I am going into a new semester at my college. This can mean only one thing.......expect less from me. I have my next few articles planned and I will be writing them in my free time, just don't expect me to come out with them as quickly as I have been. I'm sorry; I wish I had the time and freedom to write as I pleased. As a sign of good faith I will share with you the next couple posts I will be doing:
-Let’s Review: Conan the Barbarian
-Top 10 Underappreciated Superhero Shows
-DC and Marvel: Batman vs. Spiderman
-Top 10 Greatest Starships
Please look forward to seeing these in the future.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Ah yes, the secret love child of two of the greatest film genres of all time. You all knew that eventually the studios would be desperate enough to try this, but does this film really live up to the standard of either of these genres? Let’s review Cowboys & Aliens.
Let me answer my own intro question right off the bat here: it doesn’t, at least for the Science Fiction half of this film. The aliens never live up to the hype that this movie provides for them. Their true motives are kind of silly (they’ve come to our planet for the gold rush), their actions are extremely contradictory (they capture humans in order to study our weaknesses, but rush right out into the final fight without any weapons because they underestimate our abilities even though we have been kicking their butt the entire film), their biology with their use of this biology is baffling (they have a dense protective shell –like bullet-proof armor for skin, yet most of their deaths are caused by how often they try to grad people with their inner arms that also expose their vital organs), and they are by far the most intelligent incoherent species I have ever witnessed (none of them ever talk throughout the entire film, resorting to grunts and growls that make them seem more like mindless monsters than a highly advance alien species that crossed the stars).
Sorry to do that all in one sentence but the aliens really bothered me in this film. It was a cheap stereo typical alien monster with little to no thought really put into the design of these creatures and what they can do. Remember Predators (species not the movie). Within the Predator film series we have only ever had brief glimpses at the species and what they can do overall, the predators have never really spoken that much with their films being mostly horror based. In every brief glimpse of the Predators we get, they have never wasted a moment to showcase them more, be it technology, their home world, their religious beliefs, their motives. The reason I am comparing these Aliens so much to the Predators is because they are the Predators done wrong. We are given poorly execute explanations of the aliens throughout the entire movie, but with each new explanation these aliens just keep coming off as sillier and sillier. I feel like the War of the Worlds aliens had better explained motives than these guys.
As a final minor complaint, Olivia Wilde’s character is acted incredibly flat and also falls within the bad alien stereotype. Her character never really fit the mood of the film and a lot of the story exposition was just blurted out through her over time. Her character’s ultimate fate didn’t really faze me as I never really understood or like her character in the long run. I think that there was a good story for her character but it was just poorly executed.
The Western half of this fusion film is what makes up entirely for the lacking Sci-Fi half. Which is good because it also makes up a much bigger section of the film. Daniel Craig is amazing in this film. I was truly surprised to find that a British actor could pull off a better old west accent than some of his cohorts. Harrison Ford also gives an amazing performance as the sort of anti-hero Colonel. I have seen Harrison Ford play heroes for years and it was interesting to see him in a much more villainess role than his usual fare. It’s these two actors that truly help convince you that this is all taking place within the old west.
What truly keeps the film going is the townspeople. It’s just a shame that some of them didn’t get names and what ones did never really get said again. Most of these characters were named after their job (Doc, Preacher, Colonel) I’m sure these characters had names, but were truly unimportant to remember. In any case, it is the townspeople that keep the humor going and the mood lively. I found myself very invested in some of these characters and was wondering what was going to become of them. The scene where they aliens kidnap half the town does have a lot of weight to it because the film actually does a fair job of building these characters up a bit. We only get brief moments into each of their lives but you can tell that they are a community that is going to band together to save their loved ones.
The lone moments we have with Daniel Craig’s character were some of the best in the film. We were on this journey with him to try and piece together what happened to him. We have some slight knowledge of what kind of man he was before but it’s not the kind of man we want to be now. It’s a new lease on life and we have to decide what were going to do with it. Daniel Craig’s character is the one that is leading us into this world and is one of my favorite things about this film. He knows just about as much as we do and he acts upon his instincts to do what is right.
