Saturday, February 15, 2014

Robocop (2014)

Rating: 70%
Around high school my dad showed me and my brothers the original Robocop movie, and we thought it was the best bad movie we ever saw. Now we have the reboot which my dad and I just saw.

Plot: A powerful company called OmniCorp is is the center or robot technology for the military. But when a act in the U.S. government keeps them from selling their robots for use in civilian law enforcement, they decide to put a human in a machine. So when a good cop named Alex Murphy is critically injured by a car bomb, they put him in a cyborg suit and display him as a robotic police officer for Detroit.

As a reboot from a popular campy movie from the 80's...generally I liked it. Yes, it is by no means a masterpiece. But what they did for a reboot was surprisingly good. Or at least, very admirable. The original film (at least as far as I can remember it) was a bad, but fun to watch kind of popcorn, "shoot em' up" kind of film that was very over the top with it's action and gore, and had a very simple story. But here, it's less about the violence and more about the story and some of the main characters. Roughly similar to what The Wolverine is compared to Wolverine Origins, this movie focuses less on the big, fun mindless action, and more on the main character and what he's going though. In this case, this mostly focuses on his experience becoming RoboCop and trying to be in control over his cyborg body. And that's what made the film so surprisingly enjoyable. I was expecting a movie that had some new elements that are lightly put in, but mostly just mindless violence. But instead, it acted more three dimensional about the concept of RoboCop and who he is as a person all from a different point of view, with some decent, fun action on the side. Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop and while he wasn't amazing, he did all around give an acceptable performance. We also have Gary Oldman as Dr. Norton and he gives a very likable performance and really helps out in making the story feel more thought out. The biggest problem for me personally however, was how they didn't really give us much with RoboCop's family. True, they were a part of the story unlike the family in the original film, and they weren't completely bland per say. But they still were not as well developed as the rest of the cast, to the point that neither of them- especially the son, really had anything close to an identity. As great as it was to go more into RoboCop as a person who is going through all of this stuff, their biggest flaw to that aspect was that they didn't give us focus on the family in a way that strengthens what they were doing.

And that's my review for Robocop. If you are looking for a mindless action movie, you're probably not going to enjoy this film. But all in all, RoboCop was a likable movie that was more heavy on the story and the characters then on the action. It's not done great, but to me, it's something to really admire the makers of the film for making this film both as an action film and as a reboot for a mere concept like RoboCop.         

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Animated Couples (that are not Disney princess couples)

Well there's little doubt about it. I am a sucker for love stories. Not that I will watch anything that has a romance or an attempted romance mind you. But whether from film, tv, comics or video games, there can be some truly great love stories that I can enjoy. And there can be some especially great love stories that have been brought into animation. So to celebrate Valentine's Day, I'm going to give you my personal top favorite animated couples from either film or TV. Now there's a couple of things to keep in mind to this list. Firstly, I am leaving out Disney Princess couples because some of them would kind of be cheating to put into this kind of list. Belle and the Beast especially would possibly make it to #1 without a care with the kind of love story they have that so many of us love. Also what counts as a couple is either a pair that either are a genuine couple or even a pair where either person want to get with the other and thus, we as audiences would like to see happen too. So as much as I would love, love, LOVE (pardon the pun) to put for example some of my favorite shipping pairs from MLP such as FlutterMac, SweetieMash or Sparity, they don't count because the mere possibility of either of them hooking up in the show is currently not cannon. That being said, let's take a look at my top 10 favorite animated couples (that are not Disney princess couples)

