Thursday, January 31, 2013

Star Trek X: Nemesis (2002)

Rating: 15%
The final Star Trek movie before finally reviewing the reboot so that I"ll be all set for Star Trek: Into Darkness!!!

Plot: Shortly after the crew of the Enterprise have their farewell party for Riker and Troi who are going to be married at Betazed, Starfleet orders Picard on a diplomatic mission to Romulus due to the Romulans undergoing a military coup controlled by a human named Shinzon, who claims to want peace with the Federation, but actually intends to lead the Remans to destroy Earth with a radiation weapon.

Now before I watched this movie, I made the mistake of watching The Nostalgia Critic's review for Insurrection, unaware that during the end, an unseen crown wanted him to review Nemesis. This concerned me in the idea that this movie would turn out so bad that people would want him to review it, because it's been my understanding that it's sort of always the even numbers films that are good while the odd ones are bad (under the exception of Search for Spock and the reboot of coarse), and heck, maybe in hindsight I wasn't expecting another Wrath of Kahn or First Contact per say when the time came to see this film for myself, but I was hoping for something decent to end the journey of TNG's crew. But sadly, when I found out it was not the case, my heart sank and it didn't get better from there. My first issue and the one that kind of pissed me off the most was how the fact that Riker and Troi about to get married came right the frick out of nowhere. Because now, the basis of coming back to their relationship is all of the sudden becoming interested because of the radiation from that planet during Insurrection, and then the next thing we know when we get to this film, they're just one trip to Betazed away from getting married. That's...pretty lame. I guess the problem for me is that possibly from the moment their past relationship was hinted since episode 1 of TNG, I figured that they were going to go really big in actually getting back and getting married during one of these films, even if it's not until the last one before the reboot. Even if that is asking too much somehow, they should've at least given us a real story of how they gotten back and get married. None of this bull-crap of their relationship randomly thrown into Insurrection a couple of times for a couple of minutes at beat, and then all of the sudden are about to get married almost first thing in the film right after that. I mean all that drama, all those emotional moments, all that development altogether from all seven seasons of The Next Generation, and this how they get back and get married? That's nuts! It's not like the whole thing had to be the complete center of attention during ANY of these movies, but they really could've done SO much better than this. My second issue is just the plain choice of color and design. I"m not sure how to explain it, but the best way the comes to mind is how some of the designs for stuff like Shinzon's ship and where the climax took place and stuff like that some how made the think of this film as Star Trek meets Batman Forever. And for those of you who don't know that film, it's not a good thing at all. Finally, there's the climax. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it (as much as I wouldn't entirely mind doing so), but...let's just say I hated it as much as the whole Riker and Troi thing  ...maybe more. I guess the only good things that came out of this movie was that we still have the Next Generation crew, and possibly the background of Shinzon. When I say possibly, I mean that I can agree with the argument that his relationship with Picard brings out and interesting idea about Picard himself, but I didn't think about it too much when I actually saw the film because I was a little too focused on thinking on how they should've changed his costume. Cause that's another design issue to me. Actually, it's not the design exactly so much as the color. I just couldn't quite take him seriously looking like that.

And that's my review for Star Trek X: Nemesis. there may be a little entertainment because of the villain and that we get the Next Generation crew in general, but otherwise, I for one found it upsetting that they didn't really do anything with Riker and Troi coming back together and getting married, the design felt more like a mixture between Star Trek and Batman Forever, and a climax that just altogether  made this film close to being the farthest thing from TNG crew ending on a high note. With that said, I'd say this one is the worst Star Trek movie for me because as much as I would like to say that it's still Final Frontier that's the worst, it at least had some interesting aspects and didn't do anything that would upset me unlike this film.

Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998)

Rating: 45%
Okay, so just two more to go and then it's time to finally write my review for the reboot so that I'll be all set for Into Darkness. So let's take a look at Star Trek IX: Insurrection.

Plot: The film starts off at a planet were a village of Ba'ku people are suddenly encountered by a malfunctioning Data who reveals the hidden presence of a Federation and Son'a task force who have been spying on the Ba'ku. Admiral Dougherty orders The Enterprise to try to find Data and find out what's wrong with him. But as they do so, Picard and his crew begin to realize that there's a radiation in the planet that makes the Ba'ku immortal, regenerates La Forge's eyes so he doesn't need implants, and...somehow causes Riker and Troi to begin to rekindle their long-abandoned relationship. 

Okay, I think the way to say to start explaining this is that it's kind of a enjoyed it anyway despite it's flaws like Generations, but this time there's flaws that I really can't overlook. You see the flaws in Generations (for those of you who haven't read my review for that) were pretty silly, but were at the same time amusing so I for one can overlook them. But in this case, there we some that were weird in a not-so-great to bad way like how Riker and Troi kind of got back together, and then there are issues a little more serious like how this film seemed to contradict quite a few things from the show. Some of them I noticed for myself, but if you watch The Nostalgia Critic's review for this movie, his brother especially points out a lot of holes in a lot of what anyone says (Picard primarily) that contradicts certain points from the show. From what The Nostalgia Critic and his brother points out, this pissed off a lot of fans to the point where his brother considers this film worse then even The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier. I personally wouldn't go that far, but whatever flaws those two films had, they at least were true to their characters and their beliefs (for the most part). But this isn't entirely the case with this film so while I wouldn't go as far as being the worst, these facts do effect it a lot. Even that aside, looking back at the film, it definitely wasn't their best. Similar to how The Motion Picture turned out, the plot turned out to be roughly similar to other plots from other episodes such as "The Pegasus" and "Journery's End", the action wasn't all that great, and the character Anij was a little bland and did have some sort of ability that they didn't really go much into it as they probably should have. 

