Thursday, December 12, 2013


Its pretty rare that I actually get the chance to see a movie in theaters these days, so now that I finally did, here's what I thought of Disney's latest.

Frozen (PG)

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk

Whats it about: Princess Anna embarks on a journey to help her sister Elsa, the rightful heir to their kingdom's throne, who possesses the magical power to produce snow/ice.

Going into this movie, I had no idea what the plot was, which was honestly rather refreshing! Its really difficult to describe the plot without giving anything away, because its a lot of fun to just discover it for yourself. Disney definitely knows what they're doing!

That said, there is a LOT of great stuff in this movie, but there was some stuff that bugged me too. But hey, lets start with the good:

This. Movie. Is. BEAUTIFUL. The animation of the characters is great, the snow is very well done, but what absolutely blew me away was the frost powers that Elsa wields. Wow! I didn't see this movie in 3D, but this is one of the only movies I've ever actually wished I did.

At one point in the movie, Elsa creates something very cool out of ice, and visually it gave me chills. Pixar never disappoints when it comes to looks, that's for sure.

Its no secret that Tangled is my absolute favorite Disney movie, in a large way due to the characters, and how they are a great mix of the classic prince/princess formula, and modern society. That is definitely visible in this movie as well. It seems that Disney princesses are taking a turn to become "like totally" teen girls, which is just as fun in Frozen as it was in Tangled. I wasn't disappointed by a single character. In typical Disney fashion, there's two hilarious non-human characters, Sven the reindeer, and Olaf the snowman. Honestly, when I saw the trailers I thought Olaf was going to be a completely idiotic character, I thought all his little quips were just terrible. But in the full movie, he had some of the best lines! He's pretty obviously just there for the kids, as he constantly points out major plot points in somewhat of an "In case you missed it" style. Its annoying, but hey, he serves his purpose.

Again, not going to spoil anything, but I loved the ending too! Throughout the final climax, I was sighing internally because I figured I knew exactly what was going to happen. Well I was wrong, and pleasantly surprised! They really push the sisterhood thing way more than the "true love" which is a refreshing change!

Okay I've covered all my favorite parts, but there were some things that still bugged me, and prevented me from truly loving this movie. For starters, the songs. Now don't get me wrong, I know Disney movies are no stranger to music, and actually I thought the songs were fantastic in Tangled! What I did feel about this movie, however, is that there were too many songs, and some of them felt really unnecessary. Half of them were just dialogue conversations that had music, and it just felt like they didn't need to be sung. I really liked some of the songs, especially the opening number, but overall I feel like if they toned it down by maybe 3 or 4 songs, it would have been a little better.

I also wasn't a big fan of Elsa's singing voice, but that's just personal preference, so ignore that if you want to.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10. Definitely go see it! I like that it wasn't over-hyped like most Disney movies, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the characters.

Remember to keep an eye out for some Disney cameos!

*P.S.: There is an extra scene after the credits*

BONUS ROUND: The short before the movie
I always love the short movies they play before each Disney/Pixar film. But sadly I gotta give this one a low grade. It's a fun homage to classic "steamboat willie"-era Disney cartoons, but compared to some of their other more recent shorts, like "Paperman" (shown before "Wreck-It Ralph"), or even "La Luna" (shown before "Brave") were much more enjoyable. They do have a small Marvel cameo that made me laugh pretty hard though, so keep an eye out!
6 out of 10 for the short. Good, not great.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Something Old, Something New: 5 must-see past, and future setting movies

Hark! A moving picture! 
'Tis truly rare that a lad such as I might become engrossed in such thrilling tales of olden days. Aye that this may be true, but whence I become enthralled, indeed yon films tend to linger in mine head! Travel with me now, to days of old, as we review my top 5 movies set in the distant past:

Red Cliff (2008)
When it was released, Red Cliff quickly became the highest grossing movie in China of all time. Produced by legendary action star John Woo, it tells the story of the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history (one of my favorite time periods to study, so again kinda biased but who cares). This is a long movie, and even had to be cut down for the American version by several hours, and expanded into two parts, so I'll try to give a brief description of the plot:

After the fall of the Han dynasty, one of China's most prosperous times, the land was divided and left without central leadership. This led into the Three Kingdoms period, in which China was brutally battled over between three warlords, and several other smaller armies vying for power. Red Cliff takes place during one of the pivotal battles of this era, the battle of Red Cliff. There are a lot of characters to follow, but thats the gist.

Okay okay, so I kinda geeked out there, but for Pete's sake, I love this time period so much I almost studied Chinese history in college just so I could learn more! There have been a lot of movies set during the Three Kingdoms era within the past few years, (Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, Red Cliff pt. 1 and 2, The Lost Bladesman, The Assassins, Little Big Soldier) but Red Cliff is by far the best. Just...go watch it. It's on Netflix, okay? GO!

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany take the lead in what I would easily consider my favorite historic movie. Set during the Napoleonic wars, the film follows Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe), a British naval captain as he pursues a French ship containing sensitive information that could cost many lives if not stopped. Aside from the fantastic naval combat, every actor in the movie plays their part extraordinarily convincingly, leading to some wonderful, and some heart-breaking moments, surprisingly none of which involve any romance. Paul Bettany co-stars as Aubrey's long-time friend and the ships surgeon, Dr. Matruin. The back-and-forth between Crowe and Bettany progresses the story very well, even when cannonballs aren't flying.

The movie is fairly long, but I'd definitely call it a must-see, whether you're looking for drama, action, or story.

Gangs of New York (2002)
Set during the Civil War, the story revolves around the Five Points district of New York, during an ongoing dispute between U.S.-born Americans, and the rising swell of immigrants, being primarily Irish. Leonardo DiCaprio gives, what I feel is one of his strongest performances as Amsterdam Vallon, the son of the Irish immigrant's leader. After his father is killed by their rival gang's leader, Bill Cutting, a.k.a. The Butcher (played amazingly by Daniel Day Lewis) when he is a child, he seeks revenge by siding with The Butcher when he grows up. Cameron Diaz also stars, but honestly in my opinion she does a forgettable job.

Another fairly long, and dialogue heavy movie, but the constant stream of tense moments between Amsterdam and Bill lead up to a satisfying climax.

The Last Samurai (2003)
Tom Cruise movies are pretty iffy to me, but when he has a good movie, its fantastic! This is one of those times. The movie takes place during the initial Westernization of Japan, and follows U.S. military commander Nathan Algren as he is sent to instruct the Japanese armies on western military tactics. As the title hints, the time period also takes place during the end of the samurai era. Algren is captured during an initial battle with the samurai, and eventually comes to embrace their ways after meeting Katsumoto (played by Ken Watanabe, a phenomenal eastern actor), a high-ranking Samurai warrior.

