Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Story (1983)

Plot: For the two of you who have never seen this film, the story takes place in the 40s (or maybe 50s, I don't think it was ever clarified), where Nine-year-old Ralphie specifically wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. The problem is, everyone is against the idea because he'll "shoot his eye out." All the while he goes through the normal experiences of being a child during Christmas time.

Once again, I talk about a movie where I have to ask "what can I say about this movie, that hasn't been said a million times?" Well this time, I can say this much; who has a movie review blog that has a dark purple background, a logo that is probably over-stuffed with fictional characters, and is one of the few people that is over this movie? That's right, me. I have been keeping my mouth shut tight about this for the past several years just to avoid people looking at me like I don't have a soul. But times have changed where I have learned about the importance of being entitled to your own opinion, and so I have been wanting to stand my ground and admit my feelings for this film via a review for the past couple of years or so. And now the time has finally come where I say my peace. Now let me be perfectly clear: I completely agree that this is a great film, and I know how special it is and thus, why people love it so much - all of which I'm going to talk about... BUT IT'S FREAKING OVER-HYPED!!!!! In fact, it was around my senior year in high school where my family had that A Christmas Story marathon on TV, while getting ready for a party and praising it in the process. They kept at it so much that I have been completely tired of it ever since. So understand that I am going to be positive about the film just like everyone else, but I want it to be on record that I'm one of those people who have unfortunately experienced the overexposure of it and thus have mentally declared "enough is enough."

Now that I've said the one thing about the film that hasn't been said a millions times before, let's dive into the good stuff. And I think the best way to start is to talk about the main character, Ralphie.  Ralphie is the character that I and many other people relate to the most. Because what makes him just a beloved character is how he captures the all around experience of being a kid at Christmas time. Having only one particular thing that he wants for Christmas, the bully, getting in trouble for swearing, the daydreaming - man, all the daydreaming. That last part is where I relate to him the most. Dreaming of having written the most perfect essay that everyone praises, imagining saving the day from evildoers going after the family, the parents getting punished somehow for punishing me, all that's missing is daydreams about being a powerful Jedi Knight or an exceptionally skilled Pokemon trainer, and this guy would be a hundred percent on the dot with me. But that doesn't make him the only person people can relate to. The other kids like Raphie's brother, Randy, likely relate to other people in some way or another, and I'm sure many adults relate with the parents too.

Now what is there to say about the humor that hasn't also been said a million times apart from the plain fact that it's freaking hilarious? Because a lot of it connects with, again, how much the characters are relatable. But it also has it's moments of occasionally being over the top, like how Ralphie goes "nooooooo!" when he goes down the slide. (Which by the way, why the heck was that not around when I was a kid? We kids from the 90s got our obviously, superior material stuff for Christmas, from our toy cars and board games, to anything that has to do with Star Wars or Pokemon. But there never was a slide that we could go down on after we visit Santa? Man, the kids from the 40s are full of lucky brats!) The humor from whenever Ralphie is daydreaming is also really funny. How the bad guys have Xs painted on their faces after Raphie defeated them with his BB gun, and how overly happy the children and especially the teacher were about his essay. But watching part of this scene again, the funniest moment to me is the soap poisoning daydream. Just thinking about how the parents (especially the dad) wail in the most overly dramatic way possible makes me chuckle as I write this review, it's that funny.

Now as much as this film captures the the experience of the Christmas time, I think at least some people agree that one of the most wonderful moments in the film, is during the very end where the parents are sitting next to the tree while the snow is falling. It's deep, it's beautiful, it's something I would want to do with my own wife someday, it just sums up some of the best things about the Christmas season in one shot.

And that's my review for A Christmas Story. I know I only talked about the characters and the humor, and briefly about the Christmas aspects to it, but it's those three elements that are what really makes this such a beloved film. You can relate to the characters in some way or another, there is little to no way that you haven't heard of at least some of the famous jokes, and it does capture the spirit of Christmas time. I do stand by how I am over this film because people overplay it so much, but I'm only going to take 5 percent out of the rating because of that. Because while it's no longer something I personally am eager to watch every year during the holidays, there's no denying that it's a classic film to see during the Christmas season.

Rating: 95%  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)

Plot: Following the events of the last film, Katniss has become more determined then ever to take down President Snow after the Capitol brainwashed Peeta. So after defying President Coin to join in the fight at the Capitol, Coin creates the "Star Squad" and has her assigned to join them and follow in secretly behind the actual invasion of the Capitol. But along the way, Coin sends Peeta to join them, resulting in the conflict to either keep him as they attempt to kill Snow once and for all, or to kill him while he's a danger to the team.

My honest feeling with this movie is that it gave me same feeling as the first movie and the books, in that at the end of the day, all it did for me was give me the conclusion of the story leading me to mentally shrug and go "well okay then." and that's it. Don't misunderstand me; it's still good, and it is better than the first movie, but it did not get me quite as invested as well as the other sequels did.

First off, the characters are still done very well. We see and understand the conflict with Katniss with her desire to kill Snow and the struggle of whether or not to kill Peeta while he is a complete threat to the team. Some of the other characters in the Squad you can tell where kind of rushed into introductions and their relationships with each other and so on, in a way that's very similar to what happened with a lot of characters in the last four Harry Potter movies. But just like with those Harry Potter films, you can kind of understand why they did that, given how there's only so much you can do even with a 2 hours and 17 minute running time...key word being kind of, but I'll get to that in the next paragraph. And I sort of liked what they did with the love triangle, giving us the small conversation that Peeta and Gale have that was kind of done and a mature way.

But with that said, I will say in hindsight that the film does drag itself a good amount. Not a whole lot of excitement happens, and I'll even agree with Chris Stuckmann that it didn't feel like it was as big of a deal at it should have been. When exciting stuff does happen, it is good, and it really makes sense that the Capitol would have all these different traps and other obstacles that makes it feel like they are back in the hunger games. But aside from that, it's really nothing much apart from going on and on with creating propaganda and honestly, being a little too repetitive about whether or not to keep Peeta or how Snow has to be stopped and that Katniss intends to kill him and so on and so forth. They definitely could have left some of that out and at least give us a little more of the squad.

One thing that some people seem to have an issue more commonly than not is the ending. First off, I want to point out that the climax (so to speak) was the most emotionally moving part of the film in a really screwed up way. There was a particularly brief moment that involves a little girl and her mother that kind of gave me the creeps and made me imagine being in her position. But without giving too much away, there is a turn during the end that most people who didn't read the book found to be disappointing. This isn't to say that the ending doesn't make sense, because it really does when you really think about all the political stuff and the turmoil that Katniss goes through throughout the series. But with that said, it's really understandable that they would feel that way given how, again, all of these films have been building this up with, people constantly talking about how evil the Capitol and/or Snow is and that Snow needs to die.

And that's my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. I know this review kind of gives an equal amount of talking about what is both good and bad about this movie, but in the end, while it is the weakest of the sequels, it still is good and it does give an ending that at least people who have read the books will be satisfied with. If you haven't read the last book, you'll probably have to think deeper into what is happening to get how it makes sense, but if it's a disappointment for you either way, I understand.

Rating: 70%

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Spectre (2015)

Plot: Set not long after the events of Skyfall, Bond has been going on off-the-book missions given to him via a posthumous message from the previous M. The current M suspends him from field duty, but naturally Bond ignores it, and investigates further until he discovers the secret organization, SPECTRE and its mysterious leader, Franz Oberhauser. Meanwhile, the current M is going through a power struggle with MI5 and MI6 merging as C, the head of the privately-backed Joint Intelligence Service convinces Britain to join this global surveillance and intelligence co-operation initiative.

My first thought about this movie, is that it is basically a modernized version of your standard James Bond film. Throughout the film, you're seeing the more familiar beats in what happens in a Bond film: the deadly trap(s), sleeping with at least two women, the love interest that gets involved because of some connection with the enemy that puts her in danger, the chases in a city or the mountains, a supporting villain that's a big brawny guy that he defeats halfway through (basically sort of the new Jaws) and so on and so forth. I know some of this is in the other Daniel Craig films, being that they are Bond films and everything, but with the first three films (albeit at a small extent with Quantum of Solace), they were breaking the mold with the basic structure of the James Bond story. This film on the other hand, makes me feel like I'm watching a Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan Bond film, except it's a Daniel Craig film and all the big CGI effects and great cinematography that goes with it. And even though I admit that it was a little distracting for me, I'm not saying that it really hurts the movie. It is done well. The action is good, the story is investing, the cinematography, again, is great, and all around, I would much rather prefer a Roger Moore-like Bond film with Daniel Craig than an actual Roger Moore Bond film. But if you wish they kept breaking the mold like they did with the last three, I understand.