And that's my review for Star Trek IX: Insurrection. It still may have a few things that make it entertaining just the way we like TNG,  but otherwise it's more like an extended episode of the show that used some of the same plot as other episodes of the show, contradicted some of the beliefs and one or two other things that the show gave us, and otherwise was just a film that had some plot holes and certain aspects that were just weird. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Star Trek VIII: First Contact

Rating: 80%
The next Star Trek movie; First Contact...that's it.

Plot: When a Borg cube comes to Earth, Starfleet orders The Enterprise to stay away due to Jean-Luc's experience from being captured by then six years earlier. Picard and the crew decide to disobey the order and help Starfleet destroy the cube, only to have a smaller sphere ship escape and  The Enterprise chases it into a temporal vortex where both ships go back in time to the year 2063 where the Borg are attempting to stop a big historical moment in human history.

Now at first I was a little skeptical about this movie, because I wasn't all that fond of the idea of another film where the crew goes back in time. But thankfully this movie got better. I mean the concept in itself of the crew of the Enterprise facing the Borg during a whole movie goes without saying. The side story about this big historical moment and trying to make it happen turned out to have an ending that I thought was cool and I know much bigger fans then me probably loved to death. The was more action in this movie, which really worked as far goes as facing the Borg and telling us more about them in a much deeper level then they did in the show. And finally, this movie succeeded where Generations did not in terms of giving us ALL of the characters. Granted, this film still kind of focused on Picard and Data the most just like the last film, but I think it's safe to say that we got a whole lot more of everyone else. Sometimes you don't get quite as much as you'd like with certain characters like La Forge concerning his eyes, but most of them aren't an entirely big deal. Anything else to say, the effects and the design look much better then they did in Generations.

And that's my review for Star Trek VIII: First Contact. It gave us a much better plot that fans would easily enjoy, it was much more action packed and gave us much more of the whole cast in general, not just Picard and Data, altogether I would say that this would be the best Star Trek film from TNG. (Don't worry, I have already seen the last two, so I'm not jumping to conclusions before watching them. )

Star Trek VII: Generations (1994)

Rating: 75%
Okay. We have  the last film from the original cast, now it's time for the films from The Next Generations. So let's start with Star Trek VII: Generations.

Plot: In 2293, retired, James Kirk along with Scotty, and Chekhov take part in the maiden voyage of the next starship Enterprise. But along the way, they receive a distress call from a couple of ships from some energy ribbon where they manage to save some of the people, but along the way a part of the ship is hit by ribbon with Kirk in it and is presumed killed. 80 years later, The Next Generation crew of the Enterprise rescues Doctor Soran from a solar observatory that was attacked by Romulans.  But Soran takes La Forge hostage and is transported from the Enterprise by the Duras sisters with the intention to find the energy ribbon and use it to come to a place called The Nexus by intentionally destroying a solar system.

Okay I know that this didn't get the greatest reception ever, but truth be told, I actually enjoyed it. One thing I would like to point out that partly makes it why I liked this film is the plain fact that I really like Star Trek-The Next Generation. While it isn't perfect in any way, the show I felt was much more realistic, the technology looked much more cool and had more interesting philosophy then the original. But I really liked the characters best of all. Because unlike the original series - at least in my point of view, TNG provided us with a lot of characters that weren't just fun like the original cast, but were very clever, most of them had a personal goal or some sort of need that we hope they get, and were being developed more and more as the series went on. So while most people didn't like this this film felt more like an extended episode of the show then something more like a movie, I agree a little but but at the same time couldn't be happier that it was the case on top of who we got into more during this. While Data was a little annoying, I kind of liked how he was learning to use his emotion chip, (though his 'life forms' song is annoyingly catchy) and I thought what they did with Jean-Luc was pretty deep stuff. And the story itself during the very end is really cool for Star Trek fans. Some issues with the film I will admit should be noted. Firstly is the fact that the film does feel more like an extended TNG episode. I know I really enjoy it, but again, I do agree that it has it's disadvantages. Firstly, while we get some enjoyable side stories about Data and Picard, they don't really give us the rest of the cast all that much, when really all of them should be put into the film a fair good amount at the least in order to make sure the fans get everybody in this very first movie based on the TV series. Secondly, the film tends change what's the main thing to focus on throughout the film, and finally, just the plain fact that there are plot holes. But even with these issues I personally found them to be pretty minor as far as how I experienced it as a Star Trek film.

And that's my review for Star Trek VII: Generations. It definitely has some issues where I can understand why this film didn't do great with the critics, but for me I consider the problems to be less of a problem and therefore I can easily overlook them. I focused more on just enjoying the adventure and the characters, and as a result, it's by no means a great film, but as far as a film from a franchise like Star Trek goes, I'm really glad that I saw it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Rating: 70%
Yeah it's been about a year since I last rated a Star Trek movie. But just over a week ago I had finally finished going through the entire series of Star Trek The Next Generations, so with that said, it's time to get started in watching and reviewing all the later films including the reboot so I will consider myself generally ready for Star Trek Into Darkness. But before I review Star Trek VII - Generations there is one last film from the original cast of Star Trek that I have been putting off reviewing for way too long. So here at last is my review for Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country.

