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You only live twice...
A computer drive containing the information of MI6 Agents planted in terrorist organisations has been stolen and Bond is tasked with recovering it. While on the mission, Bond is severely wounded and presumed dead, until months later when he returns after learning that MI6 itself has become the target of a bomb attack. Bond forces himself to return to active duty only to discover that not only are his skills as an agent have been impaired, but that M's life is in danger.
It is both understandable though strangely perturbing that Skyfall is a standalone entry into the new era of Bond films. While continuity in the 007 history is all over the place, there is the situation that certain plot points, primarily that of the criminal organisation known as Quantum, should have surely been expanded upon. As it stands, there is little in reference to Bond's lover Vesper or Quantum, two important aspects in the shaping of James Bond (Daniel Craig) as a character, and it comes as a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, we are presented with a new villain, Silva (Javier Bardem), who has a a pretty hefty grudge against M (Judi Dench). Silva is definitely the most interesting Bond villain of recent years and is a highlight of the story, but his introduction comes a little later than expected but this is a minor issue. Skyfall's plot is an interesting one: what starts off as a hunt against a formidable villain turns into a retrospective of Bond. However, this latter point never feels fully developed, and can appear at times to be tacked on to further the length of the narrative.The integral point of interest in humanising Bond is his feeling of betrayal by M for her lack of confidence in him. And then it is over. Just like that. The development of Bond feeling jaded against is quelled as quickly as it arises. The strong emphasis on humanising Bond will either be interesting to you or distracting after how subtly this thematic element is convincingly explored in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Nonetheless, it is the film's identity which is most at crisis. Skyfall constantly switches between passé and new-age 007 that it fails to find or even stick to an identity for the sake of consistency. Bond is more believable in the modern adaptation but the film expects the audience to accept its questionable narrative logic for the sake of plot advancement. In past Bond films this would not be a problem but following Casino Royale, where plot advancement made some semblance of sense, in Skyfall this comes across as overreaching.
Though there is no denying that the recent 007 films have all employed rather commendable performances from the entire cast, especially that of Daniel Craig who has provided a sense of concrete believability to the somewhat caricature nature of Bond. While Bond in Skyfall is much worse for wear than he has been, there is no denying that Craig does, at times, come off as far too stiff. This is a most noticeable when he has some quick words to spare upon someone, otherwise the forlorn act he presents can make you feel for him, though whether you choose to buy that is another matter. Judi Dench continues her stellar performance as M and its great to see how her role has matured from the Brosnan era to the Craig era, and with her added screen-time for Skyfall she definitely does not miss a beat. Rounding off the trio of important actors is Javier Bardem as Silva. Silva is a different type of villain compared to that seen in the previous two outings. He is one part happy-go-lucky, one part vindictive and all sociopath, but still you never quite feel as if you should be rooting against him. Bardem portrays a charm that really pushes his character to the forefront of almost every scene he is in, outpacing both Dench and Craig with little effort. It is a pity that his character does not appear more often in the plot. The rest of the cast are all noteworthy in their performances. Naomi Harris as the operative Eve, Ben Whishaw as the new Q and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Head of Intelligence and Security all do a great job.
A welcomed change from Casino Royale, as echoed with Quantum of Solace, is the move towards a more diverse array of action sequences, such as vehicle chases. What makes the action that more effective are the locales themselves. There is a distinctiveness to the likes of Istanbul Shanghai, Macau, Gunkanjima Island, among others, that provide each action sequence is distinct personality. This is only made better by the fact that there are some great locale shots outside of Bond doing what he does best.
As expected of a 007 film sexuality has its place but within moderation. Language usage is emphasised on the odd occasion while violence, in which there is quite a bit is never explicit.
Skyfall is a fun film to watch. There is nothing that can deny this. Good acting, an interesting plot, an interesting villain; good action sequences and some lovely cinematography have the making for a top notch film. However, as interesting as Skyfall is to follow, its narrative caves within itself at points. The strange turn to humanise Bond about two-thirds through seems at play against what came before, and this itself is heavily played to the point that Bond himself begins to lose much of the intrigue that makes him who he is. Additionally, some plot advancements, like Silva's plan, do not get the attention the audience deserves in terms of understanding how it ultimately works. And lastly there is the dual identities the film attempts to balance, but that never feels like it really comes off. Bond is still doing what he does to be the world's super spy icon, but sometimes, maybe the world is not enough.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
Sailing on ice...
