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Independence Day (1996)
While definitely not a classic, Independence Day still retains it's heart on it's 20th anniversary
In the 1990s and the early to late 2000s, Roland Emmerich, a German director, directed a few movies. Some of them were science-fiction, action-oriented, thriller, and disaster related. This film in particular.
Aliens have come to our planet and destroyed most of our countries. Only a few people survived and with the help of the president of the White House, a military solider, and a nerdy scientist, they plan to fight against the aliens on Independence Day and destroy them once and for all.
I'm reviewing this on Independence Day because considering that's how the battle between the humans and aliens started and the sequel just came out two weeks and three days ago. Anyway, this is a really good film. Nothing awesome or anything, but still good. I understand why the Nostalgia Critic and everyone else hated this film and Roland Emmerich in general, but as a big fan of action films that have heart, this one actually worked for me. There are some problems that I want to address before I can get to the good parts.
First, the story. The concept is very fresh. The idea of humans fighting against the aliens as the part of patriotism is really original, but when it comes to the overall narrative, it's very formulaic and it does contain lots of clichés that plagued the later Roland Emmerich films. Second, some of the dialog does come across as clichéd and unbelievably cheesy and the character development seemed to be lacking at times. That's it for the flaws. Now for the good parts.
Despite what I said about the dialog, the overall acting is great. I mean, talk about a big cast of talented actors. Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Harvey Fierstein, Randy Quaid, and yours truly, Will Smith. All of these actors did really well and gives the characters some likability. Also, the one liners, aside from the cheesy and clichéd moments, are really funny, the best coming from Will Smith.
Also, the patriotism theme of the movie is presented really well and shows that if we work together as a united nation, we can defeat our enemies and bring peace to the world. The special effects, despite being a little dated, are still nice especially the spaceships designs which were also pretty cool. The action sequences are great and the explosions of all the countries are well-shot.
The best part, however, would have to go to the music score from David Arnold. The guy composed some of the later James Bond films and even did some great music for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. His score here is beyond fantastic. It has heart, it has an epic tone, it has some strong action cues, and it fits the patriotism theme of the film perfectly. Particularly with the President's speech scene which made me shed some tears. That's all I have to say.
Like I said before, I understand why the Nostalgia Critic and everyone else didn't like this film, but in spite of it's problems, I actually think this is a really good film for the fourth of July. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but to be fair, the 80s did had it's share of cheesy stuff and we were OK with it. So, overall, Independence Day is a really good patriotic science fiction action film and I think that it's one of Roland Emmerich's three best films, the other two being Stargate and the Patriot. To those who haven't seen it yet, go check it out and you'll enjoy the ride. Thumbs up. :)
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
With fun characters and solid musical numbers, The Great Mouse Detective surprises on it's 30th anniversary
In London, a toy maker named Flaversham gets captured by a bat with a one pegged leg named Fidget, while Olivia, the toy maker's daughter, searches for help. After meeting Dr. Dawson, they meet a detective known as Basil of Baker Street and after telling what happened, he deducts that the bat is working for his arch-nemesis, Professor Ratigan. The three set off to find some clues to find the nefarious criminal while Professor Ratigan is using the toy maker to rule all of London. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker who would later direct "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", "Hercules", "Treasure Planet", and "The Princess and the Frog". Released in July 2, 1986.
When I was a kid, I remember watching this on video at my aunt's house. It was really interesting considering this was made by Disney. A few years later, I looked at the reception and understood why everyone loved it and now I'm one of those people. Now I still like The Lion King (a childhood favorite of mine that I grew up with), and many other Disney films, but this film does fell a bit underrated.
There are so many good things about this film that really made it worth it. The story is superb. The idea of making a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes is executed really well. What also works is that it has mystery, suspense, and some fun to go along with it. The script is very well-written. The humor is really good and doesn't jar with the overall dark tone of the film. There are also some smart moments including the rivalry between Basil and Professor Ratigan, the chemistry between Basil and Dr. Dawson, and the final battle at Big Ben, which things get really intense and scary at the same time. The music score from Henry Mancini is really good. It mixes whimsy and sinister perfectly, forming a cohesive adventure. Also, the songs including "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind" and "Let Me Be Good To You" are really good. The melodies are perfect and the lyrics are fun.
The best part about the film is the characters. Olivia Flaversham is adorable, Hiram Flaversham is really sympathetic after getting captured by Fidget, who also has some amusing moments as the funny, but also scary henchman and the other characters including the burlesque dancer at the bar Miss Kitty are enjoyable, but Basil and Professor Ratigan are the best characters in the entire film.
Basil is a psychopathic detective with a heart of gold while Professor Ratigan is a funny, but at the same time terrifying. What makes them work is not only the voice actors Barrie Ingham and Vincent Price, but like I said before, their rivalry. Their ways of trying to outwit each other is worthwhile even in the final battle.