While not being one of the best fusions of Sci-Fi and Western genres, cough *Firefly* cough, it was still very enjoyable. The film stumbles in sections and the aliens do not work at all, but I think it could have worse. It could have been Priest. I think this movie is works better as a western than a Sci-fi because the film is a Western but with Sci-Fi elements shoved in. It wasn’t a true fusion of the two genres and that is where it falters. 3.5 out of 5
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I might not be one of the best people to ask about this film. Mostly because I am one of the BIGGEST PLANET OF THE APES FAN EVAH!!!!! At the same time though, I will admit that the 2001 reboot was a great disappointment and made little to no sense. Due to the failures of the 2001 reboot, I was worried what this new reboot could mean for the franchise. Let’s review Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The biggest problem this film is facing is the humans. This film isn’t really supposed to be about them, because of this we find ourselves not really caring about the human characters at all. Most of them act incredibly flat without any emotions being displayed. I can see why the humans devolve into the cave people in the original film, because these people don’t react at all. I like James Franco, but this was one of his personnel worst performances. ‘Oh, my smart monkey that I raised like a son is now taking over the planet with an army of apes, but it’s all good because he is free now and it’s important for me to let go and let my son live his life.’ I would have a much stronger reaction to this moment then go be free, enslave every human in your path.
The only person who had any kind of emotional reaction in this movie was the neighbor (maybe Tom Felton but I didn’t really care about his character either). This neighbor is one of the greatest dicks I have ever seen in film. I can forgive him for trying to protect his daughters from a loose ape, but being outraged at a man who was well known for suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and who was clearly having a relapse at that moment came off as both bizarre and silly. It just absolutely astounded me how dickish this guy was acting to a frail old man who was clearly suffering from a mental ailment. This moment completely took me out of the movie for a moment. I get that the movie was trying to have villains but this was very over the top. When the neighbor shows up again, Dr. Franklin was trying to get into James Franco’s house in order to talk to him about the disturbing side effects of the virus. Dr. Franklin is just casually going around Franco’s house doing normal stuff such as knocking on the door, shouting, looking in windows, when suddenly the neighbor grabs him by the collar, pushes him against the wall and demands to know what he is doing there. What the hell? He was trying to get someone’s attention at Franco’s house and he shoves him into a wall? This guy was way too over the top and it felt really unrealistic.
My final complaint is Caesar’s voice. Caesar only talks twice in this movie but the voice they used really stands out. We have been closely following Caesar throughout this entire movie; he is represented as a little guy who becomes repressed, and starts a revolution in order to get his freedom back. The voice they use can be comparable to the Hulk. It is incredibly deep and a bit scary. It severely doesn’t match up with the little guy we have been following up to this point and it just comes off as weird.
I loved this film. This was a Planet of the Apes film. For me the movie doesn’t really start until 2 thirds of the way in when Caesar first ends up at the zoo. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the first 2 thirds of the film, it’s the origin story and it does an amazing job of establishing the character and how he came to be, but this is when the movie becomes really interesting. We get to see Caesar’s fall from grace and his methodically planned rise up into power. The movie suddenly becomes a prison film. Caesar must understand how life works within the cell. Who is on top, who is his friend, who can help him in the long run, and how best to conduct his business, all of which became important lessons for Caesar. I suddenly found myself incredible invested in the ape characters (all of which didn’t talk, save for Caesar and Maurice who could sign). These characters had much stronger personalities than their human counterparts and I actually found myself cheering for them when they were attacking the humans. For only being in the film in the final third, I found them instantly more likable than any of the human characters. This provided an amazing final act for the film and I loved every second of it.
This film didn’t go the full mile and show the world in total control of the apes; instead it showed the absolutely first battle of this war. I was disappointed at first that the film wasn’t going to show the full progression and ultimate takeover of the planet of the apes, but then I realized that this was absolutely where the film needed to end. This was by all means the perfect origin story for the planet of the apes. It showed the beginning of Caesar and the rising up of his army. I can honestly say I hope they make more because I would definitely like to see the return of The Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
This film truly was a masterpiece and should be considered one of the best films within the Planet of the Apes film series. This film has renewed my interest in this franchise and has made me want more. The only thing that was missing from this film was Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall. 4.5 out of 5
Friday, August 12, 2011
As a child I really loved Winnie the Pooh. For fun I decided to go see this film and see if it lived up to my memories. Did it live up to my childish nostalgia or were my young dreams dashed to the wind. Let’s review Winnie the Pooh.
It was too short; clocking in at about 69 minutes this was a short film. On the other hand, I understand that young kids can’t sit through overly long films.
