Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zootopia (2016)

Ladies and Gentleman, here's my 650th review!... sorry that this is almost two months late. I've been pretty busy these days.

Plot: Judy is a rabbit who dreams of growing up to be a police officer in the city of Zootopia. She completes her goal, but is excluded from handling the top-priority cases because of her species. She's put on parking duty where she meets a fox who is a con artist named Nick. Eventually, Judy takes an oppertunity to show her potential by volunteering to look for a missing otter. So after blackmailing Nick to help her, the two go on a quest to find this otter within 48 hours or else Judy has to leave the force. But along the way, Judy and Nick begin to notice some carnivores go on rampage. 

By now you have heard but this is another terrific animated Disney film, and...yeah it really is. The first Disney theatrical animated movies starting nothing but anime characters stove Robin Hood it's not only good, it may be the best movie they have made in years.

First off, the animation and the world that they created are wonderful. The design and movement of the animals are pitch perfect. We see these animals act like actual animals. Judy is constantly twitching her nose,  wolves are jumping at anything, sloths are super slow and they take advantage of all of it. Zootopoa itself is also very inventive. It's designed so that it contains a lot of habitats for so many different kinds of animals, and a lot of the specific locations in the city are really clever. I wont go into a whole lot of detail in describing the creativity of Zootopia, but it definitely is a creative that I think Walt Disney himself would be very proud of.

The humor in this movie is terrific. Just like with Marvel and Star Wars, Disney has upgraded their humor in a way that was ever thought possible. I just wish I knew how Disney figured out how to up their game with their comedy over the past few years, because when this film is funny it's really freaking funny. The jokes with the wolves and the sloths were especially hilarious. I saw this movie with my brothers Tommy and Jonathan and my future sister-in-law Danae, and we all couldn't stop ourselves from quoting the jokes that they pulled on the journey home from seeing the movie.

Characters are also a ton of fun and very memorable. I liked JK Simmons as the mayor, Nick was fun, but my favorite character out of all them I think would have to be Judy. I enjoyed how she was so smart and determined to being a police officer. The "never giving up" trait is really cliche, but it holds up up with character. When we were watching her train her way to become a police officer there was a part of me that was thinking "go bunny, go". Even more so when she tried to be optimistic about her duties on her first day as a police officer. The main villain - while not giving anything away, was a somewhat smart villain. I would be lying if I said I didn't roll my eyes when we got the twist as to who the villain was, when it was revealed. But the same time the more I thought about it afterwords, I realized that the villain's motivation made sense and it was fitting with the story.

Speaking of the story, it might be the smartest part of the entire movie. Not only did it bring new life to the cliche of the buddy cop story, but the plot line of  carnivores going on a rampage address the situation of social issues real life. Yeah really think about that. Disney somehow found a way to smartly and maturely address social issues but  with talking animals that act like humans. And it really works.

There was one thing that both myself and my family had a problem with - and this is really just a nitpick, it would be how the pop star, Gazelle and her tiger dancers are all wearing sexy outfits. I know they're animals and everything, but the way Gazelle was wearing this revealing outfit on top of her tiger dancers being these big buff guys wearing shorts but no shirts just make it feel a little uncomfortable. But again it's a total total total nitpick. Besides, she also gave us the song Try Everything which is surprisingly a very fun song. You'd think that because it's a pop song from an artist you have never heard of, it would be bland and forgettable like those pop songs from A Peanuts Movie. But somehow Try Everything stands out very well.

And that's my review for Zootopia. The world is creative, the animation is great, the characters are lovable, the story is arguably the smartest one Disney has ever made, it's a ton. If you have not seen it yet, definitely find a good showtime at a theater near you and take a look.

Rating: 95%

Meet The Mormons (2014)

I found  this movie in the DVD section in my local library and frankly went "Eh, why not? This could be interesting." With that said however, I want to be made very clear about the contents to this review. I am a Christian who believes that Mormonism is not a form of Christianity like some Mormons claim it to be. But at the same time, I want to try to understand Mormonism despite how hard it is to do so even after reading my own copy of the Book of Mormon (I bumped into a couple of Mormon missionaries in my neighborhood a couple years back and after a small discussion I agreed to take one of their books and take a look at it). So when I borrowed this film from the library, I did so out of hope for getting a slightly better understanding of Mormons and their beliefs and (judging from the cover) get a good idea of how it impacts people globally. Bottom line, I'm reviewing this movie as a documentary and NOT as a means to attack Mormonism.

The movie focuses on the lives of six individuals. A Mormon bishop in Atlantic Georgia named Jermaine, the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy named Ken, a MMA fighter from Costa Rica named Carolina, the country director for Choice Humanitarian in Nepal, Bishnu, Gail Halvorsen a.k.a. The Candy Bomber, and a missionary's mother named Dawn. Every person in that order basically talk about their lives and what they do and only occasionally discuss their beliefs. And sadly, that's about it.The film contributes nothing that we may not have already known about Mormonism in the long run. For the most part, it's just showing how wonderful life is for these six specific Mormons and their friends and family. For this reason, a lot of critics - and I have to agree, see this movie as nothing but propaganda more than it is an actual documentary that tackles a subject. And it's a real shame because the movie starts out making you believe that it will talk about some controversial matters about Mormonism. It starts off with a woman addressing the fact that a lot of people don't really understand what it means to be Mormon and then interviews people in New York asking about what they know about Mormonism and most of their answers have to do with the controversial subjects such as having multiple wives or Mormonism's attitude towards black people. So I automatically believed that it will discuss a little bit about those specific subjects about Mormonism while they are showing us the lives of these six individual Mormons. But instead of  tackling any of it, it just shows how wonderful the lies are for these six people thus making it come off an nothing more than propaganda. When they do talk about their beliefs, they only talk about things that are from the Bible and nothing about what is in the Book of Mormon. So they make it appear that Mormonism is a form of Christianity without explaining how the Bible is in any way connected to the Book of Mormon.

