Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Good Times Entertainment's Beauty and the Beast (1992)

Since I assume many of you haven't even heard of this movie, here's the background to what it is and how I've come to know about it. The company that made this film, Good Times Entertainment wanted to make a cheap cash in on the success of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, so they conjured up this 48-minute so-claimed movie. And a few months ago, my brothers and I found video critic Phelous reviewing not only this movie, but technically a remake by Golden Films. We had some laughs from his reviews, and so my future sister-in-law, Danae, proposed a night with the four of us eating popcorn, ice cream, animal cookies and drinking girly beers as we would watch both movies. So now that, that is done, I'm going to review both films. Let's start off with the Good Times Entertainment version of Beauty and the Beast.

Plot: Beauty is the daughter of an elderly man who is having financial difficulties after his ships were wrecked. When her father finds out that some of his ships survived, he leaves to receive his shipment, but not before Beauty asks for him to bring back a rose for her. On his way back, he's caught in a storm and finds a castle where there is food laid out for him inside. But before he leaves the next day, he picks up a rose for Beauty, only for an angered Beast to threaten to kill him. But when The Beast finds out about Beauty, he makes a bargain to have her take her father's place. So Beauty is left to live in The Beasts castle, as The Beast intends to use this oppertunity to make her his wife.

Now before I get started on bashing this movie, I do want to say that as bad as it is, I give Good Times Entertainment credit for their general approach in telling the story. They basically decided to tell it almost exactly as it is told in the traditional fairy tale, as opposed to completely throwing whatever they wanted from beginning to end. They even came up with little changes to give their own different spin, such as having an evil fairy trying to stop Beauty from falling in love with The Beast, which is an idea that I personally really like. So for all it's problems that I am going to talk about, I admire how they were going approach the story for their cash in from Disney's release of Beauty and the Beast. In fact, I think with more thought and effort to it, this possibly could've become a decent flick. Now with all that said however, the execution of telling the story is pretty darn laughable. For one thing, the animation is poor. It's one of the kind of animated films where there often is more lip movement than body movement with the characters. And the faces of some of the characters are also very poor. In fact ironically, when it comes to looks, Beauty is, not all that good looking. She was actually pretty dull and almost completely expressionless. Frankly, as someone who loves Belle as a character, I am a little insulted at how this is their cheap cash in version of her. I realize that I just stated the obvious reason why it's bad, but...just...really? This is the best they can do? Sometimes, she could be sort of good looking, but other times she looks a little more like a guy if anything else. There's also some parts of the movie where they actually try to give her a genuine emotion to something happening, but the result comes off as pretty comical. For example, when Beauty finds out about the bargain her father makes with The Beast, naturally she's really shocked about it. But how that's delivered with the animation and even the voice acting is her appearing more like it's a happy reveal, as if a guy proposed to her or something. I know I'm not giving that moment justice with that kind of description, but trust me, it's really comically stupid. The design for The Beast is a stupid too, but at the same time (and I'm saying this out of comparing this movie with the next one), he still looks beastly enough to fit the story. The characters themselves are hardly fleshed out. While Beauty somewhat comes off as kind and caring, some of her actions don't make a whole lot of sense. Especially with her relationship with The Beast. She seemed to became romantically interested in The Beast way too quickly. It looked like she was secretly fawning over him almost as soon as he said that he hoped that she would be his wife someday. The Beast wasn't very fleshed out either, but at the same time, we still see both the monster and the caring being in him. (Again, comparing to the next movie) Beauty's sisters where obvious knock offs of Cinderella's sisters, though I guess that sort of works since apparently they technically were villains in the original tale. Though I'm saying that from reading the plot summary on Wikipedia, so don't completely quote me on that. The two characters that are the most entertaining in the whole movie are The Beast's servant, Clara, and Beauty's father. Both of these characters are so comically bad, that my siblings and I believe that the voice actors possibly knew that this whole project was crap and just decided to have fun with it. Finally, there's a big part in the plot during the third act that has to do with Beauty briefly visiting her family. This is spoiler territory, but with this kind of film, screw it. Anyway, when Beauty asks for a week to be with her family, The Beast allows her to go. But she can't stay any longer than that, otherwise he will die... of loneliness. You read that right. And honestly, I won't bother to say anything else about that, because the way to feel about that should be self explanatory.

And that's my review for GoodTimes Entertainment's Beauty and the Beast. The decision to follow closer to the original story as opposed to Disney's film is very admirable in my opinion. But the execution is met with poor animation, poorly developed characters, and a ridiculous set up for the third act. I know I am hardly giving any justice to the comedy of how bad this film is, but trust me, this movie is arguably one of those movies that is so bad that it's good. If you want to see Phelous' review for the movie, you can find it online or on his website, And if you enjoy that enough and want to spend less than an hour of your time to watch and make fun of a bad movie, you can find this film on GoodTimes Entertainment's YouTube account.

