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%