The producer of the film did see the criticism that was made when the film came out and said "Most reviewers wanted the movie to be controversial, but we wanted to tell stories about those who make up our base." Now if this is what they really wanted to make and this is something they are happy with, good for them. Unfortunately, that does nothing to help the strength of the movie or help people be in anyway interested in Mormonism. What I understand from Mormonism apart from what I understand from the book generally comes from an episode of South Park and at least one song from the musical The Book of Mormon. So when something like this is being made from actual Mormons, I for one wanted to hear a little more about their beliefs. In fact two of the people they're interviewing, Carolina and Bishnu used to be Christians before they became Mormans. Well... okay, care to enlighten me why?  All they did was mention how Carolina was raised Catholic and Bishnu became a Christian before a couple of Mormon missionaries came to his town and convinced him to become a Mormon and that's it. I really dislike that they don't go into more detail, because contrary to belief a Christian like me might be a tiny bit interested in how and/or why a fellow brother and/or sister in Jesus would take this particular step in their beliefs. The only part where someone in the film said something that was remotely different than what I believe in is when the football coach, Ken talked about how a Mormon bishop told him that his blessings from God depend on whether or not he can control his temper. But aside from that, it's nothing but the same things I believe in but worded a little differently.

The most interesting part of the movie by far was Gail as The Candy Bomber. His story about how he created the Candy Berlin Drop was amazing. It was really touching what was happening in Berlin at that time and what pilots like him were doing to try to help the people in the city. It was especially touching when Gail talked about this one child who asked him not to not give up and assured him that someday they will pull though. Then to hear him come up with the idea of dropping off candy for children which apparently gave them a lot of hope was great. However not even then, not much was said about his faith as a Mormon apart from claiming that's the Holy Spirit told them to go to meet those kids. Honestly it was interesting as a piece of history rather than something educational about Mormonism or Mormons.

And that's my review for Meet The Mormons. I may have no interest becoming a Mormon in any way whatsoever. But when movies are made by Mormons who are talking about themselves, in some way or another I really want my understanding of their religion to be challenged. I want to be enlightened in some way. I want to see them at least least try to help me understand better what in the world do they truly deeply believe in. But as it is, it's mostly nothing but showing off how great life is for these 6 specific Mormons, make it come out more as propaganda rather than something to be considered as a documentary. The only interesting thing about it is again the story of Gail becoming the Candy Bomber, but even then you could just look him up online and get the same experience of how cool his story is. If you are a Mormon and you just want to see how your  religion has impacted other people, you'll get your fill here. But aside from that, this is one documentary that is definitely a skip.

Rating 20%

The Jungle Book (2016)

Plot : Mowgli is a man-cub raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle who tries to learn the ways of the wolf. But when the tiger Sher Kahn comes to the jungle and threatens the pack of wolves for Mowgli's life, Mowgli must venture through the jungle to a man village for his safety. Along the way, he comes across different animals including Kaa the Python, Baloo the Bear and King Louie and his army of monkeys.

This was a smart, well thought of movie. It fully succeeds where Maleficent failed and Cinderella succeeded to an extent in creating a remake of the Disney classic that updates the adaptation to its fullest potential. In fact, it updated its elements so well that many people are saying - and after much thought I am reluctantly agreeing, that this may be better then the animated one. Yes, you read that right. This live-action adaptation of one of Disney's animated classics is better then its predecessor. Is everything done better? No. But the changes are thought out and delivered so well that the story, characters and the world that they live in are actually stronger than the original.

The story is basically the same but with clever additions and subtractions. Shere Kahn has a better explained motivation as to why he wants to kill Mowgli, there's more build up to the dangers of fire or "the red flower", it's not a musical, although two of the songs are played which I will discuss later, and it adds elements from the book that where not in the animated film such as how elephants are highly respected in the jungle. They also strongly establish how dangerous the jungle is. There are moments in the movie that display how the jungle is a place where death is waiting to happen in every corner. Just watching something like an avalanche heading straight toward Mowgli or see the shredded skin of Kaa or watch one of King Louis' giant arms come out of the shadow set the record straight that the danger that this boy is facing is very real whether he realizes it or not. The film also gave Mowgli a serious moral dilemma that I wont give away but I will say helped create a very clever climax.    