Rating: 20%

Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Yeah. It's time for more Avengers.

Plot: Taking place sometime after the events of The Winter Soldier, The Avengers raid a HYDRA outpost to finally retrieve Loki's scepter. Before Thor goes to Asgard with the scepter however, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the gem inside the scepter, and secretly find a way to use it for Tony's "Ultron" global defense program. This backfires when the sentient being of Ultron is created, and he decides that the only way to save Earth is to eradicate humans. So it's up to The Avengers to find a way to stop Ultron and his allies, the Maximoff twins; Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, from destroying the human race.

Whoa...just...just whoa. Obviously it's an extremely good whoa, but it's also the kind where even now as I write this review after a good night's sleep soon after watching the film, I'm still having trouble processing what I just saw. In many respects, this was exactly what I was hoping for and so, so, SO much more. The first scene just sets the right mood for the movie when The Avengers attack the HYDRA outpost. They just let them do what they tend to do best when the next major threat hasn't occurred yet: fight whole armies of their other enemies to stop their latest schemes, be it A.I.M., HYDRA, and so on. But as soon as Ultron attacks and begins his evil plans, it's practically nothing but character development and action all the way through. Joss Whedon made it clear shortly after the first movie that the second film will have more character development then action. And while I'd say there's more than plenty of action all the same, it's marveling (pardon the pun) at what he gives us for character development. We finally have Captain America and Iron Man as the co-leaders of the Avengers, which leads to showing how they collaborate and express their different opinions. We also get a nice improvement from the first film with giving us Black Widow and Hawkeye. We finally go into Black Widow's origin over how she was trained to be an assassin and what it does to her. Frankly, this is something I thought we were never going to get any more than we are ever going to find out what happened in Budapest with her and Hawkeye. And Hawkeye, man, was he even better than what I hoped for this movie. As much as I liked him in the first film, there was this part of me that wished that we saw more of him where he's not really the least of the avengers in terms of screen time and especially with action since he's a guy with a bow and arrows. But here we see him intact with the team more, he is less "useless" and more awesome, we even see more of who is is as a person and what his motivations are as a team member. I won't give away what they do with him on the latter two things, but it certainly fills the void from out lack of time spent with him in the Marvel cinematic universe. There's also some time spent with Hulk and Black Widow and what goes on between them had to take in from a comic book nerd's point of view, but it still works with the story and even ties into little bits of the first Avengers film. Honestly, Thor had the least amount of focus in terms of character development, which isn't bad, but it makes his part in the story less interesting then what everyone else is going through. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch admittingly didn't get quite enough time to go deep enough into who they are as individual people, but they still pull of the basics about them while still being relevant to the story. And then you have the main antagonist of the film, Ultron. Where do I begin with Ultron? I guess I should start by plainly saying that he was almost exactly what I expected him to be. His motivation, his main goal, his numerous bodies, it's all there. The only thing that I would nitpick about him is that he has more of a human-like personality to him that makes him menacing, but also have some sort of soft side to him. Keep in mind as I say this however, that this is a comic book nerd kind of nitpick. Because generally, Ultron has appeared in the comics to be a robotic villain of hard cold logic like most other robotic villains such as the Terminator/Skynet, Shockwave, Braniac and so on. But at the same time, it makes sense that he's less like them because it helps him stand out more as a robotic villain, and it keeps the tone of the film in not being too dark for its general audience, especially kids. The action is even bigger than any Marvel film has gone before (including Guardians of the Galaxy in its own way). There's so many fights of different locations and sizes that it's hard to keep track of them least for a first viewing of the film to be sure. The comedy (big shock) still does a good job in giving us some pretty good laughs. If there's anything that resembles a real problem for the film, it would be that the film might have too much going on. Because it's like I said early in this review, there's a lot to process. But for me personally, I don't see it as a problem at all. Similar to how I feel about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I enjoy that it gives so many different things because all of those things are just so great. In fact, I think it gives us the feel of a crossover comic book like Civil War, or Infinite Crisis, or Fear Itself, where it's filled it so much action, character development and story for everyone who is participating in the major event, making the entire experience very epic. So given that, I personally would say that calling this movie overstuffed is a nitpick at most. And seeing how most other people have reacted to it so far, it's probably a safe bet that the majority of the audience for this film feel that way.

And that's my review for Avengers: Age of Ultron. What can I really say? It's a great sequel that goes deeper into the world of the Avengers and the characters and action that goes with it. It's bigger, it's deeper, it's funny, it gives so much of what is in the Marvel universe, it's just a ton. If you haven't seen it yet, you better do so now. I know I want to see it in theaters at least 2-3 ish more times, it's so good...and as an attempt to help kick off Avatar from being the highest grossing film of all time. I know that's just silly but...let's be honest guys, that bugger's gotta go!

Rating: 95%