Monday, December 13, 2010

Tron Legacy Review

Right out of the gate I will mention I have always been a fan of the idea of a Cyber World. From the original Tron film up to the Reboot television series, the notion of a living world inside of our electronic devices has always fascinated me. So I have been giddy with anticipation for this movie, hoping it would not disappoint. Have my dreams come true? Let's take a look at what I felt worked, and what failed.

The original Tron was ground breaking at the time in terms of special effects, which puts a lot of stress on Legacy to recreate that effect for a new digital age. In that category I do not think it was able to bring as big an impact, but not for lack of trying. It's just hard to push the limits of computer effects in time where it's become such a staple of film making. While the visuals on display are indeed beautiful to behold, it doesn't go beyond what has been seen before.

Jeff Bridges's younger face being digitally recreated is an impressive step forward, but is still flawed. This particular effect does not quite look real enough just yet. They do their best to hide it behind helmets or shots from behind as often as possible. Linger on the digital face to long and you begin to notice how rubbery and fake it appears.

So that leaves the 3D effects, a format that audiences seem to have burnt out on recently after a number of poor 3D conversions released. Does Legacy push the boundaries of the format? Compared to other recent 3D films it still doesn't bring anything new. In fact portions of the film are in straight 2D, as stated by a text message that pops up at the beginning of the movie.

Were the special effects disappointing? Yes and no, sure maybe they didn't blow my mind but it did not hinder my enjoyment of the film. Overall it's beautiful to watch and a fun ride all the way through.

Next I'd like to mention the score of Tron Legacy written and performed by French artists Daft Punk. Their album Discovery is in my top ten favorite albums of all time, so when news broke that they were providing the score for Tron my only thoughts were "Hell yes." This is where the film does not disappoint. Their music syncs perfectly with the world being presented and helps bring it to life. One piece even shares similar themes to the now infamous booming score of Inception. All I have left to say on the subject is to and buy the soundtrack immediately.

Last is Legacy's story, which has been harshly criticized by others already. Looking through reviews you will see Tron Legacy's plot described as stupid, derivative, incompetent, and soulless. I disagree with such generalizations entirely. This is a science fiction story to the very core, and as a fan of the genre I was sucked into it. Is it the most unique story ever told? Not at all, but it changes things up enough to keep it interesting. It is a familiar tale told within a unique world, making it feel new again.

Ignore what some of the reviews might say, and simply go out and see this film for yourself. This isn't the type of film for everyone, but if it happens to be in your taste you'll find something to love for sure. So don't listen to what others tell you to think, even forget everything I've just said. Go and see it and find out for yourself. If you hate it then I'm sorry and understand why it didn't work for you. Tron Legacy might not have been everything I wanted, but it was all that I needed to enjoy a great film.

Final Grade: A-

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skyline Review

Right away I have to say that I was actually looking forward to this one. The trailers were rather vague on plot details, aside from it being an alien invasion movie involving a light that sucks people up I had no idea what else to expect. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up though.

This is another case of every major scene in the movie being shown in the trailers, while every other scene is nothing more than dull padding. Even some of the better scenes of the film are spoiled by the trailers.

So what is the story of Skyline? It is a mash up of nearly every aliens attack plot conceived, with very few original ideas thrown in. It's 50% War of the Worlds, 25% Independence Day, 15% Matrix, with the last 10% taken from any video game involving aliens. In the right hands that could make up a winning combination, but here it equals 100% boring.

What could have saved this mess would have been a cast of characters you could give a shit about, but instead they are annoying and unlikable. I cared so little about these people I can't even remember their names, and since I don't feel like taking the time to IMDB them I'll use the names I had given them.

Most recognizable would be Turk from Scrubs who plays almost the exact same style of character. Then there is his friend played by a guy I've seen before in supporting roles but is given a staring role here. He is meant to be the anchor for the audience, but he is so subdued through out most of the film it's hard to care about him at all. Next is his girlfriend played by Not Jessica Biel who spends most of the movie looking like Jessica Biel and whining about how she doesn't want to go outside. The only other worth mentioning is the guy from Dexter that isn't Dexter, who I'm sure is a talented actor outside of this project, but here fails to deliver emotion even when he is angry.

