Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pokémon 3: The Movie

Plot: Professor Hale is a research scientist who is looking for the elusive Pokemon called Unown. But during his discovery Hale is trapped in a dimension of Unown leading his daughter Molly all alone. Molly finds a box of tablets containing Unown images and unknowingly summons the Unown who make her wishes come true, including turning her house into a crystal castle and create Entei to represent her father. When one of Molly's wishes includes Entei kidnapping Ash's mother so that she can be Molly's mother, Ash and his friends must find a way to rescue both Ash's mother and Molly from the spell of the Unown.

So now we come to what is apparently the very last Pokemon movie that was released with a nationwide release by Warner Brothers. For a final film before they only started to release it in limited theaters, it's my understanding that some people thought this was the best one of the first three films and thought it was a major bummer that this was the one that made the least amount of money. For me personally I still like the second one the best so far, but I do see why people think this movie is particularly good. Not to the point where I like it quite as much, but I can understand why.

The main reason why this one is considered the best of the first three is because it has a stronger narrative. There's a lot of detailed explanation as to why all this has happened and there's a reason why Ash is connected to this as opposed to how he got mixed up with what was happening with Mewtwo or Lugia and the legendary birds in the previous films. We also have a stronger understanding how this fake Entei has appeared and how he has developed a strong connection with Molly. This is something I particularly like given that when you get down to it, it's a very strange concept. I learned the story for this film from bunch of kids back when it was starting to come out in theaters, and I never saw it around that time because again the first movie was the only one that I saw when I was little. So I think there was a part of me even back then that noticed that when really get down to it the idea of a little girl having this big powerful Pokemon, Entei as her father and then forcing Ash's mom to be her mom is a very odd concept. The story in general is not as epic as the previous film, but to be fair, maybe it's for the best that they focused on just giving us some big adventures without the whole world being at stake.After all, how can you really top something like the fate of the world the way Pokemon 2000 did.

But again they were very clever in having it all fit in. developing its no way where it makes sense and if nothing else make the relationship between the girl and Entei very strong. But it's not without at least a couple of noticeable flaws. For example, we never find out more about the Molly's mom who has gone missing. It's just thrown in there and the focus is left to just the part where her dad goes missing thus leading to the events of the film. And I know that's the point; that this is really about Molly and Entei and how he's sent as a surrogate of her father. But I can't help but feel a little annoyed that we never got any details about the fact that her mom was gone there was no connection to it when I feel like there should there been. Like wouldn't it have made more sense if Molly's mother was also researching on Unown and  disappeared some time prior before her dad does? Because she really disappeared without no explanation and the whole matter about her was resolved what was just as little information. Also maybe I missed something, but there doesn't seem to have been any real motivation whatsoever for the Unowns to give Molly this world and cause all this chaos. It's kind of like they just happen to decide to give her all this power just because she just happened to summon them. However there is a good argument that her emotions also make her technically a very complex antagonist. She's not doing this to be evil, she's doing this because she's lonely and has lost so much and is all alone and the audience can completely understand that. But there's also something of a moral that is kind of thrown in at the very end that has to do with her desire to become a Pokemon trainer and a have friends which is nice but would have made more sense if it was brought up prior. Both of those wants were thrown is during the last third because her real want was her father. Also one thing that really bugs me early on is the fact that apparently Molly and Ash have met before when they were both very little. This backs up how they were smart to give a connection between Ash and the conflit, but if that's the case, shouldn't she be around the same age as Ash? Because they kind of implied that she really should have.

One big Improvement from both the first two films is the action. The Pokemon battles in the movie are pretty awesome to watch. I'm not be a kid anymore, but the young child who loved pokemon that's still inside me really enjoys watching the battle from the beginning, the fight between Brock and Misty against Molly, and Entei vs. Charizard. In fact, it is pretty cool that Ash's Charizard decided to come in and help out. All and all, the action really showed how much the technology and animation improved since the last two films.

The characters as usual are pretty enjoyable. It's nice to see Ash with his original companions again for the most part even if I have grown out of them. But Team Rocket were completely useless in this movie. They never did a single thing in his films apart from just following Ash and observing the situation. Granted they mostly did that in the first movie too, but at least we got a little bit of exposition out of them exploring Mewtwo's castle. But here, they just observe and make some pretty bad puns.

