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Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016)
Inspired and fun. The best super robot reboot I've seen.
I get bored by the bulk of anime and action based cartoons within about five minutes. I might not have tried this if it didn't have Dreamworks behind it, as we've seen something like three or four Voltron reboots on a variety of scales and none of them have accomplished anything beyond what we saw in the original show. They were just sort of standard formula, not a whole lot of heart or character development. They just didn't manage to take the core elements of the original show and make something that really felt worth watching. Not that Dreamworks necessarily means anything, but at least it means having a good sized budget. So I gave it a whirl and I'm quite happy with it.
What I liked right out of the gate is the characterization. Sure it is still the typical anime team recipe, just like the original, but written with good dialogue accompanied by decent voice acting so that everyone feels substantial and fleshed out. The humor isn't too bad either. It's not on the level of, say, Avatar Airbender, but still pretty good.
Second, it's got that beating heart. This is actually key in making something like this endure. It's not like the old days where you can just have the monster of the week and your done. Legendary Defender presents a fairly heightened sense of character dynamic with feelings of accomplishment and responsibility as we see the team members fulfill their essential roles. It's fun yet we get a sense of altruistic purpose motivating the team as a whole.
Third, it looks and sounds great. The aesthetics are all quite excellent. The music is interesting, the voice acting is top notch, good backgrounds, good animation, and the Lion's just look fabulous.
If nothing else it is a genuinely entertaining show. It's probably as close to a slam dunk as we will ever see from a classic super robot reboot, and for how much fighting robot cartoons have been lacking in the last ten or so years, this is a breath of fresh air. Go Voltron!
Solid story, and characters that aren't predictable. The best of superhero TV right now.
With the first episode of Powers I wasn't really sure what to think. It was good, but it seemed fairly obvious that the budget probably wasn't all that big and it has a different direction than the other superhero TV shows, yet I couldn't put my finger on it until about the third episode when it really take offs into being one of the best, if not the best of the superhero shows. First is that it's a real ongoing story, and it's solid, where everything that happens actually matters. People die, characters have both good and evil aspects, and everyone has a real back story that affects the big picture. BUT what probably works better than anything else in Powers is that the characters have complex relationships with each other that seem fairly realistic, or at least genuine in their motivations towards each other with invested interests so that the action carries a lot of weight. Show like Gotham, Arrow, and even Daredevil don't reach this level of effectiveness in their characterization.
One thing I would note is that this probably isn't for kids. There are a lot of F bombs, and though it doesn't really have sex, there are a few discussion about people using sex as a way to get what they want. Just FYI.
Not a story, but a humorous and terrifically strange movie
There is no actual story here, so if you need a movie to have a standard plot to legitimize it, this isn't your movie. This movie is almost entirely made up of dialogue between dozens of different and often bizarre characters, and most of the dialogue is quite quirky and humorous, especially if you live in a college town like I do where so much of this felt familiar.
A lot of people are going to hate this movie, and it's easy to understand why, but it's going to depend on your personality and what preconceived notions you have about watching a film, because there is so little structure to Slacker.
If you can take this movie on its own terms, it's actually fairly amusing, as it paints a quirky kind of perspective on people and life in a college town. I personally loved it, but it's not for everyone.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
All politics aside...
Visually this movie looks beautiful, but unfortunately it was a little boring, which is kind of odd for a Disney film. I can look past almost every other hangup I might have with a movie if I am genuinely entertained, but not boredom. Not to say that the entire movie was boring, but enough that I did notice it, and when you get to point in a movie where you don't really care what is going on, well... that pretty much ends it. After seeing it I knew I had no desire to ever see it again even though some aspects were quite good. I know that most Disney movies have their predictable elements, but this movie seemed so by- the-numbers that it never surprised me and never moved outside the box.
The style is gimmicky, and the substance is unrealistic and obvious
It's hard to watch most didactic fictional movies that infer we should give personal importance to its message, and nothing is more unimpressive than contrived and superficial didactic movies. Great movies containing themes of social injustice and prejudice are usually great stories first that innately hold within them a potent message. So when you get a pretentious movie like this that uses two dimensional PC characters combined with the worst of contrived situations to try and artificially generate a powerful message, it ends up feeling silly and fake. That is what Crash really is; a plastic diamond. And once you realize that you just watched a forgery of social truth, it's value immediately evaporates as being just another dumb movie.
World War Z (2013)
Yawn... expensive, utterly boring, and ten years too late.
Why was this movie made? Here we have yet another zombie action remix of half a dozen movies that everyone has seen, only this time it's got Brad Pitt and an odd emphasis on Israel and the Middle East. I'm not kidding when I say that it's even more boring and predictable than the most stereotypical of zombie movies. The action scenes feel like something from a textbook, and the plot is, yes, textbook. It was hard for me to sit through this because I really did feel like I was watching a movie made from a checklist.
It was oddly surprising to watch a large budget movie that isn't even as good as it's cheaper counterparts. If you compare this to such movies as Cloverfield, I Am Legend, Walking Dead, War of the Worlds and Thirty Days of Night, this movie doesn't even come close to any of them, yet borrows scenes from all of them. So again I ask, why would you waste time and money on such a snooze fest?
