Category: movie review

A Valiant Display in The Guardians

Russian superheroes, created in a secret lab are the last hope for humanity before an evil master mind takes over the world. The Guardians is a fast paced action movie that proves that Hollywood isn’t the only superhero makers in the world.I’ve been looking forward to this movie for well over a year now. Despite the horrific English subtitles I was able to acquire, it didn’t seem to hurt the eye candy. Nightwatch & Daywatch are two of my favorite movies and proves that Russians know how to tell a story and stretch a budget when making thought provoking movies. Even reading broken English, I found myself more than excited to delve into the superhero mythos of another country.

In a fast series of open credit montages, we discover that scientists of the Patriot project created super beings. While one geneticist seemed to create these powered beings, his cohort had other plans and in the wake of embarrassing failures, vanished. Of course he returns as our antagonist, a man able to control any electronic device (including some pretty bad ass arachnid style mechs.)

Mayor seeks out the super beings, she finds four. Arsus, with the ability to transform himself into a bear. Khan, a speedster and teleporter with deadly blades. Ler, a geokinetic (he moves rock with his mind.) And Kseniya a woman with the ability to go invisible when wet. None of them have aged in forty years since the experiment and they want to find the man who took part in making them. Motivation here is minimal, they simply “do” because they can. It’s glossy.

The fight sequences are spectacular. Khan’s ability to fight, teleport and use super speed are one of the most graceful fight scenes I’ve seen in a superhero movie. It manages to make the opening sequence in X2 with Nightcrawler look like amateur hour. We also have a beautiful scene with Kseniya in which we first discover her abilities. Blending art with her power, it makes for some beautiful effects. Arsus spends the majority of the movie in his half-man, half-bear form and while the effects don’t quite make the cut for him, I believe it at least makes the cut. It’s only when Ler uses his abilities that the rock becomes overly CGI and we see where the budget fell short. However, beyond any superhero movie up to this point, Ler find interesting ways to utilize his abilities beyond simply making rocks move. I do wonder though, if he can make rock move, why doesn’t concrete count? There are some superhero powered plot holes I want answered.

While I’m singing the praises up to this point, I do so with the an understanding that this budget is 1/36 of the Avengers and 1/41 of Batman v. Superman. Clocking in at just over 6,000,000 dollars, they never had a chance to reach blockbuster status. While the CGI is not up to snuff by modern-day standards, it doesn’t hurt the best action scenes. In fact, I think they got creative with how they filmed, making it overall better in many ways. Do you hear the “but” coming?

This movie suffers not from the lack of budget, but from the storytelling. Remember how I said Nightwatch is a superb film? This doesn’t even come close. While Nightwatch evokes a sense of dread, and the characters motivations are cryptic, we find every action they make believable. In Guardians however, I kept asking myself, is the female military lead really having a heart-to-heart with each of them before their big mission? Will they hug? Did a professor who started the experiments show up in the middle just to save a Guardian? Wait, is he also the bad guy? Or does he get a pass? And did the power of friendship save the day? What the hell happened to this plot? I want to remove the speaking. I want to ditch about 20 minutes of the plot, cause for the life of me, I can’t figure out what is happening, and the final fight scene? Yeah, I WOULD MAKE THAT A THING. Power of friendship my ass. And while we’re at it, the villain is boring and I’m okay with that, but he gets so much screen time, I would spend more time on his makeup/costume. He looked like a giant on steroids.

Overall? Russia has potential in the superhero market. But with their inability to match U.S. budgets (I mean, look at the demographics) they will have to rely on something other than effects. This means tightening the stories, focusing on the acting, and developing believable relationships between the cast. We know they can pull off special effects, now they need to get to the roots if they want to be contenders.

I can only imagine what would have been capable with a budget identical to the Avengers. How would I rate it? Even with its janky script, questionable motivations and at-times impossible to comprehend subtitles, it’s still better than Batman v. Superman.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION OVER AT FACEBOOK

Logan – No Post Credit Scene (No Spoilers)

When the superhero genre is filled with over the top special effects and relies on the powers of its cast, Logan is a quiet movie focusing instead on the story of a man out-of-place and past his prime. When you’re a soldier without a war, and what you do best is kill, what does the world have left for you?

I’m not a fan of Wolverine in the comics. Much like Superman, his powers have been seen in a capacity that makes him Godlike and we lose the potential to fear for the character. Torn in half, decimated by a nuke, even the lost of his razor claws have done little more than slow him. Logan however quickly grounds us, bringing us into a world not far off in the future and with a character who is past his prime and barely surviving.

