Reviews written by registered user
|64 reviews in total|
Ever since I was a kid I've loved monster movies. Films like Godzilla
versus MechaGodzilla, the 7th Voyage of Sinbad and King Kong versus
Godzilla got as much playtime for me as a kid as did Star Wars or
Batman. B-movies have a certain charm to them, they usually have paper-
thin human characters blended with whatever alien or monster element is
providing the special-effects draw of the film.
Pacific Rim is the perfect blend of old-world B-Movie schlock and new world visual effects. The human characters are caricatures or thinly veiled stereotypes, their backstories are predictable and so are most of their actions in the film. You can guess what's coming a mile off. Just from the trailer you can guess the basics and yet, with as stupid as the plot is, when they get into the giant Mechs (Jagers) and start battling monsters the spectacle of it is jaw-dropping. You really feel the sheer weight and size of these things, both the Kaiju and the Jagers, which is no small feat considering how hard it is to convincingly portray mass and size with CGI. There's something about traditional model making that makes it easy to get a sense of weight and scale but here the visuals manage to show us, and more importantly let us feel, just how toweringly massive these behemoths truly are.
Even with a by-the-numbers plot I still found myself rooting for the Jagers every single time they faced a Kaiju. The adrenaline rush of seeing the two pilots move with the machine, all their will-power, all their memories, merged to fight this threat. Metal getting sheered, torn, battle-damage to the Jagers, monster bodies crashing through buildings.
When I was a kid there was a film called Robot Jox that used stop-motion for the giant mechs. With modern CGI we've come a long way. Rather than try to get gritty or grim or realistic the film stays true to its schlocky silly predecessors.
If this film had come out when I was twelve it would have changed my life forever. It's an awesome sight to behold that leaves you pumped. This is a film that admits what it is up front, if you've seen the trailer than you know what to expect. It is a homage that blends the plots of a thousand other monster movies into a perfect blend of pure visual cinematic awesome.
In short, it ain't perfect, but its the most entertaining film I've seen this summer. If giant monsters battling mechanized soldiers doesn't put you in a theater what are you seeing, a comedy? On the big-screen? For shame. Go see Pacific Rim!
PS. Portal fans, her voice IS in the final cut of the film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not going to be the only one admitting this but I went into this
movie expecting the worst. I've been a Spider-Man fan as long as I can
remember and though Raimi's series certainly had its flaws it was
pretty damn solid, though it certainly ended on the weakest note. Each
trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man made my expectations sink a little
lower, they play it as a conspiracy plot about Oscorp and Peter's
parents and in my opinion they made Peter out to be a punk whose wise-
cracking was just a little too mean-spirited for my taste.
Fortunately the movie is not simply a trailer but a full length film that fills out far more nicely than the trailer lets on. The conspiracy plot is there of course but it is a layer underneath the whole movie rather than the focus of the film. I was glad they kept his parents and their disappearance somewhat ambiguous only hinting at their possible fates rather than forcing the conspiracy into the forefront of the plot.
Andrew Garfield does a decent job as Parker, though at times you can feel his accent coming through. The biggest improvement over Raimi's series is the romance. Dunst and MacGuire always felt like a stale bland cookie-cutter romance, but here there is an earnestness and many of the sequences where Gwen and Peter flirt feel improvisational and unscripted. Peter stumbles over his words and struggles to form a coherent sentence while Gwen's eyes do all the talking. Emma Stone out acts most of the cast, but maybe I'm biased by being wildly attracted to her.
The origin story aspect of the film does feel a bit rushed and the plot overall tends to be one of convenient coincidences as though set up to save the writers time in telling a more in-depth story. For one Gwen happens to be a high school student interning at Oscorp, where Doctor Connors (The Lizard and film's main villain) is her mentor and also the only link Peter has to his parents. Oscorp just so happens to be the place that has manufactured the spider that will fatefully bite Peter. Despite being in high school Peter is such a genius that with only some cursory internet research and a few books to read he manages to crack the secret to a formula that Doctor Connors has been working on for more than a decade. This leaves us with a rather one-dimensional story rather than the web of conspiracy that seems promised in the trailer.
All in all though the plot is serviceable, not Amazing or Spectacular but good enough, C plus . The earnest moments of Gwen and Peter forming their romantic bond all while Peter learns to control his powers and use them for good instead of revenge works well. I feel like some movie fans will be bored though, like Raimi's films there are a lot of character moments, between Uncle Ben Aunt May and Peter, between Gwen and Peter, etc and the action sequences are few and far between.