A lot has happened since the release of the original Ice Age when Manny, Diego and Sid first met. This time around, their existence is threatened when their continent begins to break apart, forcing everyone to have to flee from their established homes. However, things go a little wrong resulting in Manny, Diego and Sid being caught up in a battle against a pirate ape, Captain Gutt.
For those who have not been keeping up with all the release of the Ice Age series, going to view the latest installment should not prove to be any hindrance into the overall world that has been created. Sure, the relationship between the protagonists may not be fully understandable but each's unique personality is unveiled very early. This ensures that you do not have to think too much and you can let yourself go for the adventures which ensues. This is not to say that Continental Drift is devoid of any tangible story, it is just not a unique or promising one. In short, the main characters are trying to get back to their families (well Manny at least) and this brings up the tried and tested theme of family bonding. There is a good lesson here to be taught to kids, though parents are most likely going to ignore the fluff. Thankfully, the film does have its fair share of good laughs. Most is aimed at kids which can provide the odd smile but then at times the writers do their best and it shows. Continental Drift is not a minute-by-minute comedy affair, but every aspect of the story and writing do adequately fall into place.
The voice acting is a lot of fun, mainly due to the performances by Ray Romano, Denis Leary, and John Leguizamo. The rest of the actors are by no means bad, for they all feel and sound comfortable in the roles assigned to them. This brings about a voice talent that fits well within the mould of the story itself allowing dialogue and comedy to be presented in a clear manner without ever sounding incompetent.
Technically, the film is pretty good. The animation is crisp and clear though lacking any noticeable advances in the medium. The 3D is not too bad itself: it is never distracting nor does it particularly standout or enhance the experience. But what was pretty fun was the full 4D effect. Moving chairs, water vapour being sprayed on you and air passing by your skin. While 4D is not something new to anyone who has experienced it, it did feel like it enhanced the film-watching experience. I cannot imagine it being suitable to all types of films, but in the case of a 3D animation like Ice Age, the film begins to feel more fun for it.
As an animation aimed at children, the worse the film receives is some name calling and some relatively non-violent action scenarios.
Ice Age: Continental Drift can be seen as a somewhat tired film. It's story is not particularly strong nor is the comedy always engaging. But it wades through these rough seas to make an impact that is adequate enough to keep your interest through to the film's conclusion. Add in some nice looking animation and the bonus 4D (if you are lucky) and the end result is something that can be enjoyable if you allow it to be.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Standing tall in the shadows...
It has been 7 years since the Joker caused havoc upon Gotham and Batman made the decision to become a fugitive for the greater good of the city. Since then, Gotham has undergone a massive overhaul in terms of battling crime, with the city experiencing a peace it had never before, and without the need for Batman, who has disappeared. Yet, all of this comes under threat when a man by the name Bane attempts to restructure Gotham into his own making.
Christopher Nolan has crafted something unique with his Batman trilogy. Instead of following in the footsteps of all those before him, Nolan attempted to take Batman out of the comics and into the real world, so to speak, in a way that made some sort of logical sense. It is a different kind of superhero movie and The Dark Knight Rises continues this trend. The time jump between the previous film and this one can be a little jarring at first. There is no real sign that things have changed in Gotham with the only information provided by various subtle conversations about the situation as it is. In some ways this can be problematic as it is difficult to truly gauge the context Nolan is attempting to create. But, it is this sort of understatement that encompasses the entire film. Things are not as they appear, and Nolan is not attempting to deceive the viewer of this: the fact that characters talk about Gotham but hint at problems ultimately serves as the perfect backdrop in which to force Bruce to take up the mantle of Batman once again. The rest of the story continues at a controlled pace but at times it can feel rushed. The motivations for some characters have to be understood and accepted almost on the spot and it can feel like such reasoning's are never given time to truly develop. Nevertheless, the story brings about what makes superhero movies so important: overcoming obstacles, and for Batman's 3rd attempt at character growth, it is a wonder to see the character become more then even he himself expected. As usual, some other characters are given some spotlight (and perhaps more so then the previous entries) such as the young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). The story can feel rushed towards the end. The final 30 to 45 minutes cover a really long time period within the story and the sequence of scenes Lastly, even though the film is a direct sequel to The Dark Knight it is important to note that thematic elements from the first still exist in order to build character development.