Plot: After a Klingon moon that contained the key energy production for Klingons is destroyed, the Klingon Empire is left in chaos and so makes a sue for peace with the Federation. So the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to escort a Klingon chancellor to Earth to start negotiations. But then the Enterprise supposedly acts as though it fired on the Klingon ship and two figures dressed in Federation space suits beam to the ship and assassinate the chancellor. And when Kirk and Bones beam to the Klingon ship and fail to save the chancellor, the Klingons arrest them and put them on trail for murder.

Honestly, I just thought this movie was just nice. I mean don't get me wrong, it was well done, with a nice story and had the characters that everyone loves, some of the comedy was pretty cute to me, and all that jazz. But for me it was like, "So that's how the journey ends with the original cast, entrée next generations. Well alright then."I don't entirely know why I'm not being as enthusiastic as I feel I really should, especially as a far as Star Trek goes. I was just what I basically was for me with The Search for Spock roughly: It wasn't horrid, it wasn't totally groundbreaking as far as Star Trek films go, they gave us the story about this one main important thing, they made a decent movie to tell it, and I am like "Okay. Good to know that's how this happened." So really, the only thing to really add was that I did like the ending. I mean I won't give it away, but I though that especially did the trick when it came to finishing the story for the original series and then begin the adventures of The Next Generation.

And...that's it. My basic review for this movie is that it was just nice, it had nothing that I would was was horrible or particularly groundbreaking as far as watching a Star Trek movie, it just told the story of the last trek of the original crew for me to see before I got into going through the series of Next Generation and it was something that just made me go "Okay. I'm glad I know about this." If you enjoyed it or found it a much bigger deal for Star Trek then I'm giving it credit for, for myself, great. But that's just my honest two cents. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)

Rating: 10%
Okay so for the past couple of months I decided to go through the entire series of Hey Arnold!.  As a kid, I never really got into it outside of seeing a couple of episodes from time to time but I kind of wanted to secretly, and that's when I took the opportunity to finally get into a little after finding it on Netflix. Now during the end of the series, they released a theatrical movie based on the show that I decided to watch before watching the last 5 ish episodes of the show. So here's how it turned out.

Plot: The movie starts off with a man named Scheck, the CEO of a real estate company called Future Tech Industries (FTI), who wants to buy the property of Arnold neighborhood and destroy in order to turn it into a big shopping mall. This leaves Arnold and his best friend Gerald to find a way to stop him while the girl bully, Helga who secretly loves Arnold is torn between helping Arnold and maybe even confessing her love and siding with her father who intends to become rich from making the shopping mall.

GGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! WHAT THE HECK WAS I WATCHING!?!?!?! JUST- GI- RAZZAN-FRAZZIN-SONOVA- wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. *takes a deep breath* Okay, sorry. Let me back up. So here's the thing, I do like the show. I mean it's not a great show, but it was nice with some of the stories, the setting, and it had some good characters. Especially with Helga. Any episode that went a little further into her obsession with Arnold was always fascinating and a lot of fun, making her a particularly enjoyable character. So altogether in a nice show. In fact, much like other kid shows like Ducktales, The Transformers, and Darkwing Duck, I think it's a show that I was better off getting into more now being grown up then I ever really would have as a kid. Anyway, when I planned to see this movie, I had no idea what the ratings for it was, just that supposedly it wasn't that great of a film. And I figured that since most movies based on an animated tv show either good or bad at least had a nice way of going big throughout the films like Reccess: School's Out, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, and The Simpsons Movie, I hoped that even if I find this movie bad, I'd at least get something around those lines with this movie. Sadly, I was so wrong, it was kind of disturbing. Not only was the movie bad in terms of things like the script being unoriginal and the villain being one-dimensional, but it was very bland, lacked a lot of energy, and worst of all, it was super rushed. In fact, the way they structured this movie, it kind of raises eyebrows over the fact that they actually made this into a theatrical film. I mean at least the other films based on movies would take their time to introduce the main characters and some of the all around world that they live in so it gives people who know the show something they are familiar and comfortable with, and gives people who don't know the show an idea of what the show is so that they may begin to be interested in watching the show as the movie progresses. But from the very beginning of the movie they just showed the credits with pretty much no music and then kind of just gave us the problem Arnold as to face right in front of our faces without really doing anything aside from that. I mean as a whole, this film half acts like a big TV movie special from a show where you don't have to introduce anyone necessarily, but at the same time it's so rushed that even as a TV special from the show it wouldn't make sense. Really no matter what this movie is, it was poorly paced because they just threw the whole story and close to never really slowed down. Another issue is that the film didn't really have any music. They would play a little during some 'big suspenseful' moments in the film but it never really had a soundtrack. Which is especially a problem because I think that's a big factor in giving the film energy with what is happening. The last thing I want to point out is that I hated with that they did for Arnold and Helga. I won't say anything, but personally, I thought what they were doing during the end was great, but they ruined it at the actual end of the movie. Ultimately, I think the right way to generalize what was wrong was this movie was that it seemed to lack conviction in itself as a film, big time. Because again, from my perspective, if you're making a theatrical film or even a tv special that's based on a show and is suppose to be a big deal, you kind of have to go big with kind of everything from story, animation, music and so on. But in the case of Hey Arnold! The Movie, the super quick pacing, lack or originality and music, and just how disappointingly blunt it was, it just seemed like it didn't entirely believe in itself  even though the makes expected to make money off of it. (which they hardly did.)