# 10 Fry and Leela from Futurama
She is a mutant who is a smart, tough fighter, he is a stupid lazy guy who was frozen for a thousand years. They are a polar opposite couple that have probably the most jumbled of relationships in this least when you look at the series as a whole. Fry is like a younger and skinnier version of Homer from The Simpsons, except he is a lot dumber in his own way to the point where he really should've gotten killed ages ago, and his laziness also makes him sloppy and filthy most of the time. But when it comes down to his feelings for Leela, he's there to save her, comfort her, tell her that she's beautiful the way she is, heck, it's thanks to him that she found her real parents. Leela is of coarse the smarter, stronger and also the more organized. She is naturally the leader of the delivery group at Planet Express and tends to be the most logical out the entire staff. Fry often annoys her with his immaturity and occasionally his rather obnoxious moves that he makes on her. But eventually she begins to see how he gives her a sense of security and how he really values her as a person compared to other men like Zapp Brannigan (or is it pronounced Zapp Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrannigan? I've heard it both ways). Their affection for one another becomes clearer as the show went on, but again, their development also is rather jumbled. Their relationship has always gone on and off throughout the show, and a lot of that comes from them having a romantic/potentially romantic episode at first, but right after that episode, the show continues with each of them going their natural way in the show as if the past episode never happened at all, and it stays that way for about half a season or longer until the next romantic-ish episode comes along that comes out as its own story rather than one that picks up where the last episode left off. I guess going through the series, I personally found that confusing and a little annoying as things kept going back and forth between them without any real explanation. But it all ties down to the series finale and I won't give anything away, but what happens is rather fitting for the two of them. Whether things go romantic between them or not, Fry and Leela are a futuristic couple to enjoy.

#9 Batman and Catwoman from Batman: The Animated Series

These two are very low on the list because technically this has to do with Batman and Catwoman in general rather then just them from the animated series, but that doesn't change the fact that their relationship - like a lot of things that were in this particular show - where delivered extremely well to the basic story between them. Catwoman is normally just a thief who steals because she does what she was to do to survive. But in the case of the show, she also is a socialite and animal rights activist which tends to get her to do what she believes is justly right whenever she is not just stealing jewelry or artifacts. And naturally when that happens, that's when Batman is there to either stop her from harming someone or to temporary be allies with her to stop whoever is the bigger problem. This of coarse is where they begin to fall in love, but rarely let their feelings get the better of them. In this way, their relationship going on and off makes more sense then it does for Fry and Leela because it is clearer why their love keep going back and forth. They don't entirely trust each other and tend to have other things get in the way between them such as Batman's code and Catwoman also in love with Bruce Wayne. This of coarse leads them to keep changing between being allies or enemies. What makes them so likable is how they are very similar in how they will dress up and do what they think is right, even if Catwoman is also a thief on the side. Plus you can tell that they're meant for each other. True, Batman has been with a lot of women, and some you could debate are the one that is meant to be with someone like Talia al Gul. But ultimately he has the bigger connection and the most similarities with Catwoman. What other reason is there to root for these two in the show? It's Batman and Catwoman.

#8 Danny and Sam from Danny Phantom.  
They've been best friends for years and they only discovered their feelings as the show went on. Everyone else in Amity Park seems to think they are dating, even Danny's crush, Paulina went on a date with him only to try to make Sam jealous as payback for calling her shallow. They do sort of like different things as Sam is all into the dark and gothic stuff and Danny... isn't into that and also wants to become and astronaut...I guess they didn't give him a whole lot of things he likes by himself when he's not fighting ghosts in retrospect. But regardless, they do enjoy hanging out a lot and enjoy each others' company. They'll have argumenst and in some occasions hate each other and Danny would be more interested in other girls, but they always make up and be there to help the other out. They start to really open the idea of becoming more then friends when a ghost named Ember puts Danny in a romance spell, causing him to focus on Sam which forced her to break him heart in order for him to be able to stop Ember. Since then, a relationship between them has been considered from time to time even when, again, Danny will be interested in other girls like Paulina and Valerie. But at the end of the day, they would begin to discover that they truly love each other and want to be together.