The plot may be a little "Dances With Wolves/Pocahontas/Avatar/etc...", but its still a great ride. I'm kind of a sucker for Asian cinema, and this strikes a perfect balance between East/West, making it easy to follow whether or not you know anything about the time period.

Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Musical, yes. Gory, yes. But great story and acting, most definitely! Rounding out my period-movies is Sweeny Todd. If you know Tim Burton, you know what this movie will look like, and who it'll star. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, it follows the story of Sweeny Todd, a man recently released from wrongful imprisonment in Industrial-age London. He seeks revenge on the man who wrongfully convicted him, and kills lots of people on the way, but that's not why he does it. He's just jaded and misunderstood. Great acting, good music, way on the gory side, so if you're squeamish, beware. All-in-all though, worth at least one watch!

Pretty soon, they'll beam it into your brain...
Now that we've successfully re-lived the past through some fantastic cinematic experiences, let's take a look at what the future holds! Whether travelling to far-off galaxies and meeting three-boobed alien prostitutes, or even here on the nuclear wasteland that is earth, the future holds some interesting potential. Let's take a look!

Equilibrium (2002)
Starring Christian Bale (before he was just the Batman guy) and Sean Bean (before he was the Game of Thrones guy), Equilibrium takes place in a dystopian future where all traces of emotion have been eliminated from life, leading to perfection and order. But, as there always is, there is resistance in the form of an underground movement who decides not to take their emotion-regulating pills. What follows is a predictable action movie, but with some spectacular visuals, and some of the coolest gun-play scenes I've seen in any movie. The main characters practice a form of gun-fu, basically just total ass-kickery, while wielding two pistols. Solid acting all around, definitely a fun movie. Its on Netflix, so no excuses!

The Fifth Element (1997)
Directed by Luc Besson (director of Leon: The Professional, and the upcoming film Lucy), and starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil), this is one of my all-time favorites. Every 5,000 years, an ancient evil awakens to destroy humanity. And in futuristic New York, its up to former soldier, and current cab driver Korben Dallas (Willis) to save the day.

This movie is a pop culture gem, and nowadays has a huge pop culture following. Check it out (again, on Netflix) of you like comedy, action, romance, y'know what...just watch it. You'll like it, I promise.

Idiocracy (2006)
This is not your typical futuristic movie, but by far I find its the most accurate portrayal that I can imagine of the future. When an oafish army-man (Luke Wilson) is used in an experiment to freeze soldiers to be un-thawed in the future, he is accidentally frozen for hundreds of years. While he's frozen, the planet takes its natural course, and becomes filled with inbred, uneducated, beer chugging, Jackass-watching morons. The formerly not-so-bright soldier wakes up as the smartest person on the planet, which isn't saying much!

This movie has no small chunk of political commentary in it's quirky, dumb humor, but either way its very fun to watch the potential future where all water is replaced by energy drinks, the president is a former professional wrestler, and the popular restaurant Fuddrucker's has changed its name to....well, I'll let you find out. Its not hard.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This may not be the typical flying cars, aliens and space-travel movie, but this near-future dark comedy is definitely worth checking out. Society is largely the  same, except that everyone can get a procedure done that allows you to wipe your memory clean of certain events, or in this case, people. Jim Carrey (The Mask, Dumb & Dumber) stars, and goes through the process of having his ex-girlfriend wiped from his mind.

Visually, this is a movie you're going to want to pay attention for. There's a lot happening, but the way it all fits together is very interesting and unique. Very engrossing characters and a solid story equal a somewhat overlooked gem. Once again, its on Netflix.

Starship Troopers (1997)
Finally we have another cult classic space action movie. Known for the ironic and terrible acting, and based on a book that the movie plot has damn near nothing to do with, it follows Rico (Casper Van Dien) and his friends as they join the army to fight off a race of gigantic bug aliens. Its hard to describe this movie in a serious light, so I'm honestly going to just suggest you check it out (EHEM....ON NETFLIX, they should really be paying me for mentioning them so much).

NOTE: At least 7 of the 10 movies I discussed are on Netflix instant stream, so check them out. You don't even have to get up to buy/rent them!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Upside Down

Y'know, its been a while since I straight-up reviewed a movie, so here you go!

Upside Down (2012)
Starring: Jim Sturgess (Accross The Universe, 21), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, Drop Dead Gorgeous), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series)

What its all about: In one sentence, picture the special effects of "Inception" meets the basic forbidden love plot of "Romeo & Juliet" and you have "Upside Down". Adam and Eden live on two separate planets that share a gravitational pole, except that they're reversed. Eden's planet represents the "upper class" where life is just better, and Adam's planet is basically the slums. Its extremely frowned upon for people from the two planets to interact.

Seriously...dizzying but awesome.
The Good: Flat out, this movie is visually spectacular. The scenery is beautiful, and most of the gravity-based special effects are as believable as they can be without actually being in a bi-gravitational solar system (or whatever you'd call it). There are a few weak scenes that lose the amazing "I'm floating all over" charm, and just look like (horrible) wireworks, but over all its really impressive to watch.

The main two actors are pretty good, Jim Sturgess being far better of the two, but I thought Timothy Spall stole the show. Without spoiling anything, he plays a co-worker of Adam, but from the opposite world. Their interactions are actually really fun to watch and listen to, and the visual layout of their scenes is really cool since they're on opposite worlds.

Gravity. It's a bitch.
The Bad: For starters, Kirsten Dunst's acting. I'm sorry but the woman is not a great actress. Now don't get me wrong, she can play the sweet nice girl very well, but any serious scenes, she totally botches them. Jim Sturgess's character would show more powerful emotion when stubbing his toe than she does in this movie. I also already mentioned the very rare moments where the special effects look like they were done by the b-team of effects artists, but as I said, they're rare.

I do however have to call out a few very poorly done parts of the movie, starting with the narration in the beginning/end of the movie. I think Jim Sturgess is a very talented young actor who wasn't utilized enough after his initial breakthrough success in "Across The Universe", but that said, his narrating is weak, at best. It sounds like he's trying to seductively whisper into your ear and tell you the story of someone else he loves. *shudder* 

On top of that, the story itself follows way too much of a cookie-cutter pattern. I feel like they spent so much time on the visual effects that they forgot there had to be a story too! My final beef with the movie is that while the visuals are unlike almost any movie I've seen in recent memory, they suffer the same fate as equally visually striking movies (e.g. "Cloverfield" or "Inception"): you will almost assuredly get dizzy or a headache watching this movie. The gravity-play is absolutely great, but it is a bit headache-inducing.