A majority of the special effects range from decent to meh, but my biggest gripe is with the over all design of the aliens. I think the Strause Brothers have been playing a few to many video games, since most of their aliens feel ripped right out of Gears of War, Resistance, etc. One creature even looks so close to something out of Matrix I would almost consider it a cameo appearance.

Now we come to the ending which ranks up there as one of the worst endings I have seen in a long while. I won't spoil it for anyone still wanting to waste their time on this garbage, but I will make one comment on it. To me it looks like they ran out of money toward the end, and to make up for they decide to show the final scene through still shots during the ending credits. This movie ends in a slide show, that is all I have to say about it.

Should you waste your time and money to see this movie? Absolutely not. Nothing happens through most of the film, in fact 95% of it takes place inside one building. The characters are dull and uninteresting, leaving the audience with no one to identify with. Watch the trailer and you will see everything that is worth seeing, end of story.

Final Score: D-

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Town Review

I can describe The Town in one word, intense. Portions of this film physically had me on the edge of my seat. It might sound cliche, but I can't think of a better way to describe this film. I missed Ben Affleck's first feature in Gone Baby Gone, but heard good things about it. After watching The Town I assume they were right, if it was any where near as good as this film.

The Town is about a bank robbery, and the people involved from the robbers, victims, and police officers. Ben Affleck's character is one of the bank robbers, who becomes involved with a victim of their recent heist. With the police on their trail, and his growing relationship with the woman puts a strain on his life. I won't go to much deeper into the story and risk spoiling some great moments in the film.

The cast here all bring their A game, with Affleck himself stealing the show with his charm. When it comes to the acting I can't think of a single weak link. I also have to heap praise onto Affleck again for directing this film. The direction is what really helps build the intense atmosphere that swells with every action scene.

Should you go out and see this film? Yes, and yes. Please go out and support this great film, you will not be disappointed.

Final Score: A-

Devil Review

With this release the Night Chronicles has officially begun. For those not aware of what the Night Chronicles are, it is a series of films being produced by M. Night Shyamalan. If that name alone makes you groan, then perhaps it will ease your mind to know Shyamalan himself will not be directing any of the films. The story concepts are from his mind, but his creative involvement ends there. This project is way to let new blood sit in the director's chair, and we can only hope they turn out better than most recent films with Shyamalan's name attached to them.

First out the gate is Devil, a psychological thriller about a group of strangers trapped in an elevator. Doesn't seem very thrilling you say? What if one of them could possibly be ... the DEVIL ?!? ... Eh that still sounds kind of dull if you ask me. Does the devil have nothing better to do then dick around with people on an elevator? Anyway, so how is it? Well it's ... okay. I didn't hate the movie, but I certainly didn't love it either.

My major problem with the film is how bored I was through most of it, and how little is shown in what is supposed to be a movie. The action only happens when the lights go out in the elevator, so you are left looking at a black screen listening to thuds and screams. It's supposed to create an atmosphere, but when you don't really care about any of these characters then why should you care if one of them happens to be the devil?

The entire movie can't take place in an elevator, so the movie also adds on a police officer on the scene who does his best CSI act trying to use logic to piece together who the killer might be. If this were a murder mystery it might have worked, and been suspenseful and interesting. However this movie is called Devil, who happens to play a major part to the plot so logic doesn't exactly fit into the equation. In the end all of the cop's deductions mean nothing, and are pointless.

The cast are nearly all fresh faces. I can't think of any time I've seen any of these actors in major roles before. For the most they all perform well, but with poorly written dialogue it's hard for anyone to really shine.

So should you take the time to check out the beginning of the Night Chronicles? I say check it out if you're at all interested, but if you could care less then the movie won't change those feelings. If you need something to watch this weekend, maybe skip Devil and watch The Town instead.

Final Score: C

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Resident Evil Afterlife 3D Review

I took a bit of a break from reviewing movies last week for my trip to Dragon-Con, so to quickly sum up last week's releases, skip The American and go watch Machete. While The American is a decent film it can be extremely boring, while Machete is just a ton of fun. In fact go watch Machete again this weekend and stay far away from the movie I'm about to review.

I love the Resident Evil series, correction, I love the video game series. I loathe the film series that shares the same name. The first movie was tolerable, but since then each new installment has gotten worst than the last. Resident Evil Afterlife does not break this trend, and stands at the top as the worst of the bunch.

If you happened to watch the previous film you might remember a few of the incredibly stupid plot points introduced, such as Alice having psychic powers and forming an army of clones. Don't worry though they wipe out all of that within the first ten minutes of this film, by killing off every clone and turning the real Alice human again. Good thing they got rid of those idiotic ideas, but wait this leaves it open for even worst ideas.

What is the worst thing they could have possibly done at this point? Ride on the coat tails of the recent 3D trend of course. The creators of the movie seem to believe that using 3D means that everything must be shot in slow-motion so the audience can see the objects flying at the screen for long stretches of time. I hate it when slow-motion is abused to the point that it feels like padding to draw out the film's length.

I'll quickly mention the actors of the film, starting with the supporting cast. Everyone does a decent job with what little they have to work, and really most of them should have been the real stars of the movie. Then we get to the lead played once again by Milla Jovovich who continues to show no emotion, and speaking in the same dull sounding voice she always has. It doesn't help when the movie throws in pointless video logs from her character, forcing us to listen to boring dialogue that is poorly delivered.

I hate this movie and wish the series would finally die out, but like the zombies of the film it continues to rise from the grave every so many years to haunt me. Please do not waste your money on this piece of crap. I now give this the lowest score I have ever given a film since I started these reviews.

Final Score: F

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Last Exorcism Review

I can't say much about The Last Exorcism without possibly spoiling the plot, so I'll just get into the basic set up. Reverend Marcus has had a crisis of faith, and has begun to doubt his practices one of which includes exorcisms. He has hired a film crew to follow him as he sets off to perform his last exorcism, and reveal the tricks of the trade. Marcus is a performer, and puts on a show to ease the minds of the families and the victim who they believe to be possessed. However things turn out differently with this particular case, and he finds himself dealing with what appears to be a real possession.

That means this is another hand camera thriller similar to Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. If you were not a fan of those films, then you most likely will not enjoy this either. I did happen to enjoy those films, and Last Exorcism isn't as effective as either but it does pack a few thrills of it's own. The actors come off as very convincing in this fake reality, aside from a few hiccups here and there.

My one major fault with the film is that it presents itself as documentary footage, but durring intense moments a sound track has been added to increase the effect. It does a decent job of building suspense, but it also ruins the entire atmosphere the film tries to present.

While the film doesn't pack very many jump out of your seat scares it is very creepy and unsettling at times. If you're looking for an early thrill before the rush of horror films leading up to Halloween then you might just find one in The Last Exorcism.

Final Score: B-

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Piranha 3D Review

It's been a busy week at the movies for me, three nights in a row of movies and all with a similar theme. That being that all three could be considered a different type of comedy. Starting with the spoof comedy of Vampires Suck, followed by the more witty comedy of The Switch, and ending off the week with a horror comedy in Piranha 3D.

This is a horror film that goes so over the top sometimes you can't help but laugh, and I believe that was the intent. This isn't really meant to scare people, but make you cringe and laugh at the same time. The plot here is an earthquake opens up a tunnel to an underground lake where thousands of prehistoric piranha have been living for millions of years. They then proceed to terrorize the surface of the lake were Spring Break is in full swing, giving the man eater fish hundreds of bodies to feast on.

I'll just say it right now, I enjoyed this film for what it was. A dumb gorey monster movie, that is a throwback to the old monster horror films of the 70's and 80's. Yes the CG is bad, but so were the rubber suits monsters were in past decades. The point is just to have fun with it, and watch these fish tear into these people in very bloody and brutal ways. The 3D is just a slight bonus, but I would have enjoyed it even without it.

Final Score: B