Reviews written by registered user
|115 reviews in total|
I have been invested in Vin Diesel's Riddick since first experiencing Pitch Black and I find it hard to believe that it's been 13 years since it was released. The duality of this character or I should probably say multi-faceted character is fascinating and the journey to understand who he is and why he is this enigma of a perpetually reluctant hero has consistently been engaging. Initially, I was unable to truly discern from the trailer if the story took place pre Pitch Black or post Necromancers, but it appeared that he was wearing Necro attire which would place the story at some point after he commenced his reign from the edict that 'you keep what you kill. What I could discern from the trailer was that he was in another situation that was wrought with a deadly collection of monsters all of which were extremely dangerous. The how of what places him on planet Notfurya, which I prefer to call Predatorium was a fairly brief recollection of events by Riddick. The thing that took something like forever was the opening credits and his odyssey to adapt to this hostile environment. This story provided a connection to both predecessor films and was more like the first, than Chronicles. The special effects that delivered the aircrafts, the landscape of the planet and the carnage were first rate. The creature special effects could have been improved upon, the scorpion-like baddies were too similar to the creatures in Pitch and the canine's movement was too animated to ever truly believe that they were real. I was intrigued by the casting, I don't know what fountain of youth this guy is drinking from but Bokeem Woodbine (Moss) is simply ageless, I still see Joshua from Jason's Lyric and that was nineteen years ago. He is an actor that I feel should be given some serious recognition for his talent, he is always convincing no matter what type of role he plays. The only thing that I can say about Keri Hilson's (Prisoner) memorable acting debut is 'wow', she has a bright future as an actress. I will continue to follow Riddick on any and every future adventure but to date Chronicles is still my favorite, I have and can watch it repeatedly and am always entertained. I had high expectations for Riddick and it was more like Pitch black recycled with a splattering of some Die Hard with a Vengeance. Nevertheless, it was still entertaining and should be seen on the big screen for the effects. I give it an amber light.
The Mortal Instruments City of Bones was adapted from a novel like many of the contemporary fantasy films of late. Fortunately, this one was a good choice to bring to the big screen because it gives the audience a well-developed story with likable lead characters. Clary Fray (Lily Collins) is a typical teenager at first glance, and although she is special the basis of her uniqueness is unbeknownst to her. As seen in the trailer, she witnesses what seems to be a murder in the midst of a crowded club however no one except her has seen it happen. This incident sets up the adventure which begins with Clary meeting Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) a Shadowfighter, which is basically someone who battles demons. The strides made in technology make it possible to craft a film like this where a huge part of the experience is based on the special effects. There were a number of things that I likened to films that preceded this one like the portal (Stargate), the floating lady (Ghostbusters), the beam (LOTR) and there were a number of other images that reminded me of other films but I dare not give away too much for fear of spoiling it for others like myself who are new to this world hidden from Mundanes. Don't get me wrong even though there was some borrowing in the special effects category the film looked great, with cool scenes like the reveal of the Institute. Aside from the look of the film it maintained an ominous feel which added to the character of this movie. The only CGI creations that I somewhat considered as comic relief were the bird-smoke-burnt charcoal demons. This tale dealt with all manner of supernatural beings and had an interesting take on zombies. I suppose it makes sense given that from what I know or have seen regarding zombies they are generally man-made. I have not read the books and still have mixed feelings about doing so prior to viewing an adapted film, so I don't know how true to the book this film was but it completely pulled me in. I was invested in what would happen to Clary and I found the friendship between her and Simon (Robert Sheehan) to be endearing. Although the soundtrack on top of the romantic scenes with Clary and Jace was a bit much, it was still quite sweet. The story was fast paced and interesting and thoroughly held my attention throughout. The film was entertaining and had the desired effect that any film should have, when it ended I was left wanting more. I give it a green light.