As much as I love the animated film, the characters are stronger in this version. Shere Kahn for example has a more powerful and intimidating presence. The Shere Kahn in the animated film did little, but he was a menacing villain anyway because there was so much build up to him. He was powerful, ruthless and deadly and everybody but Mowgli knew it and where intimidated because of it. But in this version, he does show off his great strength before we're even a third or so into the movie and it is intimidating. It's a plain but effective example of  the power of show don't tell. While Bill Murray as Baloo isn't quite as fun as it was with Phil Harris he still fit the role perfectly and was amusing watch. I never quite understood why Scarlett Johansson was cast as Kaa, but she fit the role alright for the small amount of running time she had. Christopher Walken I think worked very well in voicing King Louie much to the surprise of my brother, Johnathan. And surprisingly the kid that plays Mowgli... is really good. In fact what made him really credible to me was when I watched Jeremy Jahns' review for the movie and he pointed out that the kid is acting with nothing but CGI around him. The fact that some actors - particularly adult actors can fall flat on their face when they're acting with CGI and yet with this kid there is little to no problem whatsoever that it's that I believe that he's interacting with Baloo or the pack of wolves or any of these other animal characters that are completely computer-generated is very impressive. Speaking of interacting with the animal characters, that's another big improvement; Mowgli's relationships with them - particularly the wolves. The Wolves were only there very briefly in the animated but here they play a supporting role in the story and Mowgli's relationship with them appears more genuine than it is in the previous film.

If there is one problem with the movie that isn't necessarily bad but it's definitely the weakest part, it would have to be how they forced in the song I Want to be Like You.  The moment that they played it when Mowgli is talking to King Louie made almost no sense for two specific reasons: 1) there wasn't much of us setup for the song as opposed to when Baloo and Mowgli are singing Bear Necessities. With Bear Necessities, they set it up by discussing how Mowgli had never heard of a song before, and used that for when they do sing the song a couple of scenes later. But I Want to be Like You had little to no reason to be in this non-musical film apart from the fact that it's King Louie's song, so it  kind of felt like it came right out of nowhere. 2) It didn't  fit with the movements of King Louie.  King Louis moves very slow because he's such a giant ape, that's fine in terms of what makes the CGI so great in capturing the movements and the like ability of the animals. But by doing so, it completely missed the energy and emotion of the song.  I Want to Be Like You is a fun upbeat song and yet King Louie is very slowly moving around mostly sitting in one spot. He throws around fruit and ancient treasure during the second half, but at that point the deed was already done.

And that's my review for The Jungle Book. The animated version still has a place in my heart, but this film is such a big upgrade that it pointed out the problems with its predecessor that I never noticed before. This take on Disney's The Jungle Book took what was so beloved about the original and added more development to the story, characters, the dangers of the jungle and so on that I reluctantly have to agree that it is the better movie. I'll still watch the animated movie more than this one, but if you have not seen this film, it's worth checking out.

Rating: 90% 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

Plot: Lawrence III is a Pokemon collector who plans to fulfill a prophecy by capturing the three legendary bird Pokemon Molters, Zapados and Articuno so that he can capture the "Beast of the Sea," Lugia. But by capturing the bird Pokemon one by one, the power the birds have over the world's climate begins to collapse, causing weather phenomenons across the world. Meanwhile, Ash and his companions Misty and Tracy get caught in a storm and are washed ashore to an island where a festival celebrating the legend of Lugia is about to begin and Ash is selected as the festival's chosen one by he festival maiden, Melody. Melody explains that as the chosen one, Ash has to venture the legendary birds' islands, retrieve the magical orbs representing each one and take them to Shamouti's shrine where Melody has to play the festival's song, which is the song of Lugia. But along the journey, they discover Lawrence III and his evil plan and realize that Ash must now complete his quest for the orbs in order to save the world. 

My main thought about this movie - and I cannot believe I'm saying this, is that this film is actually better then the first one. Not to the extend that I personally like it better then the first movie (too many memories and all that), but when I got down to it, I realized that Pokemon 2000 - while not a great film, is the better flick. 

What could possibly make this film better? Well...the story surprisingly enough. As I said in my previous review, the first movie had a flawed story with some elements not playing out particularly well. But I think because the premise is much more simple here - in that it's a hero going on a quest to find these artifacts to save the day as opposed to Ash trying to stop Mewtwo's elaborated plan for revenge against humanity, it was easier to follow and thus I was more likely to be invested in what was happening. It also did a better job at establishing how high the stakes were. The fate of the world is at stake in both films, but the first movie -while having a darker tone, condensed the events to mostly take place at Mewtwo's fortress and the destruction of the world was explained through dialogue more then it was shown. Here, we see all of these weather phenomenons affecting the whole world and we witness how the human characters are reacting to it and all of these Pokemon are  coming together to witness the fight because they know the gravity of what is being transpired.

The main characters also get a lot more attention. While Ash and his friends did play a big part in the first movie, it was really Mewtwo's story at the end of the day. Now we have Ash, the character that the audience has been following throughout the entire show up to this point in time, be the center of attention as the hero. Even though I've grown out of the anime, there was a part of me that enjoyed Ash getting such a big role. With that said however (and I realize that this a childish nitpick, but I just can't help it), I called bull crap when Ash was unsure about being the chosen one. Sure there needs to be conflict and everything, but I can't help but think that I remember Ash as someone who takes the job to save the day without thinking. Granted, I do remember watching episodes where he doubted himself, but when it comes to something like the fate of the world, I always viewed him as someone who just goes off and recklessly tries to be the hero like he sort of did in the first movie. But, this is a nitpick that I just wanted to throw out there. The weakest of the characters however was Lawrence III. His gimmick was interesting, but the character himself was very two-dimensional. Mewtwo made a good antagonist because we saw why he developed his hate for humans and to a degree we cared about him. Lawrence III is just this greedy man determined to capture a specific Pokemon and that is it. I think he had something of a backstory that was to do with discovering this legendary Mew card, but it was all summed up in one sentence and that's all we get. No explanation as to what the card has to do with the prophecy connecting to Lugia or even why there are Pokemon cards in the anime. And just to throw it out there, I wanted to see a little more of Lugia. Why? Honestly, because I had enough hype for the Pokemon as a kid even though I never got to see the film that I feel like I didn't get enough of him when I finally did see the film. But that's just me.    