90% filler material doesn't make a "surprise" film.. it makes a boring film
The key attribute that fan reviews seem to point out with this movie is that "it isn't what you would expect", as if this alone is what makes it worth watching. It's true that Lo isn't what you would expect, and on so many levels. But the core of "the unexpected surprise" seems to stem from comparing the cover image to your actual movie watching experience. So here's my comparison. If you look at the cover image it has the appearance of a well crafted production, scary yet contemplative, nicely designed and mysterious. The cover really looks like Lo would be something provocative. So it's a big surprise to find out the movie is actually silly and superficial, not contemplative, not provocative, cheaply made with sub par acting and entirely filmed on a stage, but the biggest unexpected surprise is that it's a "comedy". And this is where the real problem lies, because yes Lo is a comedy, but the number of humorous moments is.. well I counted less than two. So unless you construe actors trying to be funny and monumentally failing as being "funny", well, it's a surprise within a surprise I guess. Most viewers would probably agree that Lo is a one trick pony. It doesn't have enough substance to hold up for a second viewing, and it's certainly not going to have something you missed the first time around. I have to admit that I had my hopes up for about the first ten minutes, but by the end of the waiter's musical number (mmm hmm) it was clear that Lo didn't even have enough material to make an actual movie, but they did it anyway. Even with all other inadequacies aside, the one unforgivable complaint I have with Lo is that most of it serves no purpose in regards to the plot. The whole story is contained in the first ten and last ten minutes. The rest is a random collection of talentless exhibition, as in awful musical numbers and long bouts of inane dialogue. It's not that a movie like this couldn't work, but every scene has to be more than just an expose of silliness. In fact Lo has a good premise and a good surprise ending, but the other 90% is about as entertaining as wood paneling. For some this might be "not what you would expect, but everything you need".. but for most it's just an awful movie.
Iron Chef America sucks..
Sorry guys, but it sucks. Here's the straight dope: The Chefs are not as versatile or as good as the truly awesome Japanese Iron Chefs (Bobby Flay most especially is a not an Iron Chef. He really isn't good enough). The critics aren't that critical. They all seem happy just to be getting free food and being on TV. The chairman knows nothing about what he is doing or food. The special ingredients are more often than not, not that special. The narration is kind of annoying. The narrators comments aren't that great and often really corny.
Some board of executives over at Food Network obviously recognized the potential of the original Iron Chef, but the idea was then passed down to a team and the end result is a poor, washed out version of a truly great show, being the original Japanese Iron Chef. Iron Chef Japan was the "Iron Chef". Iron Chef America is kind of like fast food.
Murder on Flight 502 (1975)
Classic 70s garbage that you really should see.
From the maker of Love Boat, Melrose Place, and T.J. Hooker comes the made for TV movie, Murder on Flight 502! I love made for TV movies like this because it portrays a special blend of mindless cheesiness found only in 70s and early 80s TV plots that are pretty much extinct today. Have no doubts, this show sucks, but its entertaining because it's so corny and unbelievably minimal in content. There's a comforting sort of charm in realizing that TV creations like this were big hits in popular TV viewing of the time. All the characters are campy, cookie cutter stereotypes that over react and over explain everything so that we the viewers will not be confused due to misfortunes caused by subtlety finess. But its the lame plot that brings it all home. I can just imagine the TV execs of the day sitting around smoking pot and "brainstorming", when suddenly one them stands from his seat and announces, "Let's make a show about a bunch of people on an airplane!", and that was it, that was the plot and history was made. Long gone are the days when idiot proof plots and acting like this would engross a nation wide TV viewing audience. I won't ruin it for anyone (even though there's nothing to really ruin), but you pretty much know how the story is going play out within the first five minutes. The whole show is basically like watching a game of Clue (the board game) where the viewer tries to figure out who has the bomb on the plane. There's lot's of insipid comedy relief that's not really funny, and drama that has no depth. But don't get me wrong, it's white bread, mindless entertainment all the way. Truly a prime example of a lost art that produced this piece of 70s TV crap. Enjoy!
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)
The best in animated storytelling...
Even though Avatar is of American origin, it has a lot of Japanese anime influence, particularly visually, but keeps the best of both animation cultures with it's American sense of playfulness and more realized characterization. The creators of Avatar have really crafted an artistic piece of fun and creative storytelling that is a rare gem for American TV. Avatar has strength in all the major areas of film and story, starting at ground level with an exceptionally believable world setting where war is taking place among the different nations. The main characters who find themselves caught in this struggle are three teens named Katara, Sokka, and Aang (the Avatar) who have set forth to bring harmony to the world through their influence and through the powers of the still developing Avatar. There is lot of humor and fun in this show, and you can't help but to really love these characters and their pets. But this is just the beginning of the glue that keeps you coming back. Great plots and stunning visuals are just as much of importance to the overall success of the show. The story lines are top notch, being both episodic in nature and chronologically integral from one show to the next. Each episode usually introduces a new and genuinely interesting opposition and/or characters to be overcome by the end of the show, and visually there is plenty of awe inspiring backgrounds and quality animation. With just enough well paced action, some sincere points of moral conviction (can you believe it), and witty humor makes the show a winning combination. This is entertainment for all ages, and definitely a must see.