#7 Phineas and Isabella from Phineas and Ferb
Egad! This couple is taking forever to get together!!!!! When the heck is this going to happen!?!?! Now at first I was going to go with Ferb and Vanessa because when I started watching the show, I started to root for the idea that he would grow on her and inspire her to be more of a good person despite having Doofenshirtz for a father. But when I recently caught up with the show, I realized A) their age difference is a little weird in hindsight, B) She is with Major Monnagram's son and he seems to be that kind of boyfriend for her and Ferb seems to be okay with that, and C) you kinda of have to root for Isabella getting with Phineas because its more sad how she really wants to get together with him and he's totally in the blank. They do a ton of things together (all in the course of just one summer that feels more like 4 years to Doofenshmirtz) and it's clear that he does care about her and always wants to help out whenever something is up with her like having the hiccups, getting her tonsils out, or something that has to do with the Fireside girls. But whenever he is doing something romantic to help out some other couple, Isabella is left irritated that he does all these things for some other couple, but never even considers doing something like that for Isabella. There's an episode that came only a few months ago where she sings a song expressing that at this point her expectations are so low, that all she really wants is to spend time alone with Phineas no matter what it takes. Even if it's doing something like the two of them eating french fries, getting stuck under rubble or going to the orthodontist in a smelly subway. (yeah that's weird, but hey, it's stuff like that, that makes the show so fun and original.) And it's very clear that if he knew, he would want to be with her too. There's a scene at the end of the TV movie Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension that ends with everybody getting their minds erased, and right before that happens, Isabella kisses Phineas dead on the lips and leaving him surprised but happy. So if he knew the truth without getting his mind erased, he would be on board with the idea of getting together with Isabella. It's unknown if they will ever end the show with them finally together, but if it they did, it would not have come soon enough.

#6 Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans
I only just watched the entire show this past fall, but if there was only one thing that kept me wanting to see more as I watched it, it was watching these two together. Since the very first episode, it was beyond clear that these two deeply care about each other and have a very strong bond. They couldn't hide it even if they really tried. Robin is the leader of the Teen Titans, and in a lot of ways he's much like Batman in that he can be very serious and determined on the mission at hand. Starfire is an alien princess who is extremely cheerful and optimistic and likes to learn new things with joy and/or intrigued curiosity. And whenever they are fighting together, it's great to watch. You harm or capture one, you usually piss off the other. And the best parts of the show are when their relationship slowly begins to grow. From Starfire forced to get married, to being alone stranded in an alien planet, you can't get enough of what is going on between them. But by far the best episode is where Robin is forced to take a super villain's daughter to her junior prom and Starfire becomes extremely jealous is a burning passion. (HE DOES NOT ACCEPT!!! YOU HEAR!?! ROBIN DOES NOT ACCEPT!!! *chuckles* I hardly got enough of repeatedly watching that scene) But I also feel like their relationship grew a little too slow. Their bond was clear as day throughout the series without a doubt, but episodes like the ones I just listened were lacking rather appallingly. It was still fun to see them together whether something was happening between them or not, but the show was most enjoyable when something did happen. Because whenever it did, that is when we would get some of the best drama, comedy and of coarse, romance in the entire series. And in the end, things between were concluded in a nice bow at the end of the series final movie. As Cyborg himself said, it was "about time."

#5 Arnold and Helga from Hey Arnold!
Yep. Definitely a classic. I never was allowed to watch the show growing up, but deep down I was interested in the premise of Arnold and Helga's relationship. So when Hey Arnold! was on Netflix for a while, I finally got to watch the whole show for myself and boy was I far from disappointed...when I didn't get to the movie or the end of the series yet. Arnold is the kid who often is trying to help others and do the right thing, and Helga appears to him and everyone in the city as the child bully who simply loathes him. And yet...*over-dramatic voice* SHE LOVES HIM!!!! She is right out madly in love with Arnold and is obsessed with him to no end. And the fact of the matter is, as likable as Arnold may be in his own right, it's likely that for many people like me, the real heart of the show and of coarse the relationship is Helga. There's a cartoon review on YouTube called Chad who stated on his channel LewToons saying "Instead of her being just a supporting character and nemesis to Arnold like Cindy is to Jimmy (from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius), we actually view her as sort of a second protagonist whom we also root for in her own right." And deep down, that she really is a second protagonist. When she's around Arnold or anyone else, she of coarse will be a bully without so much as a thought. But when she's all alone, we see her true side as a girl who has a fascinating but creepy desire to be with Arnold. She keeps a picture of him shaped like a heart at all times, she writes poems, she cherishes a piece of his hair or a piece of gun he leaves under a bench, she dreams of fantasies of them being together, she has a shrine in her closet, she just does the creepiest things to express her love for Arnold and it's a ton of fun to watch every time she says "oh how I hate him...and yet...I love him!" and goes all Shakespearean on how much she wants to tell him how she feels. During the final season, we get this back story about her upbringing and how she began to fall in love with Arnold. This resulted in her becoming easily one of the most three-dimensional characters in Nickelodeon. Naturally, Arnold is completely ignorant of her feelings and doesn't really like her because she's a bully, which often makes her scared to ever express her love to him. But at the same time, Arnold occasionally suspects that there's something more to her then being just a big bully which raises the hope that they could be together. Sadly it is not cannon as to whether or not they do get together because the second movie that was meant to tie up loose ends for things in the show like Arnold and Helga, never got a green light after the first one - as I have no doubt implied in my review for it - turned out to be a bland, non-energetic, despicable piece of crap. But in the end, that's okay. Because as Chad also said, "somehow we all kind of know that Helga and Arnold ended up together and had tons of unibrowed, football-headed babies."

