Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Last Airbender Review

Dear M. Night Shymalan, please stop. Just stop doing whatever it is that makes your movies so terrible. Unless you truly are an evil genius, and your goal in life is to bore audiences with films like Lady in the Water. So instead of writing another original turd you decide to take an existing franchise and write a story around that. Or in this case you took the first season of a cartoon and chopped it down to about one hundred minutes, then filled it with your inane dialogue.

So lets get to why Shymalan fails once again at providing an entertaining film. As with most of his movies it all comes down to abysmal performances from nearly every member of the cast. Shymalan has a gift at bringing the absolutely worst out of even seasoned actors, and Airbender fairs the same fate. The actors here are so dull and wooden he might as well have cast the trees from The Happening, they were obviously excellent airbenders to begin with.

I don't know everything there is to about the original series, but I do know these characters are capable of feeling joy and at times playful. None of the humor and emotion that brought the characters to life in the cartoon exists here.

The only hope this movie had was if the action sequences were to turn out well, but even those couldn't save it. Shymalan steals from another director I despise, Zack Snyder, by using his stop and go slow motion technique during nearly every fight. This breaks up the flow of a battle, and only draws attention to the less than stellar visual effects. Adding slow motion to the choreographed movements of the benders only drags out the sequences even further.

If you truly must see this movie for some reason, do not watch it in 3D. There is no reason to throw your money away because the 3D effect does not exist in this movie. This was simply another attempt to cash in on the 3D fad and grab more money at the box office. If it had been filmed intentionally in 3D the visual effects could have been spectacular, but this was forced into the format after the fact.

Final Score: D

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eclipse Review

Hahahaha I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing. People actually take this seriously? I could barely keep a straight face while watching, and it just begs to be riffed on. I know that I am clearly not the audience for this film, but I believe all movies should have a general appeal. However the Twilight "Saga" only attempts to appease those with a set of X chromosomes. Why the quotations on the word saga? Because I hardly consider it worthy of such of a title. Twilight is the movie equivalent of a boy band, and will hopefully fade from existence just as the boy band fad has.

Alright I'll take a moment to stop hating on, and mention somethings I thought were actually good. Granted that is a very short list. Generally the film is shot well, with quite of a few scenes showing off excellent levels of cinematography. However the movie shoots itself in the foot by selecting the worst music possible to accompany said scenes. Instead of music that would be appropriate for the scene it plays a song that would appeal toward an audience of teen girls.

There are a number of flash back sequences that tell the histories of a few side characters, and while they did not make me care about the characters in the slightest I enjoyed watching these moments over the actual movie. I'd watch a Civil War era vampire movie over this crap any day.

Now that I've gotten what I liked out of the way, back to trashing this garbage. The biggest problem with this movie is how damn boring it is. Nothing happens in this movie for almost two agonizing hours. The entire film builds up to this big battle against an "army" of vampires, but it only lasts for maybe ten minutes. Not to mention this so called army is only around twenty or so people, which I think classifies more as a posse than an army.

The acting is all over the place in this movie. If it's not the main character's abundant pauses with every line of dialogue, it's completely dull lines spoken straight off a script page with no emotion. There is one moment between the Jacob and Edward characters that felt genuine, and actually gave a bit of insight to the character's feelings. Then you realize how stupid it is that they hate one another over the worst girl on Earth.

Most likely if you are female it doesn't matter what I have to say about this film, you will go see it and love it despite its many flaws. So this prolly isn't going to change your mind. To any women out there who refuse to support this series I say rock on, and keep fighting the good fight. One day this will all be behind us, and we can forget the days when vampires sparkled.

Final Score: D+

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grown Ups Review

How unfunny can one movie be? Grown Ups feels like an attempt to try and answer that question. It felt like I was watching a Sandler, Rock, James, and Spade stand-up special in which every one of them bombed horribly. I will admit a few jokes made me chuckle, but there were far more misses than hits in this so called comedy.

So the plot here is the members of a basketball team unite after thirty years at their coach's funeral, and with their families spend a July forth weekend together. A weekend filled with slap stick gags, fart jokes, and the occasional funny jab or two.

When it comes to reviewing a comedy the best you can do is judge the comedy itself. I would call the humor of Grown Ups juvenile, but at times it reaches infantile levels. There are so many jokes that go out swinging and strike out one after another that the only thing that could have made them appear funny would be the addition of a laugh track.