And that's my review for Hey Arnold! The Movie. Maybe some fans liked it anyway just because it was still Arnold and his friends on an adventure and stuff like that, but otherwise to me, while the moment where something big seemed like was going to happen with Helga's feelings for Arnold was probably the best part of the movie, it was easily ruined, leaving us with a movie that had no energy, very rushed, lacked originality, and altogether was not an enjoyable film.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Superman (1978)

Rating: 75%
In a few months we will have Man of Steel, so for a while I've been watching a couple of shows like the animated series, Smallville (at least right until the beginning of season 4. After that, I just skimmed through the plot summaries for the rest of the series to know how it end because it got old after a while), and even the first two season of the animated series of Justice League just in case. But now it's time for me to see and review all the Superman films to date.

Plot: When planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction, scientist Jor-El sends his only son, Kal-El to Earth where the atmosphere there will give him superpowers. Once he's on earth, he's raised by farmer Johnathan Kent and his wife Martha who name him Clark. Eventually when he gets older he leaves to find out what his purpose is and finds his calling in the Arctic where he uses a crystal left from Krypton to make the Fortress of Solitude were a vision of Jor-El reveals to him his true identity and educates him of his powers to become the one and only SPIDER-MAN- I mean SUPERMA- aw who am I kidding, SPIDER-MAN!!!!!

Yes everyone knows this is a classic. It was the first major superhero feature film, it was a huge critical and commercial success, heck, the character Superman is ranked #26 on AFI's top 100 Heroes and Villains. Would I say it has some darn good reasons to be as memorable of a super hero film as it is today? Sure. Would I agree to Superman deserves to be ranked so high among our top heroes from film? Eh, not for me personally, but I can understand why people would think that. In retrospect, this take on Superman is possibly a big reminder of how people are suppose to take the possible original idea of a superhero around that time heroes like superman and batman were created in the 30's. How they're the inspiration of being a great person who does good. Because Superman here is kind of shown to be a perfect person in a way because he's nearly invincible, he uses his powers to do all sorts of good, he never lies, all that good stuff. So I personally prefer more developed heroes or heroes that aren't as simple as this with their character or their powers like Batman and practically everyone from Marvel. But considering how Superman gives us this reminder if you will of the original idea of super heroes, I can understand why AFI would rank him so high in that list. And how they give us this hero with this particular story from this particular take on him also makes it little wonder that this is a classic. It's a very simple-minded film that just basically just gives us the plain, general story of Superman. But I think my big issues with this film are how...some of the takes of the other characters I thought were off. Mostly with the take on Lex Luthor. When I think Lex Luthor, I take him a this total evil kingpin who's really ruthless and cold hearted, or can be cold-hearted like in the recent comics and shows. But here, he kind of acts like a silly childish villain with the dim-witted sidekick and everything. Now I know that's how it's suppose to be for this film since it's especially made for kids. I mean come on. It's Superman. But I honestly find it an issue that a super villain who over the comics control a very ruthless empire and later has done stuff like having his own super suit and also was the President of the United States once, is depicted here to be...really just a silly villain. I mean he is evil, don't get me wrong, he did have a really evil plan and everything, but other then that I thought this was kind of a downplay of this particular super villain. Other then that, the other thing I would mention is just how classic the soundtrack is. I mean that goes without saying just with the fact alone that it's John Williams (I mean DUH!!!!!), but fact is fact, it's a darn good soundtrack. It's big, it makes you feel heroic it goes without saying that it's a theme that's going to be remembered for a long time. And with that said, Hanz Zimmer has some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to his score is for Man of Steel.

And that's my review for Superman. It is not a perfect movie considering certain things like the the film's take on Lex Luthor as a villain. But otherwise it had classic theme music, a well structured that that all around did what it was suppose to do: give us the general, all around story of Superman from start to finish. It's a reminder of how super hero movies around our modern time began, and is all around a nice film that you should make sure you've seen at least once.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chronicle (2012)

Rating: 90%
Alright so this is the second film my family rented and watched when we were waiting for it to almost be the new year. So here's my review for Chronicle.

Plot: Andrew is a high school student who has recently started to videotape his life. One night his cousin Matt takes him to a party where the popular student Steve drags them to a hole in the woods to video tape. Inside the hole, they find a large glowing blue crystalline object that causes them to get super powers.

Okay so I know some of my friends from film school will be glad to know I finally watched this movie. Cause when it was coming out I remember how they were so excited and that some of them event went to a midnight showing and they all found it to be one of the coolest movies ever. And it roughly shows why they would say that very well. Chronicle was very smart with displaying how these characters should react to having these powers. In fact, it was one of those films that make you wish you did have super powers. Because when they would move who am I kidding. When they fricking FLY, it makes that ability look super fun again and makes us wish we could do that. (because we don't always feel that way with super powers like that anymore, let's face it) It also has some very cute jokes - some of which my brothers were ever reciting a little after we finished seeing this film. But what they did during the second half of the film was very clever and also very fascinating. I won't say what happened naturally, but if you haven't seen this film, I'd recommend you see it at least for the second half just for what they do with the characters.