If there's one thing I would point out that is while the animation is really good especially the visuals, there are some crude stuff in it that might me questionable, but that's my only nitpick.
Overall, The Great Mouse Detective is not only underrated, but it does manage to be a really good version of Sherlock Holmes by taking the idea of the character and turning it into something fresh. Sure it got overshadowed by Don Bluth's An American Tail, but this along with that classic are really well-written animated mouse adventures. On it's 30th Anniversary, this receives a thumbs up from me and is really recommended to those who haven't seen it yet. :)
47 Ronin (2013)
A beautiful, but deeply flawed flop... for a very good reason
I haven't heard of the 47 Ronin story this was based on, but given it's reception and it's failure at the box office, I might want to do some research when I have a chance. I mean, the trailers looked great and exciting for the most part, but unfortunately, Universal Pictures didn't realize that the marketing for the film wasn't that good. Not to mention that it came out the same month as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which garnered more attention There are some good things about the film.
The acting is fine for the most part. Keanu Reeves from The Matrix, Rinko Kikuchi from Pacific Rim, and everyone else involved did their best. The costumes are nice and there are some nice details, but there two of the best things about this film. Ilan Eshkeri, the guy who composed the score for Stardust, does a great job with his music here, using authentic Japanese violins, gives some scope to the film, and some really neat action cues. And then there's the visuals. John Mathieson, who did the cinematography for Ridley Scott's films including Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and Robin Hood, creates some of the best visuals for a live-action feature film. The landscapes, the forests, the mountains, and the medieval-like Japanese setting has some great detail. Oh, and the special effects are really neat too especially the dragon. Kudos to that.
And now for the bad parts. I understand that it tries to be accurate to the historical event this was based on, but the only problem is, it takes itself way too seriously. The script is really stale, the dialog is really clichéd, the characters are one-dimensional and are really undeveloped, the writing is really terrible, and the pacing is really boring. Which is a shame, because the money for the production design was well-spent.
Overall, 47 Ronin isn't exactly a terrible movie. It's really beautiful in it's production design, but it could've been so much better if they gave more believability to the characters and story. It's sad to say that this receives a thumbs down from me. :(
Another classic episode! Can't wait for the seventh season!
After a pretty good first episode, the later episodes became better with strong character depth, excellent writing, and some really intense moments. The Winds of Winter continues the high standards. The directing is great, the editing is really neat, Ramin Djawadi continues to make some more beautiful music, and the script is well-written. The writing is really good, the characters are still believable, the relationships continue to shine, the pacing is really good and never drags. The story-arcs have been advanced perfectly, but since I just saw the episode, I'm not going to spoil anything.
Season 6 has been a great year for Game of Thrones so far. What started out as a slow, but still good beginning, became better thanks to emotional performances from the Stark and Lannister people, strong writing, and did I forget to mention that the action sequences are the best I've seen since the fourth season? Also, with Ramsay Bolton gone, if we see the White Walkers and their leader again in the next season, things might get interesting.
Overall, The Winds of Winter is another classic episode and a solid season finale. Can't wait for the seventh season! Thumbs up! :)
A realistic and terrific start to the show
It's been a year since I reviewed the sixteenth episode of the third season of Arrow and now I'm going to review every single episode starting with this one.
It does a great job introducing not only Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), but the other characters as well. The story here is really gripping and the story-arc for Oliver keeps you really invested to what's going to happen next for him as he spent five years surviving on his own. The acting from all involved is surprisingly good and it's very well-written. The action sequence was cool too, but what I like the most is how realistic it is it kind of reminds me of The Dark Knight.
Overall, the pilot episode for the Arrow is really great. Sure it leaves you wanting for more especially with Oliver's relationship with the other characters including his family, but like I said before, it's realistic and that's what makes it so good. Thumbs up. :)
An epic battle delivered with excellent results
When the episode ended, it lived up to my expectations and delivered what was promised. The battle between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton is the best action sequence I've ever seen and it's right up there with the battle sequences in Season 4.
The sets are still lavish especially the castle of Ramsay Bolton and the costumes and scenery are still beautiful. The writing is solid as it delivers the stakes for Jon Snow to try and bring justice to Ramsay Bolton and keeps you invested. The directing is brilliant, the editing is really good, and Ramin Djawadi delivers some of the most brilliant action music with suspense and intensity. The characters are still believable and Ramsay Bolton continues to be really effective as the villain. Iwan Rheon, who played him in season 3, did a fantastic job in making him so despicable much like Jack Gleeson did as King Joffrey.
Since it's been two days, I like to say that Ramsay Bolton is finally gone. He tortured Theon Greyjoy and when he killed Rickon Stark before the battle started, it made me hate him even more.
That being said, the highlights of the episode are the performances and the battle sequences. Kit Harington and Sophie Turner delivers some of their solid lines together and so does Iwan Rheon, who brings menace to Ramsay perfectly as he did when he was first introduced. Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke along with Alfie Allen and Gemma Whelan are also good in the conversation scene at the palace in Meereen with Daenerys agreeing to use the Iron Fleet for battle if the two promise not to pillage anymore.
