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Yet another poor attempt at turning a fighting game into a movie.
After years of rumours and speculation , the live action tekken movie (based on the video game of the same name) is finally here- but is it worth the wait? The answer, sadly, is no. Tekken is dull, corny, surprisingly boring and is set in the same dark dystopian future we've seen in tons of movies before. And you know what? It really shouldn't have been like this. The game series that this movie is based on is colourful, populated with imaginative characters, and filled with wonderfully over the top martial arts action- why couldn't the movie be the same, instead of being the kind of gloomy , unintentionally funny , clichéd, and generic tournament movie that you would have seen on a video shelf in the early nineties?
Probably the most disappointing thing about tekken is the action. The movies fights were handled by world class fight choreographer and stunt man Cyril rafelli and the movie itself is based on a fighting game filled with authentic , kick-ass moves so it's not unreasonable to expect really stylish and thrilling fights from this film, right? But no, the fights are slow, packed with frustratingly quick cuts of action , and the few signature fighting moves from the game are obscured by bad camera angles as well as choppy editing. The films one saving grace could have been some cool action, but it doesn't even get that right.
If your fan of the game, then what's likely to annoy you is the way that the games characters are portrayed in the movie . None of the characters act or feel like they're supposed to- they've all been changed from cool fighting game characters to generic action movie stock characters. While some of the actors ( particularly Lateef crowder, Candice Hillebrand and Darin Henderson) look just like the characters they're playing, pretty much everyone else is miscast and one particularly poor casting choice stands out Kelly overton as Christie monteiro. For those not in the know , Christie monteiro is supposed to be a brown skinned Brazilian , and I don't think it was fair for Caucasian American , Kelly overton to be playing that character. It's bad enough that Christie had to be Jins love interest (since when was Jin a ladies man ? And why are Jin and Christie an item, that was never even hinted at in the games), they had to change her ethnicity too?
Tekken is yet another video game movie that fails to satisfy anyone. Its not faithful enough for tekken fans and not entertaining enough for martial arts movie buffs who've never played the game. Its definitely not the worst video game movie ever made , but when you consider that the video game movie sub genre mostly consists of crap like house of the dead and streetfighter: the legend of chun li, is that really saying much? Hell no. If you want a fun and entertaining tekken experience then stick to the games.
Honestly, Is it really that hard to make a good live action Street fighter movie?
In the street fighter games, a diverse group of characters from across the globe face each other in martial arts battles. So wouldn't it make sense then, for a live action Street Fighter movie to be one of those fighting tournament films? You know, like BloodSport or The Quest or Superfights or Shootfighter or Mortal Kombat or even Dead or Alive ? A fighting tournament movie would have been the most logical way to adapt Street Fighter into film form and I'm sure that fellow fans of the game would agree with me. However, the people behind Street Fighter : The Legend of Chun-Li clearly didn't give a damn about the games fans, which explains why this corny, nonsensical and dull film defecates all over its source material.
Like the 1994 film, '09s Street fighter movie just completely ignores every thing about the game its based on. Sure, the characters share the same names as their video game counterparts but that's where similarities stop - while the game was about characters fighting each other in rounds of supernatural combat, the '09 movie is about a pianist taking her revenge against an Irish land developer, who decided to lose his conscience by pulling his child from his pregnant partners stomach (I wish i joking). While the game was high fantasy, the movie goes for grittiness and just ends up looking camp and anachronistic. While you could clearly see every punch, kick and fire ball thrown in the games fights, the movies fights are a poorly shot, over edited mess. Its frustrating to watch how badly the production team got everything so, so wrong -particularly the films out of touch writer, Justin marks, who just doesn't get Street Fighter at all and Andrzej Bartkowiak, who fails to deliver a satisfying action movie for the fourth time in a row.
So it's been established that it bears virtually no relation to the game, but is it any good, based on its own merits? Nope. While the '94 film was terrible , there was logic in its simple plot. The legend of Chun-Li on the other hand doesn't even have the courtesy to make sense- the story just rushes from A to B, not taking the time to explain all the crap its asking the audience to swallow and the boring narration doesn't help things.Dragging the film further into the gutter is the cast- every one sucks here, the biggest culprit being Chris Klein ("NASH OUT!!!!!!"). Totally abusing his status as the "token white guy", Klein overacts his ass off, delivers his corny lines like a low rent Keanu Reeves and really makes Raul Julias portrayal of M Bison seem like Oscar worthy stuff.
When viewed as a stand alone film, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is really, really bad. When you look at what its inspired by and what it could have been, its worse. Much, much worse. I'm glad it flopped.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Good, but its no Batman and Robin. ......no, I'm lying, its brilliant.
I wasn't a fan of batman begins- i didn't see much point in a 2 hour retread of an origin story we've already seen in comics, cartoons, trading cards, video games, children's books and the backs of action figure boxes. What i did like about it though, is that it put the series in the right direction -and that direction leads to the dark knight.
The dark knight is the most emotionally involving, suspenseful, exciting and captivating batman film to date. Its a well acted thriller with a overwhelming sense of scale and importance and thanks to a well written script, it will leave you guessing as to what shocks and surprises are coming up next.