PLEASE don't let that deter you, though! I highly suggest everyone give this movie a chance! If not just for the visuals.

No seriously, the visuals are fantastic.

Verdict: 7 out of 10

I really wish I could rate this movie higher, and say that its one of my new favorites, but the story was just too weak to merit any higher. A pretty even mix of good and terrible acting tend to balance out, and honestly for this movie being as short as it is (roughly 100 mins) I feel like it could have been longer, had a little more story to it, and it would have been a blockbuster. Instead it seems to be one that is somewhat lesser known. I don't even remember it coming to theaters...

I HIGHLY recommend you watch it, IT'S ON NETFLIX! But I can't say its one that I would go out and buy.

Monday, November 11, 2013

When the Credits Roll: The Consequences of the Hero's Actions

This weekend, I watched the Christmas classic "Jingle All The Way" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and comedian Sinbad (for the third time since October...) and I realized, something has been bothering me, but until now I never knew what it was.

It wasn't until the ending scene of "The Avengers" that I heard a movie point out that the heroe(s) was never held accountable for their actions. This got me thinking: are the good guys in movies really as good as they seem? When do they reap the consequences of their actions?

Finally! A hero faces justice!!! MWAHAHA!!! er....sorry

So today I'd like to dive into this very subject, starting with the above mentioned classic, "Jingle All The Way". (For those of you who may not have seen it since it's 1996 release, SPOILER ALERT!! Also, shame on you.)

****Let me point out this is purely for fun, I'm not taking this too seriously. Again, this is just for laughs. It is just a movie after all****

I'm going to start by listing off the rap-sheet that I noticed in chronological order, so feel free to correct me in the comments if I missed any of the hero's "heroic feats".

Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger), our beloved hero:
-Speeding / Driving on the shoulder of the freeway
-Destruction of police property
-Assaulting a minor
-Knowingly purchasing counterfeit goods
-Impersonating an officer
-Breaking and entering
-Assaulting an officer
-Resisting arrest
-Destruction of public property

Outside of these, he's just not a great person in general. The following aren't necessarily broken laws, but still not really admirable traits: The guy puts work before his family constantly, he rigged a city-wide contest so that his son would win, after HE screwed up and forgot to buy his kid a Christmas present! Then in a deleted after-credits scene, we find out he didn't get his wife anything either!!

I probably even missed a few, but you get the idea. Now I'm no policeman, but I have to think that with all of these crimes added together, this guy's gotta be looking at 10-15 years, MINIMUM! And what happens in the end? Because he's dressed in the costume of an American icon, he's carried away on the shoulders of the everyday citizen. I ask you, is this really how we want to treat such incredible offenses?

Sh*t just got real, eh Howie?

And we haven't even mentioned Myron (Sinbad) the frickin' TERRORIST!! Am I the only one who thinks its a bit out of the ordinary that the guy threatens to blow up a radio station with a BOMB!? Oh, and then later actually BLOWS UP a police officer?! Yeah something tells me in post-9/11 times, that's gonna get you more than just a slap on the wrist before you strut home to your son with that action figure, pal.

And don't forget the attempted kidnapping of a child, and actual kidnapping of the actor who was supposed to play Dementor in the Christmas Eve parade! This guy is an openly admitted psychopath! He flat-out tells a group of police officers that he is mentally unstable! Sure he may be able to use that in court, but even if he gets off with an insanity plea, there is no way his son is staying in that household. Way to bust your ass for that toy, Myron, but you'll be going away for a long time.


I'm sure you could do this for every movie under the sun, but this is just one example of how unsettling the consequences of the hero's actions can really be. Don't get me wrong, I'll never stop watching this movie, but its always fun to go all detective on this kind of stuff. But if you ask me, the REAL hero of this movie is the mother. Not only does she not commit one single misdeed against the law or her family, but she consistently defends her husband and puts her butt on the line while she KNOWS that he is consistently screwing up! That woman wins the award of movie hero in my book.

Have you ever noticed the hero being rewarded for severe law-breaking in your favorite movie(s)? Sound off in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Rise of the "Cinematic Universe"

Hulk meets with an exec from Disney

In 2008, Marvel brought fan-favorite superhero Iron Man to the big screen in a very well done, seemingly stand-alone movie. The credits rolled, and fans were shocked and awed as the "Avengers" were mentioned in the post-credits scene. With this, Marvel broke into a whole new world of film-making: the cinematic universe.

That's not to say that there haven't been movies that don't have links, but this took the concept of "linking" movies to a whole new level. Later that same year, "The Incredible Hulk" was released, offering another glimpse by having Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) appear in Hulk's post-credit scene. This is how Marvel really said they meant business. They didn't wait two years for another movie, they dominated the box office in one summer, and laid the groundwork for something much more than just a movie. Followed up with Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel had effectively buried rival DC Comics into the ground. (Don't get me wrong, DC did a fantastic job with the Dark Knight trilogy, but fell flat on their face in terms of beating Marvel to a Justice League movie)

Then, in 2012 (as we all know), Marvel laid the killing blow with The Avengers, which they had been building up to for the past 5 years. But now that the movie has come and gone, why keep going?

As a comic book fan, it's always really fun to see heroes cross over into each other's worlds. I always give a little squeal if I buy a new issue of Spider-Man and see that Iron Man makes an appearance, and so on. But when done in a big-budget, big-screen appearance, it becomes even more fun. Almost everybody who now goes to see a Marvel movie always stays behind after the credits for that little nugget of their next movie project.

Why is Cap's shield all segmented?? 
This is a very fun and ground-breaking style of cinema magic, but it's also a two edged sword. The dangers of the cinematic universe are many, and can really cripple the continuity of the series, as well as the future. The first hurdle is having different directors/writers, etc. for each movie. This can result in complete changes or left out material from movie to movie. For example: In both Iron Man (2008) and Incredible Hulk (2008) there were mentions of Captain America's existence/fate that had absolutely nothing to do with what actually happens in the Captain America movie. For those of us who really do care about things like that, it looks sloppy and disorganized.