There's also a subplot between Ash, Misty and Melody that apparently (according to some people on YouTube) is the closest thing fans have to any romance between Ash and Misty. There are hints here and there in the show, but Pokemon 2000 seems to be the only thing that truly plays around the question of "will they or wont they?" A good chunk of the film focuses on Misty being jealous because of Melody kissing Ash and flirting with him. The story line was no doubt beloved by fans and I'll admit that I liked it myself just out of nostalgia, but in the end it doesn't go anywhere because Misty did eventually leave the show. So at the end of the day, this subplot is a major highlight of the movie, but it does suck that nothing else came out of it and that there will never be a girl like Misty that we would love for Ash to get together with. (*cough cough* Serena!)

The dialogue is also least for the most part. There still are some lines that are not that great, but they are better then the dialogue from the last film. There's even a joke with Team Rocket that I found myself laughing at. It was one of those jokes where it should not have worked but the way they delivered it made it funny anyway.  

And that's my review for Pokemon: The Movie 2000. The first one has a stronger hold of my childhood, but after finally watching this movie I have to admit that because of its easier to follow plot, more focus on Ash as the protagonist and the subplot between him, Misty and Melody, this was surprisingly a decent flick. It's not great, but I had a nice time.

Rating: 70%     

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pokemon: The First Movie (1998)

For the past few months I started to get into the Pokemon anime again. I saw some of the original series when it came out on Netflix which was a decent look from the past. After that, I decided to watch the first 14 episodes of Pokemon: Black and White which was also on Netflix which I hated -especially Ash's female companion in that series, Iris. Finally, I looked at the latest version of the show, Pokemon X&Y/ XY&Z which is surprisingly good enough that it hooked me back in. With all of that said, I figured it was time that I looked at an old friend that I haven't seen in heaven knows how long; that being this film. But with that, also came the idea of maybe going through all 18 Pokemon movies. Do I plan to review every single one? ...kind of. I have the mindset to do that, but I think it's possible that I'll reach a point where I'll just want to watch the movies and not really want to talk about them. We'll just have to see as I go through them all. Until then, I shall kick off this possible Pokemon movie reviewing marathon with Pokemon: The First Movie.

Plot: A group of scientist discover the DNA of the rarest Pokemon, Mew and clone it to create Mewtwo. But when Mewtwo awakens and learns that the scientists plan to treat him as a lab rat, he unleashes his psychic powers and destroys the laboratory and everyone in there. Shorty after, Giovanni, leader of Team Rocket and convinces Mewtwo to work with him so he can hone his powers. But when Giovanni tells Mewtwo that he's using him for his own personal befits (a remarkably stupid thing for him to do in retrospect), Mewtwo escapes and plans revenge against humanity. Months later, he begins carrying out his plan by inviting numerous Pokemon trainers to come to New Island and challenge him while causing a terrible storm meant to destroy the world. Among the invited trainers are Ash and his friends Brock and Misty, and it's up to them and Ash's trusty Pokemon partner, Pikachu to stop Mewtwo.

This was the only Pokemon movie I ever saw growing up. I think it was because my brothers and I were a little so obsessed with Pokemon that our parents didn't really allow us to see any of the other Pokemon films that came out later before they eventually banned us from watching the anime. Yeah, we were that obsessed...or at least I certainly was. As a kid, I loved this movie. I though it was an awesome, epic Pokemon adventure to say the very least. I think it was also what got my brothers and I officially hooked into the franchise. Now that I am an adult however, I still sort of like it but mostly out of nostalgia while also being aware that it is very dated.

The best part of the movie for me as a kid, which is sadly the most dated part of the movie now is Mewtwo. Back in the day, Mewtwo was praised as the greatest being ever put into the Pokemon franchise, and we loved him for it. This was because the film succeeded in establishing Mewtwo as a terrible unstoppable force that can destroy buildings in seconds, create devastating storms and defeat  other Pokemon with just a wave of his arm (under the exception of Mew). Even his fortress in New Island and especially his theme music gives this menacing presence that this a being of unmatched power. Back then, kids would be okay if they never became Pokemon Masters either by catching every single Pokemon in the video games or by collecting all of the trading cards as long as they had Mewtwo in their party. With that said however, time hasn't been kind to how he impacted fans. Not to say that people no longer like him or anything like that. But because this is only the first movie and Nintendo had many more Pokemon to create in the less then 18 years since it came out, Mewtwo has sadly become less interesting. Back when this movie came out, there were only 155 Pokemon known (if you count Snubble, Maril, Donphan and Togapi), and none of the other 154 created as big of an unchallenged presence in how powerful they are like Mewtwo had. But now we have all of these other all-powerful legendary Pokemon from Lugia and Ho-oh to Xerneas and Yveltal, that have ultimately made Mewtwo just a member of a special group of Pokemon and that's basically it. Bottom line, some of this still somewhat held up from watching it again, but it's no longer the same after four (going on five) more generations of Pokemon.