And that's my review for Pokemon 3: The Movie. It's not as epic has its predecessors and there are some considerable problems with the plot to me personally. But the setup is much stronger and the action and animation has improved greatly and just gives us an adventure that's not as big but still a lot of fun. The second one is still my favorite so far, but this is good enough to be recognized as an okay threequel. 

Rating 65%

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

It really is ridiculous how big Angry Birds has gotten over the years.

Plot: Red is a flightless bird that lives in Bird Island where other flightless birds live happy-go-lucky lives. Red however is very angry and cynical and thus is forced by the community to take anger management class. The island is later visited by pigs who want to make peace with the birds and everyone but Red believes them. So it's up to Red and his two friends Chuck and Bomb to figure out what the pigs are really up to.

When I went to see this film, I came with the hopes that it could be not great but harmless. When I left the theater afterwords however I was right about it being not great... but surprisingly not so much with it being harmless.

Before I get to the bad stuff, I do have to reluctantly point out that the animation is great. The designs of the characters where distinct, some of the comedic facial expressions where good, and you can really notice the detail they put into the feathers of each and every bird. No matter how much I dislike the movie in the long run, I can't write this review without admitting that the animation is definitely a plus for it no matter how much I don't want to.

With the one definite positive out of the way however, you can probably figure out just from reading the plot paragraph to this review that the story is not very original. Chances are, you have a good idea what happens almost from beginning to end. The characters are also so bland that you know that you've seen them before in other films even if you can't think of where. On the one hand, you might not even care because all you want to see is the birds fighting the pigs just like in the app except its on the big screen and you can care less about the story or the characters. This is fine in that there really is so much you can do given such a simple yet odd story for a game on your smart phone. But on the other hand, the action that you're expecting doesn't come until the climax of the movie, and so you are left watching a story that has been done many times before with characters you have seen just as many times if not more. The only character that was enjoyable in anyway was Terrace, and he mostly just stood still and growled with a stern frown on his face.    

What bothered me the most in this movie was the humor. Granted, I will admit that there were some jokes that at least made me briefly chuckle with my mouth closed and once in a very long while I'll laugh a little bit. But the majority of the humor ranged from being bland and unamusing to surprisingly inappropriate. There is an uncomfortable amount of sex jokes in this movie that are not only bad, but undeniably direct. There's even a moment when Chuck plainly suggests that he and the female birds "get it on" while doing rapid pelvic thrusts. I couldn't believe that I was watching this. Aren't kids expected to watch this movie?

And that's my review for Angry Birds. If you are a big fan of the app and just want to see birds knocking down buildings and TNT blowing up and whatnot, you'll get it, it's just not there until the very last 20 minutes or so of the film. But aside from that, unless you enjoy mindless sex jokes and care less about the story or characters even though they take the majority of the film, this is another video game film that you should pass on.

Rating: 25%   

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Plot: After Scarlett Witch accidentally kills some people in Lagos while trying to stop the mercenary Crossbones, the United Nations decide to pass the Sokovia Accords which establishes a UN panel to oversee and control the Avengers. Tony Stark thinks that agreeing to the accords is the right thing to do after creating Ultron, but Steve Rogers believes that they will be sacrificing their freedom if they sign it. So the team is divided and Captain America and the super heroes on his side are now fugitives who have to fight their own friends while Captain America is also trying to clear up the Winter Soldier's name.

The Civil War comic was the story that got me into liking Captain America before the first Captain America film was coming out. So like many, I had high hopes with how they were going to adapt Civil War and put it one the big screen. In the end, Captain America: Civil War was almost everything I hoped for and more. I say almost because there are changers here and that if you are a fan of the book, you should see this movie with the mindset of knowing that this doesn't tell the story the exact same way. But the changes they make are incredibly smart.