And that's my review for Chronicle. It brought us a realistic take of teenagers getting super powers with cute jokes and fun scenes and ended with a smart and interesting second half that doesn't exactly make it Oscar bait, but is and enjoyable movie that makes it little wonder that people like my friends from film school enjoyed the film so much.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Rating: 90%
So during New Years Eve we decided two rent a couple of films while waiting for it to almost be the new year. One of them was Moonrise Kingdom so here's how that turned out.

Plot: Twelve-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky who is attending a Khaki Scout summer camp in a New England island. One day he decides to run away with his pen pal Suzy. The other scouts and Suzy's parents chase after them while they hid in a cove and fall in love.

This was a very amusing but...eccentric movie. It's funny, dramatic, romantic, and almost all of it is done that's just weird yet actually entertaining way. The romance between Sam and Suzy is very cute yet messed up with some of the things they do considering their age. The Khaki Scouts had a good amount of wit, especially with how they were trying to catch Sam with their weapons. And the film had an interesting choice of star power such as Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis. It has a nice story that's told in a very quiet yet clever pace, cute characters, a very nice amount of wit and is just altogether a good film that you're likely to enjoy.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)

Rating: 30%
Okay so here's the thing, during the last few months of the 8th grade our choir class put up a production of Cinderella that was a rough, adapted version of this movie. I say rough as in it had the story and music (duh) but they did have the characters and dialogue very differently. Before that I remember seeing this movie only once when I was a kid...maybe a year or two after it came out. So I recently decided to see it again and review what I thought about it.

Plot: ... I don't need to tell you the plot! It's fricking Cinderella!

Yeah this really isn't much. It's all colorful and cheesy that you may like if you're a kid or grew up with this as a kid, but it's not much aside from that. I think what really stands out are some of the songs because some of them are in fact rather memorable like The Prince Is Giving A Ball (roughly), In My Own Little Corner, Impossible and Stepsisters' Lament. Most of those songs I remembered long before I was in that 8th grade play. And while the acting was hardly the greatest I've ever seen, I did kind of like Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber being in the movie. But otherwise, it's a colorful and cheesy film that you might enjoy just because Cinderella's one of your favorite story or because of the songs or something like that, but otherwise is better off remembering that it's a tv movie then anything else.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

Rating: 80%
Ah now here's another film I grew up and totally loved when I was a kid. Let's not waste any more time and talk about it.

Plot: While still living in New York with his family, Fievel dreams of going west and meeting his hero, Sheriff Wylie Burp. Then a gang of cats chase his family and all the other mice to the sewers where a cowboy mice convinces them to move out west to a place called Green River where cats and mice live in harmony. But on the train ride there, Fievel finds out that it's all part of a plan from the evil Cat R. Waul who intends to turn the mice into mouse burgers, but is thrown over board by Cat R. Waul's sidekick Chula and so has to find his family (again) to warn them.

Alright so the first thing I want to make perfectly clear is that fact that when I grew up with this film, I had no idea that it was a sequel at all. In fact I think I was in middle school or maybe older when I finally saw the first one. But while some fans may disagree completely with me, I think this one is a lot better. I know that's biased since this was the one I grew up with and everything, but I think I have justified reasons to like this one better. The first American Tail movie may have a couple of songs that are more classic, but it was a really dark and depressing movie. I don't doubt that kids enjoyed it despite that with it still having some comedy relief and stuff like that, but I honestly feel that if I did grow up with both of them, I still would like this one better. It's lighter, it has better animation, the moments with Tiger are a little overdone now that I've seen it again but are still memorable, I remember really liking Cat R. Waul as a villain and how John Cleese did his voice, and it just had so much more adventure and excitement. Which I remember is something that I particularly loved about not just this film, but also Rescuers Down Under, Prince and the Pauper, and Hook when I grew up. Honestly, the only issue that I noticed after recently seeing it again and one issue that I've heard other people mention was that it was a little rushed. I mean as a kid I thought it was really long because...well I was only a kid, but looking back, some of the pacing was quicker then I remembered. I mostly found this to be a problem with the songs. I mean don't get me wrong, I love those songs. Way out West, Catchy. The Girl You Left Behind, fun. Dreams to Dream, personal favorite. But watching them again, I found them to be a lot shorter then I thought and I couldn't help but really wish they were a lot longer then they really were. I especially felt that way with Dreams to Dream. This one is my personal favorite even as a kid because it had a really nice emotional kind of romantic melody to it that as I kid I would imagine it really working in some really big, complex, dramatic love story. So with that said, hearing it again I feel it could work out much more a much longer and more developed song that maybe wouldn't be Oscar winning or even fit in this film, but I still felt it could've been more then what it is. But despite any of those issues they're still very enjoyable. And it has a very cheery and fun climax and...really, If you need only one itty bitty reason to see this film that's not for all the G-rated adventure and fun it has, do it because it's the very last film that James Stewart ever did before he stopped making film and died a few years after this film came out.