There is a real feeling that Peter is growing as a person as well, moving from Geek, to Jerk, to beginning to understand what Uncle Ben meant by responsibility and moral obligation. The character arc is somewhat subtle to be sure but it's definitely there.
Now I have to do the obligatory comments on the new suit and the Lizard design. Quick capsule review: The Lizard looks TERRIBLE, the suit I can live with. Thing about Garfield is he is thin and this gives Spider-Man a very agile appearance and feel which Tobey simply didn't have. Special attention is paid to the webslinging and free-running Spider-Man does, rather then in the comics where his web seems to be disappearing into thin sky there is a more realistic approach dedicated to the idea that Spidey HAS TO be swinging off of something. He can't perform that endless floating rope trick we've seen in cartoons and just swing off of the clouds.
The Lizard, as I said, looks terrible. Oh don't get me wrong the CGI is perfectly fine down the last scale, it's simply such a terrible character design that I was glad they didn't focus on his face too much. It's really the face that does in the Lizard, he has this stupid half- grin plastered across what is a far-too-human face. I know in the original comics, at least at first, he didn't look all that fierce or convincing but this is 2012, surely they knew this looked stupid and if not the guys who chose the design than the animators working on it had to know.
Despite the ugly villain design the film still works overall with enough humor, enough romance and enough action to keep you interested. It's not perfect, FAR FROM IT, and I still feel like Raimi's original 2002 film is still a better Spider-Man movie. I was expecting this to be a train- wreck, but like I said it was decent C+ material, you could do a lot worse. As much as I'd love to see Spidey's rights go to Marvel so he can be added to the Avengers I'm also kinda curious to see if they can improve on this in a sequel and hopefully actually deliver something Amazing, instead of just okay.
Immediately after viewing Ridley Scott's triumphant return to science
fiction I found myself a divided house. On the one hand we have
stunning visuals, some fantastic alien creatures, and a story that
delves into deep themes about the creation and destruction of life. On
the other hand however we have one-dimensional characters whose
motivations are often dubious or whose actions are often inconsistent
with aspects of their characters seen moments ago. We have a plot that
wants to pretend it's all about seeking our creators, whoever or
whatever they may be, which much also pay lip-service to Alien by
having obligatory suspense and terror.
The film has been called related to Alien but not a prequel in and of itself, but this is just a clever marketing gimmick to skirt around the fact that the movie attempts to answer all the questions a fan of Alien might have about xenomorphs and what created them AND us, but then it falls short and answers none of them. The movie comes tantalizingly close to connecting the dots in a satisfactory way but then in the final act decides against bringing the story to an agreeable climax and instead opts to simply set up more sequels.
Presumably these sequels will also connect the dots further leading in to Alien. So while I enjoyed the film and absolutely love seeing Ridley play around in the visual sandbox that is the Alien universe again, I also feel very much cheated by the movie. It teases you with pseudo-explanations and leaves you filling in many of the blanks yourself while the dots it does connect with Alien only leave you with further questions. Had this movie only been tangentially related to Alien, but been a stand-alone story, it could have worked, but the movie instead seems to want to be half-prequel and half-original all while setting up for a sequel to the prequel. Honestly after feeling hoodwinked by this film I'm not sure I want to pay to see another two hour plus series of half-answers, when really deep down the xenomorphs themselves are more interesting than pseudo-philosophical musings on how and why they were created.
The movie is by no means bad, it has its flaws to be sure, but if the buzz so far is any indication I have a feeling it will be polarizing and leave many who had different expectations with a bad taste in their mouths. In the end it's hard to give it a rating on a scale of 1-10, parts of it are brilliant, stunning, and deep, other parts of it are shallow, pointless, and at times downright silly. Not bad, perhaps okay, but certainly not great.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been interested in Chronicle since the trailer emerged some time
ago offering a glimpse at what seemed like a "found footage" film with
a good story for once. Typically these sorts of films are like
Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project, horror films done in
handi-cam or surveillance footage as a gimmick to add credibility to a
"based on a true story" marketing campaign and save money on real
Chronicle on the other hand makes no attempt at pretending to be ACTUAL found footage and instead focuses on characters and that is it's strength. The tight focus of the film, following three high school seniors who gain telekinetic powers after finding a strange object in a cave, is what makes it so much fun. All three characters are fairly relatable and have consistent character traits.
The film is seen through the eyes, or more accurately camera, of the protagonist Andrew. Andrew is not only the protagonist but thanks to his character arc he is also the antagonist. They couch this transformation in the idea of a tragic hero falling thanks to his hubris. Andrew's fall into darkness never grows too over-the-top or excessive and reminded me almost of a better told version of Anakin Skywalker (George Lucas could see this film and take notes).