Supporting the well crafted, albeit slightly rushed, narrative is a top line of acting performances. The usual suspects (Caine, Freeman, Oldman) get the nods they so deserve for their respective characters but the new cast are thankfully just as good. Anne Hathaway as the mysterious Selina Kyle portrays the character with zealous and appears to have a good grasp on facial cues to truly sink in the reality of her character and the world around her. Next is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who, in comparison, brings a more reserved performance to the inquisitive cop Blake. But a nod must be given to Tom Hardy as the formidable Bane. Bane feels powerful whenever on the screen and his voice is enough parts dominant and sophisticated to emphasis Bane as more then just some brute (as evident in pre-Nolan Batman). There is a good cast here, and they make their characters work. Finally, credit must be given to Bale who embraces the role of Bruce and Wayne and Batman head on. There is a subtle vigour to his performance which really strikes home his characters' anguishes and attempts to overcome the obstacles in their lives.
The most evident of the camera work this time around is that Gotham is not as much of a centre piece as it was before. In previous films, it was possible to see Gotham as a character in its own, especially since villains emphasised a need to test the limits which the city itself possessed. In The Dark Knight Rises, the test that occurs is not as apparent at first but the theme of a united Gotham continues. The film is also very much about the human characters and the camera supports this. That said, there are some great scenes throughout the film but the truly unforgettable scenes are more sparse than previous scenes in the trilogy. On a stronger note, the musical score is expectantly mesmerising.
As expected of the series, the film has a slightly darker feel than other superhero films but never to the point of pushing the envelope in terms of appropriate content. Violence is a standard affair though the kill count is higher then before. Language is almost non-existent and the same can be said about sexual elements.
Nolan's trilogy has finally come to its end after 7 long years, and there is no doubt that the wait for the finale was worth it. Like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before, The Dark Knight Rises is virtually a top tier contender in every way. There is little to fault in a film that combines the fun of a superhero flick with the thoughtfulness of a human drama. If you believed in Christopher Nolan before, prepare to have your faith rewarded.
Something Borrowed (2011)
Case gone cold...
By her 30th birthday, Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), a dedicated attorney, bemoans the fact that love is not in her court. Her best friend Darcy (Jennifer Hudson), however, is closed to being married to Dex (Colin Egglesfield) whom Rachel met in law school. After a few drinks together Rachel confesses to Dex that she always had a crush on him which leads to both sleeping together. With Darcy's wedding not long away, Rachel finds herself in dubious territory.
Something Borrowed had the potential to be a multifaceted affair. On one hand it is your average romantic comedy and on the other it offers a portrayal of ethical issues surrounding love. It is a pity the latter is downplayed to a rather basic understanding of the issues. The narrative does its best to help the viewer identify with Rachel and it is not difficult to do so for the first third. She is the good girl who is studious and in love with a guy who she feels is too handsome for her, but loses him to her best friend who always has to be better than her. This sort of identification begins to fall away with Rachel's self pity, which is thankfully attacked by her long time friend Ethan (John Krasinski), and her rather willingness to engage in an affair. While the ending is not something new for the genre, it is quite surprising how the film appears to glorify the act of cheating to the point of it being acceptable. There are no dire consequences to actions and so the narrative becomes unfortunately one dimensional. That said, there is no denying the fun factor associated with the romantic comedy nature of the film so it is not all bad.
Thankfully, the actors do a decent enough job of keeping the story afloat. Goodwin and Egglesfield are perhaps not quite up to par with Hudson and Krasinski. This is easily due to Hudson having the most exciting role and Krasinski stealing scenes with his humour and charisma. This merely leaves the more romance orientated and weak dramas scenes for Goodwin and Egglesfield to wade through.