Many of the voices for the characters were different. It’s not so much a complaint; it’s just that many of the new voice actors didn’t pull off the characters as well as the originals had. Though I’m sure the new voice actors did the best job they could to emulate their predecessors.
IT’S WINNIE THE POOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS FREAKIN' AWESOME! This film lived up to all of my childish hopes and dreams and managed to bring back a piece of magic that has been missing from Disney as of late. If you have little kids, this is the film you want to take them to. It is a pure film, not losing itself to the overly cheesy and terrible kid’s movies that are peppered with bad jokes and references that would make no sense to children.
The media market is filled with so much garbage that they are trying to shove down children’s throats, that it becomes really nice when something pure comes along just for the children. 4 out of 5 (please don’t judge me)
After viewing Thor I was actually quite worried about Captain America. While I did think Thor was a good movie, there was something always holding it back that kept me from fully enjoying it. My worry was that Captain America would suffer from the same problem and that Marvel was just trying to get them out of the way before going into The Avengers movie. Were my worries correct? Let’s Review Captain America: The First Avenger.
I want to say first that every single one of my complaints are simple nitpickings and the issues did very little to ruin my enjoyment of this film. That being said, my first issue resides in the scene where Steve Rogers first gains his powers and is chasing down Dr Erskine’s assassin. I understand that he isn’t used to his massive muscular build yet, but the whole scene just seems really awkward looking. I compare it to the first Spider-man film’s car chase scene with Uncle Ben’s murderer. That scene demonstrated Peter Parker getting used to web swinging as well as learning how to best use his new agility. My problem with the Captain America film’s car chase scene is that it looks exactly how it sounds. A very tall muscular man is trying to catch up with a car. He bumbles through the streets and then looks extremely silly when he leaps onto the car. The whole scene just looked really awkward but I’m not sure how else they could have done it.
My second complaint comes around the scene where Captain America is rushing through a crowd of Hydra soldiers in an attempt to catch up with Red Skull’s jet, The Valkyrie. In order to get past all the soldiers Cap decides to grab a hanging chain and swing past them all. There is an incredibly sudden jump cut where we see Captain America running towards the jet. I might have blinked but I should think it wouldn’t be that difficult to film a scene where he landed first and then started running. This particular scene also has some of the worst digital graphics in it as the long hallway for the jet seemed particularly out of place against all of the real life characters. That said, Bucky’s death sequence also had poor digital effects as it looked like he was going to hit the ground way before the scene was going to cut away, but he just kept falling. It just looked weird.
My final complaint is that for being placed within World War II, there is a surprisingly large amount of sci-fi lasers and technology flying about. I understand that Hydra was the Nazi’s science division and that this all falls within a realm of disbelief, but I found myself having a hard time staying with the film when suddenly they World War II battlefield had lasers shooting all over it. Once again, these are all minor complaints and did not ruin the film for me.
Now that I have all of that out of the way…THIS FILM WAS AWESOME! I enjoyed absolutely every second of it. If there was one film that Marvel created that perfectly adapted the entire comic book it came from, this would be that film. Absolutely everything was done perfectly and I loved every single second of it.
I was worried at first when I heard that the former Human Torch was going to be the one playing Captain America, but I was completely wrong. Chris Evans does an amazing job portraying our Star-Spangled hero throughout his entire life easily showing the weak but strong willed kid, the egotistical yet bored super star going across the nation, the rise of a powerful leader who can charge into battle without fear, to the lost soldier being a man out of time. Everything was played out perfectly.
I also want to praise Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull. More so than then any other villain portrayal like Green Goblin, the Abomination, or even Loki did this portrayal get so close to the mark. If I had to picture the Red Skull this is exactly how I would have pictured him. The look was exactly how he is suppose to look, his motives were the same motives that have carried him through the pages of comics for years, the way he reacted to situation was perfectly done how the Red Skull would have acted. This was in my opinion a perfect portrayal of the character.