It's a shame to see all this talent go to waste. All of these guys can be genuinely funny, and I'm sure they all had fun making this movie together. I wish I could have watched a making of this movie, instead of the film itself.

Final Score: C-

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Knight and Day Review

Tom Cruise hasn't been in full on action hero mode in awhile, but he slips back into it effortlessly as the star of Knight and Day. Now I honestly couldn't tell you why exactly that is the movie's title, but it wouldn't be the first movie to use a title simply cause it sounds clever. The plot involves a woman, played by Cameron Diaz, taken on a wild ride by a super spy as he tries to prevent a rogue agent from obtaining a specific item currently in his possession.

Knight and Day is essentially an action thrill ride that hardly takes time to stop and catch its breath, but the fast pace is what keeps your interest. It can be confusing to follow at times, but it never ceases to be entertaining. The action is completely over the top, but somehow it makes you feel as if this man could actually pull off these insane stunts. It's no master piece by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fun and never dull.

The cast all perform adequately in each of their roles, with Cruise and Diaz taking most of the screen time. The chemistry built between the two over the course of the movie feels genuine. The villains don't exactly break any molds, but fill their roles as bad guys well enough.

Knight and Day is a straight up action flick with a bit of comedy peppered in from time to time. I never felt I had to turn my brain off to enjoy the completely impossible action sequences. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time at the movies.

Final Score: B

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jonah Hex Review

Jonah Hex can be summed up in simply one word. Pointless. There is a beginning and an end, but the remainder is just one pointless scene after another. It's disappointing to watch a movie with so much potential fail on almost every level. Jonah Hex is of course based off the DC Comics character of the same name, but sadly that character is missing from this film. With so much interesting comic lore to draw from they decided to ignore it all in favor for something boring and cliche.

It starts off harmless enough setting up a revenge plot after Hex's family is killed by the antagonist of the film, Turnbull. Then instead of telling an origin story the movie decides to skip forward to the point where Hex has already become a notorious scarred bounty hunter. This is told through a sequence of comic book panels to remind us of the film's origin, but only serves as an insult to anyone who actually read the series. From there on it's one pointless scene after another, each one usually ending with a fiery explosion. This all leads up to the climax which also ends an explosion, at least the movie's consistent in that regard. So there you have the plot of Jonah Hex. Hex is seeking revenge, he farts around a bit causing explosions, then gets his revenge causing yet another explosion and the credits roll. I just saved you the price of admission right there, nothing interesting happens in the movie.

It's hard to place the blame on the actors when they have absolutely nothing to work with. In fact I generally liked Josh Brolin as Hex, and felt sorry that he had to play such a great character in this awful movie. A few of the actors don't get off so easily though, and simply don't try at all or have no talent to begin with. John Malkovich is devoid of any emotion that you would associate with the villain Turnbull and his goals. Meanwhile Megan Fox continues to somehow have an acting career based solely off her looks, with her entire character being as pointless as the movie. I can't even remember what her character's name was, she was that unnecessary.

Do not waste your time and money on this movie. Go watch Toy Story 3 instead, and watch Toy Story a few more times before you even think of bothering yourself to watch this terrible film. The biggest compliment I can give the movie is at least it's short. It has enough sense to not linger any longer than it has to, and risk further annoying its audience. I would call it a complete failure if it hadn't been for Josh Brolin. He was the only saving grace of this film, the rest of it can die in one of it's explosions for all I care.

Final Score: D-

Monday, June 14, 2010

Toy Story 3 Review

Pixar returns to the series that started it all fifteen years ago. It's been a little over ten years since Toy Story 2, and a lot of changes have occurred in the process. Andy is no longer a little boy and will be heading to college soon, which leaves the remains of the Toy Story gang fearful for their future. After a misunderstanding the toys find themselves donated to a daycare center where a new adventure begins.

I was ten when the first Toy Story arrived in theaters, and like most kids my age I wanted a Buzz and Woody of my own. Having grown up with these characters there is an emotional attachment involved, and this installment really shines because of it. That doesn't mean that new kids just coming into the series won't find much to love here, but it's especially gripping to us who have loved it from the beginning. Besides, any parent who hasn't shown their children Toy Story at least once should convicted for depriving their children of quality entertainment.

The gang has been reduced in numbers, but all the main stays are here. Of course you have Woody and Buzz, but favorites like Ham and Mr. Potato Head continue to bring the laughs. Mrs. Potato Head also returns along with their adopted children the three alien squeeze toys from Pizza Planet. Newcomers from the last installment Jessie and Bullseye were a welcome addition and it's great to see them back. Rex and Slinky Dog round off the rest of the gang, though sadly due to Jim Varney's passing Slink is voiced by new actor. Thankfully Blake Clark is able to channel Jim Varney so well you could hardly guess they were different actors. The cast is great as always, even the new daycare center toys all feel unique and equally lively.