Considering the thematic elements expressed in the story, sexual content is fairly tame and without nudity. Violence is only really shown through a horror film being watched by some characters and language is on the tame side.
There is potential to push past the romantic comedy genre, but the story of Something Borrowed is light hearted to its detriment as the possible avenue to build a thought provoking tale is never really attempted. Additionally, not all of the actors are given the strongest material to work with and this becomes evident when the best scenes require particular characters. On a simple level Something Borrowed does work, but with such pressing issues alluded to early on in the story it is saddening that nothing comes of them: something blue indeed.
On slowing tides...
On the way to hopefully finding the fountain of youth, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) finds himself in a dire predicament when he is captured by his ex-lover Angelica (Penélope Cruz )and the nefarious Blackbeard (Ian McShane). They require Jack's help in finding the fountain in order to save Blackbeard while trying to avoid the clutches of Barbossa (Gerofery Rush).
As a sequel to the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, On Stranger Tides attempts to refresh the series by concentrating on an uncomplicated narrative. Instead, the film takes a page out of the original film in the series but not quite as successfully. There are a few plots being weaved together but they all come up short in execution which ultimately threatens the potential of various associated characters. The core reason is due to the lack of detailed exposition. The most problematic of these is the love story between Philip (Sam Claflin) and the mermaid Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) which is evidently undeveloped and unimportant to the overall narrative. Their growing love lacks tangibility and it becomes frustrating when their conclusion becomes a guessing game for the audience. There are various plots developed but they are underwhelming and this hurts the film as the action sequences alone cannot stop the odd scene from dragging along. For the most part the film is a fun watch but just not a particularly great one.
The acting is passable enough as Depp and Rush convey their characters in a similar fashion to older films. Cruz and McShane add positively to the cast with the former bringing some zest to the film while the latter does bring the expected arrogance to Blackbeard. Claflin and Berges-Frisbey are not able to be quite as convincing. However, this is mostly due to their limited capacity in the film, which comes from the limited nature of their respective plot on the overall narrative of the film. On Stranger Tides also sports a far less noticeable and capable supporting cast when compared to the original trilogy which is disappointing, so the chance to offset the major situations in the film to the lesser cast is next to impossible.
There is an extensive use of CG throughout the film and predominately with good results. What is a strange decision is to have a large portion of the film shrouded in darkness. A lot of the film deals with enlightenment, either by faith or common humanity, but the filmmakers attempt to ensure you do not feel the same way as the lack of visibility can, at times, hinder the viewing experience.
The film contains no sex though the mermaids are clearly naked even though nothing explicit is shown. Language is mild at best as it is more in the name-calling variant. Violence comes in a variety of forms but deaths are mostly tame.
On Stranger Tides appears as a semi-reboot of the series, being more in liking with the original film and therefore losing the unnecessary scale At Worlds End attempted to provide. But the simplification has gone perhaps a little too far with a thin narrative and a thin cast of characters that ultimately fail to ignite. At its best, On Stranger Tides has everything that made the franchise good, but these moments are never frequent enough or long lasting making the film like spotting a mermaid: if you blink it will most likely be gone; and that just may well be a good thing.
Water for Elephants (2011)
Departing along gently...
Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) has a bright future ahead of him: with the Great Depression ravaging through America he has the chance at a good job as a veterinarian and a stable life. This all changes when he discovers that his parents have been in a car accident and that he is illegible to own their house. He tries to renew his life's purpose and by chance comes across the circus troupe of the Bezeni Brothers where he meets the cruel owner August (Christoph Waltz) and dazzling Marlene (Reese Witherspoon).
Titanic on a train: you would be forgiven if this was your estimation of the film based on previews and for the most part you would be right. Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, Water for Elephants tells the story of a man who has to redirect his life after it is derailed from some unfortunate events. The story is told in a linear fashion and it is a pity that not more is made of the idea of reality vs. illusion which is a noticeable subject in the odd dialogue interchange. While this concept has more in liking with who a character really is and what information they know but do not let on, the concept is nevertheless never fully developed and ultimately explained by the characters themselves. Nevertheless, other themes present themselves in more subtle and interesting ways such as the images of railroads and water allowing the experience to not be all dictated. In the end, the film feels like a reworking of James Cameron's Titanic with a new setting and a new cast, but it most likely will not have the same cultural impact.