This was by far a masterpiece on Marvel’s part. I loved every single moment of this film and it is now one of my absolute favorite superhero films. A fantastic final piece to the buildup of the Avengers movie, let’s just hope that the Avengers film lives up to all the hype these films have been giving it. 4.5 out of 5
What better way to review something than to review its ending. As I’m not going to review any of the other Harry Potter films this is exactly what I’m going to do. This film being about the final half of the last book is the very definition of a story’s ending but how well of an ending is it? Let’s review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
My first complaint comes from the digital effects. Out of all the films in the series, this one seemed to have the weakest digital effects. Certain scenes like when Harry was looking through the pensieve or the final magic battle between Harry and Voldemort or the effects on the Grey Lady, all of it really seemed to stand out as poor graphics. I personally think that this was caused by the effects teams trying to compensate for the 3D effects and/or because they were rushing to get the film released on time. Whatever the reason behind, the digital effects in this one weren’t really up to snuff like some of the previous installments. For the best comparison for what I’m trying to get at, watch the Priori Incantatem (the great big magic energy beam stalemate between Harry and Voldemort) in Goblet of Fire and compare it to its appearance in this film, it really is a poorer quality.
Another problem is how fast the villains die. Both Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort die extremely quickly. Bellatrix has been built up as a very frightening very powerful villain, and she only started appearing in the 5th film. Her character has been established as a force to be reckoned with so to have her final fight and death be resolved in under a minute is kind of unworthy of her character. As a matter of fact her death by dehydration curse comes off as incredibly silly and ruins the emotional satisfaction of having her death occur. Voldemort’s death happens fairly quickly but that’s how it happened in the book. My actually problem with his death is the fact that there really isn’t a final word between Harry and Voldemort before the fatal blow is cast. This brings me to my final complaint.
WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FINAL BOOK OR SEEN THE FINAL MOVIE, YOU SHOULD NOT READ THE FOLLOW PARAGRAPH AS IT CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS TO THE ENDING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Exposition is one of the main devices for storytelling. The purpose of exposition is to inform the readers about the background information about plot, characters, setting, or themes. This has been used in storytelling for centuries. This is something also present in the Harry Potter novels. This is something that is not included in the final scene of the final film. In the novel after Harry confronts Voldemort and ‘dies’, he has a very ethereal conversation with Dumbledore. This conversation is used to explain how brave Harry was to accept his fate for the greater good, but what had really occurred was Voldemort killing the horcrux that was attached to Harry himself. This is the point where Dumbledore encourages Harry to get back up and finish the fight with Voldemort for he is truly the only one who can finally defeat him. This is the last time we see Dumbledore in the movie. After the final battle with Voldemort, the novel continues with Harry having a conversation with Dumbledore’s ‘spirit’ which now resides in a portrait in his former office. This conversation explains the entire plot of not only the final book but most of the secret plot threads running throughout the entire series. This scene explains the importance of the deathly hallows (the namesake of the title), why Dumbledore’s brother hates him, why Dumbledore’s hand was cursed in #6, what Harry plans to do with the power of the Elder Wand, and many more secrets revealed. They don’t have this all important scene in the film. WHY?!?!?!?! THIS IS THE MAIN POINT OF THE SERIES GETTING EXPLAINED, WHY WOULD YOU NOT INCLUDE IT? Instead we get a brief scene of Harry and pals talking a little on a bridge before Harry breaks the Elder Wand like a twig and chucks it. The scene barely explains any of the plot threads and is hardly the ending we deserve. The major problem is not explaining the main point of the horcruxes. These mystic items were the title of the darn thing but they barely get a focus on in the story’s plot. This was the same problem with film 6 when they spent no time at all with the Half-Blood Prince’s book or with Harry learning all the new skills from it, but still cared enough to have Snape randomly point out that he was the Half-Blood Prince (for anyone who hasn’t read the novels, this comes off as ‘yeah I’m that guy who wrote in that book you had the first 3rd of the film before getting rid of it to focus on more teen drama scenes’) By not focusing on the Deathly Hallows and their importance to the entire plot of the series, we miss out on a great conclusion to an amazing series. It also just seems funny to name something after something that barely means anything to the plot after removing the exposition for it. The film should have been called Harry Potter and the Sinister Search for the Seven Soul Slices just to match the plot it presented better.
This film was a wonderfully well done conclusion to a well accomplished film series. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and have only a few complaints with very little that I would change. I believe that splitting the final book into two parts gave it a lot more breathing room and both parts benefitted from it. That being said there are a few areas of the film I want to praise.
The make-up designer did an amazing job with the goblins. I have never seen make-up on mythical creatures look so realistic before. It looked as if it were made from actual skin and that an actual goblin was sitting in front of them. I was absolutely astounded by the vastly impressive work I saw here.