The second danger is what is currently happening ever since Disney bought out Marvel: over-franchising. The idea of a TV show spinning off from The Avengers sounds like a great idea, truly. It takes place in the exact same universe, and covers a lot of topics from the movie. But the danger is that it almost ruins how special the movies are. The reason the movies are so fun is because they don't come out every week, but instead we slobber and drool over images and trailers for several years before they're released. I've also noticed with this particular example that they keep name-dropping people like Cap and Thor, but you will never see them in the show. Its just a constant tease. This strategy obviously isn't working with Marvel, as ratings for the show revealed that 2/3 of the viewership stopped after the first episode. That's terrible.

DC Comics on the other hand, seems to be having great luck with TV shows. "Smallville" was a very successful show, chronicling the beginnings of Superman/Clark Kent, and spanning ten years on television. More recently, "Arrow", the origins and universe of superhero The Green Arrow/Oliver Queen has been very successful, and just began its second season. The Flash, along with several other large-name super heroes will be appearing on "Arrow" this season, and The Flash is even confirmed already for a spin-off TV show as well. They're also getting gutsier in the realm of movies, with the upcoming "Superman vs Batman" movie planned for 2015, and rumored to include Wonder Woman as well.

I could see this guy easily moving from TV to movie.
So what's the difference, and who knows when/where to draw the line?

It's no secret that I'm an Avengers/Marvel Comics junkie, but I've more recently been trying to expand my horizons into the realm of DC Comics as well.

On that note, I have this to say: Marvel, cancel "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and halt all plans for your future TV shows including the (very poor idea for an) Agent Carter spin-off show. Its not what fans want, clearly. You're dangling a steak in front of the viewer, but slipping them a slice of olive loaf. Its not working. And to DC Comics: You're kicking Marvel's ass in television, and building a solid universe with the potential for believable crossover and continuity. But you're too late on the "Origin story movie" train. We all know you're using "Superman Vs Batman" as a test to see if a Justice League movie would be any good. My advice is that you don't make any other movies between the release of "SvB" and "Justice League." Until then, stick with TV shows, you're doing those right.

What do you think? Is the cinematic universe the wave of the future, or is it already dying? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2013 Holiday Movie Guide

It's almost the most wonderful time of the year...again! And after we successfully wade through a pile of shitty "horror" movies in mid-late October (along with the one they seemingly always do right around Christmastime for some reason), it'll be time for AWESOME HOLIDAY MOVIES!

Here's a quick guide of my holiday picks for this year:

About Time - The love story of a twenty-something man who finds out he can go back in time and re-live moments of his life, deciding to use this gift only to serve his own "happily ever after."
Ender's Game - The movie adaptation of the famous Orson Scott Card book about a young boy bred to stop an unstoppable war.
Thor: The Dark World - Continuing Thor's journey after The Avengers, a war is brewing on both Earth and in Asgard, and Thor has to stop it.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Second in the Hunger Games series, Katniss and Peta are called back into the perilous Hunger Games, but civil unrest is brewing behind the scenes.
Oldboy - The American rendition of the cult classic Korean film of the same name, a man is inexplicably held captive for two decades, then suddenly let loose to find out who did it, and why.
Frozen - From Disney comes the story about two princesses, and the quest of one to stop the other from creating an eternal winter.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Second in the trilogy of The Hobbit movies. Spiders, dragons, orcs, and more stand between the heroes and their goal.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - The story of Ron Burgandy and the evening news team continues into the 1980's, adding a host of new characters, as they start work for a 24 hour news channel.
47 Ronin - Keannu Reeves directs and stars in a visually stunning retelling of the story of a group of masterless samurai seeking revenge on an evil dictator in ancient Japan.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

World War Z

It has been a while since I've just straight-up reviewed a movie, and luckily I got the chance to check out a recent DVD release, so let's check out World War Z!

World War Z
2013 (PG-13)
Starring: Brad Pitt, and other clearly less important not-Brad Pitt people

Premise: Based on the book (by title only), Brad Pitt plays Gerry, a former United Nations investigator who is tasked with finding the cause of a zombie epidemic.

I like to joke around that if there were a real zombie apocalypse, it'd be over in minutes, because all the college students and rednecks would be out on the streets, guns blazing. If it were anything like the apocalypse in World War Z, we'd be screwed.

This to me is a fresh twist to the zombie genre. The shuffling hordes are fun to watch in the old black and white "Night of the Living Dead" but in real life, they'd stand no chance except maybe against a very slow-paced elderly population. The zombies in this movie honestly scared the crap outta me. When first seen in the beginning, I nearly jumped out of my skin at how hard these things fight for their food. Don't expect any shuffling goons in this movie!

That said, the movie is far from perfect. Any sci-fi/fantasy movie needs a very healthy does of willing suspension of disbelief. However, I still like to keep a tally of "well THAT was convenient" moments within movies as well. In recent memory, "Man of Steel" (2013) stuck out to me, as Lois Lane seemed unkillable, even unwoundable. Pitt's character suffers a similar flaw in this movie. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that, zombies aside, there are only so many times that you can survive such horrid accidents with no medical or advanced military training.

The cast is strong, I honestly didn't see a weak link in the whole bunch, which helped add to the realism. And the non-zombie scenes did very well to staple the movie in reality.

Verdict: 9 brains out of 10
Very believable. If a zombie apocalypse really breaks out, I'd expect it to go something like this movie. Well, for the most part.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Movie Adaptations: The Good, The Bad, and Eragon

Let's start out with this: I'M SORRY ABOUT THE HIATUS!! For those of you who still read, I love you all, you're awesome. Long story short, in the past two weeks I got a new job, and moved to a different state. I'm still settling in, but I can't let my wonderful readers down!

That said, let's talk movie adaptations. Comic book, video game, book, and others.Settle in, because we're gonna be taking a look at some great ones, and some just truly horrific abominations.

The Good: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia #1, Pride & Prejudice (the long one)
The Bad: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Chronicles of Narnia 2 and on
The Hideous: Eragon. Just....Eragon.
Coming Soon: Hunger Games 2, The Hobbit pt.s 2 and 3, Enders Game, 50 Shades of, and a never-ending stream of Twilight clones (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, etc.)
So what makes them so good? Actors are a large part of why (Lord of the Rings), but they don't always need to be big name stars (Harry Potter) so long as they fit the role. To me it all boils down to the character's mannerisms. Since books by their very nature are a visual medium, the best ones are made great through fantastic character description. Actors who can portray that well or horribly basically make or break the movie.

Then you have the not-so-great adaptations. The ones that, quite frankly, the world would keep spinning if they weren't made (Series of Unfortunate Events, Narnia sequels). But what really makes them bad? Take Narnia for example. The first one was a good adaptation of a famous book. But with the sequels, while they may have followed the books, they were unnecessary. With Harry Potter, the whole point was that the plot had a set timeline, and had to continue. It had a solid base, which was great to build off of. With movies like Narnia, they were good, but not great. They were well received, but didn't have a strong enough take-off to stay in the air.