Romance becomes pivotal to the development of characters and the respective actors prove capable. Robert Pattinson will obviously be the centre of talk for the film and he does well for himself here. If you did not feel that Remember Me was a step in the right direction from a Twilight-esque future, then this film will surely give you the impression that Pattinson at least has the potential to mature his acting in a commendable manner. Witherspoon does an adequate job in her portrayal of Marlene and wriggles in workable chemistry between herself and Pattinson, but ultimately she does little to truly shine beyond her male counterparts. But experience is what steals the show with Waltz exemplifying a character who can pull you in with his charisma and idealistic hopes but who can also repulse you with his cruelty. Waltz is indeed the strongest link in the acting department but do not let his performance undermine the rest of the cast, especially the supporting roles who help create a holistically believable set of characters.
All of this is strengthened by some decent costume design and film direction which brings every scene to life gracefully. There is some questionable CGI use for animals towards the end and the environment does not get quite the showing it could but the film feels balanced and admirable in portrayal of one man's journey of self-discovery.
Sex and nudity are, at most, hinted at and language is mild at best. There is some violence mostly in the regard of fist fighting but also the rare off-screen violence towards an animal.
As mentioned earlier, Titanic on a train could very well be an apt explanation of the film. There is thankfully enough substance to allow the story to craft its own image but only just. This coupled with some slight CGI mishap and a narrative that does not always allow one to ponder on certain ideas, are not enough to truly hurt the overall quality. The story is lovely; the acting is strong; and the filming is delicate in what it offers. It may not be the Titanic of the time, but it is hardly a bumpy ride either.
Red Riding Hood (2011)
The small village of Daggerhorn is an isolated one and for good reason: for 20 years it has been subject to attack from a werewolf during every full moon period. The village has a pact with the werewolf as they offer it live animals in hope that none of their people are harmed. This appears to change one day when the sister of Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is killed by the beast. Coupled with issues of love and her future, Valerie is caught between two potential suitors and a frenzy hunt for the wolf.
Adapting the tale of Little Red Riding Hood was always going to be an interesting undertaking, but the result is a mixed bag. The narrative obviously expands past the scope of the original tale in order to create a cohesive context in which the story can unfold. The main problem with the story is the apparent lack of depth. Many possible themes arise including issues of sexuality, feminism and identity, but these go largely unexplored and mean little by the time the credits roll. The action that is presented is merely to mask a romance story which is pretty predictable by nature: the question is not who Valerie will end up with but rather when it will happen. It does not help that characters fall into the stock variety, such as Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) who ends up being quite cruel with his methods of helping the village. Characters also go underdeveloped: besides the small arc involving infidelity between two families, characters just seem to exist for the sake of it. Take into account that decisions that appear so obvious for characters are ignored just to build tension, then it is no wonder that the films length begins to feel artificially made. Add in come clichés and a mystery which resolves itself out of nowhere, and you have a narrative that is both lacking in cohesion and quality.
The range of actors is by no means impressive but it is definitely both intriguing and manageable. The younger cast are sadly quite wooden most of the time and considering they are the ones around which the love triangle revolves, the chemistry is just lacking. The love between Valerie, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) and Henry (Max Irons) never rises above its Twilight roots. Seyfried can be given some credit since she does convey a larger set of emotions than everyone else in the cast. Sadly, the older cast do not exactly fair much better, but it is unfortunate that it is up to Oldman to lend acting experience to the film, and he definitely has presence in his scenes.
If there is a saving grace it is the overall atmosphere of the film. The opening scenery is testament to a film that is trying to create an overarching environment in which to position the village in isolation, but also to present the mystical feeling of a fairy tale. While not the most striking scenery, the woods look straight out of Twilight for example, the effects give a fantasy element that very much cements the film in its fairy tale origins. The CGI for the Werewolf is lacking but it is a minor issue in a film in which director Catherine Hardwiche is able to mesh both darkness with the odd scenes of gorgeous scenery fairly well.