What i love about the dark knight is how everything escalates. As the film progresses, the challenges get bigger, the "holy crap" moments get more extreme, the plot twists get more surprising- it really is brilliantly crafted stuff, its one of those rare films that just gets better and better and better as it goes on.
As previously mentioned, the film is well acted. Christian Bale once again proves to be the best live action batman,and there's solid supporting performances (including Aaron Eckhart's great, menacing turn as two face) all round but the star of the show is Heath ledgers Joker. And no, this isn't another one of those forced, positive reviews that over zealous fans give out in light of ledgers unfortunate death- I'm serious when i say that heath ledgers joker is fantastic. What he lacks in the sort of manic craziness present in the previous joker performances, he makes up for in this subtle, brooding, creepiness that just commands your attention when ever he's on screen.
So what will the next batman film be like? At the time of writing I'm unsure but if its anything like the 152 minutes of greatness on display in the dark knight, then I'm first in line.
Iron Man (2008)
Now THIS is how you start a movie franchise.
In the last couple of years, comic book based super hero movies have had a mission to accomplish and thats kick starting a franchise.The likes of Fantastic four, batman begins, daredevil and hulk to name a few, were made to be the start of a series. Iron man is no different, but where many of these sorts of films fail, Iron Man succeeds because it not only gets the series started but its a damn good film in its own right.
Exciting, funny and well acted, iron man is an all round great effort that sticks surprisingly close to its source material. The high octane sequences where iron man soars through the air and kicks bad guys asses are awesome to watch but thankfully this is a film where things are just as interesting to watch when no one is blowing anything up and its all thanks to the Jon Favreau careful direction. The plot, in which billionaire tony starks turns from brash playboy to amour clad hero, is engaging and enthralling and favreaus eye for great acting ensures some great naturalistic performances.
There are two stand out performances, the first and most important being Robert Downey Juniour as Tony Stark. Junior makes this role his own, injecting Tony Stark with a sense of cool, arrogance and an Errol Flynn like swagger that makes him really fun to watch and get behind as a leading man. The second (which surprisingly doesn't get as much praise as Downeys stark) is Jeff Bridges as bad guy Obadiah Stane. Although he could have played the role as a scenery chewing , typical villain, Bridges injects the role with a sense of realism and imposing menace, making for a convincing antagonist.
Iron Man is what a marvel comic book movie should be- a mix of great story ,exciting action, and a faithful representation of a classic character.
Indiana Jones is back!
Its been 19 long years since the last Indiana Jones movie and the 3 main creative forces behind the films have changed quite a bit over that time gap. George Lucas has gone all experimental with digital technology, Steven Spielberg has nothing left to prove as a filmmaker and Harrison ford isn't as young as he used to be. So the question must be asked- was it worth bringing out another Indiana Jones movie in this day and age ? "Heck yes" is the answer to that one.
Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull is the kind of action packed, hilarious and thrilling fun we've come to expect from everyones favourite archaeologist. Though its set in a different era (the 50s!!!!) complete with a different menace (russian Communists!!!) and a different magufin (skull!!! a crystal one!!!!), the order of the day is the same as the other movies- Indiana and co travelling the globe and zooming from one exciting action sequence to the next. An attack from killer ants, a jeep based fight through the jungle and a motorcycle chase are just some of the speilbergesque thrills and spills on display here, all of which are applause worthy spectacles .
Its not perfect- crystal skull is a lot campier and more over the top than the previous films and there are many moments that will raise the eyebrow of more critical viewers (including some very CGI heavy scenes ), but on the whole, its hard to really lay into a film like this for implausability. I mean come on man, its Indiana Jones! What were you honestly expecting? Realism? If so you've come to the wrong place- crystal skull (much like the pulpy adventure serials its based on) is all about escapism and on this level, it delivers.
While its not as good as the other films, Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull is still humorous, whip cracking,thrilling fun that serves as a reminder as to why we love Indiana Jones so much.
A bland adaptation of the 'Death Of Superman' saga.
Superman:Doomsday is a mediocre adaptation of the controversial (and in my opinion, pretty dumb) "death of superman" saga from the 90's superman comics.
The animated movie treats the subject mater with seriousness and morbidity but for an event as big as the death of superman, the whole thing is no way as epic and dramatic as it should be. The lack of logical appearances from other heroes such as batman, wonder woman and other justice league characters seriously downplays the global importance of superman's demise- all we get to mark this iconic figures death are a few shots of people crying and key characters not smiling that much . Also, the aftermath of Supes death (the return of superman, the superman v superman fight) just lacks depth and conviction, no matter how many things blow up. Visually the film is passable, but the character design for superman just lacks the visual power that the justice league version had (especially with the inexplicable squiggly lines on his face).
On the plus side the voice acting is solid and the cameo from Kevin smith is hilarious.The best part of the film though, is watching it earn that PG-13 rating. While I'm not the type to watch movies purely for violence and mature content, there's something fascinating and genuinely shocking about watching a superman cartoon where people get killed in brutal and visceral ways . Probably the most jaw dropping of these sort of moments is the homo erotic scene where a shirtless Lex Luthor punches the living daylights out of superman, gets on top of him and suggestively purrs "who's your daddy?".