This film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters comes just at the right time of the year for tween entertainment. Summer is winding down, school is about to resume and the demi-gods have an adventure worthy of Ulysses. I thought the opening story of Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) initially arriving at camp and how the shield came to be was creative and brought a level of energy to start things off, however I didn't particularly favor the warrior games, which were more like a round of Wipe Out rather than a show of strength from uber gifted halflings. The updating of the stories of Greek mythology is a great way to get this generation of youngsters invested in the tales. The ability through technology to visually depict the mythological creatures makes it all so much more appealing especially creatures like the hippocampus as seen in the trailer, this has to be the best looking seahorse I have ever laid eyes on. There were other creations throughout the film that were first rate special effects, but I wasn't impressed with Kronos, and don't even get me started on the animated history of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades rebelling against their titan father. I'll just sum it up in a word, cheesy. There was some creative license taken with modernizing the Stygian witches and Hermes (Nathan Fillion) all of whom fit right in to the new age, but alas the Cyclops just never seems to evolve. This second installment of the franchise comes with some new talent like Stanley Tucci (Mr. D) who was almost unrecognizable with the facial hair and the hair, Anthony Head (Chiron) and Leven Rambin (Clarisse) whose character brought a healthy dose of in your face competition to Percy (Logan Lerman). Most noticeably missing were those deities seen in the original film that I thought might make at the very least a cameo, the Olympian Gods. I went to see this film really wanting to like it, since I have been a fan of Greek mythology for most of my entire reading life, but I came away a bit indifferent. I laughed, was never too shocked at anything and also yawned. I do hope that viewers don't just take the film at face value and actually go read up on these amazing stories that these tween adventures were inspired by. I give this film an amber light.
Any Denzel Washington (Bobby Trench) movie gets my attention immediately, so there was no doubt that I would see 2 Guns. I like Mark Wahlberg (Michael Stigman) films as well but was not sure that the story would be written convincingly enough to believe that in some strange twist of events were two undercover operatives with some mammoth lies between them would somehow end up as friends. I figured just from the trailer that there would at the least be some major trust issues. The early scenes in the film give the audience an opportunity to get acquainted with Bobby and Stig as cohorts, while setting up the plot, which was a little sketchy at first been soon made sense. Accepting the two as authentic friends was as easy as sliding comfortably down into an oversized recliner. I quickly wanted to see more on screen time with the two of them playing off of each other rather than when their characters were facing dilemmas dealing with Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) and/or Earl (Bill Paxton). This was because of the dialog which is a complement to good writing, the word play, bickering and the banter was amusing and could have easily gotten cheesy, but it made the characters more real. There was very little happening in this film for the ladies, aside from Deb (Paula Patton) whose job was in a power position, they were like sparsely distributed ornaments on a huge tree. Cattle were featured more prominently than the females. Since this was a testosterone fest there was no surprise to see huge explosions, car chases and a number of brawls. One of the funniest scenes happened to be a brawl, and that is just not a common occurrence but don't get me wrong this was no comedy it had its fair share of drama and some shock and awe moments, including an unconventional hand washing that just stuck in my head. I went into the theater thinking that the Washington/Walberg pairing was a stretch of the imagination at best and left the theater wondering how long I would have to wait for 2 Guns 2. This film was definitely targeting the male population, especially with the level of exposure of Mrs. Thicke which was tastefully done I might add, this was a creative story of greed, corruption, betrayal and intrigue with lots of gunplay and plenty of action with added bonus of some Texas based locales. 2 Guns was a lot of fun and was entertaining so I give it a green light.
What I really want to do is write about Idris Elba (Stacker Pentacost) and how his walk is poetry in motion, and that I could stare at him for the 131 minutes running time of this film with his commanding presence while gracing us with confidence and style, but that would be unfair, since I should discuss Pacific Rim. This film reminded me of the old Godzilla monster movies akin to the likes of Godzilla versus Megalon. Those films always had the populous running for their lives while Tokyo was perpetually being destroyed, but the update to the tale is that the origin of the monster attacks does not come from nuclear fallout. This film was not as campy as the early Godzilla films, but there was a healthy level of cheesiness, although played very straight with Charlie Day (Dr. Newton Geiszler) as the only comic relief, which is somewhat odd since he plays a scientist. He actually looks the part, but if he ever wants to be taken seriously in a role he has to change his voice inflections and tone, which is very comedic. If all the English and Australian actors can do it I'm sure he can. This film was primarily driven by the special effects, since going in there was little doubt as to how the story would end. The last film that I saw that had a truly surprising end was Cabin in the Woods, I digress. The special effects were most noteworthy because the scale of the jaegers and the kaijus was strikingly convincing. With their movements, when the fights broke out and when buildings were destroyed, I simply marveled at the fact that these creations looked remarkably real. I'm not sure why the notion that a tall wall will keep anything out but it was yet again tested in this film, but again the scale was amazing. The kaiju unfortunately were never shown much clearer in the film than what was seen in the trailer, when they appeared it was either dark, raining, shown as a television broadcast or they were underwater all of which were distorting factors. We did get a nice variety though, with similarities to a turtle, gorilla, and a pterodactyl. This was a testosterone filled ride, there were only two females with any dialogue in the entire film and one of them was quite masculine. It seemed that the target audience was tween and teenaged young men who would get a kick out of the fight scenes, there was a miniscule love story but not enough to make this film a female fan favorite. It was entertaining so I give it an amber light.