Language features minimally throughout the film and nudity is nonexistent. Sex never really features though sensuality is present at times. Violence is quite apparent and besides a quick shot of the removal of a body part, violence is neither gory nor that bloody.
The angst of teenage love in dark fantasy is definitely a hot topic for cinema, but Red Riding Hood does not expand the idea in any meaningful way. The scenery is great, Gary Oldman is great, and Seyfried is adequate, but that is about all the film does right. Acting is generally weak and the story offers mild entertainment worth. With a superior script, Red Riding Hood could have offered a delightful retelling of its original material because the potential is there, but as it stands the film will not have many filmmakers green with envy.
Old is new...
Stuck in a secret tower for almost 18 years of her life, Rapunzel has been lead to believe that her special hair is a treasure which should be guarded from the world. She has never left the tower ever since being locked away, but this changes when Flynn, a thief, enters her life.
The classic tale of Rapunzel has many variations and Disney has decided to add their take to the tale by imbuing Rapunzel's hair with the ability to grant health and youth. It is through this very change that allows Disney to retread a narrative formula they used so effectively during their golden age of animation: the young princess at odds against an older, yet wicked, woman. This is introduced early in the story and constant interaction between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel ensures the audience never forgets the tyranny that has taken place. Tangled is, without a doubt, a story of self-discovery, and both Rapunzel and Flynn are evident of this growth. Naturally, this is more obvious through Rapunzel, and it comes as a breath of fresh air that Disney has allowed one of their princesses to act her age. Gone are the mature thinking and acting lead women of older stories as Rapunzel is childish, but ultimately charming. The self-discovery story arc does feel undeveloped as the credits roll, but thankfully the narrative is filled with symbolic gestures, such as the visual connection between lanterns and Rapunzel's hair, and life lessons for both children and adults alike. This is all bolstered by some strong humour that is never overused resulting in the narrative being a highlight of the film.
The voice actors do not disappoint as each is convincing as their respective character. Moore is delightful in displaying Rapunzel as a teenage girl who learns to be independent; Levi brings charisma to Flynn; while Donna Murphy ensures that Gothel is villainous but one who can manipulate that very label.
For the most part, the computer imagery achieves the desired goal of 3D variation of Disney 2D animation. Colour is rich, characters and animals are enjoyable to watch, and the complete sense of wonder is indeed present. If watched in the 3D perspective, the animation does slightly come to life but it never overly used and feels minimally underdeveloped. If there is a slight flaw to be found in the animation it would the occurrence of what appears to be unfinished textures. Many boulders, for instance, look rough at times, but this is thankfully uncommon.
This is a Disney animation through and through so the lack of sex, nudity and language is expected. Violence is tame and at times even comical, ensuring the usual Disney animation that kids can enjoy.
Tangled is a true gem for Disney and animation in general. While it lacks the overall appeal that has made Pixar animations such a treat, it is nevertheless a step forward for Disney as they retread the type of animation that made them so famous. There a few graphical niggles and the story never quite reaches the promising depth suggested by the material, but these are minor problems in what is largely an entertaining and pleasing animated venture.
TRON: Legacy (2010)
More than just binary....
20 years after the disappearance of his father, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) receives a message from his father's rundown arcade. Upon investigating, Sam stumbles upon a secret room in which he is transported to the virtual domain of The Grid.
It has been many years since the original Tron was released and the sequel plays on this by having a narrative that addresses the very absence of a followup to Tron ,very much like the protagonist Sam has to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his father. In this sense, the audience is very much like Sam as Tron Legacy is clearly designed to appeal to a new generation of moviegoers. This does come with its own set of problem, namely that the story fails to utilize the computer programing jargon which made the original so interesting. Programming is touched upon at times, but it almost feels as if the writer's felt it may complicate the story unnecessarily. While this may be possible, it does not stop the fact that specified jargon would have created a far more convincing context for the plot, as well as create some needed depth to the themes which are presented. It is a pity because Tron Legacy has the potential for deeper discussion but it rarely presents the opportunity for such an endeavour.