Pixar has come along way since the original Toy Story in terms of animation and storytelling, but they haven't lost their touch even when it comes to telling as simple a tale as this. After they released the original two in 3D last summer, it's no surprise that Toy Story 3 is also in the third dimension. Nowadays anything with a three in the title is just screaming to be made in 3D. I was never blown away by this addition, but it also was never obtrusive so I have no knocks against it. The animation retains the design of the original, but with a new polish that really makes the scenery and characters pop.

I'll stop gushing over this film and get right to the point. You must watch this movie, but if you are anything like me then you were already set on watching to begin with. If there is anything I would say to criticize it would maybe be that it can be a bit predictable, but in a satisfying way. You might guess what is going to happen, but it's what you want to see happen. With this much emotion attached to it there is also bound to be a number of truly tear jerking scenes, and no one could blame you for getting a bit misty eyed. I'm not ashamed to say I was. This Toy Story has come to an end, but who's to say when a new chapter may unfold. Hopefully it won't be another ten years before we see Woody, Buzz and the whole gang taking us to infinity and beyond again.

Final Score: A+

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kid VS Kid

Another remake/reimagining of a movie from the 80's hits theater's this weekend, so it's time for another face off. This one will be Kid VS Kid, though a better comparison would be Karate VS Kung Fu. I am of course speaking of The Karate Kid, a classic underdog story about a young man who learns martial arts from a wise old mentor to overcome all odds. So lets get this battle started, fight!

The Story
I'll cut through all the small talk and just say it. These films have exactly the same plot. The 2010 version follows the same plot points of the original 1984 film. A boy and his mother move to a new place where he falls in love with a girl, gets his butt kicked by a bully, and learns to fight from an old man. The major difference being that in the 2010 version the boy has just moved to China rather than California. The second difference being the age of the two boys. In the original film Daniel was a High school Senior, but in 2010 the young Dre is only twelve years old.

So who wins if they're basically the same? They both do, I have to call this round a tie.

The Fights
This comes down to the fighting styles themselves, with one being Karate and the other Kung Fu. So it begs the question, why is the 2010 version called Karate Kid when he doesn't even use Karate? Well they certainly never explain it in the film. There is only a brief mention of Karate early on, but is quickly tossed aside for Kung Fu. So it comes down to simply the nostalgia factor. Putting Karate Kid in the title in hopes to invoke fond memories of the original to lure you into buying a ticket. I still firmly believe calling it The Kung Fu Kid would have shared the same effect, and made more sense from a realistic standpoint.

So which is better? Karate or Kung Fu? Well I'm no expert of either so I can only judge from a visual basis. The choreography of the 2010 version is so well polished it nearly shimmers on the screen, but at the same time it's almost to good. You begin to notice how staged a fight feels the longer it continues, but that doesn't change how impressive most of them are to witness. Fights in the original were very fast and most ended in few seconds, but they still felt real.

I actually have to give this one to the 2010 version due to the amount of effort given toward creating some stunning moments.

The Teacher
Mr. Miyagi, played by the late Pat Morita, is best known for this unorthodox training methods. Simply saying the words "Wax off" and you immediately think of The Karate Kid, or giggle. Either way the term has become iconic. Turning everyday chores and labors into training exercises proved to be very effective. From washing cars, sanding decks, to the simple act of painting a fence. Each one served a purpose, a fluid motion for Daniel to learn and master.

The bond formed between Miyagi and Daniel grew stronger with each new trial, as they both began to fill a void in the other's life. Daniel lacked a father, and Miyagi's wife and child had passed away years ago. Together they completed each other.

Mr. Han, played by Jackie Chan, is the 2010 equivalent of Miyagi and both share similar characteristics. Both Han and Miyagi work as the handyman of their student's apartment building, and both use seemingly odd methods of training. Though Han's consists of mostly removing a jacket and hanging it from a post repeatedly. It has the same effect as Miyagi's chores, but doesn't really hold the same impact. It might have to do with it being a single action rather than a number of what first appear to be random labors.

The bond between Han and Dre is there, but just doesn't feel as powerful somehow. They feel like a true Teacher and Student pair, but the bond seems to end there. I have to give this one to Mr. Miyagi quirky sense of humor, and loving bond he shares with Daniel.