Growing up, I have also discovered that the plot for this is is very flawed. Mewtwo's motivation is understandable, but at the same time something about going from everything that happened with the scientists and Giovanni to deciding to carry out this specific plan to destroy the world seems a bit of a stretch. On top of that however, the film has a message against violence that makes no sense - especially since this is a franchise that revolves around Pokemon fighting. The film also surprisingly leaves out/glances over important elements of the story. For example, there apparently is a scene that shows the scientists finding Mew's DNA and why they were making Mewtwo in the first place which is deleted from theaters and from DVD copies, and yet apparently (according to The Nostalgia Critic) it is in the VHS copy of the movie. Uh...why in the world is this left out apart from the VHS copies? There's also the subject of Pokemon Tears that plays a part in the climax of the movie but is barely mentioned at the beginning, making the whole thing seem like it came out of nowhere because they didn't establish it properly. Some of the dialogue I think I recall thinking they were dumb even when I was a kid. The best example is when Team Rocket plan to break into Mewtwo's base through a sewer and Meowth says "I think this plan's all wet."

If there's anything else to add, I will say that it was a little nice seeing some of these old characters and remembering the days where characters like Misty and her Togepi and Psyduck were all over the place. However, Ash makes me a little embarrassed that I dressed up as him for Halloween back in the 4th grade because we was (though not entirely) a wimp back in the early days of Pokemon. Also I still enjoyed listening to the Billy Crawford version of the Pokemon Theme song, and I can't help but like Don't Say You Love Me by M2M.

And that's my review for Pokemon: The First Movie. If this movie still holds out for you, that's great. I wish I had that mind set even after so many years of not seeing it and looking at better things. As it is however, I may technically like it just out of nostalgia, but otherwise acknowledge that this film has become tragically dated simply because it was the first of many films to come that contain powerful menacing beings like Mewtwo, and even then has a noticeably flawed story. Unless you never grew up with Pokemon, I at least recommend this if you grew up with it just for the sake of nostalgia.

Rating: 50% 

Friday, April 8, 2016

I Know That Voice (2013)

I'm not making a plot paragraph this time since I don't think it would make sense to call it a plot. The basic story to this documentary is multiple voice actors/voice directors discussing the business of voice acting.

My film editing teacher recommended this movie for me to analyze for a possible semester-long editing project. I was more then willing to see it regardless because I like voice acting. There's so many characters to love that were created through this business and from so many voice actors that are rightfully praised for their work. Heck, I even made a top 10 favorite voice actors list back around the time I started moving all of my reviews from to this then-newly-made blog... in fact sometimes I feel I should make another list, since there's a whole bunch of actors that I didn't know back then and would like to acknowledge now.

The movie's main goal is to reach out to people how there is much more to voice acting than people think. The first two minutes set the style and mood as the editing is cutting from shot to shot, featuring different voice actors in each shot. It starts off with one voice actor reading this monologue to the camera before it cuts to another voice actor reading, and then it cuts to another and another until they finish the introduction with actors saying “I know that voice” in each shot, ultimately leading to the film cutting to all of the voice actors at once saying the title at the same time. The film from there is almost nothing but cutting to different voice actors discussing different subjects about the industry. Some of them get more attention then others such as Tom Kenny, Billy West, and John DiMaggio who is the narrator of the film. But by the end of it all, almost any voice actor that is worth knowing has had a moment to shine and discuss something about their careers. I say almost, because the one problem I have with this documentary is that out of all these voice acting giants, they completely left out Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. I think not interviewing Welker in particular was a missed oppertunity, seeing as he is one of the most creative people in voice acting out there and I think the audience could've learned a lot from him.

But even without Welker, the audience is still given a solid idea of how big the industry is and how these people have voice acted in so many different tv shows and movies. In fact since there are so many people that are interviewed, the text will reintroduce the voice actor/director nearly every time they appear on screen. On top of that, the text will also change on occasion with what work the actors have done . The film may cut to Tom Kenny at one point and the text will say that this is Tom Kenny who did Spongebob Squarepants, but a few minutes later it will cut back to him and it will say that he also did Adventure Time

I enjoyed the parts in the film where I really learned something that I never knew before about voice acting. For example, there is a scene that discusses how when voicing a character that someone has done before, the voice actor must figure out a way to create their own unique turn of the character’s voice rather than attempting to impersonate the original voice. Thus the film cuts back and forth, between Mark Hamill and Kevin Michael Richardson discussing how they have done their own takes on voicing The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman respectively. It was fascinating watching Richardson discuss how he had to make his voice for The Joker in The Batman despite the rather imitating legacy Hamill has made with his own Joker voice, while Hamill himself gave his thoughts about Richardson’s performance. I also liked some of the little bits of trivia that I have never learned about some of the voice actors until now like how Shockwave is one of Corey Burton's favorite characters to voice as.

And that's my review for I Know That Voice. If you like the industry of voice acting or don't know a lot about it, I strongly recommend this documentary. Apart from not having Frank Welker interviewed, it's a great way to listen to people from the industry talk about what they do.

Rating: 95%

Deadpool (2016)

 Plot: Wade Wilson is a loud-mouthed mercenary who lives with his girlfriend Vanessa in New York. When he finds out that he has terminal cancer, he leaves her to spare her from watching him die. He comes across a secret program that offers an experimental cure for his cancer, led by Ajax. Ajax gives him a serum that develops a healing factor that cures his cancer but leaves him severely disfigured with burn-like scars over his entire body. Wilson escapes from the program and goes on a killing rampage looking for revenge against Ajax as Deadpool.