#4 Sheeta and Pazu from Castle in the Sky  
I believe one of my best friends, Candra summed up Sheeta and Pazu the best: adorable. And for the most part she his it pretty close. Sheeta and Pazu go through so much together and as a couple, it is adorable to see them face these things as they try to find Laputa. Sheeta is an orphan who inherited a magical crystal that turns out to be the key to finding the castle in the sky, Laputa, only to have the evil Colonel Muska capture her in attempt to find Laputa for himself. She escapes (in a manner of speaking) and comes across a young miner boy named Pazu who also want to find Laputa, but only to prove that his father was not crazy when he discovered it himself. They instantly grew fond of one another and would do anything for each other. Pazu especially was often resourceful and even unusually brave whenever he was off to try to rescue Sheeta. Even to the point of climbing some vines upside down right under Laputa which is thousands of miles above the ground. Dude, not even a twitch of fear? That's quite the amount of courage that boy has. But in some ways Sheeta will do her best to protect Pazu as well, even if it's doing something like telling him to leave her in order to save his life, but also breaking her heart in the process. They share their goal to find Laputa more and more as they try to discover more about Sheeta's past and proving Pazu/s dad right, and that's what make us root for them more. Again, they go through so much crap with Muska, the army and the family of pirates going after them. But when ever they are fighting for their lives or learning more about Laputa or each other, it's just...well...adorable to watch.

#3 Kim and Ron from Kim Possible.
Yep. Another classic that was going to make it into this list sooner or later. Again, I wasn't exactly allowed to watch this show when I was growing up, but it was great to see once I was grown up. Kim and Ron are one of the most infamous of couples where opposites attract and it's the best friends who get together. They've known each other since preschool and have hardly stayed apart since. Kim is...well Kim Possible, she can just about do anything. She's smart, independent and is a skilled fighter. Whereas Ron is silly, laid-back and often goofy. Their relationship is similar to Danny and Sam in how one is a crime fighter while the other is there with a unique personality, and that they were just best friends until the possibility of them becoming more grew as the shows went on. But Kim and Ron do it better for several reasons. First, the makers of the show gave much more time to see them as friends a lot longer before there was so much as a hint of them getting together. This gave us more time to think they're just friends and made it less obvious as to whether or not the idea of them getting together should be even considered, as opposed to other couples on this list like Danny and Sam, Robin and Starfire and Fry and Leela. Second, there's the fact that their relationship makes Ron a mighty conqueror of the evil, dreaded Friend zone. Because as I said, Ron is more of a goof then anything else. But as the show progressed, we began to see how Ron became less of a dorky sidekick, and more useful as a partner who has one or two archenemies of his how, and always has Kim's back. Even Kim herself knew that she couldn't save the world without Ron. And the mere fact that Kim could fall in love with him, makes him an inspiration for guys who are in the Friend zone and want to overcome it. Which is obviously a rare thing for any guy to accomplish. And finally, one MLP analyst, AnY Pony, pointed out how when they were in a relationship, they did not get all "snoogy-woggy" about it. For the most part they were just in a relationship and not much else. It is rare for a cartoon show like this one to have even just one season that takes place after the couple gets together. But Kim and Ron made their last season work because they really were just simply in a relationship. They rarely kissed, they never gave each other goofy boyfriend/girlfriend names, heck, it was only once that Kim officially stated that she was falling in love with Ron. All that and more is what make Kim and Ron probably the best animated couple on TV. What else can I say? It's the girl who can do anything and the guy who escaped the evil friend zone like a boss.