Kevin Hart has taken his comedy to a new level with Let Me Explain. He doesn't just open with the back stage preparation (and customary prayer) prior to performing his newest stand-up routine, he gives the audience a mini feature film complete with the set up for all the issues currently plaguing him in the media, and the backlash that he gets from the public and the people around him. Mr. Hart's star is definitely on the rise, with a hit television show and a number of feature films forth-coming, he said it best on the BET Awards 'turnt up'! He showcases his success in the film by cleverly taking the audience on a ride along with him and his entourage as he tours Canada and the United Kingdom to sold out venues providing some insight into his popularity outside the US. It seems that he is a global hit not simply a well-known comedic powerhouse to just Black America. The jokes were smart and funny and were delivered in such a manner that I was rocking forward with laughter. The profanity was excessive and in some cases unnecessary for the stories being told to be humorous, but Kevin Hart's approach to comedy is much like many of his predecessors Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock who have grown out of an environment in which the language was a part of the norm of everyday life, so it's only fitting that the profanity is infused throughout the routine. I get it, but more prudish ears may find it somewhat offensive, especially the use of the N-word, which punctuated every narrative. The fare in this film is definitely not for consumption by small children. After hearing the jokes about so many aspects of his personal life, his divorce and his children I left the theater feeling as if I knew Kevin Hart just a little bit better. His tale of the possibility of being touched by the homeless gave me a whole new perspective of how important the boundaries of personal space are. Having a significant enough following to be able to fill seats in a theater is an impressive feat for any entertainer especially a stand-up comedian. This was an entertaining film, it was funny and engaging. The running time was 75 minutes which seemed to fly as in 'time flies when you're having fun. I give it a green light.
The trailer made World War Z look like the zombie population had gone extreme, with them developing the new talent of running. What an unfair advantage now in their favor considering the lumbering gait was the only thing that provided some level of protection for the human race. This year has been evolutionary for the zombie, since we now also know from Warm Bodies that there's even zombie love. There is some consistency in what has been the recent approach to zombification, it starts with some fatal contagion, not like the good old days when a vampire enslaves a human which keeps the numbers low, or a voodoo casting or the result of some improperly contained hazardous chemical, now everything is a virus run rampant. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a United Nations employee and is reactivated to track down the invading agent and try to figure out how to stop it. I don't know what UN employees do and after this film I still don't. There was a segment where Gerry is sent to accompany mankind's best hope for finding a cure and I'm not sure if he was supposed to be some level of protection but the situation just got direr rather than better. My favorite aspect about the story aside from Mr. Pitt of course is what puts the human race at its greatest disadvantage, the speed of the zombies. The special effects that allowed for them to climb atop each other and perform record breaking tackles added to the intensity. Although the movement and feel seemed very similar to the creations from I Am Legend, it was still rather chilling to watch as the human race was quickly being annihilated. My biggest complaint about the story is that I left the theater with no greater insight into what was the intrusive culprit than I had already gathered from the previously mentioned trailer that it's a contaminating virus with unknown origins and is aggressively spreading. I did not find this story particularly scary but it did pass my 3-D test, yes I flinched, actually a few times. I just kept thinking keep that guy Gerry away, because it just seemed that wherever he was the zombie infestation grew. That may not have been the reality since the problem was supposedly worldwide, but as good as Mr. Pitt looked as 'every man', he was bad luck for everybody except himself. I liked the film, but felt as if too much was given away in the trailer, therefore I give it an amber light.