Superman:Doomsday is watchable and can be commended for trying to bring a more adult tone to a superman movie, but because of a very bland and straight forward script, its no where near the epic classic that it had the potential to be. Still, its better than the truly awful superman returns and that counts for something.....
A great idea, shame about the execution.
What would happen if you could teleport ANYWHERE in the world in the blink of an eye? Thats the question explored in Jumper, a film thats as fast and action packed as it is hollow and underdeveloped.
The films theme of individuals who can vanish and reappear anywhere they choose is a great idea but its execution is a little weak in Jumper. Why? The blame rest squarely on the films instance on being the start of a series. Instead of taking time to develop anything in the movie, Jumper just whizzes by at an incredible speed, setting up characters, ideas and plot points without expanding or resolving or developing them. The whole thing is made to kick start a franchise of films where the story would be explained in more detail, but come on man, when you pay to see a film, you expect to see a clearly defined beginning, a middle and a satisfying end- something that Jumper isn't too concerned with.
Another problem that ties in with the films lack of depth, are the actors. While Hayden Christensen is as bland as usual, the cast (including the usually electrifying Sam Jackson) just sleep walk their way through the superficial script. Only Jamie Bell gives it some effort- his cynical Irish jumper would have made a much better lead character than Anakin.
However, while the film is pretty shallow there are some glimmers of goodness. The action sequences are fun, fast and frequent, the visual effects are cool and there's never a dull moment due to the films super fast pace.
It might sound like Im being too harsh on the film but its hard not to be when the movies concept is so great and the end product is as underdeveloped as this. If the film had a more detailed, more fleshed out, more self contained story, Jumper would have been a classic.
I Am Legend (2007)
An engrossing and scary post apocalyptic thriller.
To be honest, i wasn't looking forward to I Am Legend. It seemed as if a film that portrays Will Smith as the last man on earth could only be one of two things: 1. A post apocalyptic ego-fest, like Kevin Costners The Postman, or 2. A cross between Mad Max and the fresh prince.Thankfully, it turns out that the film is neither of these things- what it is in fact is an engrossing, tense and satisfying thriller.
As the lone human survivor of a plague that has reduced new york to deserted ghost town, Will Smith does an excellent job of holding the film together with a world weary, vulnerable performance that really makes you feel for his character. Large moments of the film is just him and his dog going through their daily routines and it makes for gripping viewing.
As for Smiths mutant costars, they are creepy freaks that do their job in the scare department but visually, they're kind of bland. Design wise, we've seen creatures like them before, particularly in Blade 2, and in many shots they look too much like CGI. The same goes for many of the animals that show up in the film (apart from smiths beloved doggy)- they are very obviously fake and its distracting in moments that are meant to be scary.
Some ropey CGI isn't enough to bring down the rest of the film though- I Am legend is a darn good post-apocalyptic thriller carried on the very capable shoulders of its star.
Watchable, but not as scary or immersive as it could be.
On paper, cloverfield is a great idea: A giant monster invasion movie shown entirely from the perspective of hand held camera has potential for all sorts of coolness. However, while cloverfeild has some good things going for it, it doesn't quite live up to that potential.
The problem with cloverfield is that it feels a little too Hollywood- its supposed to show the action in a documentary style, but thanks to some teen soap style drama and unnecessary character development, that sense of realism and immersion that horror mockumentaries need to evoke to draw you in, isn't always there. Thats not to say that the film is bad- the film is definitely scary in places. There is a serious sense of dread and panic in scenes when the crowds are fleeing from the monster and news footage of monster attacks are chilling and shocking to watch.
Cloverfeilds biggest problem is the very thing thats most integral to the movie: the camera. I understand that the bad, sickness inducing, extremely shaky camera work is supposed to add to the realism but it makes the film difficult and at times, frustrating to watch. Even the micro budget Blair witch project had better and more realistic camera work and that film didn't have a CG monster to show off.
Cloverfield is a unique take on the 'monster attacks new york' theme that the American remake of godzilla tried to do 10 years ago and its good for a few scares, but its not as as effective as it should be.
Ratatouille is an absolute treat of a movie. Its a well written , consistently entertaining and visually stunning film that effortlessly ranks as one of the best of 2007.
The films story, in which a sewer rat dreams of becoming a chef, sounds pretty dubious on paper but thanks to a sharp witted script, excellent voice acting (particularly from o'toole) and that indescribable sprinkle of pixar magic , ratatouille transcends its odd synopsis and emerges as a wondrous film that you will want to watch over and over again.
As to be expected, the film looks gorgeous. From the ultra realistic food and wet rat hair to the beautiful shots of Paris, every frame of the film is a stunning sight to behold. The film is also very funny- the humour consists of well timed , witty ,character driven and sight gags that will have you laughing out loud.
Ratatouille is a classic. Do yourself a favour and go see it.