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Pacific Rim (2013)
Stupid but I Love Every Minute of it
Pacific Rim delivered exactly what it promised from the trailers. Spectacular action scenes. This film is not going to win any awards or be considered high art or anything but if it is one thing, it is highly entertaining without worrying about being criticised for being "dumb", and call me simple minded or whatever, but I think that's kind of refreshing to see every once in a while, especially in this day and age of big budgeted, heavy drama filled action films.
The story isn't really important, but basically, monsters are coming from an inter-dimensional portal in the Pacific Ocean and destroying the humans so that their alien masters would be able to colonise Earth no problem. The armies of Earth develop giant humanoid robots to fight back against these monsters and thus you have Pacific Rim.
The only real criticisms I have is that maybe the drama scenes go on a bit too long as we as an audience don't really care about any of these characters but it is well worth it for the amazing spectacular actions scenes that look as though they came straight out of a mech anime. I can't really explain this action scenes in great detail, they have to be seen.
If you want a little time killer to entertain you for a couple of hours and are a big fan of stuff like Godzilla or Gundam, then Pacific Rim is highly recommended.
Doctor Who (1996)
A decent and interesting attempt to revive Dr. Who
Let me start by saying Doctor Who is one of my favourite television programs of all time if not my absolute favourite. A brief synopsis for the program is that the Doctor is an alien who travels around time and space with his various companions on all sorts of adventures. The program initially ended in 1989 and was brought back in 2005 however this film was the first attempt to revive Doctor Who in 1996 and unfortunately did not gain enough ratings to warrant a new series.
The film starts off with a brief narration of the Doctor bringing his eternal rival's, the Master, remains back to his home planet. However, the Master's remains (somehow still alive) force the TARDIS to crash land in San Fransisco, a couple days before New Year's in 1999. The Doctor (In his seventh incarnation) is shot down by gangsters and soon regenerates into the eighth Doctor after a failed operation. The Master takes control of the body of a local paramedic and plans to destroy the world. The Doctor soon finds out and he, along with his new companion, Grace, must stop him before New Year's Day.
Unfortunately, it's not a very good story by Doctor Who standards and lacks the charm that the program has with it's interesting characters, locales, themes and general imagination. There is a heavy emphasis on excitement and action (Which is, to the film's credit, actually done pretty well.) rather than atmosphere, characters and quirky humour that Doctor Who is known for.
Oddly enough, having a reasonably high budget. The sets and effects seem a little too good and polished which may seem like an odd thing to gripe about but it makes you miss the old series' low budget production values that just seemed to add to it's charm and make things seem a little more 'legit' if that makes any sense.
The characters are all largely forgettable though you can tell the actor's are trying their best. Well, all except for one character, and that being the Eighth Doctor superbly played by Paul McGann. The Doctor is both funny and serious, changing from a whimsical light hearted gentleman to spouting pure and utter nonsense like an insane alien to giving dramatic and heavy dialogue in the space of a few moments. Honestly, the Eighth Doctor is the only reason why I watch this film more than once and really makes you think how his character could have been developed further if a new series was produced, though there are audio dramas and novels that further the adventures of the Eighth Doctor despite only really appearing in a single episode. That is how fantastic of a character he is. Sylvester McCoy also returns briefly to reprise his role as the Seventh Doctor. Although he does not have much to say or do, he's still a fantastic actor giving it his all and it's cool to see him in the role on screen one last time.
Overall, Doctor Who: The Movie is an enjoyable experience though I doubt many people see it more than once. If you're a fan of Doctor Who, I highly recommend it just to see the Eighth Doctor's beginnings and as an interesting piece in the program's history which really makes you wonder what the series would have been like if this was a success.
Ed Wood (1994)
An Inspiring Story
Ed Wood is often called one of the worst directors of all time, if not THE worst. His films suffered from laughably poor production quality, continuity errors and sub-par acting. Usually, we as the viewers, mock these flaws in films such as these but we rarely ever think about the work that was put into them or what the people behind them are like as individuals.
