, ever since I first played Halo 2 at my friends house. I have been a huge fan and was very eager to get Halo Reach. It was the must have game for me and I have to say this is the best Halo game and the best game I've played.
The game play of the game has not really change too much. The driving controls is the same and shooting is the same with the exception of the new accuracy factor and no Duel Wielding,but that doesn't bother me. I love this game play and wouldn't want it to change.
One of the things that has change is the new armor abilities which I might say has been one of the best improvements in the games, with jet packs, armor locks, sprint, cameo, and drop shield. There are so much more but those were just a few off the top of my head. (There is no Equipment) There are also new weapons, like the new DMR single shot assault rifle. This is in my opinion one of the best new weapons in the game. There are also new grenade launchers, new plasma weapons, so many new weapons it was so much fun trying them all out. They also seemed to improve some weapons, like the shotgun has more power in this game and Assault Rifle also seems to have more power. They also weaken some of them like the Needler. I think that it was much more accurate in Halo 3 but it still is a great weapon to use.
The Vehicles are once again crucial to the game but there are few new ones. They still have the warthog but they added one new type of warthog, the rocket warthog which is a fun new addiction. Another new vehicle is the Falcon which is similar to Halo 3's Hornet (which isn't in here) except its bigger, a little bit tougher to fly, and online you can't shoot with it however you can in the campaign. On the Covenant side you have the new Revenant which is fun to use but not my vehicle of choice. You can also drive forklifts and stuff like that in the campaign but I would highly suggest not too.
Now we get to the Campaign, which is a wonderful, intense, smart, thrill ride. This is everything you would want in a Campaign. The story is simple. A covenant force invades Reach and as a group of Six Spartan Warriors you are the last line of defense. Now the story goes through changes mostly towards the end, won't say what but Halo fans will be pleased. Now I think as strong of a story this has, the past Halo's have done much better, nevertheless it is still a great story. The level setups are fantastically well done, balancing out the enemies you face and yet still presenting a challenge. This is properly the most intense campaigns of all the games, and the most fun. You also have teammates in this game. They aren't life changing in the game in fact they are no better than any other solder in the game. Your teammates present more of a human story as you start to feel the emotion of each other; however I still think your character could have presented more emotion out of himself as he remains emotionless throughout.
The Online/Multiplayer is one of the best I have ever played. There are so many game modes now, like Invasion (which is a personal favorite of mine) and Arena game playing there are new team objective games (headhunter is one of the best) and there are game modes within game modes, like different sorts of invasion games and different sorts of living dead and team slayer. One of the best new advancements of this game is you can vote on which map and type of game you want to play. There is also different classes for you to choose from, which includes different sorts of combinations of weapons and amour types. The new level up system is the best I have seen in a game, big improvement over Halo 3's system. As you keep leveling up you get money which you can buy new helmets and amour types and shoulder pads, the combinations are endless and you get money from all different types of play like the campaign and forge and online. There are also some brand new maps. There are just an endless amount from the main maps to forge created maps. You can now play firefight online now as you are paired up with 3 other people and more different types of firefight too, like the classic, arcade, grunts, and generator defense. There is so much to do online its crazy.
One last mode is Forge, which has been greatly improved; with no longer having to spend hours lining everything up, it is much simpler and with the new Forge World which is a huge piece of open land, the possibility's are endless.
The Bottom line is this is the best Halo and best game I have every played. Its got everything you could ever want from a game. This will not disappoint you.