And that's my review for An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. It may be more rushed then I remembered - especially with the songs, but it's still very light, fun, exciting, adventurous, making it easily a film for people like me to remember growing up with and otherwise a film that I would recommend even if you think the first film is so much better.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Rating: 70%
Okay so about a couple of weeks ago or so, my friend Candra and I decided to see a movie at the same time via our computers, and she picked Whisper of the Heart so here's what I thought about it.

Plot: Shizuku is a junior high school student in Tokyo who likes to write. One day she follows a cat all the way to an antique shop where the owner makes her become fascinated by a cat statute called The Baron, so she becomes interested in wanting to make a story about it. Meanwhile she has a little trouble with finals and her best friend's crush on a guy and starts to get bugged by a boy named Seiji who happens to be the anitque shop owner's grandson.

Generally, this movie was just cute. While it's not one of the most fantasy heavy films from Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki (who wrote the screenplay but didn't direct the film), it does give an interesting type of coming-of-age film with a lesson that any kid who likes to write like Shizuku should learn, a side story about boys and girls during junior high, and...really just the romance and The Baron to top it all. I mean the whole deal with Shizuku's social life in school is cute and all, but it's what little you learn about The Baron and the romance in general that really does it. Because the little moments with The Baron made me a little curious about The Cat Returns which is the spin-off of this film. And the romance... well I don't want to speak for Candra, but I for one like Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki films best when there's a little bit of romance. So with that said, the romance between Shizuku and Seiji was the main thing to focus on to me. It was cute, it was corny at times, but I liked that they accepted that, it was what I enjoyed most about the film. That aside I will say that the film did have some nice supporting characters (mainly the antique shop owner and his friends) and did show some little fantasy moments that gives us the kind of animation we all enjoy from Studio Ghubli/Miyazaki.

And that's my review for Whispers in the Heart. It's a decent coming-of-age film that has some nice morals that kids could hopefully like when they see this film. But for me personally, it's the little cute romance that makes this an enjoyable film to me and may be the same for you. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012

We'll plenty of critics have done this already and with my review for Django Unchained finished, it's about time that I make my own top 10 favorite list. Now naturally before I do this, I want to point out two things: 1) This isn't about who goes the highest rating from me, this is about what films I enjoyed the most personally and 2) I have not seen every single good movie that came out this year.

And...just to point it out just now...Skyfall and Looper are among the films I haven't seen...

*sobbing* I'm sorry. I just didn't have the time or money for them when they came out *sobbing harder*

*normal voice* well in any case, We have a good amount of movies that were either great or just plain good this year and I'm going to top off the ones that I personally enjoyed the most. So this is My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012.

#10: Wreck-it Ralph
Now considering this was basically a video game version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and that Disney seemed to be on a roll with giving us nice/good films again ever since Meet the Robinsons in my opinion, I wanted this movie to be pretty enjoyable. And that's pretty much what I got. While the structure wasn't new, Wreck-It Ralph had great animation, a fun soundtrack (that "When Can I See You Again" song really gets stuck in your head), cute comedy, and it had really fun characters which I particularly didn't expect to get when it came to Vanellope. Altogether it was a fun film and I really hope that it wins best animated feature's way past time that Disney finally gets an oscar for that on their own without Pixar.

#9 Argo
You know it's a good movie if the only word you can you to begin to describe it is 'Wow'. Argo was a brilliantly done movie with some cute comedy but otherwise really powerful drama that really gets you on the edge of your seat with a story that anybody who lived around that time like my mom would love to watch to finally learn more about what happened in Terhan, and is just a plain great historical story to hear even if you didn't.

#8 Les Miserables
Okay I still meant it when I talked about all the things that I didn't like about this movie, like how it seemed to be more about star power and just making a good movie when they should've gone for great. But ultimately, despite whatever faults this movie had, they still brought my favorite Broadway musical to life with it's classical songs, powerful scenes that left me trying to fight tears, and then there's of coarse Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine in "I Dreamed a Dream" where I wouldn't mind her somehow winning best supporting actress for that somehow even though she probably wont. Was it everything I wanted and more? Absolutely not. Was it enough? Sure. Would I buy it on Blue-Ray? Time will tell.

#7 Life of Pi
I expected this film to be a little bit like Avatar in terms of it mostly being visuals in front of your face just based on what little I saw from one trailer and one poster that I kept seeing, but thankfully that wasn't the case. While Life of Pi did have moments where a scene or two seemed to be a little more about the huge visuals, the rest of the film is telling a great story about Pi and the tiger Richard Parker who had a very unexpected but really clever and well thought of relationship. It has a good story, excellent acting, and leaves a me a little curious about the book since the book has a lot more stuff about God which according my parents, is where it could be a really good book for me to read. We'll see how that goes.

#6 The Amazing Spider-Man
I'm counting on a lot of people being confused and pissed off for placing this over Argo and Life of Pi, but ultimately I liked The Amazing Spider-Man a little better. Maybe it's the comic book fan getting the better of me since ol' Spidey's my favorite super hero. All the same though, despite whatever wrongs this movie has, it's a big improvement from that wretched, and evil Spider-Man 3. This gave us a darker and more realistic take of Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield giving more of the wise-cracks and also the web-shooters that make him a little more loyal to the comics then Maguire. Then of coarse you have Emma Stone as Gwen who was wonderful. Holy crap I wanted to see her more as Gwen with her romance with Peter and unlike MJ in the original trilogy, she was more helpful to Spidey and was more willing to defend herself. There's plenty of things that we expect to be improved in the next movie like more of Aunt May and with the mystery of Peter's parents, and then there's better design then what they chose for The Lizard...  
*double facepalms and makes a big sigh* Somebody please get a moron to strangle...