In this film based on Ed Wood himself, follows the making of his three most infamous films, Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space and shows all the trials and troubles he had to go through to get these films made as well as his relationships with the actors, crew and in his personal life, most notably with famous horror star Bela Lugosi.
Rather than make fun of Ed Wood or his work, the film instead portrays him as an ambitious young film maker who might be a little too ambitious for his own good. It's a more human look at him, almost on a personal level. Ed is played by Johnny Depp, who does a fantastic job as portraying him as both funny and sympathetic. You root for him all the way and feel his sadness and disappointment when things do not turn out as expected for him.
Even though Depp acts well in the film, as do the other actors for that matter, the person who steals the show is Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. Landau plays the part to a tee and, much like Depp, plays him both funny and sympathetically only better in my opinion.
The story alone is inspiring to anyone who is or was ever interested in doing something creative, especially film making. The final scene with Plan 9 playing in the theatre as Ed looks on, his face beaming with such happiness and mouthing the words he wrote and by the end he doesn't even seem to care what other people think about it but rather he is content with seeing his vision come alive.
I should probably also mention that the film is not really entirely accurate to Ed Wood's real life but I feel if it was entirely accurate, the film wouldn't be as good. The only real flaw I can think of off the top of my head is that at the very end the film gives us a slide-show of all the characters and what has become of their real life counterparts and some of them are pretty sad to think about for such an uplifting movie, especially Ed himself, but that's very minor and the rest of the film is so good, I don't really mind.
So, the next time you mock a film for not being up to your standards, think a little of the people behind it and the troubles they all went through to see it come to fruition. Then maybe, just a little, you can begin to appreciate film a whole lot more. I know I did after I saw Ed Wood.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Original, creative and terrifying.
The Blair Witch Project is one of the best horror films ever made and one of my favourite films of all time.
The story is that the film is supposed to be the found footage of three young film students that head to a rural town to film a documentary about a local myth of a witch that terrorised the town many years ago. They end up getting lost in the woods while being stalked by someone or something.
The film entirely shot on video and cheap, black and white film supporting the feeling that the film is found footage and it works. Something about the look of it, and given the fact that the movie was made a very low budget and there is no music, gives it a sense of realism and a unique atmosphere.
The acting is great, too. All the actors are very natural and, apart from the occasional one or two cheesy line, remain consistent throughout and giving a real sense of fear to the point where you feel like you are among this group and sharing the fear with them.
However, one major complaint that I have is a lot of the time the camera is shaking all way too much to really make out what exactly is going on and is literally black at some points as in you cannot see a thing which is pretty annoying but not to the point where it is unwatchable. Another minor complaint is that sometimes you cannot hear what the characters are saying due to the limited range on the microphone on the cheap cameras they used but this only occurs a couple of times and, again, is bearable.
Overall, a great film and a spooky experience that you will not soon forget.
An underrated masterpiece from Miyazaki
If you have even the slightest interest in animated movies then there is no doubt you have at least heard of Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind such movies as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, and this is the movie that started his legendary career and is by far his most underrated, at least outside of Japan.
For those of you who don't know, Lupin III is a Japanese comic book following a thief, the titular Lupin, and his gang as they travel all across the world in search for adventure while being constantly pursued by Interpol agent, Zenigata.
After a successful robbery of a French casino, Lupin and closest companion, Jigen, flee to the tiny independent nation of Cagliostro where they discover a huge conspiracy involving an evil baron forcing a young girl against her will to get his hands on a rumoured treasure and Lupin and his gang take it upon themselves to rescue her and find the treasure themselves.
Yeah, the plot does sound pretty cliché but it's execution is near flawless. Just a good old fashioned adventure will great characters.
The animation is very good, especially for the time. The music is great and memorable. I love the atmosphere it creates with the fairy-tale like kingdom. The voice acting is top-notch. There's plenty of action and slapstick comedy. It's just great all around.