Daniel Craig was great as Bond as per usual - I honestly would be down with him being Bond long enough to have made more Bond films than Moore did. (Man, I need to calm down a little with the Moore hate.) Léa Seydoux was a good Bond girl. She was well acted and she and Craig developed good chemistry with their characters. The supporting cast had their moments too - I personally liked how Moneypenny was part of the team to stop the villain at the climax. But speaking of the villain, part of what held this movie back was the lack of time with Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser. When I saw his name in the beginning credits sequence, I started to become more invested in the film then when I came into the theater. But after his brief mysterious introduction, we do not see him again for a really long time. It got to the point where I was growing restless and thinking to myself "Yes this fight/romance development/dramatic scene are all well and good, but where the dickens is Waltz?" And when we finally do get him, he's great. He was dark, he was charming, he was a ton of fun...but man do I wish there was more. I mean come on, it's freaking Christoph Waltz as a Bond villain. As Jeremy Jahns put it in his own review, "that should be a home run right there, but it's really not." It's great when he's there, but what they do with him is an almost complete waste of oppertunity, and it's really sad.

The other problem I have with this movie is the subplot with the global surveillance and intelligence thing that C is working on. While it did lead to some suspenseful moments during the climax, the story itself has been done already. I've seen other reviewers name a couple of film that this story line is similar to, but for me, this sounded a little like the last third or so of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

And that's my review for Spectre. It has a weak subplot and may as basically wasted the potential for the villain, but that aside, it's well shot, the action is good, the actors are enjoyable and the story works well enough as an updated version of your everyday Bond film. It's not as good as Casino Royale or Skyfall, but you can be darn well sure that it's better than Quantum of Solace.

Rating: 70%   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bringing up Baby (1938)

Plot: David Huxley is a mild-mannered paleontologist who is engaged to his secretary and has recently found the missing bone for his skeleton of a Brontosaurus. To top it off, he needs to convince a woman to give a million dollars to the museum, so he tries to impress her lawyer with a game of golf. But he is interfered by a free-spirited woman named Susan, who constantly messes with David, making it hard for him to much as speak to the lawyer. The day before his wedding, Susan convinces David to take a leopard named Baby who is gift for her aunt (who happens to be the woman David is trying to convince in giving the million dollars) and bring it to her country home in Connecticut. But a few complications arise, leaving David and Susan to try to set everything right.

All in all, this was a funny, romantic film, with the only real problem I have is how it had a slow start before it became really enjoyable. The first third or so, while funny in some parts, didn't entirely hook me into the film. But when it picked up, that's when I started to enjoy it, and also when I started caring for Susan. I watched this film in my history of film class, and there were a few people who said that they found her to be annoying. For me, she became likable when she was less manipulative. Sometimes she was entertaining when she was deceptive, but during the first third (making her part of why it was slow) all I could do is watch her pull out these schemes against David and say, "Wow. What a manipulative witch." But thankfully as time went on, you begin to root for her the stronger she her relationship with David becomes. Speaking of David, this was one character you really don't see Cary Grant play as very often. When I think Cary Grant, I think of characters that have more of a...well not mild-mannered, like in films such as His Girl Friday, North by Northwest, The Bishop's Wife and so on. So it is a surprising sight to see him perform a character that is more mild-mannered then Superman when he's Clark Kent. Just comes to show that he has some range. Now I'm sure you already know what is going to happen in the end, just from telling you the basic plot, and you could be right. But even if you do, the film makes up for it with the situations the characters go through and the comedic results that follows. And it does pay off. The other people in the class and I got some good laughs out of the film. Also, I thought I'd she something that is really interesting about this film; according to our professor, this was actually a flop when it came out. In fact, the actress who plays Susan, Katharine Hepburn, was infamously labeled box-office poison. It wasn't until its release in the 40s when it was re-released in the 40s that it had a better reception, and became more popular around the 50s. Go figure. 

And that's my review for Bringing up Baby. It has a slow start in its comedy and its leading female character, but once it picks up, it's a funny romantic film with likable characters, including a Cary Grant character that you do not get very often. If you haven't seen it before, I say it's a good time to check out.
Rating: 85%

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Flubber (1997)

So I mentioned in my Good Will Hunting review that I originally planned to review this movie as part of paying respect to Robin Williams after he died. But considering what I have to say, I decided against it and went with watching and eventually reviewing Good Will Hunting and to review this movie at a much later time. Well it's well over a year since his death, so while it still hurts, I think this is good enough time as any to polish and post this review.  So without further ado, let's dive into Flubber.

Plot: Phillip Brainard is a professor at Medfield College who is trying to create a new energy source to save the college. He is however very absent minded, which has lead to him missing two attempts to marrying his fiancee, Sarah. Before his third attempt at marrying Sarah, he figures out the new energy source and so creates a living, green goo that he calls Flubber. However, he misses the wedding while testing it, and so decides to try to figure out a way to use Flubber to save the school and win back Sarah's heart.

This... is not exactly one of Williams' best films. There's a lot of plot holes, some of the performances are over the top and the characters are horribly written, and watching it again, I realize that the actual character of Flubber has very small appearances in the film and doesn't have much of a clear identity. But that doesn't entirely stop it from being fun to watch once in a while. Even with it's obvious flaws, the story is kind of cute in an obviously for kids kind of way, the effects are dated, but they still look nice considering the time period and honestly, part of what makes this a watch-once-in-a-while kind of film is to try to forget and re-enjoy some of the comedy and inventions that Phillip makes. When it comes to the comedy, I realize that the older I get, the more I start to notice how some of the things that they do in terms of slapstick are not only unrealistic, but in some cases, the slapstick would actually kill some of the characters in real life. But it still is a little funny, so I enjoy it anyway.

When it came to Phillip's inventions - and this is mostly the little kid in me who saw this movie for the first time getting the better of me - I still like some of them. I like the breakfast machine (as cliched as that is), the Flubber-padded shoes, and the flying car. But my favorite by far was Weebo. I mean, I know I've grown up and have seen and loved cooler robots than her, i.e. Super Battle Droids, Droidikas, almost anything from Skynet, The Transformers, and so on. But the concept of Weebo just leaves me wishing I had a robot like her that would fly around and especially had a screen that would pop up to show things like schedules or clips from movies or shows to express something happening. I thought she was really cool because of that as a kid, and despite growing up and seeing cooler looking robots, part of me still thinks it would be awesome if there were robots like her in real life. As a character, she still had some flaws, but she was likable enough...except that watching it again, I thought she was pretty mean during the first third or so of the movie. It was clear that she had a thing for Phillip (which is pretty screwed up when I think about it now that I'm grown up), but it never hit me until watching this movie again that she was one of the major reason why he missed the wedding. She was nicer as the film went on, but I didn't notice until now that she was actually a jerk that tried to make sure he missed it out of jealousy. Go figure.

Now as for Phillips...well...he's pretty much a badly written character when you get down to it. By all accounts he shouldn't come out as likable considering how he's so absent minded and missed his wedding three times and focused so much on his work. But, I would make the argument that the one thing that makes him appear at least a little bit likable is Robin Williams himself. Don't get me wrong, he's still not that well thought of, of a character, but at the same time, Williams gave enough of his usual charm to make him at least a little bit likable anyway.

And that's my review for Flubber. It is not well written, the characters aren't all that likable, the story has some plot holes, but at the same time, the slapstick, invnetions and Phillip himself are likeable to a degree that makes this a harmless, once in a long while kind of film.
Rating: 60%

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Peanuts Movie (2015)

Plot: It's Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang living their lives the way we love them. The actual story of the film is simply about Charlie Brown trying to get The Little Red-haired Girl to notice him. Simple as that.

Now I've looked forward to this movie for a while, but at the same time, I was a little nervous at what they were going to do with making a film about something as timeless as Peanuts. Which is more than I can say to practically everyone I've ever talked about this movie to while the film wasn't out yet. It seemed like everyone would either declare that it was going to be bad without so much as a thought or just express that they are really scared about how it was going to turn out. And it's totally understandable as to why they do that. The Peanuts comic is full of characters that so many of us have come to love and have a certain spot in our heart. So it only makes sense that we would be afraid about this movie turning into a complete cash in like the Smurfs or Garfield movies. I myself expressed that I would have started this review by saying that Blue Sky made my "hit list" if The Peanuts Movie turned out to be another complete victim of turning something timeless into another cheap cash in. I mean why the dickens wouldn't I? Peanuts has been a big chunk of my childhood from the comics, to the specials, to having a stuffed Snoopy that has been my favorite toy since the second grade. So as far as I am concerned, if this movie turned out bad, I practically would've had the right over-express my displeasure however I would see fit.