But ultimately it was a good start to give ol' Spidey another try that I as a Spidey fan find it enough to be among my top 10.

#5 The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey
While it was hardly as spectacular as the Lord of the Rings trilogy was, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey was still an enjoyable movie. While giving us a big portion of the actual story, it also expanded on the brilliant world of Middle-Earth with new locations, new kinds of orcs, wargs and trolls, and telling us more about the history and events from around that time. Not all of it seems to fit into the rest of the movie, but hey, that's were we're hoping the next two films are partly for.

#4 Django Unchained
While the first half wasn't groundbreaking at first, it made up for that with the second half which was awesome. Even with the first half, Django Unchained gave us enjoyable characters that were brilliantly acted, awesome action, a well told story, a fun soundtrack, all that and one big cast that entertains you in the way were all you can say as you are having fun watching this movie is "Only Tarantino."

#3 The Dark Knight Rises
Yeah, the comic book fan in me is getting the better of me here too, but who can blame me? The story is very deep and complex just the way it was suppose to be, Christian Bale was actually better in terms of tone and expression whenever he was Bruce Wayne, it's debatable that Anne Hathaway became the best Catwoman to date (seriously, 2012 seems to have become her crowning year), and despite whatever issues you might have with him, Bane was an enjoyable villain. And I also loved how they gave us wider shots during the action which helped make it so much more enjoyable in terms of cinematography compared to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It was a great film, great way to finish the trilogy, and now we wait and see what may be in store with Blake in the picture.

#2 Lincoln
Yeah. You know it's a good movie just from hearing that voice at the beginning and then find out that's actually Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln gave out remarkable performances with Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Republican Congress leader Stevens. And all around gave us a story about the passing of the 13th Amendment and Lincoln's attempts to end the civil war that was really interesting and well told to the point where I'd like to find a documentary from the history channel or something about this event and all the people in it to know how much is true and how much is just Hollywood being Hollywood. In either case it was a great movie to the point where it's definitely my personal favorite film that's also Oscar bait.

And my #1 favorite film of 2012 is, The Avengers.
Yes, in this list it's The Avengers that triumphs this year. This film would use some of the most over done cliches and then pull a really original joke to make some of the most over done moments in this film become totally hilarious and memorable. Even without that said, it did have good drama, a good twist halfway through, excellent acting, the last 45 ish minutes or so go without saying, and all around was a great way to bring The Avengers and start to also bring the whole world of Marvel on a grand scale to life. True some films had things better then Avengers did. Les Mis had the more powerful moments, The Dark Knight Rises had a more complex story, and Lincoln is more the oscar bait that will win best picture hopefully. But when all is said and done, it was The Avengers that entertained me the most with more reason to laugh, be sad, excited, have less issues with the film, and altogether be entertained in a way that made me happy when I came out of the theater after seeing it for the very first time. And to me, that's a true reason to make something my #1 film for any year.    

Django Unchained (2012)

Rating: 90%
Okay soon soon I hope to make a top 10 list of my favorite films from this recently ended year. But before I do that, I had to see this just in case it would actually be worthy of my top 10. So here's my review for Django Unchained.

Plot: Django and his wife Broomhilda are two slaves back a couple of years before the civil war who are separately sold to a slave auction. But on the way, a German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz frees him in exchange for helping him take down his latest targets. Eventually, Schultz takes a liking to Django and makes him his partner. But eventually he agree to help Django find his wife and rescue her from whoever bought her.
I'll be honest. During the first half of the film I wasn't really impressed. The first half wasn't bad or anything, because it did have some cute moments and the acting from Jamie Foxx and especially Christoph Waltz go without saying, but it felt like I was looking at the same style that we get from Tarantino but was lacking the real spark that makes his movies great. So with that said, I thought I was going to find this film to be just 'meh'. Thankfully the second half came with the spark I was trying to find, and boy did I enjoy it. The comedy, the acting of Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio to go with Foxx and Waltz, the gory action, the soundtrack, it's just completely entertaining the way were my brother and I would say "Only Tarantino" to each other as we watched the film. The only thing close to a down to this movie was that it was almost three hours long which I didn't realize until after the movie. My parents found it ridiculous but after thinking about and and after watching Jeremy Jahns' review for this movie I have to admit that they did use those three hours well and I admit that I can't entirely think of any scenes that I fell very sure should've been cut. Would I consider this to be among Tarantino's very best films? Like among his top 3 or something? I don't know. I would say however that it would be among my personal top favorites of his films...maybe second best next to Inglorious Bastards with the only main way that this film was better was that had the big action that I expected at first from Inglorious Bastards before I went to see that movie...not that, that stopped it from eventually being one of my favorite films.