The story is loosely adapted from Old Man Logan, and fans of the series knew it would be altered due to property licensing. What we were given is story about a washed up mutant, trying to protect the one man who has always supported him. When a woman appears in his life claiming he has a daughter, Xavier, ever the headmaster, wants to see the child to safety. Logan on the other hand, he is an old man stuck in his ways, seeing the possibility for loss, tries to stick to his loner ways.

Tucked away in an abandoned mining silo, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier spends time caught between a man losing his mind and the sagely professor. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman have a bond throughout this film that reminds us their lives have been interconnected for the last seventeen years. In heartfelt speeches and moments of tenderness between them, we see Logan’s regard and respect for the only man who has ever been a father to him. The movie goes to the extent of having them join another family for dinner to drive home the point. Sitting around a dinner table telling stories of their adventures in thinly veiled disguises, we see people, not heroes.

Similar to barn scene in Avengers 2, where we meet Hawkeye’s family, the characters are given a moment to be human. The scene is interrupted, as is the life of a superhero, but for a good long time, we are left with thought-provoking questions, something the genre is not known for giving us. What lengths would I go to protect my family? Could I be a father? Would I find commonalities with those different than me? What if my child was “different?” How does the most powerful mind feel about the fragility of his body? Will the world remember me when I’m gone?

While the movie features Hugh Jackman’s title character, a role he has grown and expanded to new layers of complexity, it is Patrick Stewart who steals every scene. Having killed hundreds of people with his telepathy as a seizure erupted and he lost control, we’re given a man whose strongest attribute is slowly failing him. Having already lost the use of his legs, we’ve always found comfort in him being able to step outside his body and move freely with his telepathy. Wrapped in self-doubt, grief, and blame for the atrocities he has caused, we see a man with no legacy, a man who tried to change the world and failed. His own mind has turned against him, and we understand his frailty. And while this sounds gut wrenching, we find ourselves often laughing at his old crotchety nature and the sharp jabs he gives to Logan. The playful Patrick Stewart we’ve grown to love, the one wearing matching outfits with Sir Ian McKellen also has a strong presence. I find myself frequently wondering where the role ended and where the actor began?

I should also include Dafne Keen for her role as Laura. X-23 is a complicated character because she simply does not understand who or what she is. Manufactured for war, she is the biological daughter of Wolverine, but has never known a father. While Logan’s mythos is wrapped in mystery from the fateful day within WeaponX, Laura has been bred for war. Watching her fight is amazing, probably the best choreographing I’ve seen in years, but it’s the moments in which she lets down her guard and becomes a child that we connect with her.  She matches Logan in intensity, rage, fighting, and even comical moments, the pair together were magnificent in being reflections of one another, a true father/daughter dynamic.

I can continue to gush, and remind people that in the 70 years of comics we’ve read, we’ve grown to love the people more than the powers. We see momentary glimpses to the young cigar smoking Canuck, but more than that, we see the story of a man who is ready to say goodbye.

Since 2000, I have had the opportunity to watch my passion play out in front of me. For good or for bad, I have been along for the ride. Seventeen years I’ve watched Hugh Jackman play my angry uncle and Patrick Stewart play my second father. While I am sad to see them leave, they are giving the characters the farewells they deserve.

Now, we wait for the Next Generation.

<SPOILER>
As the title says, there is no post credit scene. I spent a good chunk of the movie trying to figure out where the next movie (even if not starring Hugh Jackman) would come into play? Would X-23 assume the mantle and have a movie of her own? Do we see the potential of the New Mutants? When the screen remained blank, I felt cheated. It took me time to process this, but overall, I’m content that there is no continuance. Fox set out to say farewell to the characters and the moment I realized they were gone, I came to grips with what type of story this was. No “to be continued,” simply a story of a man’s last actions.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION OVER AT FACEBOOK

Movies That Need To Be Better Than Their Trailers

This movie has had some serious controversy revolving around Hollywood’s obsession with white washing cinema. I’m not going to get into the politics of it, I’m too excited to see one of my favorite animations turned into a movie. This movie asks questions about who we are, what makes us “us,” and ultimately, do we have souls? The action will be astounding, and the set design from the trailer looks spectacular. But will it get the message?

I’m nervous because we know ScarJo has some acting chops, but she’s also been in some major bombs. I am truly fearful this will turn into Lucy 2.0. If it can maintain the trailer level of intensity, you’ll be seeing me in tears as the happiest of geeks!

Hugh Jackman is making his final appearance as our favorite (actually, my least favorite) mutant, Wolverine. However, unlike the “I’m the best at what I do,” crazy aggressive feral man, we’re seeing an elder, tamed, almost reserved man in this comic. Honestly, if he had this kind of development in the comic, I may grow to love him. When Logan takes on his fatherly role, I find him the most charismatic and endearing. I like knowing that underneath that protective quality he has the rage, not the other way around.