The Student
We end off this battle with the two title characters from each film. Daniel Larusso played by Ralph Machio, and Dre Parker played by Jaden Smith. Daniel is clearly angry that his mom has forced them to move across the country, but he settles into his new town fairly quickly. He makes friends and flirts with a girl right away, and comes off as a genuinely nice guy. Daniel is a smooth talker which helps build the chemistry between the love interest and himself.

Dre on the other hand is awkward, and is also upset by the move but comes across more as whining. This is where the age difference makes a huge factor. Dre is twelve so it may be natural for a boy his age to whine and cry, but it can also be annoying. The relationship he builds with a girl suffers from a forced feeling, and it can be a bit hard to take twelve year olds in love very seriously.

I have to give the win to Daniel for coming off as just being more likable.

The Winner
Again the winner of this match off is the original 1984 Karate Kid. While the 2010 version shares similar elements it bogs itself down with to much extra padding that keeps it from surpassing the original.

The A-Team Review

The theme of this weeks releases seems to be nostalgia. With one being a re imagining of a movie from from the 80's and the other a television series from the 80's. The one currently in question is the A-Team, about a group of four men who became soldiers for hire after being framed for a crime they didn't commit. But you know that already, right?

So how does the film compare to the original series? Well I honestly am not the best person to ask for such a comparison. Having never seen a single episode of the show, with my only knowledge being that Mr. T was a star in it. Though it's safe to assume the overall plot is entirely new, with only the theme of four men becoming soldiers for hire linking the two together.

So lets move on to the characters starting with the A-Team themselves. These four guys are the reason you want to watch this movie. Each of their personalities are distinct and they pair well with each other, and it is their chemistry that keeps you invested. Liam Neason plays the leader of the team, Hannibal, and is just as cool as he is in almost every movie he stars in. The man has played everything from Dark Man to a Jedi, and he even trained freaking Batman. If Taken proved anything it's you don't mess with Liam Neason. I have to give much praise to Sharlto Copley who plays Murdock for brings an insane energy to the film and provides a majority of the jokes.

Now the downside of the characters for the movie would be the villains. The CIA acts as the main antagonists for the film, more specifically a man by the name of Lynch along with a few of his cohorts. These characters come across as frat boy douche bags who make jokes about how hot a chick is or how cool the explosion was. I hated every second these nimrods took screen time away from the more interesting A-Team.

Another strike against the movie is the story itself and how it is pieced together. The plot is so paper thin if you sneezed in the theatre it might blow the picture clear off the screen. It doesn't help that poor editing and bad pacing hinder it even further. I also have a major pet peeve with digital effects being used when practical effects could just as easily achieve the same effect with better results. The entire final action sequence of the movie is one huge mess of CG effects thrown together in the most nonsensical plan ever.

The A-Team has plenty of flaws, but the team themselves help keep it from falling into truly awful territory. Check it out for a bit of a fun and a few laughs, but don't be surprised if you find a few bits annoying.

Final Score: C+

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Maverick League Round 1: Storm Eagle VS Cyber Peacock

Noble Eagle vs Majestic Peacock. Storm Eagle controls the skies while Cyber Peacock manipulates the digital world. Will Peacock be blown away by Eagle's Storm Tornado? Or is Eagle the one shot out of the sky by Peacock's Aiming Laser? Vote in the comments to decide.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Master League Round 1: Cut Man VS Sheep Man

Cut Man wields the deadly Rolling Cutter and Sheep Man strikes with Thunder Wool. Will Sheep Man get sheared or will Cut Man be turned into a lighting rod? Cast your vote in the comments to decide.

Mega Man Boss Rumble!

I recently named Mega Man 2 my favorite NES game of all time, and it got me thinking about why I've stuck with the franchise for so long. One reason immediately came to mind, and that was the unique bosses that seemed to get zanier with each new installment.

So I decided to start up a tournament to pit these great boss characters against each other, and leave it up to the fans to decide the winner. I will post matches every week, and the victor will be decided by which character receives the most votes in the comments of that match. Cast your vote in the comments, and please only one vote per person. Pick your favorite character, or if you don't know who either character is then pick which one you think looks coolest or deadliest.