But thankfully, that didn't become the case. Because this turned out to be a good, smart, caring representation of the comics. Is it perfect? No, but for what they had to give us, this film, is a great way to show a movie of a famous comic strip in a way that's happily nostalgic for adults, and very enjoyable for kids. The animation was done in an extremely smart way by combining 3D animation with the 2D animation of the specials and other movies. At times it goes a little over the top, even to the point of the slapstick being a little too much whether it's with Snoopy or Charlie Brown or whoever else. But even with that said, when the slapstick is still enjoyable. Snoopy especially is fun to watch. From the voice, to the movement, to the facial expressions, he was as funny as we expected him to be in this film.

The rest of the gang were delivered very faithfully too. They delivered the misery of Charlie Brown and how nothing goes right for him, but still keeps on trying. They have Lucy as a self-absorbed brat, Linus with his blanket, Schroeder with his piano and love for Beethoven, the list goes on and on. And the makers of the film put their darnest into putting just about anything that we love about the comic strip/specials into an hour and a half movie. Sometimes in really small ways like Linus briefly mentioning the Great Pumpkin or Snoopy's family making a brief cameo, or references that come up frequently like Frieda with her naturally, curly hair or Peppermint Patty sleeping in class or calling Charlie Brown, Chuck. And they picked the right moments to deliver whatever references so many of us treasure, that truly made this a fun, accurate representation of the wonderful world of Peanuts from Charles Schultz.    

If there's one real problem with the movie that is thankfully a nitpick in the long run, it would be the pop music in this movie. Granted, there are really only about two ish songs in there not counting the end credits, but when they play - especially at that school dance scene, they definitely are out of place. And it's things like this where I completely understand what people who were super scared about this movie were coming from. Because like I said, this could've been another Garfield or Smurfs movie where they take something timeless and modernize it and put a lot of product placement. And seeing as how Peanuts may as well be more timeless than Garfield and Smurfs put together, it is unpleasant when we hear these pop songs from some artist that we likely never heard of and probably will never hear from again. But I think it comes close enough to give it a pass because the songs, while modernized can be a little fun, and honestly, if two or three pop songs is as bad as it gets, then we can all agree that they're really just nitpicks and Schultz can still rest peacefully in his grave.  

The last thing I want to talk about is the ending. I wont dare give away what it is, but let's just say it's something that I wonder if Charles Schultz would be okay with it. Would he like this ending, or would he see it as a betrayal to the spirit of his work? I think at the end of the day, it's really up to you to answer that for yourself. You can either say it's a betrayal, or consider to be satisfied that we get this kind of ending in a Peanuts anything for once.

And that's my review for The Peanuts Movie. Even if the animation and slapstick can be much at times and there are a couple of pop songs in attempt to modernize it, it still is a fun, entertaining movie that stays faithful to the work of Charles Schultz from beginning to end. It's no Lego Movie or Inside Out, but for what we have, it's a great time with some of our most treasured characters from our childhood.

Rating: 80%

Monday, November 9, 2015

Scarface (1932)

Okay, so the Al Pacino version of this movie is one of the films that I have been wanting to see but never got around. But maybe I'll be more likely to do that now that one of the latest movies I've seen in my history of film class is the original Scarface. So without further ado, here's my thoughts on the original Scarface as my 625th review.

Plot: Scarface is about a  gangster named Tony who is arrogant and confidant in his part  in the Mafia world. Throughout the film, he works his way to the top despite some obstacles from the rival mafia family and his own boss. But in the midst of it all, he  not only forms an affair with his boss' woman but also having some sort of thing with his own sister, Cesca.

Okay so a little bit of film history about this movie, because while it's not as big of a film as the remake has become, it had a big impact on the moral ground of film back when it came out. Basically, censorship was going through a slow process over what can or cannot be put into film. In 1930, a new code meant to guide the content of motion pictures was written, named the Hollywood Production Code. But while the industry accepted it, it wasn't taken very seriously. If anything, filmmakers were making films that were stretching the limits of the code or simply ignored it. This is what started what was called the pre-code era between 1930 and 1934. But the line wasn't really crossed until this movie was made. True, there are other films that also went too far such as Baby Face with its sexual innuendos. But Scarface apparently crossed the line the most with its violence, hints of incest, and the all around implications that committing crime can be fun and liberating. Plus, the story is based on the life of Al Capone with similarities such as the scar, the Valentines day massacre, and so on. Thus, the code was set to be more in enforced, leading to dims needing a seal of approval from the Production Code Administration.

Now that the history lesson is out of the way, let's talk about the film itself. As far as gangster films, it gives you what you would normally expect; killings, enforcing people, fighting against rival gangs, cops trying to take them down, and so on. The violence is as basic as you can get from a modern point of view, but you can understand it considering it's time, and regardless, the action is still enjoyable. You have your gun fights, explosions, even a car chase that are all entertaining. I should also note that this is were people got the concept of a gangster tossing a coin constantly that you probably have seen in movies like Singin' in the Rain. My personal favorite moment in the film was when Cesca was entering the room at the climax, with the intention to murder another character. Just the shot of her coming with the harsh shadow and this really cold look on her face was so well executed. I don't have much to say about Tony because like the film, he kind of is the basic of a gangster character in how he is confidant, ambitious, arrogant, enforcing and a fighter to the end. If there's one thing about the movie that easily makes it stand out from a lot of other gangster films, it would be the implied incest between Tony and Cesca. I hope I don't need to say more about it apart from how curious I am about how that subject is tackled in the Al Pacino version.

And that's my review for Scarface. It has an interesting history in how it challenged censorship back in it's time, and even then is an enjoyable film by itself. I understand if it isn't much to you since it does have what you may consider to be just the very basics of gangster films in general, but otherwise, it is a film I would recommend.

Rating: 95%

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Gold Rush (1925)

Plot: The film revolves around The Lone Prospector, who searches for fame and fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush. He is often a victim of practical jokes from the people in one of the booms towns, including a woman he has feelings for named Georgia. But when a man he befriended during a snow storm finds gold but loses his memory as to where it is, the two go on a journey to find the mine again and become rich.

This was funny but - in regards to watching it in a history of film class, an interesting film to watch. I say that, because my professor taught us how in several of Chaplin's films, including this one, his character always starts off as the lowest of class men in expression to how he himself lived an extremely poor life growing up in an orphanage. But, it doesn't stop with any of the characters Chaplin plays. He also shows how hard other people's lives can be in whatever setting his film takes place in. In the case of this film, it's set in a lonely poor village, and there's a very special scene where it's new years and all the young adults are celebrating but the older all have stern sad looks on their faces, implying that they are viewing this event as just signifying another year of their lives have been spent, doing the same thing again and again. The Prospector himself was a sad character because of how he's the victim of practical jokes. For example, there's a scene for where he's waiting for Georgia and her friends to come over to his place for dinner. What he doesn't know is that they said they would as a prank, but he continues to wait, while daydreaming about him being adored as a host for if they come. That's some pretty serious stuff that Chaplin comes across to his audience in an otherwise comedic film. And speaking of which, this is a really funny movie. Even if we might have seen some of the slapstick before, it still holds out very well. My classmates and I laughed at just about every joke that the film had. From the prospector's friend thinking he was a chicken, to shoveling people's front door from the snow, to the whole scene of the prospector and his friend with the house on the edge of a cliff, it's a lot of great slapstick that has aged pretty well.

And that's my review for The Gold Rush. It's an interesting mixture of being both funny yet dramatic based on how my teacher has opened my eyes in viewing Chaplin's work in a different light. It's an entertaining silent film that I do recommend.

Rating: 100%

Underworld (1928)

Plot: Gangster turned kingpin, 'Bull' Weed rehabilitates alcoholic lawyer, Rolls Royce as a reward for promising not to squeal when Royce witnesses him robbing a bank. The two become confidants with Royce as the brains for Weed's schemes. They begin to work together against a rival gangster who tries to muscle on Weed's territory. But during the process, Royce begins to fall in love with Weed's girlfriend, Feathers.