This is the end of the way I view a film as a comedy. I experienced some of the funniest and some of the most disturbing situations imaginable in this film that played out one possibility in biblical proportion of how the world would end. The fact that everyone used their own names made the story have a realism about it that even further played into the comedy. I don't typically associate special effects with a comedy, but this film had some pretty good effects going on with the hell mouth sized sink holes, the rapture and the devil-dog. I was rather impressed that they weren't SyFy channel fodder, which is typically hard to swallow. The majority of the jokes were potty humor and there were an excessive number of phallus symbols, skeet and penetration innuendo, but the raunchy jokes won laughs even though some came with a bit of a grimace because it is somewhat embarrassing to admit. Who would have imaged the apocalypse as a situation comedy? Obviously Seth Rogen, who is the co-writer and co-director, he played the story straight and even takes a jab at his own acting prowess. There were quite a few talented entertainers in this story and many of them also played into the areas that have characterized their presence in Hollywood. Michael Cera comes across as this out of control drug abusing, womanizing whiner, which is the antithesis of every role that I have ever seen him portray. And the slap that Rihanna placed on him for his inappropriate behavior simply cracked me up. In all honesty, I know that the situation with Danny McBride was making fun of Magic Mike, but Channing Tatum was just done wrong. Good thing that he is obviously secure in his manhood, but he did use his actual name. This film was just plain funny, and one scene that made me laugh out loud, that I don't think others in the theater quite understood was when the elderly lady responded as to why she had placed a sign in her establishment. I could hear that I was the last person to stop laughing at that bit. Who would have thought that you could leave an apocalyptic film, feeling good at the end? Obviously Seth Rogen, the musical ending had me moving in my seat with a smile on my face, which was just the icing on the cake. I give it a green light.
Man of Steel the much anticipated reimagined Superman tale was so much less than anticipated by me. Having grown up with the comic books, seen the story played out on television and in theaters for more than 4 decades I was just done. And then along comes this film with a two and a half hour running time, and I simply cringed at the very thought of sitting through another same old story. But, this wasn't the same old story this was a rocket launch into action and an adventure that began almost from the very start with Kal-El/Clark's (Henry Cavill) birth. This is the first time that I recall seeing in live action shown so vividly the planet Krypton before its infamous destruction. The vision of what life on Krypton would have been like and the coup that led to the imprisonment of General Zod (Michael Shannon) has never been rendered with such detail. The action in this story was none stop, all of which was fueled by the special effects. The special effects were so phenomenal that they were barely noticeable, because they worked so seamlessly within the story. They were primarily the art of devastation, from Krypton to huge crafts, to larger than life hand to hand combat with super human strength to Metropolis being all but completely razed, the film was a visual masterpiece. This story was told with a lot of heart, and the running time was necessary to show how much of an inner struggle Clark had with being so different. It wasn't just a natural uneventful growth process like going up in a show size when his powers began to manifest, it was conveyed as a traumatic transition, which made Clark not only likable but you care about him. I'm still trying to decide how I felt about Lois Lane (Amy Adams), she seemed to be too accepting too quickly of all the other worldly events that were transpiring around her, but I guess the situations didn't leave much time for panicking. I noticed hints in the film that there will be a sequel, but I'm having a hard time imagining that Lex Luther who has always been Superman's primary nemesis will be wrapped in a story with the kind of zeal that Christopher Nolan has brought to light here. It turns out that this story was so masterfully done and so entertaining that it has renewed my enthusiasm in the franchise, I give it a green light.
I was wondering what M. Night Shyamalan was up to since his last not so endearing live action take on one of my favorite animated tales The Last Airbender. It seems that he sat back kicked up his heels and crafted a story from a brand new perspective. This was a family film for the most part, Ursa was a bit nightmarish but other than that, this story had a number of very worthwhile qualities. There was no big reveal at the end that made you question if you were paying attention, this was just a futuristic setting that tells the story of the complexities within the relationship of a father and son. I had high expectations for this film based on Will Smith (Cypher Raige) starring in it, he never disappoints not even in Hitch as far as I'm concerned. The father-son story was the heart of this film, with Cypher as this larger than life Commander and Kitai (Jaden Smith) trying to live up to the legend that is his father. I had to wonder if this story was easy for the younger Smith to pull out the necessary emotions to carry this role given his chosen vocation and the success that his father has known. Academy Award nominee, those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but Jaden has consistently proved to be a convincing actor and here yet again he proves that he has the chops. He takes the audience through his experiences of disappointment, jubilation, panic, guilt, and for certain fear. The landscapes in this film were amazing, I love when a film can find locations so stunning that you feel that you have actually ventured to another world. The red cliffs of Nova Prime are a natural wonder to behold and I find it fascinating that they are actual not CGI, but the meteor shower, the space jump and the waterfalls on Earth were all first rate special effects. I was more impressed by the landscapes than the animal life, the baboons were fairly genuine, but the big cats not so much. I didn't even realize that Zoe Kravitz (Senshi) was in this film, no indication at all from the trailers, although her and Sophie Okonedo (Faia) had very little screen time, they both made a rather powerful impact. Speaking of on screen time, this was Jaden's I Am Legend, more him than anyone, which was not bad at all. I give it a green light.
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