If I could describe this film in one word it would be FUN. It's exhilarating watching the three friends experiment with their powers, your ups are their ups and your downs are their downs.
The film easiest to compare this to is Hancock and where Hancock started good and got increasingly more stupid as it's back story was explored Chronicle starts out ordinary and escalates to a satisfying, if not somewhat abrupt, climax. I could see a sequel with a bigger budget and better CGI easily being released as a summer blockbuster, or even see a spin-off TV series.
Easily the best "found footage" handi-cam film I've ever seen, far from perfect but solid enough to earn a 7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By no means is this film a masterpiece of cinema but at the same time,
as a super-hero fan (read NERD) it was a thrilling, action-packed and
witty work of fiction that kept me interested from beginning to end.
Captain America finally has himself a big-budget Hollywood movie that's not only not bad, it's actually damn good. The origin story plays out exactly as it should. We meet Rogers before the transformation, when he's a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who desperately wants to do his part in WW2. Due to health issues and his pathetic physique and in spite of his strong moral character and courage, Steve Rogers just isn't cut out for combat. Luckily a secret science division of our armed forces (read forerunner of SHIELD) has acquired a German scientist, a defector who offers his super-soldier serum to create a new army. As you may have guessed from the trailer the plan to create an army doesn't work... well it does sort of, in that they create themselves a one man army in the form of Captain America.
The strong points of the movie, other than the action sequences, are actually the characters. The movie does a decent job of making us feel for all of them and despite his hulking post-serum form Cap is a pretty normal guy. He's awkward around women, can't dance and is, really, just a guy from Brooklyn. The movie relies fairly heavily on comic-book style science which involves Nazis with ray-guns and metals like Vibranium (makes up Cap's shield). I should really call the villains Hydra agents, Cap spends most of the movie fighting NOT Nazis but an altogether more sinister enemy, Hydra, lead by the notorious Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
The acting is good as is most of the humor though there were a few gags that didn't quite connect with the audience and others that only seemed to connect with some.
As for the action it was surprisingly sparse but that's far from a flaw, the movie prefers to focus on its characters and moves at just the right pace with just the right amount of action. I felt like cheering every time Cap bashed a baddie with his shield. I would easily put this film on par, or at least close to it, with Iron Man (2008) and Spider-Man (2002). Be sure to stick around for the scene after the credits, which is more a trailer for the Avengers. As much fun as this summer has been for Super-Hero fans next summer is gonna be a hell of a ride.
It's about a 7.5 Out of 10 but I'll round it up to an 8 for managing to live up to my already high expectations.
I sat down to watch this on Netflix assuming it would be just plain
awful based on the title alone. What I actually got is an low-budget
poorly dubbed but ultimately very fun gore-fest of a film. Some of the
action sequences actually aren't half bad and while the CGI and monster
suit both are low-budget and the dubbing is just awful there is some
semi-decent fight choreography. There is also a lot of humor, some
intentional, some not so much.
If you sit down with low expectations you can get a lot out of this film. For one thing there's a beautiful Asian ninja to look at, a goofy rubber alien, gory ridiculous death scenes that seem like something out FEAST or a Sam Raimi flick.
Not sure how highly I'd really be willing to recommend it but you could do a lot worse, and I mean a lot worse (I'm looking at you Thankskilling).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Predators is something I have been waiting for for a long time. The
original has and always will be a favorite of mine. I have to say
though that despite it being an effective and fun movie it wasn't quite
on the level I wanted it to be.
You see Predators is to Predator as Aliens was to Alien so I was expecting to see a far more action-packed turn of events than what we get. Like the original Predator, Predators opens slow, we slowly learn about the characters and what they are up against as they travel across a bleak jungle game preserve set up by an Elite branch of the Predators. Essentially the motley crew of humans are the monsters of our world, each one a killer, and they are pit against the monsters of the Predator race who have subjugated the normal Predators (like the ones from the original movie) The film is slow to start but there are a few jaw dropping moments, some great death scenes and a little bit of gore for good measure. Its solid and it is DEFINITELY a step in the right direction (away from those mediocre AVP movies).
In the end though I was a little disappointed. The film has all the pieces of being great but it never reaches the next level. There are a few nods to the first film, lines recycled and iconic moments revisited but it does so without borrowing too heavily. They also recycled some of Silvestri's original score.
The acting and script could have been a bit better and despite having plenty of time we don't really learn many details of the characters. So it has its flaws but it makes up for them and is pretty much solid.