According to my history of film professor, this was the first full fledged gangster film. And it really is an enjoyable film. The story was investing, in that you likely have heard the general story before, but they execute it so well that you still want to see what happens. At least I know I sure did. The last third got me guessing as to who will or won't make it. The actors gave great performances - just their facial expressions in the many close-ups that where used really helped the characters stand out. I think I liked the facial expressions of Royce the best. There's just something about that frown he gives that shows everything that he may or may not be feeling with this one expression.

And that's my review for Underworld. It's tense, it's well acted, its story you may have seen before, but it can still glue you in, it's a great silent film.

Rating: 95%

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Friendship Games (2015)

Plot: Canterlot High school is about to take part in the quadrennial sporting event; The Friendship Games against their rival high school, Crystal Prep Academy. So Sunset Shimmer and the Human Five join in the team to go against Crystal Prep in hopes they will be the first to defeat the rival school. Unbeknownst to them however, the Twilight Sparkle of the human world is in the Crystal Prep team, and has been secretly investigating the magical activity at Canterlot High ever since the climax of the first movie. So Sunset Shimmer and the Human Five have to compete in the Friendship Games against the human version of their best friend, while Human Twilight finds a way to absorb magic from the Canterlot High.

To be very straight forward, this is a good movie, but in a The Dark Knight Rises or Star Trek: The Search for Spock kind of way, in that, like those films, it never really had so much as a prayer in meeting, let alone exceeding the high standards that its predecessor surprisingly made, and it has some considerable flaws. But at the end of the day, it still succeeds where many threequels don't in being a good, fun, enjoyable movie.

 The main highlight of this movie both good and bad ways is the characters. The Human Five, while didn't appear to have much of a purpose in the film (at least it felt that way to me), were still the characters in their human form just as we love them. But the real focus is on Sunset Shimmer and human Twilight Sparkle, because this was really their story more than anyone else. I personally really liked how they made human Twilight her own character. She had the same basic personality and traits as the real Twilight to be sure, but they did a good job at showing that this is a completely separate person from the lavender pony we've come to know and love for the past five years. And then we have Sunset Shimmer who has gained much more development with her character, such as how she is still learning about friendship,  yet sort of still in secure about the choices she makes and learning to help people by herself rather than gain help from Twilight. In fact there is a whole subplot that was deleted from the film about her considering whether out not she should move back into Equestria. And you know what? It's great. I mean I can understand why they deleted it in how they have a limited running time for the film and it probably is something to more than likely wait until the next film. (Yes, that's already been confirmed.) But man, so many people, myself included, would've loved to see it make the film, or at the very least be able to watch the deleted scenes in animation rather through storyboards in the bonus features for the film. But with that all said, the new characters could've had more development. We have a whole group of new characters from Crystal Prep, and yet all I remember about them is their one-noted personalities. You have one character who is bipolar,  you have one that is very blunt, you have one that is basically diet Vinyl Scratch who can talk (lucky brat), a diet Rainbow Dash, and on and so forth. I've seen the film three times already and yet the only name I remember from among them is Sugar Coat, who is the name of the blunt talking character. If that's the only name I know from a whole group of characters, that's not a good sign. Also I want to point out how Flash Sentry has even less attention than before. In fact there seemed to be something of a subplot about him and the human Twilight, but they only met two times and that's it. Maybe the creators are trying to please the people who hate him by having human Twilight ignore him, but regardless, I would still like more from him.

But if there's one thing that the film failed big time in terms of characters, it would be the villain: Principal Cinch. Of all the villains in MLP, she is by far the weakest... well let me elaborate on that actually. It's true that as much as people like me are crazy about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,  there are some villains in the past that aren't the most complex by any means. But what makes them better than Principle Cinch is how despite being underdeveloped characters, they still are interesting.  Call it their magical abilities, their background/lack thereof, whatever personalities they do have in the show or a mixture of any or all of these elements, but either way, there is something about them that fascinates us and inspires us to express our own interpretations about who these characters are and what they might be like if they had further development. It's things like this that inspire people to make various sorts of fan art (myself included seeing as I did become a fan artist recently), whether through drawings, paintings, comics, fan fiction, fan music, etc. With Principal Cinch on the other hand, I guess you could argue that she can be interesting enough over how far she's willing to go to achieve her goal, but even then, her goal is all about keeping a reputation in her school. And let's face it, as far as evil plots go, that's a good number of steps behind something like taking over Equestria or gaining power to gain unlimited admiration.

The music is a lot of fun to listen to. It's not as strong as the soundtrack in the last film, but that's hardly fair to say seeing as the last film was all about music, giving Daniel Ingram so much space to go all out. But regardless, we still get some great, memorable music that we've come to expect from the guy. My personal favorites are My Past is not Today, There's More That's Out There and Acedeca. While My Past is Not Today is technically a Rainbow Rocks song that's was in a short a few months after that film came out, I'm counting it because it's also in the soundtrack to this film. And honestly, why wouldn't I want to talk about it?  It's basically Sunset Shimmer's own song about how she's moving on from her past, and I can hardly get enough of it. There's More That's Out There I really enjoy because it's a nice, deep song about human Twilight expressing how she's feeling about her life. And Acadeca? Pff. Acedeca is just fricking catchy. If there's one song I didn't care for, or at the very least had to grow on me in order to like it okay, it would have to be Principle Cinch's villain song; Unleash the Magic. Don't get me wrong, in terms of what she's doing with the help of her students is great, and how Twilight joins in during the end of the song is even better.  But there is just something about the tune that kept throwing me off the first couple of times I listened to it.

Finally, the climax was smart. There were some lines that I personally would've liked to have changed, but the event itself was clever. It was basically a 180 of the climax from the first film, but the roles reversed between Twilight and Sunset Shimmer. Plus the costumes for the supernatural forms of some of the characters where much, much better than Sunset Shimmer's design as a she-demon.

And that's my review for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Friendship Games. It takes some steps back in terms of giving us the villain and other new characters, but it is also meet with great development for Sunset Shimmer, a likable, human Twilight Sparkle, an enjoyable soundtrack, and an all around entertaining third movie. It's not the strongest, but it certainly succeeds in being a better film than the first one by far.

Rating: 70%

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Inside Out (2015)

         Plot: Inside the mind of a young girl named Riley, five personifications, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, live inside her mind and influence her actions and memories with a control console. Everything is grand until Riley's family moves to L.A. where things are gloomy compared to her old life and she begins to break down when her important memories, a.k.a. Core Memories are touched by Sadness, causing then to turn sad instead of happy. Joy tries to fix it, but in the process she, along with Sadness and the Core Memories are sucked out of their headquarters and into Riley's long term memory. So they must find a way to get back to their headquarters and place the memories back into their central hub.

         Okay so at this point, you all have likely heard that this is the film that indicates Pixar is back. And do I completely agree? Well...I think I'll save that answer until after The Good Dinosaur, but otherwise, yeah it looks like they are finally back. This movie was creative, it was funny, it was smart, it had memorable characters, it's Pixar as we've known them to be for so long. Sure the idea has been done before, but they were so inventive with it that when you see Riley's mind and/or the minds of other people throughout the film, you start to think about what the people in the inside of your mind would be like. And there were some moments where they were really funny about it too. The best case would be the Triple Dent Gum commercial song that gets into people's head. They timed that really well and used it just to the right amount. 

         The characters, like I said are very memorable. They were very smart in picking the right actors for the emotions, i.e. Amy Poehler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness. According to one of my brothers, they originally had a couple dozen emotions planned to be in the film. It's good that they brought it down to only five emotions, so that the ones that made it got more focus and thus became better developed characters. If there's one character I didn't really like, at least during the beginning of the film, it would be Sadness. I sure I sound a little like a jerk, but I can't help it, she was a little obnoxious with how she kept wanting to touch the memories even though she knew darn well what would happen.

         But without what Sadness does, we wouldn't have the message from the film. And that leads to probably the strongest element of the film; the deep, powerful and moving scenes during the second half. I won't dare give anything away, but let's just say I pity the kid that was crying when I saw the movie in theaters with my family. And some respects, adults will understand this movie more than kids will, because the film gives such a touching and mature message about life and growing up that adults will understand it more than kids- not all the time, but some. And I think that's where you can really feel that Pixar is back. It succeeds where the more recent films have not in being a film that is enjoyable for both kids and adults in a straight out brilliant way.