This review is almost two whole months late, so you already know how this was received. This was everything Deadpool should've been in Wolverine Origins and yet for heaven knows what reason wasn't. Deadpool is the infamous "merc with a mouth" who breaks the fourth wall, pulls all these various funny jokes, is gory violent with his guns and swords, and is altogether a ton of fun to watch. The opening credits for this film set the mood brilliantly making it clear that Fox has heard our venomous outcry from what happened in Wolverine Origins and wanted to make it up to us in full. Even some of the fourth wall jokes included making fun of Deadpool's "appearance" in Origins as well as Ryan Reynold's performance in Green Lantern. This movie is also very R rated with its humor and violence in that I knew that they had to be there in order to properly represent Deadpool, but I didn't expect them to go the distance with its gore, nudity and sexual content...mostly the latter two. To say that this is a film I don't recommend showing to your kids until they're pretty much adults would be an understatement.

The side characters were fun to watch. Stefan Kapičić delivered the best representation of Colossus...not that it was hard to do since he's hardly appeared in other X-Men/X-Men related films, but I digress. He was a perfect polar opposite to Deadpool as this good, mild-mannered hero as opposed to Deadpool...well, being Deadpool. I would be lying if I said I've ever heard of the X-Men trainee who was with Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yes that apparently is her name), but she was funny too. And with Reynolds himself as Deadpool, he gave us the right amount of being funny but serious when he needed to be. The movie goes back and forth between his origin story and his hunt for Ajax and it balances out smoothy. They knew that it was Deadpool that we wanted so rather then have us wait half of the running time going over the origin story like so many other films do, they searched for the right pace of giving us his origin but still cutting back to his mission to kill Ajax.

The music is also a lot of fun. I saw this movie with my brother Johnathan, and we could not get the song Shoop by Salt-n-peppa out of our heads during the entire long walk home from the theater. It's so unbearably catchy that we couldn't stop ourselves from singing "Shoop ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop" at least several times. The Deadpool rap by Teamheadkick fits Deadpool's personality perfectly.

If there was one problem I had with the film, it would be the make up for Deadpool's disfigured face. I'm not going to pretend that I've read every comic of Deadpool in the world, but I've read enough that both myself and Johnathan felt they held back majorly in making him look like he has a disfigured face that he's ashamed of. One person made the argument that they probably did this because it would have been too much for the make up department to go as big as I hoped they would. There's also a couple of friends of mine who have commented that this is how he looks in the comics sometimes. I understand both arguments, but at the same time I can't quite help but look at his disfigured face and feel that they really did this just so that he still had his Ryan Reynolds face for women to go gaga over. But this is a nitpick.

And that's my review for Deadpool. It's gory, it's funny, it's profane, it's everything that we've been wanting from Deadpool on the big screen for so long. If you haven't seen it yet but want to, go see it long as you're a mature age. Seriously, don't say I didn't warn you.

Rating: 85%

The Revenant (2015)

Plot: Legendary explorer Hugh Glass gets brutally attacked by a bear during his journey back to his outpost with his son and fellow trappers. His party finds him and bandaged his wounds, but they eventually decide to have a couple of men stay behind and wait for him to die while the rest make their way back to their fortress. But one of the men, John Fitzgerald attempts to smother Glass, but is found out by his half-native son, Hawk, so Fitzgerald kills Hawk and leaves Glass to die. But Glass quietly crawls his way on a long, hard journey back to the fortress to get his revenge.

Let me start off by answering the first questions that likely comes to your mind about this movie: yes,  Leonardo DiCaprio's deserved to finally win his Oscar. While I honestly didn't quite feel like I was watching a character as opposed to was DiCaprio like I did watching What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, there is no denying that his performance is really investing and takes you on a long, cold, harsh journey. So this would be the second best performance I've seen from him. Also when I say harsh, I mean really, really, really harsh. Just watching the fight between Glass and the grizzly bear was hard to watch. In fact, I think deciding who should've won the Oscar for best makeup and costume between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road was a tough call. Because as creative as the massive makeup and costumes for Mad Max were, the makeup crew for this movie did exceptionally well in making Glass' body so gruesome from after he was mauled.

As this is a Alejandro González Iñárritu film, scenes like Glass' fight with the bear where it's recorded in these long camera shots that you may not even realize are all in one shot until after witnessing the gory, disturbing and suspenseful stuff that is happening. Whether what you're watching has to do with the bear attack, battling Native Americans or what have you, you will see some disturbing graphic imagery.

I must admit though that at times the film does feel like it's going on for too long. And while it isn't a horrible scene, I didn't quite understand or really care for the very end without giving anything away. But these are minor complaints compared to the film as a whole.

And that's my review for The Revenant. It's a thrilling, graphic film that despite it's long running time and confusing ending, is a great film experience with DiCaprio. If you want to see it if for no other reason then to see the performance that finally gives DiCaprio his darn trophy, this film is worth checking out.