However, the main villain is very generic. Just a stereotypical rich slime-ball with no regard for anyone but himself but to be fair, in a movie like this, the villain takes a back seat for the heroes who are done very so I can't really hold it against the film.
Overall, it's a classic adventure film that shouldn't be passed up by anyone. You'll be entertained from beginning to end.
The Warriors (1979)
Can you dig it? I can dig it
Stylistic, action-packed and a hell of a memorable movie. That is The Warriors in a nutshell.
Sometime in the future, the leader of Riffs, the biggest gang in New York City invites nine representatives from each gang in the city for a huge meeting in the Bronx to unite all the gangs and take the city themselves. Among these gangs are the Warriors from Coney Island, one of the toughest gangs in the city. The Riffs' leader is then assassinated by another gang's leader and the Warriors are framed. The Riffs put out a huge bounty on the Warriors' heads, dead or alive, and soon every other gang in the city is after them while the Warriors try and fight their way across the city with little to no weapons to get home safely.
The first thing that really caught my attention was the atmosphere of the movie. It's night-time throughout most of the movie and it really feels like the street gangs run the city, like the Warriors could be attacked at any moment. It's legitimately eerie and brooding.
The action is also very well done. There are hardly any guns in the movie (I believe we only ever see two) so the fights are up-close and personal and they are well-choreographed and shot, everything can be seen clearly and you can identify who's who easily.
The characters are very memorable as well and are all very well acted, my favourite being Luther, the main villain, who's delightfully over the top and a real scumbag. Even the random members of the gangs, most of which only appear in the opening sequence, have a very memorable and colourful look to them, such as the Hi-Hats, all dressed as mimes in top hats yet are only on screen for a few seconds, really leave an impact on me for some reason.
The Barry De Vorzon's music isn't bad either, perfectly complimenting the atmosphere.
So, if you like thrilling action with plenty of close up fights wrapped around some great atmosphere, great characters and a great musical score, then the Warriors in a must-see.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Outrageously violent and hilarious
This half-sequel, half-remake of Evil Dead outdoes its predecessor in almost every aspect.
After a brief recap of the events of the first film (Which does not include Ash's sister or best friend, further emphasising this is more of a remake than a true sequel), Ash still has no real way to escape the haunted woods and decides to defend himself from the demons inside the cabin, only to be joined by some strangers, one of whom is the daughter of the archaeologist who discovered the Book of the Dead which started everything and they work together to banish the demons permanently.
Bruce Campbell returns as Ash and is delightfully hammy in the role. Everything he says and does, from the corny lines to his facial expressions, make me burst out in laughter. The other actors do a decent job, but Campbell just steals the show.
Being on a much higher budget than the first Evil Dead means that the special effects are much more lavish and impressive than the first movie which really spectacular uses of animatronics and great monster designs not to mention the Ray Harryhausen style stop motion animations. It is a visual feast for the eyes.
If there is anything that this movie has that is inferior to the first, it's that, having more of an emphasis on comedy, it is less atmospheric and spooky than the first Evil Dead which is a real shame, in my opinion however it is still entertaining and I love it more than the first Evil Dead.
If you enjoyed the first Evil Dead and have not seen this movie, then it is a must-see, with hilarious slap-stick comedy, fantastic special effects and a brilliant main character.
The Saga Concludes
The epic 'Star Wars' trilogy ends with a bang.
After Luke and company rescues Han from an insanely powerful gang lord in one of the greatest openings of all time, the rebellion put together their plan to defeat the Empire once and for all. Our main characters go to the forest moon of Endor to deactivate the shield generator of a second Death Star where the Emperor himself is on, giving a chance for the rebel fleet to destroy it however the Emperor has plans for Luke and wishes to make him his apprentice.
The special effects and sets are, once again, fantastic. I've already praised them enough before so I won't bother repeating the same praise but expect the same attention to detail and high-quality found in the last two films. The action scenes are also very well done and epic, probably the most exciting battles in the entire series are in this movie. John Williams score is, as always, wonderful, and my personal favourite out of all the 'Star Wars' films.