And that's my review for Inside Out. It's fun, it's funny, it's inventive, it's moving, it's just a ton of Pixar being the way we love them for the first time since Toy Story 3. Now like I said, whether or not they are officially back or just conjured up a good one before more 'just okay' films come out from them all depends on how The Good Dinosaur turns out.

Until then, just remember; this review H.A.K. review is brought to you by *singing* Triple Dent Gum, will make you smile! Triple Dent Gum, it lasts a while! Triple Dent Gum, will h- *audience fires machine guns over H.A.K.'s head* OKAY, OKAY, I'M SORRY! IT'S JUST A JOKE!!!

Rating: 85%

Broken Blossoms (1919)

So I am taking a film class that goes over the history of film up to the year  1937.  And I started thinking that now would be a good time to review some of the full length films that we have been watching in class. So to start of let's take a look at D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms.

Plot: Cheng  Huan is a Buddhist who leaves his homeland to spread the gentle message of Buddha. But his journey brings him to the brutal and gritty world of London's inner city. But then he comes across Lucy Burrows, a beautiful young woman who is abused and  unwanted  by her alcoholic father. So Cheng decides that his mission is to devote to himself to this woman, this broken blossom.

This is a very good but sad movie. A lot of it reflects on how, as the professor of the class wants us to make darn sure we know, Griffith is a great melodramist; meaning he really captures the concept of something innocent going through suffering, to give us a moral opinion.  And it really delivers on that. Lucy is played by Lilian Gish, who the professor says is the first great actress. And she does an excellent job in helping us feel for this tormented helpless person. It is terrible to see her get beaten by her father, which leads you to be all the more happy whenever Chang is there to practically worship her with the gifts and comfort he gives her. The film also leaves it to your own interpretation as to if Chang is romantically in love with Lucy. On one hand he attempts to kiss her, but on the other hanf he is usually stops himself from going through with it as if he views her as a sort of beauty that is to be seen and worshiped to rather than someone to be romantically in love with. The colors of the film are also well placed, from the blue frames when the characters are outside to express the hard coldness of the inner city to the pink frames when the characters are in Chang's room expressing how it is a peaceful safe haven for the two protagonists.

And that's my review for Broken Blossoms. Really guys, I don't know what more there is to say. It's a good, sad film with great acting, interesting use of color with the film, and a moving story. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

Rating: 95%

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

         Okay so I've been thinking that maybe I should break down my body paragraph into separate paragraphs given how my reviews have are usually structured. So let's give that a try with Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

         Plot: Crysta is a fairy who lives in a rainforest called Ferngully where other fairies and animals live together. Magi, the fairy who is teaching Crystal how to use her magic, tells her the story of how humans and fairies lived together until a spirit named Hexxus drove the humans away before Magi imprisoned him. And ever since then, Crysta has had a curiosity to actually meet humans someday. She comes across a bat named Batty who tells her about how he and other animals have been experimented on by humans. But she doesn't believe him until she encounters lumberjacks cutting down trees. One of them named Zak is almost killed by a falling tree until Crysta shrinks him and saves him from getting chopped up. As she begins to befriend him however, the other lumberjacks cut down the tree that Hexxus was imprisoned in, giving him the chance to use their cutting machine to destroy Ferngully.

           As likely many of you know, this movie is so direct in its message about the environment that it's really annoying. And that has become so commonly known that when people talk about the story lines from films that Avatar is similar to, Ferngully is probably the number one film that people think of the most - either that or Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas. All of which are comparisons that I myself am guilty of making when I wrote my own review for that movie far back when I barely started writing reviews. But as a kid, I never really got the feel that it was preachy at all. I mean granted, I was only a kid and I only saw it a couple of times growing up. But back then, I liked the film, mainly because of its fantasy elements, the fact that Robin Williams was voicing one of the characters. And watching it grown up, I stick by...some parts of those two elements.

          Watching this movie grown up, I didn't find all the magical stuff with the fairies to be all that interesting, especially with how aware I am of its annoying environmental message. There are some little parts that are still a little interesting in their own way I guess, but it's just not the same. In fact, there is at least one moment where something magical happens that I thought was cool and deep, but as an adult I realize it doesn't make sense. In this said scene, the fairies are getting ready for when Hexxus comes, and somehow part of what they are doing involves one of them dying. It seems like the character is sacrificing herself for the magic to work or something, but given what happens step by step, there's no clear explanation as to how or why. But the fantasy element that does hold out the most was Hexxus. They gave gave him pretty cool designs as he goes from being a blob of sludge, to a giant polluted cloud, to a giant skeleton that I think is a made of a mixture of sludge and...just magic. Though as cool as most of the design for when he's a cloud is, even as a kid I thought we was less intimidating in that form. His other two forms are more genuinely menacing to me because you have a blob with a mouth and no eyes in one form and in the other, he's a giant skeleton. And while his cloud form is a good design in the long run, there's just something about his face and voice that just kills it for me.

         Now with Robin Williams as Batty, I am in a bit of a mix. On the one hand, he still is fun to watch...though maybe just for the sake of the fact that it's Robin Williams, especially given his death last year. And I admit that even thought I'm older, I still kind of like his "Batty Rap" early on in the film. As for the character himself, he was a little all over the place. I think the best way I could put it is that Batty is sort of a prologue for Williams' performance as The Genie (especially given that this movie came out a few months before Aladdin), but with a performance with his usual voices and jokes that only half work - or even make sense. But either way, he was the most entertaining about the protagonists, as there isn't much that completely stands out about Zach or Crysta...except how completely revealing Crysta's outfit. I mean I agree with the Nostalgia Chick when she described Crysta has "Tinkerbell's slutty sister," but watching the movie again, I couldn't help but be a little critical of how there are so many moments where that thing should not have covered as much as it did.   

        One really pretentious yet odd factor in the film is the music. It's honestly up to you if they are considered good or not, but whether it's through the whole track or just parts of it, these songs are either forcing in their environmental message or...singing about how sexual the thing they are talking about is. Like there's this iguana who sings about eating Zach as if the entire process of doing so turns him on. Then you have a song about the magic of the rainforest, which is self explanatory. And finally Hexxus' song that has both; the main chorus is about his 'toxic love' and in the middle of the song, he talks about his main goal and adds that humans and their greed are a large help to his plan.

      And that's my review for Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. I think a part of me will always like how much I enjoyed the film as a kid, but now that I'm grown up, I see it as the over kill of an environmental message it is, with its disturbing adult content and not that interesting of a main character. Unless you want to see it just for the sake that you have seen this kind of film, I would skip it.

Rating: 35%

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Yeah, I know this review is late. But because of scheduling and stuff, my dad, my brothers and I haven't been able to see this movie together. But we just finished fixing that about half an hour ago, so here's my take on Mad Max: Fury Road.

Plot: The film begins with Mad Max getting captured by the War Boys, who are lead by Immortam Joe. They use him as a blood donor for a sick warrior named Nux. But when Immortam Joe's imperator, Furiosa uses an armored truck to drive away from him and taking his five wives with her, he sends the War Boys to go after her, including Nux who takes max with him.

This was a very crazy but epic movie. It's filled with wild stunts, cool  looking costumes, great acting and of course, lots of awesome, suspenseful car chases. And the nice thing about the basic plot is that it is simple in terms of what is happening, in how everyone is basically going from point A to point B, and eventually turn around the other way. Granted,  I know that in the case of at least my dad, he did find the story a little confusing, and based on what is implied on the Honest Trailer for the movie, some people might feel the same. And I guess I can kind of see that on account of the specific story that goes with the plot. But not enough that I think it really hurts the movie in any way.

One of the things I especially enjoyed about this movie is the look of the film. Holy crap, we're they creative. I remember during the first half hour or so of the film, I would consistently be wowed by all of these different cars and costumes from Immortal Joe and his group. And of course, this includes the most famous part of the movie: the guy with the electric guitar with a flame thrower attached to it. That guy made me laugh every time he is on screen. But this is a good kind of funny in that it helps the film to be very dramatic, but doesn't entirely need to be taken seriously. After all, this film contains some pretty  deep stuff with one character having a dark past and the wives really wanting to get away from Immortal Joe, so something like a guy with an electric guitar with a flame thrower attached to it has to balance it out.