Two matches will be posted each week, one in the Robot Master League and one from the Maverick League. In the end the champions of each League will face off to determine the Grand Champion.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Splice Review

When I first saw a trailer for Splice my initial impression was this could be either really good, or really bad. It showed the potential to be a sci-fi thriller in the same league as the original Alien, but trailers can be deceiving. All the pieces of something great are there, but it all starts to fall apart as with each passing minute. I had hoped this would turn out well, but sadly it wasn't the case.

Where to begin ... Alright lets start with the science of it all. A lot of techno babble is thrown around at the beginning as they try and explain just what they are doing, but none of it comes off as real or plausible. Once you see what it is they are creating through gene splicing your first question is, what the hell is that supposed to be? Followed by, why? Their original creations appear to be tongue slugs, or at least that is the best way I could describe them. Poorly rendered squirmy slug things that resemble a tongue. Why did they create these things? Hell if I know, something to do with using them for medicine ... somehow.

Next up we have the characters who can not seem to pick one personality and stick with it. These people constantly flip flop their views over the course of the movie, and while you could say that is a human trait I'd at least like a little consistency please. The acting is meh, with no one really going beyond mediocre at best.

Then we have the main creature itself, a mixture of human DNA and a variety of animals. She is quickly developing for seemingly no reason other than the plot says so, and matures within days rather than years. The creature shows signs of being highly intelligent, but also continues to act out its primal instincts. It might have helped if they had given a clear indication to just what animal DNA was involve with the creature, but instead are left guessing why she might be acting the way she does.

Toward the final act things become a bit creepy, and enter seriously messed up territory again for no reason other than the plot said so. Nothing feels organic here, just forced scenes that appear to only be for shock value.

To end it all I'll just say I was very disappointed in the film overall. It took an interesting concept, and went nowhere with it.

Final Score: C-

Get Him to the Greek Review

In this spin off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall we have the return of Russell Brand's character, Aldous Snow, in full on rocker mode. Jonah Hill is back as well, but in a different role as any employee of a record label tasked with getting the rocker to a concert at the Greek Theater. This is sex, drugs, and rock n' roll cranked up to 11.

Russell Brand seems right at home in the role of the eccentric rock n' roller, and bringing his own signature brand of humor help bring the character to life. Jonah Hill tones down his usual wise cracking smart mouth attitude for a more dopey and awkward personality. Though the smart mouth still pops up at times, but only when appropriate and usually only to enhance the awkwardness. Sean P. Diddy Combs plays Hill's boss who feels comfortable in the role, and while he has a number of funny lines his performance is still a bit off.

It is hard to review a comedy when it comes down to one's personal taste, and for me Greek was my kind of humor. I know its drug use and raunchy situations might not be for everyone, I have to give my own opinion of the movie. Get Him to the Greek made me laugh, and fairly hard. In the end isn't that the goal of every comedy?

Final Score: A-

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NES #1 Mega Man 2

This is Mega Man's first appearance on one of my lists, but it will certainly not be his last. With so many different Mega Man games released over the years he is bound to pop up a few times. This is the one that started it all for me though, and it began with a rental from a local video store. I now own that very same copy I once rented so many years ago. Now lets get onto what makes Mega Man 2 so great.

Mega Man 2 is of course the sequel to Mega Man, following the title character as he faces off against eight evil Robot Masters. Defeating a Robot Master earns you that robot's powers which can be used to exploit weakness of other Robot Masters. After defeating all eight you must then face the maniacal Dr. Wily. Who is Dr. Wily? Well he resembles an evil Einstein who has a fetish for building giant skull shaped fortresses. This formula is repeated through almost every Mega Man title.

You play as Mega Man jumping and shooting his way through stages each with a different theme modeled after the boss representing it. At the end of the level you find the metal shutters that lead to the boss and pass through them to do battle. Defeat the boss and gain his ability then move onto the next robot who is weak against the power you just obtained, rinse and repeat.While that might not sound thrilling it was more than enough to hook me in.

The biggest draw Mega Man 2 has is the music, which is the best of any NES game in my opinion. The techno beats of Flash Man, the up tempo yet smooth Quick Man, and the tribal thuds of Wood Man's theme all unique and addicting to listen to. No theme is like another, and they become so catchy you can't help but bob your head to the music while playing.

Mega Man 2 is also a challenging game, so much in fact I have still never managed to beat it to this day. I have defeated all eight Robot Masters, but one of the stages of Wily's Fortress always proved to be my downfall. Perhaps one of these days I will acquire the skill needed to finally beat one of my favorite games of all time.

That does it for the NES, next time I'll head into super territory. Super Nintendo that is, where some familiar faces from the NES will make another appearance.