One big concern that many fans were concerned about was how they were going to set up the event of the civil war. Because in the book, one feature of joining the government/Iron Man's side included publicly revealing your secret identity as part of earning people's trust. So fans where worried about how they were going to do that when most of the heroes in the MCU already have their identities revealed, thus making that aspect of the accords redundant in the long run. But the makers of the film apparently knew that and decided that the focus should rightfully stay on the idea of The Avengers being controlled and not one revealing secret identities which was a wise move. And what makes both sides of the argument regarding the Sokovia Accords is that they both have pros and cons. The majority of us may root for Captain America's side more, but the film makes it clear that both Captain America and Iron Man have very good points in their sides of the argument, but at the same time neither side is perfect. Both arguments have flaws that lead to serious consequences, and they made that clear beautifully.

The characters are still very strong. They gave us a good introduction of both Black Panther and Spider-Man. Spider-Man in particular - while not in the film for very long, was so fun to watch. I look forward to seeing more of Tom Holland as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. But with that said, I do hope that they develop him to have a serious side as well. Because Spider-Man is a both funny and serious character and so far they have only given us half of that so far. So until they show us that much with Holland - as much as people are going to strongly disagree with me, I'm still going to say that Andrew Garfield is the best Spider-Man we have. I also enjoy how they have been developing the relationships between the superheroes. I like that they were slowly developing a relationship between Vision and Scarlett Witch. The conflict between Iron Man and Captain America is very clear and strong. But I think one of the most powerful moments in the film was around the first third when something tragic happens to Captain America. It leads him to an empty church with Black Widow where at the end of the scene, she hugs him for comfort. The event is emotional in of itself, but this shows the fact that we've gone so far that their relationship has become so strong that she would do that even thought they have started to become enemies. It really reflects how much Marvel and Disney has done with these characters that we've come to love so much over the past few years and it's wonderful.

If there is a problem that I'm sure some comic book readers will have, it probably would be that there is only one scene of two groups of superheroes fighting each other. There are several other fights over the course of the film, but there's only one giant battle between the superheroes. But I think that is really a nitpick in about the same way that the lack of time with the Winter Soldier in the last film was a nitpick. You may have expected to see it throughout the majority of the film, but you're fine that it isn't there as much because that's not what the real focus is. The focus is the dilemma that these characters are going through and the development you get from all of them. Plus, keep in mind that even though it says Civil War, this is still Captain America's story above all else. Besides, the actions scene are still incredibly fun. Whether it's the big battle that everyone wanted to see or any of the other fights and chases we get throughout the film, we still get a great collection of well thought out action with creative choreography, and a good amount of wit. And it's worth it to have at least one major battle between all of these superheroes because they take complete advantage of what they have. It is a marvel (pardon the pun) to see all of these personalities and powers clash together and give us amazing one on one fights. Hawkeye versus Black Panther, Ant Man versus Black Widow - heck, even Captain America fighting and Spider-man - two of my favorite characters of all time fought against each other. And what makes these fights so strong is that we've become emotionally attached to most of these characters for so long that we sincerely care about the fact that close friends like Hawkeye and Black Widow are fighting each other. It may stink that we only get one battle like this, but they did their darnest to give us exactly what we wanted.

If I had one problem with the film that is half a nitpick and half a real problem, it would have be Zemo as the villain. It's not that he is nothing like the comic book character apart from the name (though given that this makes it the second time that Marvel and Disney has done this on a threequel with the first being Iron Man 3, should we be worried about Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War in that regard?), but I thought his motivation was corny to say the least. Other people have already stated that he didn't really need to be in the film in the first place, and generally speaking they are right. What made the story of the book so good and what made it so exciting that it was going to appear on the big screen is that there are no real villains because, like I said before, both sides of the argument have their pros and cons. Thus you can easily make the argument that Zemo wasn't very important to the plot and if they removed him from the film, there wouldn't be that much of a loss. But at the same time, he technically was still a good villain. He never fought against the superheroes, but he never had to. His plans involved causing serious emotional harm against the protagonists rather than trying to cause physical harm, and ultimately his plans were very effective.

And that's my review for Captain America: Civil War. Even with the problem with putting Zemo into the mix, we still get a smart, well thought out adaptation of the book with clever changes, strong characters and character relationships, and terrific action that will leave you perfectly satisfied. I may give this film a slightly lower rating then I did for The Winter Soldier because of Zemo, but it's still a fulfilling threequel that you should go see if you haven't seen it already.

Rating: 90%