Another thing I want to praise is the pacing of the film. Its 130 minutes long yet still feels like it gets over too soon. Not once did I look at my watch while viewing this film. When the credits rolled I was confused because I felt like I hadn’t been there that long. It truly is amazing pacing when you sit through 130 minutes and feel like you’ve only been watching a half hour.
The Harry Potter film series will be forever known as a cinematic success in fully adapting a lengthy book series. The conclusion is as wonderfully constructed as all the other pieces in this series. The Harry Potter films will truly be a missed feature to look forward to every year. 4 out of 5
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I am behind in a number of film reviews but the one that is the most behind is Pirates 4. I have been very busy lately and have put this off for sometime (even putting other posts and reviews in front of this one). It’s nothing personnel, I just haven’t gotten around to it. So without further waiting, let’s review Pirates 4.
This is the film where the cast and crew become divided. It’s the sequel where some felt that the last film should have ended it, and some wanted to keep going. This happens with many film series and it’s always an awkward transition. We lose some of the main characters and some of the driving creative force that made the films good. This is something the Pirates 4 does a good job at fighting but ultimately stumbles through this.
Have Captain Jack Sparrow as the new main character keeps the film going but brings the character down a peg. Until this film, Jack wasn’t the main star of the series; the narrative had always been about Will and Elizabeth. Putting Jack into the main seat means that some of his more bizarre antics need more explanation. Jack Sparrow operates as a mobile plot device. His actions always further the plot for our main duo in a bizarre and humorous way. This is his appeal. By making him the main character, he can no longer play the moving plot device and must have other characters move the plot for him. Jack Sparrow is mostly just pointed to the next plot piece by all of the supporting characters and sent on his merry way. It’s almost as if Captain Jack was forced onto this adventure by his peers and is less fun because of it.
Speaking of missing cast members, where was everyone else? I understand that Will and Elizabeth weren’t going to be in this one, but what about all the other supporting characters? The only returning characters in this film are Jack, Barbossa, and Gibbs, what happened to the rest of the crew? I was expecting to see Cotton, Marty, Pintel, Ragetti, the Prison Dog, anybody who was a small supporting character but still memorable. None of these characters return, instead we get a heartfelt missionary, a smitten mermaid, an annoying cabin boy, and Scrum. (I’m not joking that’s his name). While these new characters were entertaining at some points, I have to wonder why no one else decided to return. The story of how the Pearl got capture might suggest that they are all dead which would simply be just a letdown and a loss of good characters.
My final problem with the film is that the Zombies just didn’t work for me. The only magical enchantment that was at Blackbeard’s disposal that seemed to be real was his sword controller for the ship. The voodoo dolls, the prophet, and the zombie generals just felt really forced into this film. I feel like this was the producers wanted a new mystical element in this film since we could no longer have skeleton pirates or fish people. I get that having cursed crews is a key recurring plot device in the series but the zombies just didn’t pull it off for me. The effect was rarely used, but when it was used it just looked cheap and fake.
Any scene that had Jack and Barbossa together. These two were priceless and every scene they had together was hilarious. With Jack taking up the role of the main character, Barbossa was taking over Jack’s role. He would appeal at random moments and move the plot along in a bizarre and humorous fashion. This actually significantly made Barbossa more likable and all of his interactions with Jack became the highlight of the film.
I ended up really liking Blackbeard as a villain. He was portrayed as an aging pirate who was seeking to immortalize himself as well as redeem himself for his newly found daughter. This is how most of the main characters played out in this film. Age was getting to them; while they were seeking out a way to become immortal they were also trying to find was of redemption. Blackbeard was an old villain on his last leg and he was desperate to save himself. For me that really worked as a villain. I don’t quite understand why we need the Spanish as a side antagonist; they served no real purpose and were barely featured in the film. The film would have been fine with just Blackbeard as the main villain without any interference from the silly Spanish army. (As a side note I also really liked Blackbeard’s enchanted sword even though it was never explained and became useless once they were away from all the ships.)
This was one of the better films in the series but at the same time, like its characters, it is showing its age and is on its last leg. The Pirates series is enjoyable because of brilliant characters. People want to go see what these characters are doing and what they’ve gotten themselves into this time. This has made movie goers to forgive the incoherent plots because of the likable characters. The problem with this is when you get rid of most of the main cast members, people realize more and more how bad the plot really is. 3 out of 5.