My problem with this trailer is it’s showing us very little of the plot. We’ve seen X-Men look beautiful and then go wrong as the plot unravels. We’ve seen the Reavers, and I hope we see them with even more cyber enhancements (I’m hoping for somebody with a tank body.) But where does Sinister fit in? Does he make 23? Is it going to be a throw away plot line? This is where my hesitations lie, we can only hope this is a character driven plot. I have high hopes, it’s been a great run Hugh, even if our relationship has had bumps along the way!

I’m the guy who has never played the video game but fell in love with the movies. I wanted apocalypse, zombies, and badass fight scenes, and Resident Evil has almost always delivered. There have been some hiccups along the way as it started to focus more on the characters and lose the zombie horde chasing feel, but they’ve consistently maintained a good movie. The last one had Russian Military Zombies didn’t it?

The last movie expected for the franchise features a stunning Milla, dirty, tired, and angry. You’ve got me. Now let’s see some technology, some surprise zombie encounters, and a small group of people against the world. As long as I get to watch senseless zombie violence I’ll be happy. I hope she goes out with a bang, literally, I want to watch Raccoon City Burn (again.) This is going into my “sure to meet expectations” pile.

Okay, stop laughing. I know, I just put Power Rangers onto my “must see” list. Actually, it’s been on my “must see” list since 1995 when I saw the first episode. When the Fan Film was released a year ago I fell in love all over again. The concept is there, it’s not bad, even if it has some hokey aspects. What it needed, a dark, very very dark, overhaul with somebody willing to remove the overwhelming do-gooder aspect and let these teens be as dysfunctional as real teens would be. If you had a Zord, be honest, you’d be causing havoc.

I’m not sure I’m going to get what I’m after, but I think they’re going down the right track. The franchise has possibilities and they just need to realize we’re living in a world of morally ambiguous decisions and people willing to play dirty to win. The trailer gives me a bit of hope. My expectations are low, but I’ll admit, this is the one I have the biggest hopes for. Come on Saban, make a big ol’ meanie happy.

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION OVER AT FACEBOOK

What On God’s Green Earth Went Wrong?

green-lantern-movie-poster-banner-corps-mtv-brandedDisclaimer: Rewatching this movie, I fell asleep part way. Multiple times.

Relationship: We know my affinity for Marvel, but if DC has produced anything to rival my dedication to mutants, its Green Lantern. Contained in a tiny object, a man is given ring with the ability to create anything he can imagine, and only his willpower can sustain these creations. My knowledge of the mythos is scarce, but the many incarnations of this protector of the sector has captivated me.

Ryan Reynolds however, did not.

Review: I am glad I watched this movie again. The ratings decimated any hope of this becoming a franchise opener, but I may actually defend Ryan Reynolds. From Wolverine to Green Lantern, I thought Reynolds would be the actor to kill any superhero movie. His halfwit humor, bad puns, and annoying chipper half-smile seemed to spell certain doom for his career. If Ryan’s abs can’t save a movie, then really, what chance did he have? But Deadpool showed us, he isn’t a bad actor, but he can only act within the limitations given to him. Green Lantern must have set a lot of limitations.

“Ryry, you did a great job with that take, I lol’d. Let’s try it again and less lol and try it more laugh out inside.”

“Ryry, your abs are looking fabulous. This time, can you have more of a blank look on your face? Like you’re at a spelling bee and asked to spell quiche.”

“Ryry, did you just ask for motivation? Does your paycheck need more 0’s?”

“Ryry, put your shirt on. Your abs aren’t abby enough. We’ll fix that in post production.”

We spend the first part of the film trying to prove he has no fear. If we haven’t figured out from his flight abilities, every character makes references toward his bravado. They chide him for it. They worship him for it. It’s literally beaten into us. Then when he winds up on Oa with the other Lanterns, he does everything but throw a hissy fit. I think he threatens to quit? I fell asleep. The special effects were so outlandish I figure I’d wake up when something exploded later.