Then we have Eragon. Now personally I've never seen this movie. The reason I haven't, and most likely never EVER will, is due to the wicked backlash that I've heard from fans of the book. I absolutely adored Eragon, it is my very favorite book, and I don't want that ruined. They tried way too hard, and fell flat on their face as soon as they left the gates. I have a strong feeling this will happen to 50 Shades of Grey.

Now that we've hit literary world, let's continue with COMIC BOOK MOVIES.
The Good: The Avengers, The Dark Knight trilogy, Superman (70's series)
The Bad: Watchmen, Green Lantern, Daredevil, Elektra
The Hideous: Superman Returns, Batman Returns
Coming Soon:Superman/Batman, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Thor 2, Captain America 2, Wonder Woman (rumored), Nick Fury, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange......need I continue?

They. Are. Everywhere. You can't avoid them, and they're not stopping any time soon. Most people think they're a recent thing, but honestly there have been comic book movies since the early 70's. Heck there were (horrific) movies made in the early 90's of Captain America, Thor, and the Fantastic Four.

These ones are honestly a little easier to see what makes them good, and quite honestly it has almost nothing to do with the actor. (I say "almost" because there are rare exceptions) It's all about 1. the director, and 2. the writing. I'll start with a movie I'm a bit biased towards: The Avengers. Sure you have a star-studded cast built up over the course of several years, but if you ask me the power-house performance came from director Joss Whedon. Without a solid script and plot, the movie could have, and most likely would have been utter garbage. Most other directors would have had a much harder time sustaining so much star power. But Joss clearly didn't worry about the stars, he cared about the characters they portrayed. Some are decent, but suffer from gigantic plot changes that end up severely pissing off fanboys everywhere (Watchmen). Taking creative liberties like that is a very risky move, and needs to be done so extremely well, that if it gets mucked up, you're screwed.

And then we have the shining examples of absolute CRAP. The king of these is Daredevil. Pop quiz: what happens when you take a pathetic script, match it with an absolute shit director, and package it all with a lead actor who tries WAY too hard? Answer: you get Daredevil. What happens when you decide to make a spin-off of a shit movie? You get Elektra. Same shit, different wrapper. You ask me why I don't have faith in Ben Affleck as Batman? I'll aways site Daredevil. Maybe it'll be good, but it won't be because of him, it'll be because of the director/writers.

Finally, let's wrap up with...ugh...VIDEO GAME MOVIES.
The Good: Resident Evil (the first one)
The Bad: Max Payne, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, all other Resident Evils, 
The Hideous:Super Mario Brothers
Coming Soon: Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Ghost Recon, Metal Gear Solid, World of Warcraft, Mortal Kombat reboot (rumored)

This...this is a hard subject. I love video games, and I love movies. So together they'd always be awesome, right? ooooooh NO. In the mid 90's there were some decent ones such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, which is why I hesitate to put them in the "Bad" column. They were campy, but they knew they were, which makes them fun to watch and occasionally laugh at.

Then you have Super Mario Bro.s and the like. Mario is an icon, so why was his movie so bad? The same reason the 80's Mario TV show was so bad: the character was just NOT made for live action. Horrid acting, a batshit crazy story that had absolutely JACK to do with the games (except for the fact that he was a plumber), they just plain shot for the wrong audience. If they found an audience, it's stoners/bored college kids. The movie has a place in my heart because of how bad it is, but not everyone feels that kind towards movies like this.

Quite frankly, I think video game movies need to be avoided. If one has ever been truly astounding, I haven't seen it, or they haven't made it yet. Video games in their own right are basically movies with some interactive parts, so why bother taking out the interactivity and throwing in bad writing? Just don't.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Casting Rumor Breakdown

First off, apologies to my (few but awesome) readers for my lengthy hiatus from the blog. Life is moving quickly as I'll be starting a new job soon. Packing isn't fun, and it's made even harder when I just plain stop, and end up watching the original Star Wars trilogy with my wife instead. (I never noticed in the late 90's re-edited versions, they completely changed how the Sarlaac pit looks. Totally unnecessary, but I digress...)

I'd like to take some time to address some of the confirmed and rumored casting calls for some upcoming movies, mainly super hero related. Read on, because I have a lot to say about this whole Ben Affleck thing, but I'll save that for last.

RUMOR: Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming reboot of "Fantastic Four"

Ever heard of this guy? Yeah, me neither. But I like to keep an open mind, so I did some research. This kid's film history is pretty bland. From "Project X" to the remake of "Footloose", I'm pretty unimpressed by that track record. That said, he's pretty young, so things could change, but for the moment, pretty meh.

As far as matching the character, I call folly. Just from the picture below, and if you're a comic book fan you'll know, Mr. Fantastic is older. The reboot is looking more and more like a younger version of the Fantastic Four, which I'm not a huge fan of. Give this guy 10 or 15 years and he may be able to pull off the look, but right now....eeeeeh.

RUMOR: Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the same "Fantastic Four" reboot

HOLD UP. I apologize in advance, because I am not in any way shape or form trying to make this a racist thing, but Johnny Storm is WHITE! It's a huge part of the comics that his sister is Sue Storm. So in order for this casting choice to make sense, they'd have to make Sue Storm black as well. AGAIN, NOT BEING RACIST HERE, it just annoys me because then you're completely changing the characters to something totally different. Then don't title it Fantastic Four, because that's not who it'd be about! Jordan was in the recent super hero movie "Chronicle" which did pretty well with it's gritty super hero style, and if they cast it based on that alone, then just make "Chronicle 2" and pick someone actually suited for the role.

Let's flip this around for a moment. What if they made a movie about Luke Cage, but made him a white guy? The dynamic of the character, and even their back story, is forever changed, and fanboys likely will not be happy. I disapprove of this choice.

RUMOR: Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon in "Guardians of the Galaxy"
For those of you who may be unaware of the Guardians of the Galaxy, (first off, see my Comic-Con news round-up) long story short: they're the Space-Avengers. Rocket Raccoon is pretty much the smart-mouthed, machine gun wielding mascot. Choice of voice actor may not be critical, but the director has stressed that for the success of this movie, Rocket Raccoon has to be done right.

Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, All About Steve) is one of Hollywood's most recent prettyboy actors. So for him to take an off-camera role is an interesting turn that quite honestly would boost my respect for him as an actor. On that note, let's take a look at his chops as a voice actor. If I heard him talking on TV while I wasn't looking, I may be able to pick out who it is, but that's just because I've watched The Hangover a lot. Short of that, he doesn't have tons of experience with off-camera acting, so the casting here seems like more of a "name-drop" scenario. I'll reserve final judgement until I can hear it, but I think he'll do alright. Not great, just alright.

CONFIRMED: Vin Diesel as Groot in "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Next to Rocket Raccoon in the Space-Avengers, we have Groot, the living tree. Basically an Ent (from Lord of the Rings) if they were aliens. So as a gigantic living tree, I approve of this choice of voice actor. Using the example that I did with Bradley Cooper, if I were listening but not watching TV, I'd easily be able to pick out Vin's voice. He's got a unique, full-bodied deep voice that will lend itself very well to Groot. Not much else to say about it, I think he'll do well.

CONFIRMED: Ben Affleck as Batman in "Man of Steel 2" (or Batman vs Superman)
Alright, buckle up, because I'm about to go on a roller-coaster rant here. I promise I'll try for a few positive remarks in there, but overall, I'm feeling extremely negative about this casting choice.

Director Zack Snyder did a wonderful job with the recent Superman reboot, "Man of Steel." It took the long-standing boy scout in a new, and awesome darker direction. Because this movie is effectively considered the "Iron Man" of the DC Comics movie universe (it's kind of the kick off of the eventual Justice League movie), I'm already happy that they did not have Christian Bale reprise his role as the Dark Knight. That said, I was much more excited about the previously rumored actors for Batman before they announced Ben Affleck.

A lot of people/fanboys have been saying, "Everyone said the same thing about Heath Ledger, and look how well that was in The Dark Knight!" This is a fair point. There was an equally strong backlash when he was announced as Joker. But on the flip side, Heath Ledger wasn't in Daredevil. I understand that Ben Affleck didn't write or direct "Daredevil", so most people are saying the movie was "not his fault." But I thoroughly believe that a good actor can thrive despite poor writing. Affleck did not do this in Daredevil. People say he's such a good actor, but I feel like whatever he's in, he tries too hard. This is an extreme, but take for example "Good Will Hunting". Matt Damon and Robin Williams were amazing, but both Ben and Casey Affleck were very unbelievable to me. We get it, you're from New York, or Boston, or wherever. If that's your only schtick, move along and make way for better actors.

Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Much Ado About Nothing) had this to say about himself, and I feel it applies well to Ben Affleck as well: "I feel I'd make a great Bruce Wayne, [but a] terrible Batman." Anyone can play the billionaire playboy, but not everyone has the chops to pull off Bruce Wayne's darker half. To quote Star Wars: I have a bad feeling about this.

RUMOR: Bryan Cranston cast as Lex Luthor in "Man of Steel 2

I'm going to begin with a startling confession: I'm one of the few people in America who doesn't religiously watch Breaking Bad. But before you string me up and drag me through the streets, let me say this much: I've seen enough of his character to know that he can move beyond being "Malcolm in the Middle's dad" and be a hard-ass bald guy, which in essence is all that Lex Luthor is. The most recent casting of Luthor, portrayed by Kevin Spacey, did an alright job as a pissed off bald guy. But the real trick to portraying Lex Luthor is not just being angry and having hair issues, he has to be the ultimate bad human being.

The beauty of the Lex Luthor vs Superman rivalry is that Lex is the ultimate normal human being. Just like the Joker vs Batman: Joker is nothing but color and energy, and Batman is dark, gray and black, and brooding. As long as Cranston can pull off the "ultimate normal guy" aspect of it, while throwing in some unbridled rage, he'll do just fine. Hope he loses the goatee though, or it'll just be Superman vs Breaking Bad.

CONFIRMED: James Spader as Ultron in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
With voice actors, it can be pretty hit-or-miss when casts are announced. As discussed above, some actors such as Bradley Cooper may not be that distinguishable, whereas others like Vin Diesel may do a more remarkable or memorable job. James Spader (Boston Legal, The Office, Lincoln) to me falls in the latter category. I feel his voice is distinguishable enough that no matter who he voiced, he'll at least give the character more...well, more character. 

My first encounter with Spader was on one of the later seasons of The Office. It took me a while to warm up to his abrasive character type, but his smooth, quietly powerful voice was an interestingly entertaining part of his character. The character he'll be playing (for those of you who may not know), Ultron, is a killer robot with an artificial intelligence that has the ability to evolve itself to overcome his opponents. The character is smart, cold, and calculated. I haven't had an enormous amount of exposure to Spader's acting, but I'm not too worried about this choice. I'm kind of biased since it is a Joss Whedon movie, but either way, not a bad choice.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Comic-Con 2013 Special part 2

Apologies for the delay, folks. I've been a wee bit busy lately. But today we'll be finishing up the post-Comic-Con roundup! So let's hop to it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director Bryan Singer (director of the first X-Men movie) returns for this mash-up of both the original 3 X-Men movies, and X-Men: First Class. The time-travel plot matches young and old versions of your favorite X-men, and is being compared in scale to that of The Avengers. This movie boasts a very big name cast, with newcomers to the series including Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) meeting up with series vets including Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. We'll have to wait until next summer to see if it can live up to the hype, but so far the teasers have definitely pumped up fans.

My take: I'm very excited to see veteran director Bryan Singer's return to the X-Men series. After he left to pursue other films, the original X-Men movies fell to crap. Hopefully he can return them to their former glory!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Here we go again, the fifth Spider-Man movie in the past 13 years. Marc Webb returns to direct after the successful reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man, this time bringing multiple villains to the table. As of yet, we've seen glimpses of Electro (Jaime Foxx), and slight teases of Rhino (Paul Giamatti), and we've also heard that Green Goblin will appear as well. Comic-Con was the site of the first finished footage of the movie, with a teaser trailer coming soon. The movie will be releasing next summer, along with at least 3 other Marvel Comics movies.

My take: With so many super hero movies coming out next year, it'll be difficult to separate itself from the pack. I was very skeptical about the choice of Jaime Foxx for the villain, but so far it looks pretty good. I am a huge fan of the first Amazing Spider-Man, and have high, but hesitant, hopes for this sequel.


Based on the 2003 Korean film of the same name, Oldboy tells the story of a man who is kidnapped for 15 years and kept in solitary confinement with no knowledge of who his captors are. After he's suddenly released, he begins a vengance-driven quest to find out who captured him, and why. This American remake stars Josh Brolin in the main role, and follows the same plot.