As bad as the first Twilight was this is a whole new level. The bland
and tedious characters lack chemistry, life, personality which sort of
makes sense because most of them are undead.
The film continues Bella's meaningless coin flip decision between Jacob the skin-walker (I refuse to refer to these as werewolves) and Edward the fairy. Every sentence out each character's mouth, particularly the main characters, is stilted and stale. They can't even articulate their lines let alone deliver them with any depth - not that there is any depth to the script or story here, there isn't.
Even the fights are bland with vampires getting snapped apart like they were porcelain dolls and the only main threat of the movie - an army of New Born vampires - ending up being overcome with GREAT EASE. Also the division of the skin-walkers and "vampires" is suddenly bridged, there's no exploration of the issues between their kind or how to resolve them, just a randomly quick decision to work together despite the fact they hated each other a moment ago.
The film's focus, instead of the parts that might have proved interesting, is in the emotionless and empty romance between two obscenely pale individuals and the muscular third wheel. Any attraction I could have had to Kristen Stewart is erased by her terrible delivery, empty eyed stare and general lack of emotion.
Bland from start to finish and painful to anyone who genuinely likes good films. If you are brave enough to see it I recommend drinking something that will erase the memory and numb the pain afterward.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The new Iron Man sequel has attracted quite a bit of hype. Most of us
were surprised back in 2008 that the first film had turned out not only
bearable but pretty solid. The first film had walked the line between
serious origin story and self-spoofing comic book comedy. The new film
does the same and walks the delicate line between tension and comedic
relief just as well as its predecessor.
Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark one of the first super-heroes to forgo a secret identity. This eliminates what I feel is one of the weakest gimmicks of the superhero genre, the secret identity to "protect your loved ones". Ever notice how Peter Parker doesn't want to tell MJ who he is because she'd be in danger BUT she ends up in danger anyway? Same for Lois Lane or Rachel Dawes in Nolan's batman films. Iron Man doesn't bother with the secret identity and the story is better off for it. Instead the film focuses on the actual character of Tony Stark, including the character flaws he is known for and his relationship with his Father.
The plot is really about the "Sins of the Father" passing on to the son. The Father of the film's villain has been wronged by Stark's Father and this leads to a high-tech revenge story. The acting is okay although I felt the script, at times, gave the actors little to work with. Even in the scenes that were fizzling out into boredom a joke or two would be thrown in to spice things up and reengage the audience. Whoever they had treat the script did a bang up job with quips, innuendos, gags and one-liners a plenty. These corny quips would be out of place in most movies but in a summer comic book blockbuster they are a MUST.
Cheadle takes over from Terrence Howard as Colonel James Rhodes and while I feel he lacks the charisma Howard exuded in the first film he still does a solid job as Tony's new sidekick. The film also goes deeper into Tony's involvement with SHIELD, the legendary organization that will eventually set up the AVENGERS. Scarlett Johansson also does well in her role though honestly her beauty leaped off the IMAX screen so much I could barely concentrate on her dialogue when she was on screen.
All in all the plot clips along nicely, never dwelling on the boring for too long but not letting the fast pace of the film take away from telling a good story. The Special Effects are incredible of course and some of the action scenes had the audience I saw the film with applauding. I feel the film lives up to its predecessor in almost every way and is easily worth an 8 out of 10. A solid superhero movie. I hope to see more of Iron Man on the big screen.
Also, stay after the credits for a mini-sneak peak of one of the next super-heroes to get his own movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The trailer for the film gives away far too much and essentially ruins
what would otherwise be an effective twist.
I've never been too fond of twist endings, save maybe a few of the twists from old Twilight Zone episodes but I felt the twist in this film really made the film entirely pointless.
We spend most of the movie engrossed in a detective story with a few flashback puzzle pieces and are left to wonder how those fit into the twist we all know is coming. The fact we all the twist from the trailer means its basically only a matter of time.
I left the theater feeling hollow and annoyed. What is the point of all this? What are they trying to say about crazy people? In the end Andrew (Teddy for most of the movie) is to be lobotomized, so the message is about how sometimes drugs and respecting patients doesn't work so let's carve them open? Rather than creating an expertly crafted detective story we instead get an obvious twist (even to those who turned the channel every time the trailer was on) that halts the story. I cared about Teddy's demons, wanted him to get off the island but you can't yank the character around into someone else and expect me to still care about him when everything he's been characterized as and experienced has been one big delusion.
It was still an okay film... just apparently not my style of film.
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