The acting was very well executed. My personal favorite among the wives was the one played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely not only was she good, but I was just really glad that she is now in another movie besides Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I may as well be the only person that feels this way, but for someone who is a Victoria's Secret model, she is an okay actor and I would like to see her to continue to go further in an acting career. Charlize Theron was the real focus of the film. She had the most depth, she was the most bad a among the characters, she was just enjoyable. But with that said, the one thing that I had a problem with the film is how we had almost none of Mad Max. We had a lot of attention on him early on, but after that, the focus was on everyone else. One of my brothers said that it fits to the franchise because Mad Max is meant to be a drifter; he isn't really on anyone's side, he just happens to be around and helps people out for is own means. (bear with me with that statement because I am paraphrasing.) So that kind of cancels it out. And even then, that is really a nitpick, because all of the other characters are so much more interesting and are meant to be the real focus of the story.

Another huge thing about the film is that action is I almost always are done with real stunts. Not all the time, after all some of the film includes things like people going through a  huge sand storm. But a lot of the jumps, cars crashing and exploding, Immortal Joe minion riding on these wobbly large poles on these cars, apparently are all real. And that is something to really appreciate about the film; we don't really get a lot of action film that don't  put all of their faith in CGI. And it really pays off.

And that's my review for Mad Max: Fury Road. It's Epic, it's dramatic, it's occasionally silly, it's just a ton of fun. If you haven't seen it yet, I do recommend it.

Rating: 90%

Monday, August 31, 2015

Daredevil (2003)

I am only a little ways away from finally taking a look at the Daredevil TV series (yeah, yeah, I know. What the heck took me so long?), but before that, I would like to get this review that I've been holding off for months out of the way.

Plot: Matt Murdock is a lawyer from Hell's Kitchen who was blinded as a boy by a toxic waste spill that also enhanced his other senses giving him the ability to "see" through sonic vibrations. When his father is murdered by a mobster, he decides to use his abilities to become a crime-fighter called Daredevil.

Now before I go any further, I want you to keep in mind that I have not seen the director's cut. I've heard that it's a little better, and if it is, swell. But I'm unable to find a way to see it, so I'm just going to go off of the original cut. Anyways, the first time I saw this movie, I wasn't completely sure how to feel about it. I mean I thought it was bad, but I was taken aback to how some of the choices that they made were just...odd. My basic feeling was that it gave the very general gist of who Daredevil is, what his origin, who his allies and enemies are and the all around mood of the hero. But the deliverance was just bad in a really weird kind of way. And today, I think I still kind of feel that way in some respects. For one thing, Daredevil's sense of serving justice is mixed up. On one hand, he just beats up bad guys like any other hero, and yet in his first fight in the movie as Daredevil, he kills a criminal and then attempts to kill one of the antagonists during the third act. I'm not going to pretend that I have read Daredevil comics as devotedly as I have with Spider-Man comics. But I'm almost positive that he's as non-lethal as most superheroes. In fact, there's a part of the story that goes over whether or not he's a bad guy. Now that's not a bad idea for a story line, but there's so little focus to it that I think they only brought it up twice in the movie. And in both cases, all they establish is just him saying "I'm not the bad guy." So they could've spent more time in Daredevil realizing his errors and slowly learning to never kill. Instead, we have a so-called superhero who beats up most criminals but kills the main targets. Not the best way to represent Daredevil on a moral ground to say the least. Another example of how odd the film is, is its choice of music. I think the Nostalgia Critic review for this movie implied that the music is different in the director's cut. And again, if that's the case, swell. But with this version, *sigh* there are some songs that do not match with what is happening in the film. And we're talking The Transformers: The Movie kind of not match. The main examples are the introduction to Kingpin and when Elektra is training herself. We first see Kingpin with this pop or rap song playing in the beginning of his first scene. None of that fits with Kingpin, who is this very heavyset and socially high class kind of villain. But even that somehow made more sense then Elektra's training scene. Basically she's using sandbags to practice her assassin skills in a big, dark and empty room, planning to kill Daredevil. And what music do they decide to play for this moment? Wake me up by Evanescence. Just...why? That is probably one of the most ridiculous choices you could make in a really serious scene like that. But with all of that said, the action is alright in some cases, and the costumes look a little cool with the exception of Bullseye. And again, in a way, it does sort of capture the dark and brooding tone of the comics (though I say that out of what little amount of the comic that I've read.)

And that's my review for Daredevil. Like the first Fantastic Four movie, it does okay in giving us (to some small degree) the general gist of the superhero, his friends and enemies, and the all around tone for the world he lives in. But he also changes from beating up bad guys to killing, has a potential storyline about his moral that is wasted, and has a soundtrack that poorly sets the mood with some of its scenes. If you ever want to find out how far this hero has come from before the Netflix series, I guess you can give it a look, but otherwise this is a definite skip.

Rating: 35%   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

Plot: The film revolves around nine people with four separate story lines. At the center of it all, a woman named Gigi, constantly misinterprets the behaviors of her possible romantic partners. Eventually, she meets a guy named Alex who tells her the strategies men use to avoid women. While that's going on, her friend and co-worker, Janine tries to work things out with her marriage with her husband, Ben. But while he somewhat wants to work things out too, he also befriends a yoga instructor named Anna with whom he starts a flirtatious friendship. Meanwhile, Gigi's other co-worker, Beth wants to get married after living with her boyfriend for seven years. But he doesn't believe in marriage, so she breaks up with him. And a real estate agent named Conor is romantically interested in Anna, while also having these conversations via phone with Anna's friend Mary.

So this movie was recommended to me by my friend Lindsay - the same one who recommended The Notebook. She loves this movie, because she finds it to be right on the money when it comes to the concept about whether or not guys are into a woman. And in some respects, I agree. I will grant that there's some strategies for guys that are told in the film that you might already know about and therefore may come off as Rom-Com cheese. But they still bring out some good points - some of which I for one might want to keep in mind for if and when I'm out in the dating world myself. Though learning these things is mostly only the focus during the scenes with Beth and Alex. The rest of the film goes over the happenings of these other relationships. And for the most part, they balance most of them out pretty well. Unlike a romantic comedy like Love Actually, there's some small connections to these stories through the characters and their relationships with each other. Beth and Janine are Gigi's friends and co-workers, Gigi befriended Alex, Alex knows Conor, Conor is interested in Anna while having these conversations with Mary, and so on and so forth. However, the reason I say only most of these stories are balanced pretty well, is because some are looked at more then others. Which doesn't stop it from being entertaining, but there are some plot lines you may completely forget about until they are brought up again a long way further into the movie later. But that doesn't necessarily hurt the movie, it just might confuse you during the first viewing. Even the best of films that handle various story lines like Love Actually or Cloud Atlas, will have some story lines and/or scenes that you might feel are not be needed. But I still enjoy them. Heck, if anything, I wanted to see a little more of the stuff that had the least attention. I particularly wanted to see more of Drew Barrymore's character, Mary. She was a cute character, and had this really deep monologue about how guys now have several different technologies to reject a women. It was a good point, and she performed it really well and I just wanted to see more than was barely seen of her after that. In fact, the whole cast makes some really good performances. Gennifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, they're just enjoyable to watch. Though I really have to say, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston as a couple in a movie...never thought I'd see that. I mean they pull it off well but... it's the guy who was Daredevil, directed and starred in Argo and is the new Batman, getting together with Rachel from F.r.i.e.n.d.s. Tell me that very idea doesn't sound a little weird. But I digress. Some of the jokes I thought were a little funny. Without giving away too much information, there's this scene with a dog at a wedding that was cute.

And that's my review for He's Just Not That Into You. It's a nice film with an enjoyable cast, fun performances, and a generally balanced, narrative. It does have some cheesy romcom, moments, but even with that said, how you feel about the film will likely come down to what your thougbhts about what they're saying. Lindsay thinks this movie is right on, and so loves it, I think it has some good points, so I like it. And if you don't find anything and think it's bad, well Lindsay for one would tell you "You're entitled to your wrong opinion." ...That's her statement, not mine. I wouldn't say something like that. ...Please don't stop following me.

Rating: 70%

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fantastic Four (2015)

Plot: Reed Richards has spend his childhood working on building a teleporter with his best friend Ben Grimm. Eventually he gets noticed by Franklin Storm who recruits him to build a Quantum Gate at the Baxter Foundation with his children Sue and Johnny Storm and his protege, Victor Von Doom. They eventually get it to work, but when the facility's supervisor decides to send astronauts to go through the teleporter, Reed, Ben, Johnny and Victor decide to secretly us it to go to a parallel dimension. But during their venture, Victor accidentally causes the structure of the planet to erupt with green lava-like substance. Victor falls into the collapsing landscape while Ben, Reed and Johnny escape. But one the journey back, the machine explodes and alters Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben on a molecular-genetic level and gives them super powers.