And that's my review for Django Unchained. While it was unimpressive at first, it made up for it great scenes, great cast, awesome action that was plenty gory, fun soundtrack and even if it's not among his greatest it still is at least another film that shows that Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest writer/directors there is.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Les Miserables (2012)

Rating: 75%
*singing a parody of I Dreamed a Dream* I dreamed a dream when time gone by, I dreamed a film that would bring Les Mis' wonder. I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that Russell Crowe would be forgiving about my Gladiator review. But the tigers come at night, when the casting's about star power, as they tear your hopes apart, as they turn your dream to shred.
 And still I dream Les Mis would be a film that I will love forever. But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are choices you can't help but wonder. I had a dream Les Mis would be so different from this hell I was living- so different now from what it seem, now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Plot: The film starts 25 years after the events of the French Revolution where convict Jean Valjean is finally released by Inspector Javier. A bishop give him food and shelter despite who is is and even saves him when Valjean is caught stealing his silver. This eventually leads Valjean to change his life by ripping his parole ticket and convert to be Christian. Years later he's a mayor of a town while Javier is looking for him for breaking his parole. But while this is happening, one of his employees, Fantine, is fired for having an illegitimate daughter named Cosette. Fantine is forced to become a prostitute and cut her hair, but when she hits a customer, Javair arrests her only to be saved by Valjean. Before she dies, Valjean makes as promise to her to raise Cosette, so Valjean goes to do just that while Javair chases him after finding out he's the one he's looking for.

Okay first off, I want to point out that I'm a man who has grown up with the musical Les Mis; primarily the 10th anniversary. So I'll try to be unbiased when I review this movie. But I want to point out that even if I do, I have to play it rough because Les Miserables is not a musical one should take lightly at all. You have to - I repeat - HAVE TO give it your all and make the whole thing spectacular to give your audience what makes it one of the greatest musicals of all time. So with that said, in my point of view,  that's exactly what you have to give when you're making an adaption of the musical by right if not by just pure. ultimate. logic. The result of this's a fair share of hit and miss. The best part of the film bar none was Anne Hathaway as Fantine. Holy crap did she steal the show. Her performance in I Dreamed a Dream was powerful hand down to the point were I personally think she deserves an oscar nomination. I doubt she would win, but I would be happy if she did. Outside of Hathaway however, generally most of the performances were just between good and mediocre. One example would be Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers. On one hand, they were funny and energetic, but at the same time you feel like they're not really giving it their all. Especially with how they were being very quick with performing Master of the House, which is NOT okay because that's a great song that's full on energy and fun and while you get a couple of're just not quite complete with how they did it. Actually I think that's the real way to explain this film. Occasionally they give you some of the great moments of Les Mis that make you teary eyed, but everything else just doesn't completely give you the power that a film version of the musical needs. A lot of that shows with some of the choreography. They seem to focus more on using medium, normal or sometimes extreme close-ups on the characters then on anything else. While sometimes that really works with some of the big emotional parts, it also grounds us from seeing the all around world that the people live in and with what is happening during certain scenes. A big example is a moment when a rebel raises the flag and yet we see just the rebel and hardly the flag. The flag is a great big part of the story and they limit its appearance just to show the character. If you make a film of Les Mis you have to show both. While the characters are the soul of the experience, there is a whole world to show where they are and what their lives are like that strengthen their stories to the fullest. But I think the bigger problems are Hugh Jackman being Jean Valjean and Russel Crowe as Javair. When it comes to a character like Jean Valjean, like the musical itself you HAVE to be spectacular at performing this character in both acting and singing to truly give out what makes him a part that practically any male singer would want to perform as, it's that great and important of a role. When you're Jean Valjean, you either go big or go the frick away and stop wasting our time. Sadly despite doing some moments right, Jackman did not entirely go big. I mean acting wise he was great, but while his singing shows that he has experience in the singing world, he just shows that he's good but not entirely worthy of being Jean Valjean. Just that alone is where I would disagree with him being nominated for his performance if he does get nominated. But then we have Russell Crowe as Javert. I hate to say it, but the moment he started singing in the beginning of this film, that's when my brothers and I knew that it was going to go downhill with him. Because like Jackman, while he can sing, it's nothing that one would really find worthy of being Javert. But at least with Jackman he had some strong acting. Crowe...he was just giving the same face he gives us in films like Gladiator and Robin Hood. Ultimately, Jackman and Crowe's lack of worth of being these characters prove that when they made this film, they wanted to focus more on the drama and the star power and giving us just a good film out of it. There's no doubt that some of those ideas have some importance to the film, but the fact of the matter is, this musical has very high standards on how to be performed. I mean as a film, the standards are practically as high as would making Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. At the end of the day, I would agree that it's definitely a good film all around for sure. Because despite its flaws we still get this great musical turned into a film. I mean even with the issues, my mom for one wants to buy it when it comes out on Blue-Ray and DVD, and my grandfather finds it to be the greatest movie he's seen all year. But I think most people will be like me were...well...if I buy it on Blue-Ray, then I buy it on Blue-Ray. And if I don' loss. Because while I am glad that they made this film deep down, I'm not happy with it's big flaws and how they settled for good when they should've aimed for great.

And that's my review for Les Miserables. It has some disappointing moments and lacks most of the real spark that makes the musical one of the greatest known to man. But even then, they still gave us the musical as a film with some of the powerful, teary eyed moments and a great performance from Anne Hathaway that at the least makes it an enjoyable film that's worth seeing at least once if you like the musical like me.

here's the link for the video version of this review: