Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises


Christopher Nolan will conclude his adaptation of the infamous Batman story in one of the most successful film franchises in the world. Nolan has the tremendous burden of topping his Herculean sequel, The Dark Knight, and creating a successful closure to the Batman story, a feat which has yet to be accomplished or even attempted. Nolan has chosen to finish the trilogy with Batman facing off against foes like Bane and Catwoman. A winning third installment will cement Nolan's awesome abilities in filmmaking. The Dark Knight Rises will fly into theaters July 20, 2012.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hereafter

To be frank, this movie was a little boring and anti-climactic.
Hereafter follows the lives of three people who have experienced death in different ways: an American man who has the psychic ability to see departed loved ones, a French woman who momentarily died from drowning, and an English boy who lost his identical twin brother in an accident.
While the movie started out very engaging with a tragic tsunami scene, it slowed down afterward and never picked back up. And waiting for the three stories to intertwine was long and tedious. The stories are interesting, but not enough. Matt Damon, Cécile De France, and the McLaren brothers do a good job of carrying this movie on their shoulders, but not enough to save it from its dull resolution. There was a definite lack of payoff when it was all over.

**Spoiler Alert**
I have to admit that the dead little boy was kind of a jerk. He seemed nice while alive, but then became mean-spirited once he passed on. His brother searches for a way to connect with him for most of the film, and when he finally does, the only thing his brother can say is don’t touch my hat, you can’t rely on me anymore, and goodbye. Jerk.
And I was really upset at the idea that it was mere coincidence that the boy’s losing his hat in the subway saved his life. I was happy with the thought that the ghost brother knocked it off his head as the act of a guardian angel to keep him from getting on the train. But then we find out that the ghost brother knocked it off the boy’s head because he was mad that he was wearing it and that the boy missing the train was just a happy coincidence. Lame. Again, jerk of a brother.
And what was with the random flash of a kiss between Damon and France? If they were trying to establish the idea that Damon can touch France without seeing visions, we already get that with the handshake and lack of visions when they first meet up in the street after the flash. The scene was completely random and unnecessary. And weird, too.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, the film was a bit bland. The end.

As far as questionable content:
There is a tsunami scene in which several people are engulfed in water that can be a bit traumatic, and there is a scene where a little boy is hit by a car and smashes into a car windshield with some blood splatter. He is afterward lying on the ground with blood running from his head.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Warner Home Video.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vantage Point

While the overall premise of the film is interesting, this movie was not executed in an interesting way.
Vantage Point shows us a terrorist attack on the President of the United States from several different characters’ point of view.
The idea of this movie was to take a scene and show it from several different perspectives that would slowly reveal to us who was behind the attack. That would be interesting, except for the fact that there were too many different points of view, and not enough interesting moments happening between them. Each viewpoint is started with a few-second countdown to 12:00 P.M.. After three times, I groaned when this scene would pop up again. After three viewpoints, you just want to know who did it and you really, really don’t want to see the attack again. Of all the characters in the film, only four of them are interesting enough to follow. The others just add monotony to the film. Cut their scenes out and it would have been a much smoother and exciting ride. No offense to anyone, but I would definitely cut out the little Hispanic girl from the film. She was so annoying! And when she ran out into traffic and just screamed for five minutes while the ambulance slowly came at her... just ticked me off.

**Spoiler Alert**
Yes, I know that without her jetting out in front of the ambulance the bad guys would have likely escaped, but it was still annoying to have to watch.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Another disappointment of the film for me was the Control Room scene with Sigourney Weaver. If you are the director of a live broadcast involving several world leaders, you would not be as relaxed and motionless as the people in that Control Room were in that scene. Weaver would be constantly talking to cameramen, yelling orders to crew members, watching each TV screen for better camera angles, and she would certainly NOT have time to take a phone call during the show! Someone did not do their research.
Sorry, I’ll step down from my soap box. Overall, the film had some interesting plot twists and exciting moments, but it was too redundant to be an enjoyable watch.

As far as questionable content:
Since the film deals with terrorists, there are some disturbing images, violence and profanity throughout.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cloverfield

For most people, you either loved this film, or you completely despised it. As for me, there were things that I loved about this film, and things that I didn’t care for. Cloverfield follows several twenty-somethings as they try to escape a city being attacked by a giant Godzilla-like creature.
I think that this film was a landmark in motion picture history in two ways. The first landmark is how they campaigned for the film. It was brilliant. Successfully keeping this movie in the dark, they released a trailer that showed us very little and only had a date instead of a title. People who looked up this date online found a website that only had a couple pictures. From here, the advertisers used a number of techniques to publicize the film and pique audiences’ interest. The main website would be updated occasionally with pictures that gave clues about the stories. Several of the characters had MySpace pages and online video blogs. There were several fake news and business websites created to help give further background to the story. All in all, it was an amazing form of advertising that got audiences excited for the film and accounted for a great deal of profit that the studio could not have made any other way.
The second landmark is the way they filmed the movie. This is where most audience members grew to hate the film. The movie was filmed as if we saw everything from a handheld camera being used by one of the characters. This added a great deal of realism and believability to the story where we felt like we were watching a YouTube-like video of an actual event. But this also meant that there was a lot of camera-shake in the process and anyone who had motion-sickness did not make it far into the movie. While it's true that The Blair Witch Project started the hand-held technique, I believe it was this film that showed the true potential and effectiveness of filming in this form. It was this film that started the hand-held craze and later inspired other films like Quarantine and Paranormal Activity.
Aside from that, the movie itself wasn’t all that good. The movie echoed Godzilla a lot, so we felt like we had seen this film a dozen times before. There was really nothing to new to see. Another thing that bothered me was the lack of background story in the film. A lot of the background information was covered in the campaign sites for the film, but if you never looked at any of those, you were left with a lot of questions.

**Spoiler Alert**
Apparently, - and they don’t tell you this in the film anywhere – the object landing in the ocean at the end of the film was a failed satellite that crashed to the earth and awoke a monster that had been hibernating underwater for thousands of years. The monster was supposed to be a baby looking for its mother.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, the movie was a good thrill ride with lots of good special effects and scares, but not good enough to be seen over and over again.

As far as questionable content:
There is some violent monster mayhem, a couple of gore moments (one person is attacked by a monster and some blood sprays on the camera; a person explodes behind a curtain; one character is chewed up in the monster’s mouth) and some profanity throughout the film.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quarter Finalist Round... CWA Contest...

The results for the Quarter Finalist round of the CWA came in this morning. Sadly, my script didn't make it to this round. But the fact that a rough draft of one of my first screenplays was a preliminary finalist is still pretty inspiring and exciting. This gives me great hope that I can eventually become a powerful and influential writer once I have gone through school and learned how to truly write good films. Thanks for everyone's support! My screenplay is still in one more contest - the Gimme Credit International Screenplay Competition - which should begin announcing finalists in either late October or early November. I'll keep everyone updated on the progress.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preliminary Finalist - CWA Contest...

Taking a moment to turn the spotlight on myself for a moment, I wanted to update everyone on my recent happenings. Since I applied and was accepted to film school, and since my degree will be in screenwriting, I decided to take a shot at some screenplay contests to see where I stood in my ability to write. I turned a screenplay titled "The Truth About James Torpor" into a couple different contests, one being the Creative World Awards (CWA). This past Monday, the CWA preliminary finalists were announced. My script was listed as a prelim finalist in the Short Film category. This is pretty exciting since it was a first draft of the script and, while I was hopeful, I really didn't expect much to come about from it. There are three more judging rounds before the winners are announced on September 12. The quarter finalists will be announced this coming Monday, August 22. I'll keep everyone updated on the results.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

To begin, this was a hard review to write. I've only seen the movie once and I went in with so many preconceptions that I will likely have to sit down and watch the movie again to get a real feel for the film and how much I like it. I saw it a while ago, but needed time to think it over a bit before spreading my thoughts before you.
Second part to The Deathly Hallows and conclusion to one of the biggest film franchises in history, Part 2 follows Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they search out the last Voldemort horcruxes and try to stop an impending attack on Hogwarts.
I certainly found this film refreshing and a lot more enjoyable than the slow and awkward Part 1. While the first film had some enjoyable moments - our heroes breaking into the Ministry of Magic - it didn't add much to the film series. This film on the other hand delivered a great deal of satisfaction to any Harry Potter fan. The story moved along at a very pleasing pace and I was engaged throughout the entire film. There was enough spell-casting and wand fights taking place in this movie to appease any magic-lover. The resolution of each character's story was satisfying and everything led to a gratifying end. The performance of the actors was very good, the special effects were incredible, and I feel the series finished with a powerful bang.
Still, while there was much that was good in the film, there were a few things that needed some more attention. First, I was sad that Nicholas Hooper - composer for Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince - was not in charge of the musical score for these last two films. His music for parts 5 and 6 was spot-on and added a great deal of depth and emotion to each film. I felt that his work on this film could have been an excellent contribution to the overall impact of the series end.
Second, while it was a great jolt to see the deaths of some of our favorite characters, I felt the film did not do their deaths enough justice in this movie. The revelation of their deaths was a shock, but the film moved on too quickly for us to get a full blow of knowing these characters are gone. I little more hang time and emotion with each death would have made for a more intense and growing despair and an overall greater triumph in the end.

Overall, the film was very enjoyable and rewarding. Definitely worth the time and money. Thus ends a great franchise.

As far as questionable content:
The film had some pretty violent moments and it certainly earns its PG-13 rating. I would not recommend the film for youngsters as it would be a little too scary.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Train Your Dragon...on the Stage...

While I am a big fan of the film How To Train Your Dragon, a stage-play seems a little anti-climactic and void of the most important aspect of the story...flying. But when I eventually saw this promo video for the show, my mind was blown and suddenly it didn't seem so impossible after all. The animatronics and special effects used in the show looks absolutely amazing. Well done! Sadly, the show won't premiere until next year, and even then you'd have to fly to Australia to see it.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Red Tails...

Finally leaving his Star Wars roots alone momentarily, George Lucas has written what looks to be a pretty awesome movie:


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Season of the Witch

Overall, not a bad film, but not everything I had hoped for.
Season of the Witch is about two warriors that, against the Church's orders, leave the crusades after taking part in the killing of innocent women and children. To be pardoned from their crime of abandonment, they are ordered to transport a witch accused of spreading the Black Plague to a monastery where she can be stripped of her evil powers.
I'll admit that the movie was interesting and it kept me intrigued throughout the entire journey. The movie felt like a mediator between The Crucible and Van Helsing, sporting a very deceptively mind-twisting villain with some fantastical creatures and action scenes thrown in. The special effects were convincing (minus a few jumpy slow-motion effects) and the art direction of the film was very well conceived. While the acting was good,the movie should have been played out more like a thrilling drama and less like an action film. The intense scenes of the film were well done and enough to keep you on edge. So, overall not a bad ride.
On the other hand, the characters weren't engaging enough for me to care what happened to them, there were some very predictable moments, the "redshirts" were pretty obvious, there were a few loopholes that made me grind my teeth a bit, and the climax of the film was a bit of a put-off. So, it was about half and half. The film was fun, but don't expect a great movie.

**Spoiler Alert**
Considering the title of the film and the build-up (is she or isn't she?), I was disappointed when the girl turned out to be a demon instead of a witch in the end. We've had plenty of exorcism movies as of late and we haven't had a good witch movie in a while. I was sad when it stopped echoing The Crucible and started retelling The Mummy.
Considering that the demon was incredibly evil and killed those that stopped it from reaching its destination (how the characters suddenly deduced this plot was a bit rough), why did it save the altar boy? Demons don't feel charity and the boy had no real purpose in the journey; as a matter of fact, he wasn't even supposed to be there. What made the demon suddenly decide to save this useless boy? Didn't make sense to me.
I laughed at the final words of the film. After the demon was exorcised and the girl was herself again, minus any clothing, she tells the altar boy that she has no recollection of her heroes or the journey. Then, as they ride off into the sunset, her voice-over explains that most people will think the plague was a passing virus and that she will spread the truth because she was there! She just said she had no idea what had happened!
Also, they talk about needing more Holy Water and then go on a search to find it... and then never use it.
**End Spoiler Alert**

As far as questionable content:
The movie is wrought with violence ranging from battle scenes to hangings. Pretty violent stuff. Because the film deals with the Bubonic Plague, there are a lot of disturbing images of the victims.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Rogue.

The Adjustment Bureau

I have always thought that movies based on Philip K. Dick stories (A Scanner Darkly, Next, Paycheck) have always been translated into film really well - some better than others (Blade Runner, Minority Report). While not my favorite adaptation, this film was a great thriller and enjoyable watch.
The story is about David Norris (Matt Damon) , a young and popular congressman, who one day meets a beautiful and mysterious woman (Emily Blunt) and falls head-over-heels for her, only to discover that there are strange circumstances that arise to keep them apart.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt's on-screen chemistry is awesome. Both played their characters really well and both seemed to play off of each other even better. If nothing else draws you into this movie, the relationship between these two will. Matt Damon is just an awesome actor. Period.
As with most other Philip Dick stories, the plotline is very mind-bending and supernatural. The story progresses extremely well and leads up to a satisfying climax. Many people were disengaged by the conclusion of the film, and while I thought that it could have been solved better, I was still contented with how it ended and enjoyed the ride getting there. The content could have been delved into a little further and I would have liked to know more about what happened to some of the other characters in the film, but there was nothing that put me off in this film. It was a fun flick and I recommend it if you're in the mood for a good thriller.

As far as questionable content:
There is some swearing throughout, including two strong uses of the F-word, and a brief sex scene in which you don't see anything below the shoulders.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Checkup: Sequels & Reboots - Part 1...

I did a post on sequels and reboots a little while back and I figured it would be a good time to check in and see where some of these movies are at this point. I also want to add a few more sequels and reboots to the list since there are so many coming out so quickly. Here we go again:

Goonies 2 - There still isn't much to say on this film. Corey Feldman says it's a possibility, but isn't making any promises. Josh Brolin says there is a script, but won't say more than it's written by Aaron Sorkin, popular for his work on movies like The Social Network and A Few Good Men. There is also talk of taking the sequel's script and turning it into a Broadway show instead. This treasure chest is still a long ways from being discovered; and whose to say whether we'll like what's in the box if we find it.

Starfighter - This film sequel is still floating around in space and may or may not happen. There is still talk on whether it would be a sequel where the son of the main character (typical sequel cop-out) will be the star or if it will be a prequel (typical sequel cop-out #2).

Three Men and a Bride - The only words from the baby's mouth on this film is a tentative release year, being 2012. Nothing more to tell.

The Amazing Spider-man - Finally, something with news! The beloved webslinger caught a reboot franchise in his web set to be released on July 3, 2012. The script is penned by James Vanderbilt (The Rundown) and stars Andrew Garfield (popular for his depiction of Eduardo in The Social Network) as the new Peter Parker/Spider-man. Production stills are available here.

Men in Black III - It's no secret that MIB3 got the green-light and is in full production now with a release date of May 25, 2012. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to pelt some alien scum with the help of Josh Brolin and Emma Thompson. The plot involves Agent J traveling back in time and teaming up with a younger Agent K. You can see some production stills here.


Wrath of the Titans - This undesired sequel of Clash of the Titans is in full Greek god-like swing and boasts much of the same cast. Wrath has a release date of March 30, 2012. The storyline seems to be taken from another popular Greek-inspired film - Hercules. Like the crowd-pleasing Disney film, Wrath is about Hades using the titans to overpower and capture Zeus. A word of caution to Hades, if Hercules...er...Perseus should fight, you will fail. Production stills available here.

Avatar 2 & 3 - James Cameron is working on two scripts concurrently to shoot two sequels back-to-back. Michelle Rodriguez has confirmed that Cameron will return to his Abyss roots and take the first Avatar sequel to the underwater realms of Pandora (I knew he couldn't resist opening that box). The first sequel is set for a release date in December 2014 with the third film possibly arriving in December 2015.

The Bourne Legacy - Not only will the next Bourne film be written by Tony Gilroy, it will be directed by him as well. But you can forget Jason Bourne; he's not in this film and that goes for Matt Damon as well. This is apparently about a new hero, played by Jeremy Renner, and triggered by the events of the first three films. The movie will also feature Rachel Weisz and be released August 3, 2012.

Fantastic Four: Reborn - While this title is still pending, the movie still seems to be stretching forward. The rumors flying around so far include Bruce Willis as a CGI version of The Thing and Alice Eve as the Invisible Woman. If history is any indication - a 1994 version of the film that was bad enough to not see a U.S. release, a fluffy reboot in 2005, and a fallen sequel in 2007 - we should avoid a film franchise reboot.

Oz: The Great and Powerful - Disney is taking us back through the looking glass (oh, wait, that's the wrong series) to the wonderful world of Oz on March 8, 2013. Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-man trilogy) and drawing power from acting wizards like James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz, the hope is that this film will be a bigger, better, and more successful equivalent of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

Happy Feet Two - A sequel has danced its way into production and will chill our theaters this November. Let's hope they have an actual ending planned and won't treat us to a half-hour PSA as the climax. Elijah Wood and Robin Williams return and we will be treated to new characters voiced by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Hank Azaria. The story evolves around Mumble's son Erik, who wants to fly.

P.S. - The images used in this post are copyrighted by Warner Bros. Pictures and Columbia Pictures.

Knight and Day

As a comedy this movie does pretty well; as an action flick, this movie is just plain ridiculous.
Knight and Day is a film about an innocent woman who becomes tangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse because of a chance encounter with a spy.
The performances of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz carry the movie through its rough and silly moments; although the chemistry between them is quite lacking. These two are very good in their team comedic roles and do a lot to make this movie enjoyable to watch. Some of the jokes were too forced and some of the comedy was predictable, but it wasn't enough to dampen the film.
On the other hand, the action and stunts in this movie are so over-the-top and unrealistic that you end up laughing your way through the action scenes. Does no one understand the law of physics these days? And the whole invincibility of the main characters thing is taken a bit far in this film.

**Spoiler Alert**
Diaz's transformation from innocent sweetheart into skilled spy in the end was very predictable and silly. It almost ruined the film. Yes, it brings things back full circle and creates a comic irony, but it doesn't add to the film.
**End Spoiler Alert**

So, yes, see it if you are in the mood for a fun comedy that mocks the action film genre.

As far as questionable content:
As expected, there is some violence and profanity throughout, including a use the f- word.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Skyline

If you're laughing through most of what is supposed to be a serious movie, that's not a good sign.
When a group of friends meet up in LA for a birthday celebration, their partying is interrupted by the descent of some hungry aliens looking to harvest the human race.
Skyline is another alien movie that retells the same, old story of aliens taking over the earth. They tried to make it different, but failed to successfully do so. They also failed to capture our interest. They also failed in making a good movie.
To begin with, the movie did not make the characters engaging enough and while they attempted to make us feel emotionally involved by making one of the main characters pregnant, it did not work at all. Most of the characters dropped like flies, and you didn't really care. The acting was okay, but really suffered from a lack of good dialogue. The movie was painful to listen to whenever the characters had to speak more than a few words at a time.
While attempting to be a different kind of alien film, the movie had too many likenesses to other more popular alien films such as Independence Day and War of the Worlds. The music was overdone and tried to make you feel more emotional at certain parts, but it only ended up adding to the predictability of the movie. If the music starts getting triumphant, you know it won't last. And to sum up the rest of the film: The slow motion parts were ineffective, the action was ridiculous, the scares were cliché and predictable, the "redshirt" extras were obvious, but the special effects were good.

**Spoiler Alert**
As the movie was getting close to ending, I couldn't help myself from laughing out loud. The jet crashing over Jarrod and Elaine and then smashing into the giant alien harvester was so over the top that it made the stunts in Live Free or Die Hard believable.
The emotional "I love you" moment as Jarrod and Elaine were getting sucked into the spaceship was so ridiculous that I was rolling on the ground from laughing so hard.
But Jarrod becoming an alien and then saving his wife as the ending of the film had me guffawing away on the steamship of hilarity.
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, if you can watch the movie for free and you're in the mood for a good alien movie spoof (that's the only way to enjoy this movie) then I'd say go for it. But if you want a serious alien invasion film, here's a good list to browse over:



Signs





Independence Day





Men in Black





War of the Worlds





Transformers





Close Encounters of the Third Kind



P.S. – The images used in the post are copyrighted by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DreamWorks Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Am Number Four

I went into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it. I had heard that it was about aliens, but I really didn't understand at that point. I wasn't necessarily excited about the film, but I still walked away without being disappointed.
I Am Number Four is based on a teen novel about a high school student trying to hide the fact that he is an alien from humans and the monsters that are hunting him.
While I won't say that I loved this movie, it wasn't a bad film, even though there were times that it seemed too Twilight-esque for me. The acting in the film was a bit rough at times and some better performances would have done a lot for this film. The special effects in the film were well done and the action scenes were pretty cool to watch (Michael Bay produced the film and you can sense a lot of his influence in some of the action moments). The story was interesting and kept viewers involved enough to last the film.
Let me expound a little more on that last statement. The pacing of the movie didn't flow well. The first 3/4 of the film was pretty slow-moving mainly because they kept building the intensity of the pace and then breaking it by throwing in some rough and drawn-out get-to-know-the-characters scenes. Not well played. But once the movie finally got going and stayed moving, the film became more engaging and fun. It just took too long to get there. The last 1/4 of the movie is non-stop action and CGI. Pretty cool stuff, really.

**Spoiler Alert**
One scene that irked me the wrong way was after John first engages the Mogadorians and then runs to save Sarah. Despite the danger they are both in, John and Sarah still find time to go down to the school and develop a whole roll of photographs in a darkroom? Seriously? No, they would have died while still waiting for the first picture to develop.
And the monster slipping on the bar of soap...well...
**End Spoiler Alert**

Overall, the film was a fun teen action flick and worth the time.

As far as questionable content:
The film bounces back and forth between kid-friendly and adult quite a bit. There are some pretty violent and scary moments in the film and it certainly earns it's PG-13 rating.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Touchstone Pictures.

Stardust

For me, Stardust was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. It was full of adventure, comedy, wonderful characters, and an engaging storyline.
Stardust is a film about a young man named Tristan who crosses into a magical world in hopes of finding a fallen star and bringing it back to his female crush in order to win her love. He quickly has to adjust his plans when he discovers that the fallen star is not in fact a piece of rock, but a living celestial beauty named Yvaine.
First and foremost, Stardust is, as the book author noted, a fairytale for adults. While the film can overall be seen as kid friendly, there are some sensual jokes and violence in the film that may be too adult for young'ns.
I found this film to be quite original in it's story and a joy to watch unravel. The several paralleling storylines are engaging and hilarious and the actors do an excellent job, especially Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. It's just a fun movie.

**Spoiler Alert**
I have to admit that one of my favorite scenes in the film is the swordfight between Tristan and the dead Septimus. They way they had the undead Septimus move throughout the fight was bewitching and it's something that I've never seen in any other film before. Not even Jackie Chan's drunken master moves can compare with the oddity and fun of that battle scene. Well done!
**End Spoiler Alert**

If you are in the mood for a fun adventure with lots of surprising and action, Stardust is a good film to turn to.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Home Entertainment.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

To start out bluntly, this was not my favorite film in the series, but it was overall an enjoyable experience.
The third film in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise follows Lucy, Edmund, and their annoying cousin Eustice back into the world of Narnia where they meet up with Prince Caspian and set out to find seven magical swords that have the power to dispel a rising darkness.
The first thing that caught my attention in this film was the change of hands from Disney over to 20th Century Fox. This worried me. It seems that Disney, despite having the ability to make several hundred Air Bud films and spinoffs, decided to pass off the sequels to another company for budget reasons. But the film did not lose any quality or sense of Narnia-ness with the transfer.
Continuing forward, the special effects in the film were gorgeous and there are some pretty visually stunning scenes. No expense was spared in the effects department. The acting was well done by both veterans and novices. The music, while not as captivating as the first film's, was good. So, not a bad film...but...
There were a couple of things that I disliked about the film. The first one being the flow of the film. This may sound like an oxymoron, but the movie moved pretty slow for the most part because of how fast things were happening. It seemed that the characters would sail from one place to the next, staying for a very brief time, and without any real good purpose for stopping. Very little seemed to happen at each place and because of the lack of adventure, it just seemed to drag on. I think the film would have been a lot more interesting if the characters did more at each place and if we got to spend a little more time exploring the character's weaknesses along the way. Slow down, let us get to know more about what's going on.

**Spoiler Alert**
Second dislike: The moment where the characters have made it to the dark island and Edmund conjures up the evil creature from his mind. I expected to see the Stay Puft marshmallow man instead of the eel-like creature since the scene was almost played exactly from Ghostbusters. The idea could have been pulled off fine, it was just the way they scripted it: One guy is warning everyone to clear their minds of fears and then Edmund apologizes for conjuring up the evil demon. It almost would have been cooler to see Mr. Stay Puft make an entrance...
**End Spoiler Alert**

So, while not the best in the series, it was still a worth-while film to watch and a good time for everyone who sees it.

P.S. - The image in this post is copyrighted by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tron: Legacy

If you liked the original Tron film, then I have no doubt you'll love this film. The film has the same feel and overall-same basic plot progression. The special effects are mostly (I'll discuss why "mostly" later) incredible and the visual direction of the film is very stunning. They did an excellent job of updating everything from the first film into a stylized futuristic environment that blows us away visually.
Tron: Legacy is about Sam Flynn, Kevin Flynn's son, as he searches the computer world for his father who mysteriously disappeared 20 years earlier.
This is a fun film to watch and is just really stunning visually. The special effects are all awesome minus one thing - a computer-enhanced younger Jeff Bridges. For the first half of the movie, you may not even realize that he is computer-enhanced. But the character seems to become more and more unrealistic and fake looking as the movie continues. By the end, it is way too obvious that the young Bridges is CG-affected. It is especially noticeable when he talks. It reminds me of The Mummy Returns when you first see the Scorpion King monster near the end of the film - there's all this build up and then you see the monster and you think, "He looks like a plastic Ken doll placed on a prehistoric dino-toy body." Disappointing.
There were also a lot of loopholes and unanswered questions brought up by the film:

*Spoiler Alert*
What was the point of the two spheres CLU was using during the disc battle. It seemed that he was using them to control TRON, but they never showed up again. Why?
Why did TRON suddenly turn good in the end? What happened that caused this sudden loyalty change?
What happens to a program when they enter the human world? Does their body become human? How can a program exist in this world without being human?
*End Spoiler Alert*

And other questions. Overall, the film was a fun watch and a great update of the original Tron film. Worth seeing at least once.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Tangled

Overall, not a bad film. Not the best Disney animated film, but I would say it's better than the other non-Pixar, computer-animated films.
Tangled is Disney's interesting take on the tale of Rapunzel, with a few twists and turns added in.
This film has a lot to like as well as a lot left to be desired. The story is a classic Disney princess tale and follows the same pattern as previous Disney princess films, which is good. The characters are engaging and the comedic moments add up to a lot of fun. On the flip-side, the film would have faired better as a non-musical. The songs in the film were random, unnecessary, and, at times, a bit too ridiculous. Like previous Disney films, the music is meant to add to the film and build the emotion of a character or scene. The music did not do this in Tangled; it almost seemed thrown in there just to make it a musical or to use Mandy Moore's talent.
Also, I think we've been quite spoiled by Pixar and their amazing animation skills. The animation in this just doesn't match the quality and believability that Pixar and DreamWorks have achieved in their films (especially with fire and water effects).
Also, I saw a lot of other Disney movies incorporated in this one, as if they took a bunch of previous Disney animated films and cut them together into one: The mother-daughter relationship as well as the daughter's wish to leave the tower for a day is almost exactly replicate of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Quasi and Rapunzel even sing a similar-themed song about going outside). The almost-kiss scene in the boat on the lake was scene-stealing from The Little Mermaid without the singing fish. And - without going into great detail - the sacrifice and miracle at the end of the film was copied almost straight from Beauty and the Beast, from wound down to the tear drop.
Okay, I'm done ranting. Not a bad flick.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Megamind

This was an unexpected and delightful treat. I am not a big Will Ferrell fan and the previews of the film reminded me too much of Monsters Vs. Aliens, a film which I despised greatly. So I wasn't thrilled at the idea of seeing this film. But I did, and I liked it.
The story is about a supervillain, Megamind, and his attempts to outwit heroes and take over Metro City. But what happens if he were to actually win?
The previews for the film were deceiving in the sense that you thought you knew what the story was going to be about and you thought it was just another predictable superhero film. Not so. The storyline showcased in the previews took place for the first ten minutes of the film and then everything moved on. The rest of the film was full of twists and turns and you won't know what to expect next. The storyline was fun and unique, the characters were engaging, and the development of story and characters was believable.
On the other hand, the comic wit of the film was not fully there for me. There were some very funny moments and gags, but also some very lacking comedy as well. But... not enough to take away much from the film.
So, overall, a fun movie that had lots of surprises and made for an enjoyable experience. I would say that it wasn't as good as Shrek Forever After or How to Train Your Dragon, but I will say that it is better than Despicable Me and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. For more on those films, please see my past reviews.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Paramount Pictures.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

RED

I'll just start by saying that this was a fun movie to watch. Better than expected. I saw the previews and thought that it had potential, but I was weary because the reviews were so scattered in their opinions of it. I was still hopeful though, mainly because it had Bruce Willis (always good for a fun show), Morgan Freeman (awesome actor), Helen Mirren (excellent actress in cool roles), and Karl Urban (rising in stardom). Sorry, John Malkovich wasn't in that list because I was never really fond of him, but he did add a lot of comedy to this film. He did a great job in this role.
The story is about a group of retired CIA operatives who are suddenly thrown back into the action when they are strangely placed on the RED (retired, extremely dangerous) list and become targets for the police force.
Now, don't expect a lot of content when you watch the film. It is, above all else, an action film. It's kinda like Ocean's Eleven meets Live Free or Die Hard. It's got lots of guns, explosions, and ridiculous action. And lots of comedy. Lots and lots of comedy. But it is a man movie, so just enjoy the ride and don't think too hard.
I have to admit, I think my favorite part of the film was Mary-Louise Parker. She plays Willis' love interest in the film and she is hilarious. I think she really holds this movie together, aside from the action of course. Oh, and Helen Mirren blowing people away with a gun is pretty-dang funny too.
So, an enjoyable film with lots of comic surprises if you're in the mood for a good comedy-action flick.