Thankfully, the linear narrative is helped by an enthusiastic cast. Oscar potential is not on the agenda, but the actors are definitely watchable. The respective characters portrayed by Hedlund, Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde, who which the story revolves, are is likable in their ambition. Sam is a rebel who is wayward by his father's absence while Flynn yearns for nothing more but to see his son again. It is a compelling side story which brings about emotional response from both character, but unfortunately never ever convincing enough. Bridges also sports the chance to play Clu, the digital representation of Flynn. This is intriguing as ti allows Bridge's to also play a smug villain who is very different to that of Flynn. It is, however, disappointing to find Tron himself pretty much absent from the film considering how important he was in aiding against the MCP of the original film. Bruce Boxleitner gets some screen-time but it would have been nice for him to get some more.
Either way, the visual and audio of the film are an absolute treat. There are some stunning uses of CGI and special effects that create an impressive visual design, such as the modeling of a younger Bridges and the stark contrast between dark and light create an almost monochromatic feel. It should also be said that the use of 3D is amazingly effective, especially when helping differentiating the real world to that of The Grid. The musical score was composed by Daft Punk: their upbeat characteristic really aids the film's overall tempo allowing action sequences to feel more intense and any slow moments to be almost forgotten.
There are some sexualised women represented with tight bodysuits and profanity is hardly even mild. The film is action orientated but death sequences result in character deconstructing considering they are computer coding rather then physical beings.
Tron Legacy ends 2010 on a high note. While it lacks the ambitious nature of the original story and with acting that is not always entirely effective, Tron Legacy is nevertheless an absolute feast for the eyes and ears. The film's minor shortcomings are just that as Tron Legacy overclocks itself in presenting an entertaining experience.
The King of Fighters (2010)
Ready? Not quite...
The King of Fighters tournament is one in which participating members are transported to an alternate dimension to engage in a fight. This is made possible due to three ancient artifacts that allow this dimension to exist. The members come under threat when Rugal (Ray Park), a previous member of the tournament, steals the artifacts and begins to manipulate the other dimension to his own liking so as to kill anyone who enters it. It is left to Mai (Maggie Q) and Iori (Will Yun Lee) must enlist the help of Kyo (Sean Farris) to defeat Rugal before too many lives are lost.
The film adaptation of The King of Fighters loosely follows that of the original King of Fighters '94, with some elements from '95, in which Rugal starts the tournament so as to get some excitement into his life. The most notable difference in the adaptation is that the tournament is already established and also that the fighters need to be in an alternate dimension in order to fight in a way which resemble the original game. The science fiction-esquire twist on the narrative makes for an intriguing story but the films never really explores the concept. The story is fashioned in a linear manner, with the odd reference to past sequences to help explain certain information. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly thin: it presents opportunities for further development but these avenues are never fully explored.
The acting quality is not exactly great but this is somewhat understandable considering the cast. That said, no actor ever falls prey to evidently poor acting and with more depth to the script a better acting prowess could have been shown. Actors generally take their roles seriously: Park seems to enjoy the eccentric nature of being a villain while the likes of Maggie Q, Lee and Faris portray the motives of their respective characters adequately enough.
The overall filming quality suggests that the film-makers had a low budget to work with. The King of Fighters appears to be filmed more like a television show then an actual movie but that does not stop some fairly enjoyable action sequences, yet these only become common in the latter half. CG becomes present mainly towards the end and looks low-key but nonetheless workable.
Beyond the makings of a possible girl-on-girl scene, there is no nudity or sexual content present. Language is tame and infrequent while violence is frequent throughout the film without ever being gory or bloody.
There is no doubt that The King of Fighters is a missed opportunity. With some obvious reworking to the script and story, and a better budget, the film could easily have been a more commendable entry for video game-to-cinema adaptations. What really needed to happen was the fleshing out of the characters and the overall narrative to create a more cohesive product. That said the story, actors, and some decent action scenes, are adequate enough to carry The King of Fighters to its conclusion and miss a definitive K.O.