Rating: 80%

Sunday, April 3, 2016

God's Not Dead (2014)

 Plot: Josh is a student in a university who takes a philosophy class taught by his atheist Professor, Radisson. Because he is a Christian, Josh refuses to write "God is dead" like Radisson tells the class to do in order to pass the class, so they make an agreement that Josh has to make a three-session argument in front of the class that God is real. Meanwhile, we have a series of subplots that include 1) Radisson's relationship with his girlfriend who is also a Christian, 2) her relationship with her brother while their mother suffers from dementia, 3) a left-wing blogger who discovers she has terminal cancer, 4) a Muslim student who is secretly a Christian, 5) a Chinese student in Josh's class who is intrigued by Josh's standing up to Radisson and 6) two pastors unable to go on a road trip to Disneyworld.

When I heard about this movie, I was curious about what they would do with the argument about whether or not God is real. I didn't think they were going to do something really spectacular in how they tackle the subject, but it looked like it would at least give us some interesting points. What I got when I finally saw it...was very underwhelming. Even through the debate between Josh and Radisson is the main story, the argument itself about God's existence is barely in the movie. It is mostly left on the sidelines so that the movie can focus more on the subplots that kind of connect with each other but at the same time not really. One video reviewer on YouTube put it best on his on review that this movie acted more like it's directed to one specific audience rather then a general audience. It just wanted to please Christians with all of these stories about Christians or people who have something against Christianity more then it wanted to have a story with a well thought out message to reach a general audience. And don't get me wrong, if you enjoy these subplots and maybe even relate to them in some way because of your own walk with Jesus, that's fine. Don't let me stop you by any means. But these plots have been done before, are far to simple and contain very cheesy dialogue. If any of them were to really work, they would have to get rid of some of them so that the ones that are left can be fleshed out more. Otherwise it would've been best that they would all be removed from the film so that we would have more of Josh and Radisson debating about God's existence.

But as bad as all of these things are, they don't compare to Radisson as the villain. This is probably the most corny villain I've seen in a live-action movie in a long time. He was so stubborn and egotistical about how Josh is trying to take people away from his side in the debate about God that it was annoying. They also made so one-dimensional that he would also publicly humiliate his girlfriend because of her faith. Even when we do find out why he is the way he is, it's still unoriginal, was very rushed, and even if you put all of that aside, they made him way to much of a jack-hole for us to care about him at all. I also can't help but call bull-crap on the fact that he's supposed to be this philosophy professor at a university. As someone who has taken philosophy classes such as ethics and the philosophy of religion where the teachers talk about those subjects in a mature manner where they are respecting people's beliefs at a community college, he was just too hard to take seriously as a philosophy teacher at a university. Heck, there are moments where he would threaten Josh to stop the debate or something around that where he easily should've been fired from his job.

If there's anything I do like from the movie, it would be the scenes when Josh does make his argument that God isn't dead. While they're not the most enlightening discussions about the existence in God - in fact you can probably tell that they are really holding back in how deep and specific they could've been, it still is interesting to listen to. I also can't help but enjoy the song God's not Dead by Newsboys at the end of the film. It's simply a fun catchy song for Christians like me to enjoy.

And that's my review for God's Not Dead. If you enjoy this movie because of how you might relate to any of the subplots, and/or enjoy the moments when they do talk about God, that's great. Please continue to do so. But for a film that is suppose to be about discussing God's existence, this film gives us almost nothing but overly simple stories that don't connect together very well with corny dialogue and in incredibly cheesy villain. Not one of the worst things I've ever seen (heck, I'm debating about going to see the sequel out of curiosity as to whether or not it'll be that bad), but it's one Christian film that I say you should skip.

Rating: 20% 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Hey everyone, sorry that it's been a while, but I've been occupied with school and work of late, but I am back again, and I have a whole bunch of reviews ready to be made.

Plot: Set a year and a half after the events from Man of Steel, Superman has been helping humanity from saving people from fires, floods, exploding rockets, basically saving the day like in the oldest comics. But he also becomes a figure of controversy over what his real agenda because of his powers and his alien origin. Meanwhile, Batman views Superman as a threat after people he cares about died during Superman's fight with General Zod in the previous film, and has become determined to find a way to take him down in the chance that Superman could turn against humanity.

By now, you likely have heard that this movie has been bashed by both audiences and critics with a 29% on RottenTomatoes. I saw it on one of the early screenings last week, but I wanted to see it again before I gave you guys my official verdict. And having seen it a second time, I can confidently say that this is actually a nice movie. Similar to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there is no denying that it's flawed, but I think people took the film's problems way out of proportion and/or judged it too much out of whatever they did not like just because they watched the last two trailers for the film (something I frankly think is a very stupid thing to do given how obvious it is that trailers show way too much) to the point where their view of the movie is warranted, but unfair at the same time.

One person from Screen Junkies described the plot as five different movies put into one. You have the one that's the sequel to Man of Steel which is about the results of what happened, there's a solo Batman movie that is setting up Batman, there's a Batman v Superman movie which goes over their ideological differences, a Lex Luthor movie that goes over his dislike of both heroes, and then you have your set up Justice League movie. (Screen Junkies) In my mind's eye however, the plot worked in the long term. But the key words there are "long term." There are inconsistencies to the film's story to say the least. But when I was watching the movie the second time, I felt like the story as a whole fit well enough to that I thought it wasn't quite as jumbled as people have said it is. At least not to the point where people say that it's really bad. But we also do have teasers for future films for the DC cinematic universe in the movie that as much as I liked some of them, I still cannot deny that they were really forced.