#2 Max and Roxanne from A Goofy Movie.
Almost anyone who grew up with this movie will most likely love that these two made it on this list. I think Max and Roxanne might be the first couple I began to root for that's not a Disney Princess couple or from any of Disney's theatrical animated films, and whose story doesn't simply end with them getting married or something like that. Max and Roxanne only have a few scenes together, but they still are very lovable moments. Roxanne is is the cute, likable popular girl, and Max is basically the shy boy that wants her to like him. This leads him to try to get into the concert of their favorite rock star Powerline, when their date gets dropped because Goofy takes him to a surprise fishing trip. But even though he succeeds, it turns out that she already likes him ever since the first time she heard him laugh. Aside from a couple of comics, Roxanne only made one more appearance in an episode of House of Mouse where she and Max have a date at the House of Mouse that turned into having some embarrassing moments, but ultimately they had a good time. After that...she is more or less never seen again...and then replaced by Max's girlfriend in Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas...which is not okay at all. This couple may have the smallest amount of time together compared to all of the other couples on the list, but it doesn't make them any less likable from that little time that they had. Both of the characters are likable in their own way, the chemistry between is very cute and charming and you do want to see them getting together and live happily ever after. Roxanne reappearing at all does seem very unlikely, but perhaps one day Disney will realize that as far as giving romantic interests to some of the supporting Disney characters go, there is no point in giving one to Max without the interest being his high school crush, Roxanne.

And my favorite animated couple that is not a Disney princess couple is...

1) Howl and Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle
If I can think of an animated couple that has the most epic, original, and kind of complex love story, then that couple would be Howl and Sophie. Which is surprising to say because the first couple of times I saw this movie, their relationship made almost no sense at all. I still liked the touching romantic moments and the movie in general, but their story is so original and told in way very different way from a lot of couples in other films, that at the end of the day I was totally lost. I mean it seemed like they were going to fall in love, but then she's old, and then all these totally different things happen, and then they are actually in love, and then she's saving his life and the prince is suppose to be her true love and... it was just totally confusing. Part of that comes from the fact that at the time, I had yet to learn how Miyazaki often has a unique way of telling his stories with very different structures and beats that seem off at first, but the more you look into them, the more you see how it's really clever and creative how he tells them. And in my opinion, none of his films do that in a way that's quite as creative as Howl's Moving Castle. And the real heart to it is the relationship between Howl and Sophie. Sophie is a quiet innocent girl who runs her father's hat shop and meets  Howl who charms her by saving her from guards that are trying to hit on her and the Witch of the Waste's henchmen. The Witch of the Waste, who is in love with Howl, turns Sophie into an old woman out of jealousy. So Sophie leaves town in search for a cure and makes a deal with Calcifer the fire demon that if she has break the curse on him, he will do the same for her. This results in her becoming Howl's new cleaning lady and a whole bunch of stuff that I won't go into detail about. What make their relationship so unique is how they experience some very different things together (what with living in a fantasy-ish world of witches, wizards and war). More often then not, Sophie is an old lady, which is in some respects makes her a completely different character whenever the curse is still on her. And Howl is often very hard to understand as he could sometimes be extremely serious because of what is happening with the war, then in some other scenes he's either being a coward or a big baby, and in every other scene he just has this smile on his face and takes everything like there really isn't a problem or change from the ordinary that will bring him down. Together, they begin to fall in love with each other, it's just done in very different ways. They begin to develop a bond at first when they first meet, but they seem start over again when she's old and is working as his cleaning lady. The more they slowly but surely fall in love, the more they began to help each other. Sophie begins to be the mother figure for everyone in Howl's Castle, which includes taking care of Howl, and wants to be there to help whatever is wrong with Howl as she learns more about who he is. She also gives Howl the courage to face his fears and to stop running away all the time without even realizing it. In turn, Howl is there to tell her that she truly is beautiful even though she doesn't see it, and is always there to look after her as he realizes how she is something that he wants to protect. By the climax of the movie, their love for each other is clear, and the romantic moments that follow are scenes that I just want to watch repeatedly every time I'm watching the movie. And what makes it even sweeter is how a part of the very end kind of connects to the day they first met. Their story may be the hardest to understand compared to all the other couples, but that just makes it part of what makes it the most unique. Howl and Sophie's relationship make more and more sense the more times I watch it, and that makes me enjoy it more. All this and more is why Howl and Sophie are my favorite non-Disney Princess animated couple.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Lego Movie (2014)