However, what I don't like about this film are the Ewoks, the native race of the forest moon who help the rebels. I'm not going to get into the whole debate on the Empire's best soldiers being defeated by a race of teddy bears (I actually think it makes sense since the Empire probably were not expecting them to attack and they have been likely using guerrilla warfare tactics for quite some time) but I do find them very annoying. They are suppose to be cute and funny, but the comedy just feels really out of place with random cutaways to them doing something really stupid and, to be honest, some of the costumes are really ugly but I don't really mind them as much as most people seem to do. I just wish the creators made them a little less comical.
Overall, just like any of the original 'Star Wars' films, I find this to be a near masterpiece with very few flaws. Although not as mature as 'Empire' it is still very good and worth it if you like the first two films, although by this point you probably already have seen it.
The Saga Continues
Not only is 'Empire' as good as the original 'Star Wars', it surpasses it by light years.
Taking place a couple of years after the first movie, the rebellion have made their headquarters on the remote ice planet of Hoth. The Empire find them and after an epic battle, our heroes go their separate ways. Luke and R2-D2 go to the swamp planet of Dagobah in search for a powerful warrior known as Yoda who will complete Luke's Jedi training and Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO are being pursued by the Empire across space.
All the actors playing the main characters in the original make a return in this and have all improved over time, especially Mark Hamill who I personally felt was the weakest actor in the original (Not saying that his acting was bad, just not as good as it is here.) The budget was much higher for this movie than the last, allowing for even greater special effects and more lavish and highly detailed sets. For example, The interior of the Millennium Falcon is expanded upon and we get to see all the intricacies of the ship, it's great stuff.
John Williams also returns as composer. We hear some of the classic music from the first movie as well as some new stuff which is just as good as you would expect.
Overall, one of the greatest sequels in movie history, with more production value, more action, a more mature and darker storyline and having probably the most famous twist in movie history. If you enjoyed the first 'Star Wars' and have not seen this yet, then there is something wrong with you. Seriously.
Star Wars (1977)
A timeless sci-fi/fantasy adventure.
What can be said about 'Star Wars' that hasn't been said ever since 1977? It's one of the most popular films of all time.
For all two of you out there who don't know the story, 'Star Wars' is about Luke Skywalker, a farm boy who is fed up with his boring life on the desert planet of Tatooine. His life is changed forever when two robots come into his possession, one of them carrying a message for someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke is then swept into an adventure with the robots, Obi-Wan and two smugglers to rescue a princess from the evil Empire and join the rebellion to destroy their ultimate weapon, the Death Star.
Taking inspiration from classic Wild West and samurai movies and combining it with science fiction and fantasy elements, 'Star Wars' is a must-see for, well, anyone really. Everyone who has ever lived really should experience the magic of 'Star Wars' at least once in their lives.
The special effects are nothing short of wonderful. Each of the alien creatures all look unique and easily distinguishable through use of animatronics, costumes and prosthetics. No CGI used here. The scenes of the ships flying through space are so well done, you would swear they were real. The sets are another real spectacle to look at. You can see in the backgrounds all the little details of flashing lights and computer monitors wondering what all this stuff does.
The music by John Williams, do I really need to say anything? It is some of the greatest and most memorable music, well, ever, not just in films.
The characters are also extremely memorable. The lovable scoundrel Han Solo, his faithful hairy companion Chewbacca, the wise old Obi-Wan, all of them great. Although the acting is little cheesy, especially with Mark Hamill as Luke. Thankfully, he got better as the series went on.
If there are any flaws with the movie, they are not worth mentioning since they are so insignificant compared to the rest of the movie.
Star Wars is a masterpiece of cinema, plain and simple. If you are one of the few people who have not seen it, get it on DVD or whatever and see what it's all about. You will not regret it.