Okay already I've seen videos of people giving this movie a ginormous amount of hate. And looking back at what I saw in this movie, I have to agree. But at the same time, I don't hate as much as everyone else, because as bad as it is - and it is bad, there are some little aspects that I appreciate. For example, I like how in the beginning, we see a little bit of Reed and Ben's childhood, even if some things were out of place in some areas like Ben's relationship with his brother. I also really like how part of this movie has to do with going to different dimensions. Granted, it's just one place that they go to and there isn't much out there. But I still can't really overlook the fact that we get any of the FF going to different places at all - like they do in the comics, as opposed to what they do with the other two films from Fox. And I'm glad that we get more of Doctor Doom's powers. True, it's really just telekinetic abilities, force field generation (arguably) and playing Earthbender from Avatar: The Last Airbender. But truth be told, I'm content with that. Yeah the Earthbending is ridiculous and he still isn't a sorcerer or flies or anything like that. But A) I never expected us to be that lucky when it comes to his powers in this film anyway, and B) I prefer this over practically being a prelude to Electro in Amazing Spider-Man 2 regardless. In fact, as little as it is to say, I honestly find that aspect to be my personal favorite part of the film. We may be no closer to getting the real Doctor Doom than before, but frankly, I'm okay with the minor improvements we have. Now with all the positive stuff is out of the way, let's talk about the bad. First off is the characters. I mentioned in my review for the first Fantastic Four movie, that they didn't do a half bad job in giving us a more or less accurate representation of the characters and their relationships with one another. And that's more than I can say for the FF team in this film. Other than making it obvious that Reed and Ben are BFFs (yes I know that's a term for girls, but you get the idea), you get none of the real personalities of the characters and their relationships. There's little to no interactions with Ben and Johnny, the 'friendship' between Victor Von Doom and the team is not believable, and *Spoiler alert in case you actually care* There is straight out no romance between Reed and Sue. In fact most of the development of their relationships between any of them are done through a montage while they are building the machine. Also there's no humor in this movie. There's a light charm in this team in the comics and the other films, and yet this film makes them all dark and moody. It's like they're taking from Man of Steel, except in that movie, it had (in my opinion) at least one little joke in the end that made me chuckle. Here, aside from one moment with Johnny that's seen in the trailers, I don't think there was any real attempt for any humor at all. And amazingly, as a character, Doctor Doom (or just Doom in this case) is worse than the Doctor Doom in the other films. There is little to no real motivation for him to be the villain. Thinking back about the movie, I have to agree with other reviewers who say that his desire to be evil is forced. They had so little to do with him in this movie that they actually made the Doom in the first FF film look really good. I actually thought I was going to get at least a slightly deeper version of this super-villain in this film, and they actually made the Doom from the '05 film look good. Wow. Fail. Also, Reed Richard was rather out of place during the middle of the movie. I won't give anything away (not that most of you would care if I did), but he does something that is almost completely out of character. And this matter goes on for quite a while, which makes it worse. In fact that's one of the biggest problems with this film; it's a drag worse than - you guessed it, the first FF film. There is genuinely no action until the final act, and even then, the fight is really rushed and unimaginative. Also, the editing is really bad. I remember that there's some parts in the film where - being someone who is hoping for a career in film editing, I kept thinking that there had to be more specific cuts inserted to these sequences instead of dragging on some shots. The worst of it is when the team looks at a crater and there's this happy music playing. Uh...sure, like that make sense sarcastically speaking.   

And that's my review for Fantastic Four. I'll give it credit with some of the little thing about the movie, but in the end, we have a film with no real chemistry between the characters, a worse adaption of Doctor Doom, almost no action until the very end - which even when there is, it's really boring, and some really bad editing. This is a definite skip. And let's hope this leads to Fox giving back to Marvel at least one of the movie rights to one of their superhero teams back.

Rating: 15%

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fantastic Four (2005)

The reboot is coming out tonight, so I figure that I should discuss this film before I see it.

Plot: Reed Richards is a bankrupt scientist who goes on a space station to investigate on space clouds with his best friend, Ben Grimm, his ex-girlfriend, Sue Storm, her brother, Johnny Storm, and his investor, Victor Von Doom. But during their trip the cloud materialize ahead of schedule and hits the space station, thus alternating their DNA. Reed is able to stretch every part of his body, Sue can become invisible and create force fields, Ben gained orange rocky skin and superhuman strength, Johnny can engulf himself in fire and fly, and Victor gains the ability to manipulate electricity. Reed tries everything in his power to try to understand their abilities and try to cure them, but he faces the problem of the group fighting each other while they are unaware of Victor becoming Doctor Doom.

Watching this movie before I wrote this review, I had mixed feeling for it. On the one hand, it captures certain areas about the team rather well, but on the other hand, it has a bland story and it drags a lot with the disputes of the team and discovering their powers and all around doing mostly nothing in terms of acting like superheroes. Well let's talk about the good first. First and foremost, I think in the long run, they captured most of the characters and their relationships between each other okay. Reed is so devoted to science, sometimes he gets so focused that it gets in the way of his relationship with Sue, Ben and Reed are best buddies, Ben and Johnny argue a lot, Johnny is brash and impetuous, it's all there. (Though I have to say; thank God, Chris Evans proved me wrong about being worthy to be Captain America. Cause this film and its sequel gave me a good reason to doubt him back when the first Captain America movie was coming out.) And for the most part, that's kind of what they do most of the film; establish their characters and their relationships with one another. But where that's a problem is how they go a little too far with focusing on addressing what their powers are, trying to find a way to get rid of them, and they argue at each other more times than I can keep track of. Ultimately, this leads to the same problem as movies like the first Transformers movie and the first Hulk film have: we rarely see the characters in action. They save some people at a bridge from a catastrophe that they accidentally caused, and they fight Doctor Doom, but other than that, it's mostly just the characters discovering their powers and arguing. And if there's one representation of a character that I disapprove of, it was Victor Von Doom. He came out as a very cheesy villain - he acted more like Norman Osborn a.k.a. the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie when it came to his part in the story. And they only showed his power to manipulate electricity, which is only one of his powers. I mean Doctor Doom in the comics is also a sorcerer, he's telepathic, has force field generation, really they could've done a lot more with him. In fact I really hope they at least give us some of those powers at the reboot. I mean the whole time I was watching him manipulate electricity, I couldn't help but think of Electro from Spider-Man.

 And that's my review for Fantastic Four. I give the movie credit for giving us the basics with most of the characters and their relationships. But it has a bland story that keeps on dragging with the characters either just exploring their powers or arguing with each other and making Doctor Doom just Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man movie with the powers of Electro. You could do worse when it comes to bad comic book films for sure, but for me, this film gives me good reasons to hope that they do so much better with the reboot. Btw, I should note that I am not going to review Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I've seen it before years ago and I don't really want to see it again just to prepare for the new movie. To be blunt, it's a horrible film with an even cheesier story, not much going on, and their representation of Galactus is insulting at best. Meanwhile, I'm going to see the reboot tonight, so stick around to see how I think it turned out.

Rating: 40%

Friday, July 24, 2015

Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Plot: John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor from The Terminator in the year 1984. But while he is starting his mission in that year, he is attacked by a T-1000 and rescued by Sarah Connor and a reprogrammed T-800 nicknamed "Pops". Eventually they somehow discover that they need to travel forward to the year 2017 to stop Skynet from starting Judgement Day.

My first and foremost feeling is that, if anything, I admire this movie more than I really like or hate it. And that really comes from the story itself. While I cannot deny how it is undeniably clunky, I still like it because it has a lot of great ideas. Even if  you take into account whatever information you were given from the trailers, they still had a twist or two that were admittingly hard to swallow, but still interesting. They wanted to basically forget about T3 and TS and make this movie its own thing. They easily could've just given it a half effort like Terminator 3 and -in some respects - Terminator Salvation. But while they do that too here, you can tell that they gave a lot more thought into this movie. In fact if anything, Johnathan and I felt that it just needed a little more thought to become something stronger. Especially with the dialogue. That needed a fair amount of work. But for what it is, it's enough to be a fun movie. The action was decent, and  the performances where fine -though in retrospect, I have to agree with Johnathan that Jai Courtney was not really the best choice to play as Kyle. But what really gave this movie the right kind of heart was Arnold Schwarzenegger as "Pops". You can tell that he was well in his element, and had a lot of fun giving us the T-800 that we've grown to love. As Johnathan basically put it, this would have been a total mess without him.