Overall, Battle of the ******** is an epic episode and delivered what it promised. Good character development, solid writing, some of the best battle sequences since season 4, and excellent acting. Thumbs up :). Can't wait for the season finale.
Game of Thrones: No One (2016)
Another solid episode and sets up the next two episodes nicely
No One isn't nearly as excellent as the most of the episodes that came before it in season 6, but it's another solid entry and sets up the next two episodes nicely. The plot advancement for the story arcs were neat, the pacing is very steady, the directing from Mark Mylod (who directed the previous episode and the pilot episode for ABC's Once Upon A Time) is really good, and the sets/scenery are still gorgeous.
The performances continue to be great with Maisie Williams giving out her best acting as Arya and Essie Davis giving out a very compassionate performance and most of the writing is perfect. Sure it didn't live up to the high standards left by most of the episodes, but it's still good.
Overall, No One is nearly as excellent as most of the episodes that came before it, but it does a great job in setting up the next two episodes. Thumbs up. :)
Game of Thrones: The Broken Man (2016)
The Broken Man delivers a very satisfying character-driven story for the season
The Broken Man is another classic episode for the sixth season and improves upon the previous episode (which I thought was great despite it's uneven pacing).
It's easy to point out that the Hound, one of the characters who captured Arya Stark after her father was executed by King Joffrey, actually survived from his wounds after end of the fourth season and he gets some character development here. He's trying to find redemption by living peacefully with the villagers only to seek vengeance after finding his happiness taken away from him. Rory McCann, who played the Hound, also known as Sandor Clegane in the first four seasons, gives a really solid performance. Ian McShane, who plays Ray, the man who nursed him back to health, is a great addition to the show's sixth season and gives a superb performance as a peaceful man who helps the Hound find his happiness.
That being said, everything else is great. Some of the story lines from the previous episodes have been advanced with Arya trying to get back home after she stopped Lady Crane from drinking her poisoned rum and decided not to become a faceless person, unaware that something terrible would happen to her. The performances are still solid, the pacing is very brisk, Mark Mylod, who directed the third and fourth episodes of Season 5, does a great job directing, the editing is really smooth, the scenery, sets, and costumes are still lavish, and Ramin Djawadi continues to deliver some perfect moments in his score.
So, overall, The Broken Man succeeds in it's character-driven story for the Hound for the sixth season and sets up nicely to what's going to happen in the last three episodes. Thumbs up. :)
An emotional and epic way to end the first season
A Land Without Magic is not only another classic episode, but it's a solid ending to the first season. There's not a single problem that I do have with this episode because this episode really satisfied me.
The acting continue to be solid. Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla both give their emotional performances as they are both worried that Henry might die if they don't find the cure to heal Henry of the death sleep. Also, Robert Carlyle continues to steal the scene as Rumpelstiltskin and never ceases to amaze me every time he appears on screen.
The writing is really good with every moment that doesn't feel too sappy or mawkish, the pacing, again, is great and doesn't rush or feel too slow. The directing and editing is really neat, but the best part is the action sequence where Emma fights the dragon while Prince Charming fights the same creature in the Enchanted Forest filled with suspense and tension and the ending where Henry is healed and it did leave me teary-eyed. It teaches us that True Love's Kiss conquers all. Also, it leaves a cliffhanger for the events that would happen in the 2nd season and it interested me.
So, overall, A Land Without Magic is another classic episode and succeeds in every way possible. Can't wait to review the next season. :)
Another classic episode in the first season next to That Still Small Voice and The Stable Boy
Remember when I said that That Still Small Voice and The Stable Boy are classic episodes? Well, looks like I found another one.
It does a neat job in continuing the flashbacks for Mary Margaret and David where Prince Charming gets captured by the Evil Queen and it's up to Snow White and the dwarfs along with Red Riding Hood, Granny, and the fairies to save him. The pacing is great not to mention the solid direction in the cliffhanger where Henry eats the apple strudel and gets poisoned and the scene where Mary Margaret eats the poison apple before she fells into a death sleep, causing Prince Charming to wake up and shout this line.
"What have you done?! What have you done?! Snow!!!!" That bit of acting is heartbreaking and the performances continue to shine with Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parrilla delivering some of their best lines. The script is also well-written. It recalls the events that happened in Fruit of the Poisonous Tree and The Stable Boy. The action sequence where Snow White, the dwarfs, Red, Granny, and the fairies fight against King George's army is exciting and well-choreographed with Mark Isham delivering some of the most solid piece of music by blending the action, the drama, and the suspense really well. The directing is superb and the sets along with the scenery continue to be gorgeous throughout. There's not a single problem I do have with the episode. Just one more episode and I'm done with the 1st Season. Thumbs up! :)