The characters in this movie (with two exceptions that I will get to later) were delivered almost perfectly. I know there are some people who didn't like the Superman characters in this film, but I honestly didn't have any problems with them. Batman v Superman took advantage of the fact that the Superman origin film is out of the way and so the actors can act more like the characters from the DC comics. Perry White as the tough editor-in-chief, Lois Lane as the snoopy reporter, and Superman saving the day around the world, while debating about how he should use his powers. Maybe I'm too much into Marvel and Batman to really see why people complain about them, but I thought they were good. There's also Jeremy Irons who carried out the role as Alfred remarkably well with the small amount of screen time he had. Wonder Woman didn't have a whole lot purpose in the movie, but she was enjoyable to watch whenever she was on screen. But the one performance that even people who didn't like this movie agreed was the best thing in it was surprisingly Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. To say that he exceeded expectations would be an understatement. In fact, you can easily make the argument that this was Batman's movie more then it was both Batman and Superman's movie. Affleck captured so much of being both Bruce Wayne and Batman from the turmoil of his past, to his reasons as to why Superman should be taken down, to his devotion in preparing himself mentally and physically for a big fight and so on, that I felt like I was seeing Batman more then I was seeing Affleck playing Batman. Even though I was more optimistic about Ben Affleck playing Batman then others, I honestly wasn't expecting to get a whole lot from him. But you know what? He was phenomenal. This is however a darker and more violent take on this iconic superhero where he does kill people. And if you don't like that he kills or you're just more comfortable with Michael Keaton or Christian Bale as Batman, that's perfectly fine. I'll admit that I was hesitant with him killing so people - heck, I still didn't like some of it watching the movie again. After all, what makes Batman one of the greatest heroes of all time, is that he doesn't kill because he has his code that separates him from the criminals. But it also makes sense in this film because this is an older Batman who has been through so much in his life that he knows that there are times where it is necessary to kill in order to save lives, and apparently people really enjoy this different take on the dark knight. Affleck has apparently been not taking the news that the reviews for this movie have been very negative very well, and I really hope we can get it though to him that he's not one of the reasons why. He gave us a greater representation of Batman then a lot of us expected and I know a lot of us want to see more from him.

The majority of the action in this movie was standard but still entertaining. The car chase with the Batmobile and the battle against Doomsday were okay, and the fight between Batman and Superman gave us exactly what we wanted. But by far the best part of the movie was the fight between Batman and a group of mercenaries. That was amazing. Backing up how Affleck was so good as Batman, this particular fight scene felt like I was watching Batman in one of the Batman Arkham video games. I saw this movie the first time with my brother Johnathan, and we both were blow away at what we were watching, either wowing or laughing at something that Batman does when he's taking down these mercenaries. By the time it was over, we were looking at each other agreeing that it was incredible to watch. 

My only real problems with this movie are the two characters that were the exceptions to how well the film represented the characters; that being the villains Doomsday and Lex Luthor. I know that the designs of comic book characters aren't the most important thing to general audiences, but it was really distracting how Doomsday was really the cave troll from The Lord of the Rings. His appearance does change later on so that he looks more like he is in the comics, but we do see more of him looking like the cave troll more then we saw actual Doomsday. The fighting with him was good, but as nitpicky as it sounds, the way he looks really does take away the excitement of this particular super villain appearing in something like Batman v Superman. And with Lex Luthor...*sigh*...why in heaven's name is it so hard for Warner Bros and DC to understand that we want a serious Lex Luther in our live action films? One of my biggest problems with the original Superman films and Superman Returns is how while neither performances were bad per say, both Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey portrayed him as a silly childish villain when he's really a cold and ruthless kingpin. And here, we have Jessie Eisenberg where if that casting wasn't confusing enough, we have him acting like he's basically Heath Ledger's Joker. This is particularly sad, because when you take away the way the character is performed, this version of Lex Luthor is also really close to how he is supposed to be portrayed. His part in the story and his dialogue (with some exceptions to both aspects), hits it so close that if they had someone like Terry O'Quinn, Bryan Cranston, or Mark Strong (just to name a few) to play this character with a serious demeanor, this would be perfect. But as it is, we are basically given a DC villain mixed with Joker - somewhat like Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Two-Face in Batman Forever. In a way this makes him both the best and worst Lex Luthor brought into the silver screen. Talk about so close and so incredibly far. On top of that, as great as his actions and dialogue is, his motivation doesn't make sense. I won't give away how, but it creates a serious plot hole that I think could've been covered in at least a couple extra sentences of dialogue. Because without those additions, all the good stuff about this rendition of Lex Luthor is there just to please comic book readers without any real explanation for the sake of the story.

And that's my review for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The plot has its inconsistencies, the teasers for future films is shoe horned in, and the villains, mostly Lex Luthor are the weakest of the cast, and while I didn't go into any details, they hurt the story as a whole. But the parts in the story that fit I enjoy, the entire cast apart from the villains I think were good, the action (while didn't always wow me) was fun to watch, and Affleck's portrayal of Batman was so good that I wanted more from him. I know I kind of gave an almost equal amount of good and bad things, but for me personally and for my brother Johnathan as well, the good outweighed the bad to the point where we think it's a nice enjoyable movie. I think it's more entertaining then Man of Steel, and I honestly might buy it on Blue-Ray and DVD. It's not the greatest thing ever, but I don't think it deserves quite as much hatred as it has been given. Either go see it in theaters or wait until you can rent it, and see for yourself.

Rating: 70%