And that's my review for Termintaor: Genisys. It's clunky with its story and dialogue, but as a Terminator movie, it has some good ideas that at least make it appear as its own, more thoughtful, movie while still staying true to some of the basics of being a Terminator movie that makes it at least more enjoyable than Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation. Officially speaking, I should call it a bad film, but I found it an enjoyable enough film to give it a high-ish enough rating to state that I"m glad to have seen it at least once.

Rating: 60%

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ant-Man (2015)

You know guys, I've been thinking that writing intro paragraphs to my reviews is actually pretty redundant. Not always, but for most reviews, there seems to be little point. So under exceptions where it might be necessary to have an introduction to a review, I'm going to just start with the plot paragraph. With that said, let's take a look at the beginning of phase 3 with Ant-Man.

Plot: The story is about this petty criminal named Scott Lang who just got out of jail and is trying to find a way provide for his daughter. Eventually however, things go sour when he tries to make money honestly, so he does a heist with his old gang only to find out that the vault he's breaking doesn't have money but instead an odd looking suit and helmet. He takes it anyway, but soon discovers that it has the technology for him to shrink in size and have super strength. Eventually, he meets the owner of the suit, Dr. Hank Pym, who recruits him to use the suit to become the Ant-Man in attempt to stop Pym's former assistant from his evil plan.

Now to start of honestly, I more or less expected the worst to happen with this movie. Not in the sense that it was going to be Batman and Robin bad, but I still felt that with this movie we'd get our first bad movie and therefore flop among the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so we pat Disney and Marvel in the back for giving a heck of a run. After all, this is a movie where the superhero is called Ant-Man. So I would think it would be needless to say how people would be unsure about it. Don't get me wrong, Marvel has proved time and time again how they can practically make a good movie out of anything. After all, one of our most beloved Marvel movies is one where a racoon and a tree are our heroes now. But I decided to be nervous all the same. So how did the first phase 3 movie, Ant-man turn out? ...It's actually pretty good. It's no Guardians of the Galaxy or The Winter Soldier, but it's still shows that they can make a good movie out of anything. It delivered in being what any Marvel movie is expected to be: a film with likable characters, a decent if not great story, enjoyable action and of coarse, well delivered comedy. Now what is probably the most likable thing about this movie even before it came out is the premise. This is a movie where, unlike the other films, the main character is not the original superhero. He's actually someone who is taking the place of the person who originally was that hero. Which is not only good because it's doing something different, but there are some comic book nerds who prefer Scott Lang to be the Ant-Man rather than Hank Pym. I say this because while Hank Pym may be one of the earlier heroes who was one of the first Avengers, he was also kind of a jack-hole. He was too devoted on science to focus on anything else, he would beat his wife, Janet, and heck, he's the one who originally created Ultron. In fact, I like that Michael Douglas portrayed him more of a mentor who did care more about people and the greater good over science in this movie, because Hank Pym is a bit of a scumbag in the comics. Which is where he have the more preferable Ant-Man that's the main focus in the movie, Scott Lang. And for what Paul Rudd had to offer with this role, he was enjoyable. He is no Chris Pratt or Robert Downey Jr. or anything, but he still did a good job of giving us protagonist that you really want to root for. I also liked his daughter, Cassie. She just has that right kind of odd yet innocent personality as a kid character. The only character that feel flat was Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / Yellowjacket. While not quite as super one dimensional as someone like Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, his character was pretty cliched from his personality to his evil plan. He was kind of Obadiah Stane from the first Iron Man movie except much more energetic. Most of what makes him interesting at all is when hebecomes Yellowjacket and fights Ant-Man with his cool suit and everything. Speaking of which, the action was fun. Most of it is in the third act, but it's still enjoyable. In fact, the comedy during the climax really helps it. We have our nice jokes here before that, but when we get to the end, they take advantage of the kind of jokes they can come up with in a fight between two people that can shrink like Ant-Man and Yellowjacket. Now the big elephant in the room about this movie is how there's a dispute between Marvel and Edgar Wright. As I understand how the story goes, Marvel wanted to modify Wright's  script to add things that connect the movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whereas Wright wanted the script to be as it was. Eventually, it ended with Wright leaving the project. Now considering how big this whole thing was, some people - myself partly included, were uneasy as to how the movie was going to turn out structurally with these Marvel connections added. For all we knew, Marvel got so cocky that they added too much for the film as a whole to work. But thankfully, the stuff they put in fit very well. Yes, there were one or two things that were forced, but even then, one of those moments lead to probably one of the most memorable parts of the film. Though not enough to steal the spotlight. After all the focus is on Ant-Man, not The Avengers.

And that's my review for Ant-Man. It may not be the strongest of the Marvel films and the villain is not that special when he's not fighting Ant-Man. But otherwise it's another entertaining Marvel film that's fun, funny, and all around succeeds in getting us interested in new characters among the cinematic universe.

Rating: 75%

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)

So they actually did make a fourth movie after all. I start off saying that because I remember years ago when there was talk about making a fourth Jurassic Park movie and then I roll my eyes over it. But they did. So let's take a look at Jurassic World.

Plot: Years after the events of the first movie, another park has been made, this time called Jurassic World. Tons of people come to see all these new attractions and see different kinds of dinosaurs and  it's just coming up better than the original park. But with these new dinosaurs, the company, InGen, also creates their own genetically-modified dinosaur called the Indominus rex, which eventually (big shock) escapes and is a danger to everyone in the park. So the armed security goes out to try to take it down, while the park's operations manager, Claire, goes out there to try to find her two nephews who are out in the jungle where the Indominus rex is with the help of the Velociraptor trainer, Owen.

Now obviously, this movie doesn't hold a candle to the first movie no matter how much it tries. But for a fourth movie that tries a lot harder to do that compared to the second and third movies, it gives such a darn good try that it pays off to be a rather enjoyable, fun flick. Granted, it does take a little while before the entertainment really starts. The first half hour or so of the film does a lot of building up until we get to the obvious point in the movie where the big dinosaur is on the lose and stuff starts going down and everything. In fact there where parts where I felt like I was kind of watching Prometheus in how there's so much that you easily know what's going to happen. There's going to be a couple of people that you know are going to die, so when things go sour, and that person's on screen, you wave that person goodbye before the inevitable happens. But after that, we get an entertaining movie with a smarter story than what I personally expected. The Indominus Rex for example has a goal that, as an antagonist, is unique to the point where it isn't even a force of nature unlike the other dinosaurs trying to get the main characters. I won't give away what it is, but I do think it's really clever. There's also the fact that Owen is a Velociraptor trainer. That in itself makes him stand out from what human characters from past movies do. But it is also backed up with the fact that he has this bond with the four raptors that he trains, and yet he knows that he is still in danger of getting eaten. And I enjoy how we get new dinosaurs that we haven't seen before - particularly the Mosasaurus. That thing was awesome to watch every time it was on screen. Now granted, I originally thought it was a Liopleurodon based on the trailers, which got me really excited to see it. It's sad to learn that it was actually a Mosasaurus, but you know what? Screw it. I'll call it a Liopleurodon anyway. But what really makes this movie stand out is the third act. I won't DARE give away what happens for those of you who have not seen the film, but it has a really big climax with lots of action, suspense, and probably one of the most epic fights you'll see. Speaking of suspense, this film really does keep you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot moments in the film where the horror of what is happening does get to you. Though there is a part where the horror goes a little too far when a women get's eaten. It's not that it's real bloody or anything, but what keeps happening to her before she dies is actually really brutal in its own way. The comedy was enjoyable for the most part. Not every joke hit its mark of coarse, but there are a couple that my family and I got a good laugh at. If there's one real problem with the movie, it would have to be the characters. Now when I say that, I don't mean they weren't entertaining. Because they were. Chris Pratt was of coarse a lot of fun, Bryce Dallas Howard had some good moments,  the two brothers has a decent relationship and I would argue that the youngest brother acted pretty well. But as characters themselves, they were pretty stereotypical. The hero who knows what is happening better than anyone else. The female lead who kind of uptight. The freaking human antagonist that is doing what he does for military purposes? Ugh, I should be surprised that I didn't roll my eyes when that guy first popped up.

And that's my review for Jurassic World. The characters are stereotypical, and the first act is a drag because you know what's going to happen. But other than that, we have a surprisingly fun movie with good horror moments, decent comedy, a much more original story compared to the last two films, and a really exciting third act. It is unsurprisingly no Jurassic Park, but for a sequel, you're probably going to have a good time.

Rating: 75%