Rating: 90%
*singing* Everything is awesome!!! Everything is cool when you're part of a team!!! Everything aweso- AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE FIND ME A SONG THAT WILL GET THIS ONE OUT OF MY HEAD!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Plot:Emmett is a normal, construction guy who doesn't really stand out from anyone else in the lego city. But then he finds an artifact called the Piece of Resistance and comes across a woman named Wyldstyle who believes that he is The Special One. So she takes him to see a wizard named Vitruvius who send on a journey in attempt to train him to use his building skills (despite having none) to defeat Lord Business.

So judging by the 90% you of coarse assume I like it just as much as everyone else right? Well...yeah I like it. I can't say I grew up and I was all about Legos (The Pokemon era and all. I'm sure you understand) But I did play some Legos around the time, but I mostly was a fan of the video games like Lego Star Wars, and especially Lego Lord of the Rings. But I can tell you that when it came down to taking advantage of the mere concept of Legos put into a movie, this movie did not disappoint. Unlike Wreck-It Ralph that gave us only some characters from actual video games and then just focused on their own characters and worlds, The Lego Movie used close to every single world that they have ever made with Lego. Granted, some might be used only briefly and have just a line or two just as Lego Harry Potter and Lego Lord of the Rings just having Dumbledore and Gandalf appear and have a brief joke about them. But at the same time, you don't entirely care because it's great to see that they make sure almost every toy line has some for of cameo. The only one that they left out that I can think of is Marvel superheroes, but more then likely that's because that product line is so brand new and thus wouldn't have as much of an effects as the other ones. The film also took advantage of how creative you can be with Lego. One of the things that the trailer left me curious about was whether or not it would tackle the concept of just building things with Lego and not only did they do that, but they were really creative with it at some points. Then there's the characters themselves which are really likable. What really helps is the voice acting, which really helps make these characters a ton of fun. My favorite characters by far where Batman and Bad Cop. Batman was just what a parody of Batman should be. He's full of himself, he makes bat puns, he like to make anything that happens appear totally awesome, it's great. Bad Cop was also very fun to watch. There's something about him being voiced by Liam Neeson that just come out as enjoyable in whatever he does. He was however downplayed rather harshly around the second half of the film. Which is a shame because he had started out so strong with his personality and his habit of repeatedly kicking chairs that kept me laughing. But then by the second half, they hardly do anything with him. I think that's the biggest problem I have with this film personally, but I felt they could've done more with the development and humor with him. But I digress. The story itself is a great story to tell with the concept of Legos. It started off slow at first, but once it got going, it kept getting bigger and bigger and they kept adding more and more things to it. Some people might find this to be a problems and think that it makes the film feel a little too long, and I can see why. But what most likely is the real cherry on top for this movie is the last 15-20 ish minutes. Without spoiling anything, those last few minutes really help make the story itself turn out very thoughtful.

And that's my review for The Lego Movie. It takes advantage of the concept, it has fun jokes, fun characters and gives a surprisingly thoughtful story. Yes, some people might find it long and I for one didn't l ike how Bad Copw as downplayed, but at the end of the day, *singing* Everything is awesome!!!! (Aw, not again!!!) Everything is cool when you're part of the team!!!! Everything is awesome, when you're living the dream!!!!! (aw heck, one more time!!!) Everything is awesome, when you're living the dream!!!!!