I wake up to some bad puns about his mask.

galactus_vs_parallaxThis movie suffers from the superhero pitfall of needing too many enemies and then splitting film time between them. When you have an entire planet full of amazing looking aliens, we spend more time with a crazed scientist with a severe receding hairline. I fell asleep again, but I think he got beaten. I mean, I assume he did? Did it really matter? And then there is Parallax, the bad guy only beatable by the most valiant Lantern. The baddie even manages to smoke a whole squad of the most elite Lanterns. Don’t worry, Ryry has no fear, so he’ll be safe and capable of stopping Galact….I mean Parallax. But no worries, the guy who just picked up the ring happens to be able to master these new abilities without even the slightest of montages! I can’t believe he’s this capable without a montage, has nobody ever seen a superhero movie?

green_lantern_trailer_101117_vidimSo the script, yeah, a third grader with refrigerator magnets could have come up with a more convincing script. So let’s talk about the giant, green, rippling, elephant in the room. Never have I been so flabbergasted by the horrible use of CGI as I was in this movie. I would have been happier if they just slapped him in spandex and hung him from the end of the rope. But okay, they wanted to have no limitations so the CGI was used to show the powers of the ring. So, you can imagine anything, and this is what you come up with? A race car? A sword? A machine gun? And somehow you manage to beat the most dangerous evil in the universe? I started rooting for the villain. At least his scary cloud looked like it might be hard to breathe in? Perhaps it could win with lung cancer. But even with an amazing post-credit scene promising us the villain we really wanted, the franchise died. Dead. Like really dead.

So yeah. I went to bed after that. That was the most exciting part of the night!

Grade:
Plot – D-
Script – D-
SFX – C
Comicness – C

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION OVER AT FACEBOOK

Catwoman: Not the Sexy Cat Lady You Hoped For

cat1vRelationship: I’ve never read a Catwoman comic and even my knowledge of the Batman universe mostly relies on the movies or animated works more than the comics.

Synopsis: A poor, weak, reserved Selina Kyl….I mean Patience Phillips, is killed after discovering the negative effects of a skin beauty cream. Then she beats the snot out of Sharon Stone in a lesbian fantasy of skin-tight leathery proportions. Yup folks, that’s the whole plot. Sexy hot actress versus the beauty cream industry. Revlon versus Dior.

Review: I had avoided this film mostly because…well…it’s rated as one of the worst movies of all time. But because of you, my loyal readers, I was willing to trudge through the bowels of movie hell and confirm that Halle Berry is indeed one of the worst actresses of all time. I like to compare every comic book movie to Batman v. Superman, one of my least favor films, but thanks to Catwoman, I know a low so pitiful it has restored my faith in BvS.

Why? Why would you do this to a fictional character? What did they do to deserve this? Did Catwoman break up your marriage? Did Eartha Kitt scare your children with her ability to roll her R’s? Did Halle Berry once shit in a bag and leave it flaming on your doorstep? Are you making good on a bet you lost in second grade? Cause I think all of the above are true.

When Patience dies and comes back, some dingy cat near a sewer outlet steps onto Berry’s chest and breathes some rank green mist into her mouth. It causes some minor schizophrenia and in a single breath, teaches her martial arts (and the ability to use a whip of course.) So I’ll suspend disbelief. Disbelief that Halle Berry can fight, that she can balance on the back of her couch, and that she can climb walls while wearing high heels. I however, can not, under no circumstances, believe this woman is a talented graphic designer. You lost me Warner Brothers. Where’s Batman Forever, I need something believable to watch.

catwoman-movie-wallpaper-2

So, she’s possessed by a cat spirit from Egypt, you know, the birth place of modern martial arts. She get’s a bit wild after a crazy cat lady throws down some insane back story. Because I would instinctually believe woman housing twenty plus cats. But it’s okay, because she sews herself a superhero costume (notice the many tears, because Halle Berry has mad sewing skills) and she goes to work fighting crime. Against herself. Somewhere in the plot she remembers the evil makeup company and decides to beat them up. There are great lines such as…and…oh yeah, the movie on mute would get a better grade.

But love story aside (because I’ve already forgotten the name of the character and the actor who played him) there is a great woman-on-woman scene at the end. Sharon Stone, who is overly depressed because she’s old wants to slap Catwoman and possibly needs to have a pillow fight while doing each other’s hair. Somehow the evil makeup has made her a super villain which she graciously explains to us during the middle of the girl fight. Catwoman goes all CGI on her ass and somehow wins the day.

Halle Berry’s acting isn’t the worst part of the movie. The ongoing attempts to make a cat-like woman who moves in the same manner as a cat is almost as ridiculous as Sabertooth during the first X-Men movie. She goes from actress to animated over and over again, her spine bending in ways that would crush her body. I wonder if they just cut parts out of the video game and tossed them into the movie.

In the iconic words of Halle Berry, Catwoman herself, “I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.” I’m sending her a gift basket to make her feel better.

Gift Basket

Grade:
Plot – F
Script – F
SFX – D-/F
Comicness – D

CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION OVER AT FACEBOOK