My take: Its a bit soon to remake this movie if you ask me, and it shows that Hollywood is truly out of any and all original ideas. That said, I'm a big fan of Josh Brolin's acting, and given that the original Korean movie was very grotesque in terms of gratuitous nudity and unnecessarily risque scenes, I'm hoping the American version will be toned down a bit.

Kick Ass 2

After the overly-grotesque Kick-Ass movie, the cast returns in this "what if people roamed the streets as 'super-heroes'" plot. In the sequel, the cast expands exponentially, including Jim Carey (The Mask, Truman Show), and Donald Faison (Scrubs) leading to another gory, over-the-top mess.

My take: I know the series is based off of comic books, but I still feel that they're trying a little too hard. With the main villain in this sequel being a gimp-costumed character calling himself "The Mother-F***er", I feel that the movie is probably going to try way too hard, and result in a sub-par action movie.


The unkillable gigantic lizard is back with yet another reboot from yet another director. Don't worry though, we'll be steering clear of the Americanized, Matthew Broderick-starred crap fest. This Godzilla remake is an all-out homage to the original, but with the benefit of cutting-edge, modern day special effects. As of the time of this writing, they have yet to reveal the look of the new monster, which has been described as a mix between the classic Godzilla, and the 2000 American version.

My take: I'm very excited to see what modern technology can do for the iconic monster! Movies like Cloverfield have come close, but I think they can do better without the sickeningly shaky camera. If the poster below gives any indication, Godzilla is going to be gigantic, and I can't wait!


Vin Diesel returns as the futuristic criminal Riddick. Original director David Twohy is back as writer and director. If you haven't seen "Pitch Black" or "Chronicles of Riddick", you probably aren't aware of this movie, but the stealthy action is nevertheless a fun time for those of you who enjoy futuristic action.

My take: I'm not the biggest Riddick fan, the first movie is a little too "survival-horror"ish for me. But those who like them seem to love them. Vin Diesel has a lot of talent, so I may give it a shot, but for the moment, I'm a bit meh.


Lego: The Movie

Well, it was inevitable. Every childhood toy lately seems to be getting the Hollywood reacharound, and Lego is no exception. (If you don't believe me, keep your eyes out for the incoming Stretch Armstrong and Max Steel movies) The good news is that with a huge cast (Channing Tatum, Cobie Smulders, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks), and seemingly endless Lego cameos (including Ninja Turtles, Batman, Wonder Woman, basketball stars, and many more), this movie aims to draw in adults and children alike.

My take: Frankly, I can't wait! The trailer (if you haven't seen it yet, check it out here) looks hilarious, and the star-studded cast of actors who have proven their mettle in voice acting definitely won't disappoint!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Rounding out the Comic-Con preview-palooza, we have the sequel to 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." The series takes a much more realistic approach than the 70's movies, or even the 2001 Mark Whalberg flop. Gary Oldman leads the cast as humanity deals with the aftermath of the ape plague.

My take: ....zzzzzz....wuh? Oh right. This series again. Personally I say pass, simply because I can't take killer monkeys seriously. I may be wrong, but that's just me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comic-Con 2013 Special part 1.5

In recent years, many people have been complaining about Hollywood's lack of originality, and how too many comic book adaptation movies are popping up. For a long time, I've agreed whole-heartedly. But recently, it seems as though a breath of fresh air is filling the lungs of the comic book movie industry.

With Comic-Con 2013 freshly behind us, we have seen the dawn of a large number of new movie ideas, rumors, and news, both for in-production films, and those way off in the distance. (Amazing Spider-Man 4 already? C'mon, we're at 2 right now...) Some made me cringe with uncertainty, while others seemed like a bold risk that could yield great results.

The truth is, with the release of The Avengers, Director Joss Whedon inadvertently opened the floodgates of big-budget collaborations, and character mash-ups. To face facts, some are bound to suck. And with the bar set so high, it'll be hard to break out of the pack and be a truly unique and impressive film in the super hero genre.

Titles like the upcoming Batman/Superman movie, the (forever) rumored Justice League, and the hyped up X-Men: Days of Future Past (the scale/budget of which director Bryan Singer is comparing to that of The Avengers) are taking super hero movies into a realm seldom touched until now. No longer are super hero movies just trying to break onto the big screen, instead they're expanding on now built up back stories. They're past the origins, and even reboots such as the latest Hulk and Superman movies tend to glaze over the origins of the heroes, in favor of driving a stronger plot.

I for one am excited by this new "second renaissance" of super hero movies. In recent years it seems that they'd begun to grow stale and overdone. But with the coming of crossover movies, and hero team-ups, we're heading into a direction with a lot of potential. Whether this is good or bad has yet to be seen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Comic-Con 2013 Special part 1

Well folks, its the most wonderful time of the year. That's right, its time for Comic-Con 2013! And while not everyone is terribly into comics, over the years CC has become synonymous with new movie releases and previews.

Today I'm going to be going over some of the big reveals, previews, and more of the coming attractions for the next few years.

In a huge twist that no one saw coming, the DC Comics presentation revealed that due to the success of Man of Steel, they'll be going forward with a sequel co-starring the Dark Knight himself! Don't be expecting Christian Bale to don the cowl again, but it has been confirmed that Zack Snyder (director of Man of Steel) will be involved, as well as Henry Cavill (Man of Steel). Not a whole lot has been revealed for this movie, except for a logo combining the iconic images of Batman and Superman.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
It was no surprise that Marvel was moving forward with a sequel to the high-grossing Avengers movie, but at Comic-Con, director Joss Whedon revealed the title and (potential) plot for the sequel. Marvel Comics recently finished a series of the same title, Age of Ultron, in which Ultron, an artificial intelligence created by Dr. Henry Pym (Ant Man) becomes too intelligent, and decides to exterminate the human race. The teaser video shown at Comic-Con displays a quick image of Ultron's face in eerie lighting. New Avengers confirmed so far for this movie include Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and Joss Whedon has hinted that he wants to include Tigra as well. The involvement of Ultron seems to hint that Ant Man may play a big role in the phase 2 universe.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Coming to theaters November 22 of this year, the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy showed a trailer, teasing the coming chaos in the dystopian future. The entire cast returns, but not much new was revealed about the movie during Comic-Con.