As far as questionable content:
Violence. More violence. Lots of violence. (It is an action film after all.) Some extreme cases of violence include a guy getting blown apart by a grenade - not gore, but borderline. There is some profanity as well. A few cases of the "s-h-" word and one strong use of the "f-" word.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Summit Home Entertainment.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

I have always enjoyed the Harry Potter films and my liking of them has increased with each new film that is released. And before I go any further, I should note that I did not read any of the books (except for the first one) before seeing the films. I am much more of a movie fan (obviously) and my philosophy is that if you want to be able to enjoy both the movies and the books, see the movie first.
Now, back to Harry Potter. This film marks the beginning of the end as Harry, Hermione and Ron travel the world looking for horcruxes (evil artifacts containing pieces of Voldemort's soul) and the means to destroy them.
This is my least favorite film in the franchise. It was dark, it was depressing, and it raised more questions than answers. Now, I know that this is supposed to be a two-parter and since the story is only half finished, there will always be lots of questions. But overall, there was very little here to enjoy. Every movie usually has a stunning climax and some really cool magical moments in the film, and this one lacked both. The climax was weak and there wasn't really anything new to see in this film. Nothing that we haven't really seen before. And if we've seen it all before...
I'm sure most of my opinions will change (hopefully) with the viewing of the second part, but until then, I'm not a big fan of this film. Aside from that, the special effects were impressive, the acting was well played, and the story moved smoothly.

As far as questionable content:
The film is dark and there are some scary and violent moments throughout. This is not recommended for younger children.
*Spoiler Alert*
According to the book, In the moment where Ron faces off against the demon within the horcrux, he is given a vision of Harry and Hermione in love and there is a moment where they kiss. In the film, the "kiss" became more of a sex scene with Harry and Hermione making out while completely nude. You never see any private parts, but it is a very risky scene. I hated this moment of the film. The naked make-out session was inappropriate, random, and just plain weird. So, just a heads up.
*End Spoiler Alert*

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Despicable Me

While certainly not my favorite animated film from 2010, this one was pretty funny. The movie is carried well by the zany minions and by Steve Carell and his ridiculous accent.
After a Pyramid of Giza is miraculously stolen, Gru, a villain whose criminal deeds have been undermined from the Pyramid heist, attempts to out-due all other villains by pulling off the biggest and baddest theft of all... stealing the moon.
While I was saddened that a great deal of the funny moments from the film were shown in the previews, there was still a lot of random and laugh-out-loud moments. There was a nice blend of storytelling and humor.
I think that the most annoying part for me was the music they chose to put in the film. I'm not talking about the score; I'm talking about the song excerpts. Most of the songs I disliked were performed by Pharrell, a rising R&B/Hip Hop artist. I have never been a fan of R&B/Hip Hop, so I naturally disliked his music. There's nothing wrong with the music, I just don't like that type of style.
Aside from that, the movie was good fun.

As far as questionable content:
The movie features some dance moves that are a bit suggestive and also features some minions making photocopies of their buttocks.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Universal Studios.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

After the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, somebody thought that it would be a good idea to take the popular Mickey Mouse short, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from Fantasia, and turn that into a full-length movie. Like Pirates, this movie had little to do with the thing it was based off of, minus a short tribute scene.
While the film had lots of potential and some pretty cool magic tricks, overall, the film came short in a lot of different aspects. The film felt very rushed (in the same way Eragon was rushed) in the sense that it felt like the filmmakers were trying to get through each scene as quickly as possible. This left little room for character, emotional, and situational development. Each scene would start to develop and then it would jump to the next scene.
The movie also came packed full of loopholes and "unnecessarys". That means that there were a lot of things and characters that had no logic or purpose in the movie. And they'd introduce something that would seem important, but it ended up having no real purpose in the film. That, and the movie was predictable.
Aside from those things, the special effects were nice, the music was well chosen ("The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World and "Secrets" by OneRepublic), and there were some pretty cool visuals.

*Spoiler Alert*
The thing I liked most in this film was the use of electricity to create music. My favorite scene was near the end when Dave was fighting Morgana and he used the lamp electricity against her; if you listen you can hear how the electricity generates the film's musical score during the scene. Subtle, but I thought it was a really nice filmmaking technique to employ. Very classy.
*End Spoiler Alert*

It had its comic moments and was overall fun, but don't expect very much.

P.S. - The image used in this post is copyrighted by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.