Starring Joel Kinnaman (Safe House, The Darkest Hour), Samuel L Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction), and Gary Oldman (The Fifth Element, The Dark Knight trilogy), this is a reboot of the 80's action series about a cop-turned-cyborg-super-cop who cleans up the streets of New Detroit. Mixed reactions are coming from old fans about Robocop's new all black armor look, but Comic-Con revealed some new footage of the new reboot, which elicited a roughly 50/50 reaction of ooos and aaahs versus meh's. I'll save my judgement for when the footage hits the internet, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Thor: The Dark World
 Aside from some new concept art, and a slew of action figures, not much new was revealed about the Thor sequel set to release later this year. Christopher Eccleson (Doctor Who) is set to play the dark elf villain who seeks to bring the god of thunder to his knees. The majority of the cast returns, though some minor casting changes have been made, such as Zachary Levi replacing the role of Fandral, one of Thor's battle friends.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
 The Star-Spangled Super Soldier is back in modern-day, trying to figure out where he fits in after the ending of The Avengers. The Winter Soldier refers to a Cap villain with a bionic arm who ****SPOILER ALERT**** is actually Cap's old war buddy, Bucky. Comic-Con revealed some more new artwork, and a bit of initial footage from the movie. Cap will be back on the big screen April 4, 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy
 Somewhat of a surprise announcement at last year's CC was the movie adaptation of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Think of it as The Avengers in space. The cast includes a raccoon with a gigantic gun, and a tree-like alien. This year's Comic Con showed the first footage from the movie, setting the tone for an action-comedy vibe similar to Whedon's Avengers.

I, Frankenstein
 From what has been revealed so far, I Frankenstein is your average gritty monster movie. Starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), the first footage was shown at Comic Con to very passable reactions. Hopefully more information in the future will bolster interest, but for now the reviews are largely stale.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Kick Ass 2
Lego: The Movie

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Decoy Bride

The Decoy Bride (2011)
Rated PG

Starring: David Tennant, Kelly Macdonald, Alice Eve, Dylan Moran

If you liked: Runaway Bride, Something Borrowed, Any highly predictable romantic comedy

The Story: A famous American movie star (Eve) and a famous British author (Tennant) are trying to avoid the media frenzy, and have a quiet and unpublicized wedding. To achieve this, they find the most remote location possible, and even go as far as performing a fake ceremony to get the media off their back. Hiring a local to be a stand-in for the "fake" wedding, but the sparks start to become real...

The Good: I'm gonna be honest, I'm a big David Tennant (Doctor Who, Harry Potter) fan. The guy is very good at playing the lovable, fault-less good guy. So I was very excited to see this movie when I heard he was in it. The man does not disappoint! Tennant is very convincing, as is his costar, played by Kelly Macdonald.

The supporting cast is largely strong in terms of backing up the main cast, which helps keep the story engaging for sure. The story is definitely a predictable, cookie-cutter romance, but it has a lot of heart, sass, and humor that sets itself apart from many similar movies. On top of that, the setting of the movie is gorgeous, especially on a high def television.
He's a fancy lad.

The Bad:
While most of the characters were very engrossing, I found myself unconvinced by the acting of Alice Eve, especially considering she's supposed to play a famous actress. That's just....wrong! One weak link can definitely break a movie, and she certainly doesn't help. Moving to the GOOD actors: the supporting cast is great, but some of them are relatively big names who are only in maybe two scenes. I felt that these folks could definitely developed into a more engrossing side-story given enough time.

I'm getting nit-picky here, because this is a cookie-cutter romantic comedy, but at the same time, this is a cookie-cutter romantic comedy. In terms of originality, there isn't a whole lot here, and within five minutes, any casual movie-goer will be able to call the ending. Either way, its worth a view if you have Netflix.

Verdict: 6.5 out of 10
Good, not perfect. Could be worse, but not super original. Give it a shot if you're into fun, corny romance movies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Man Of Steel

Man Of Steel (2013)
Rated PG-13

If you liked: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Avengers, Green Lantern

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russel Crowe, Kevin Costner, Christopher Meloni, Lawrence Fishburne, Harry Lennix

Premise: Time for another gritty reboot! Director Zach Snyder (300, Sin City) and producer Christopher Nolan (Inception, Dark Knight trilogy) team up to take Superman in a very different direction than that of the classic Christopher Reeve adventures. Prepare for a dark origin story filled with a very big name cast with a lot of talent.

I'll say this right out: Walk into this movie with a healthy dose of willing suspension of disbelief. What I mean here is don't sit there going "Oh that could never happen. Oh that's stupid. Come on, that's not real!" Just enjoy it for what it is: a new movie of an age-old superhero.

The Heroic: We'll start with a pretty easy comparison: Watch Superman Returns (Bryan Singer's shoddy 2006 reboot), then watch Man of Steel. In this situation, you've got a gold star winner. Henry Cavill knocks the role of Krypton's last son out of the ballpark! But the big surprise to me was the solid performances by Cal El's supporting players. Kevin Costner gives a great performance as the Man of Steel's earthly pappy, Russel Crowe nails it as Jor El, Superman's birth father, even Lawrence Fishburne gives a solid go at one of the smaller roles in the movie as the editor of the Daily Planet.

But what really hooked me in was Michael Shannon's fantastic performance as Superman's enemy, General Zod. I had never heard of Shannon before this movie, but he plays the part very well, resulting in a rage-filled, hateful character that I had a hard time feeling bad for!

The story was solid, telling Clark Kent's backstory through a series of (sometimes unnecessary) flashbacks to his childhood. But of the whole movie, I have to say my favorite was the opening 20 minutes, portraying Snyder's vision of Superman's home planet, Krypton. No spoilers, but it sets the tone for a powerful movie.
Let's keep this PG-13 here...

The Villainous: 
Amy Adams. There, I said it. Playing the role of Clark's love interest, Lois Lane, I didn't buy her part for a second. With a different actress in the shoes of this character, I feel like the movie would have been a solid gold winner. But as it stands, I think she needs to stick with playing Disney princesses, and take a break from the comic book movie realm. Amy, you have many talents, but cursing on camera is not one of them. Go back to PG movies, potty-mouth.

Another beef I had was the amount of flashbacks, and their placement in the movie. I think its a great way to tell the backstory without having to re-hash the origin over and over, but cutting these segments down could have cut this movie from a needlessly long two and a half hours, down to a more easily digestible two hour movie.

(potential spoiler ahead)

Finally, and I hate to say it, but seriously... Lois Lane is freaking indestructible!! I swear they put that woman through more dangerous situations than Superman himself! A small beef, but still took me out of the movie a bit.

Score: 8 out of 10
A great first outing for the new Superman, crippled only by a small dose of shaky acting, and some unnecessary length.
"Let's all go to the loooooobby!"