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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Lord of the Rings" Part 2 "The Two Towers" Review


The movie starts out with a scene from the first film, only it ends in a different way, giving us the point of view of another character in the event. That scene plunges us right back into the story as if we never stopped watching, that way it manages to ride the coattails of “Fellowship” quite effectively. Most second installments of a franchise suffer from “sequelitis”, a disease that makes people say “it was good but I liked the first one better”. The trilogy however is not susceptible to that type of illness because it was made as one long movie that was split into 3.

While “Fellowship” was an action packed and very dense first chapter this movie increases the scale of the production and introduces armies of thousands of men fighting thousands of orcs. Heated battles occur with the body count in the hundreds instead of the 2 or 3, while the core story of a journey to destroy the ring is still very much alive and in the spotlight.

Introduced to the story is the character of Golum/Smeagol, a repulsive gnome like creature with a split personality; played be the best actor in the production Andy Serkis. Smeagol is the most interesting of all the characters; he puts an S at the end of almost every word to make it plural, making words like “Hobbits” become “Hobbitses”. His 2 personalities have conversations with themselves providing some of the most entertaining dialogue sequences of any film be it drama, action, or fantasy. Smeagol Is the centerpiece of the entire story; he is the catalyst, the emotional core, the reason everything is happening, so don’t let him become a footnote in the movie; take not of him.

There is not much more to say about the film because it has been said about “Fellowship”. Aside from the fact that it is much bigger in scale, it is pretty much the same movie. If you liked “Fellowship” you will like this one, or at least you will agree that is as good as “Fellowship” but a weaker part of the movie. That can very well happen; often I will watch a movie and I will love most of it but think a particular scene is boring. So if you don’t like this film, don’t use the word “sequelitis” use the phrase “weaker second act” because at the end of the day they are the same film.

Watch this film within 24 hours of watching “Fellowship” or else the continuity of the film will be broken and you will forget that you are watching the same film.

10/10

Sorry about the delay. I know I promised this review the day after “Fellowship” but I got sidetracked with errands. If I don’t post my “Return of the King” review within 24 hours of this one then cut me some slack, I am supposed to be on a break.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"The Lord of the Rings" Part 1 "The Felloship of the Ring" Review

I got a chance to see the new Ang Lee movie “Life of Pi” the other day. It’s a movie shot using the state of the art 3D technology that was first seen in the movie “Avatar”. This is the third movie to come out that has used that technology with one the next one “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, the first in a trilogy, due to be released on the 14th of December. So I thought to myself “Should I do a review of Avatar? It would fit perfectly with the 3D theme. Or should I review “The Lord of the Rings”? It would fit perfectly with “The Hobbit” theme. Well “Avatar would take me 3 parts to review it because of how massive it is in achievements and how much I like it, but then again “The Lord of the Rings” would take 3 parts as well for the same reasons and also because the project itself was released theatrically as 3 movies” So I flipped a coin and it said I should do “The Lord of the Rings”.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote many fantasy stories decades ago the most famous of them being “The Lord of the Rings”. The first volume of the book was named “The Fellowship of the Ring” and the film based on that volume stays relatively faithful to the source according to many fans. I myself having not read the book cannot compare it to the film but I can say that the film is damn good. A monumental achievement in filmmaking, Peter Jackson the director plunges us deeply into the heart of middle earth and tells us the story that every cinema lover deserves to see.

The story is that a mysterious golden ring contains the soul of a dark lord that once ruled middle earth. The protagonist Frodo Baggins takes on the task of traveling to mount doom, the place where the ring was created, and throw it into the fire to destroy it. This first film focuses on the first leg of the journey as Frodo is accompanied by a group of people that have sworn to help Frodo make it to the end; the fellowship of the ring.

The sets are amazing, the cinematography is near perfect, the music is haunting and beyond comparison, the special effects dazzle and amaze, and the acting is great all around. But Peter Jackson knows that in the end all of those can only make a movie so good because the source material needs none of them. So he makes the story so intriguing that in the end you won’t even remember how good the special effects were.

One particular scene that I love involves these wraith-like hunters that are after the ring. They look like cloaked demons with swords and they are truly terrifying with their gothic appearance and screeching howls. In the scene about 5 of them corner Frodo and his friends and slowly approach like nightmarish apparitions. A friendly ranger comes to their aid and a battle ensues which provides one of the most entertaining scenes in the trilogy. The scene is staged so well it sets the mood for the rest of the movie since it comes fairly early on. Of course by early on I mean in proportion to the length of the movie and the trilogy because it is at least 40 minutes into the movie. But brevity in this film, or in the whole trilogy for that matter, is virtually nonexistent; something that would be bad in any other film but compliments this one because of its scale and voluminosity.

The ending leaves you wanting more in the best way possible. It is clear from this one and the ending of its sequel that these 3 films are just volumes of one large film because they both end leading into the next. One of the last lines of the film really gets you pumped up and exited to see the next and that line is “Lets hunt some orc!” The line leads perfectly into the sequel and is so empowering that you just have to watch the next movie immediately after, or at least within 24 hours, because 3 hours plus 3 hours is pushing it a bit even for someone who has nothing to do all day.

10/10

This is just part one. Tomorrow you get “The Two Towers” and the “The Return of the King” the day after. Tell me are you excited about “The Hobbit”?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Home Alone in Skyfall! "Skyfall" Review


“Skyfall” is the sort of film that any Bond fan can watch and give a sigh of relief. After the relatively disappointing “Quantum of Solace” people were skeptical about the next entry despite the fact that “Casino Royale” was, for many, worthy of standing up against the Connery era. I must confess that I was actually one of the few people that enjoyed “Quantum of Solace” even though I acknowledge it was far inferior to its predecessor and quite unmemorable. My expectations were fairly high for Daniel Craig’s third outing as the sometimes shaken but never stirred agent 007 and I was not disappointed. It is a great movie that fires on all cylinders and really packs a punch dynamically.

After an intense opening sequence in Turkey (And a terrific credit song by Adele), Bond takes a leave of absence from MI6, and of course everything goes to shit when he does, so he has to come back. Raoul Silva is behind the big plot and he is played terrifyingly by Javier Bardem with probably the most homosexual innuendos in a Bond villain since Connery’s “Diamonds are Forever”. That is basically all I can tell you without spoiling the interesting parts. The plot is balanced nicely by the director Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty” “Road to Perdition” and “Revolutionary Road”. He is the first director to helm a Bond film who has previously won an academy award but to me that is completely irrelevant because the two stars of the film are the script and the director of photography Roger Deakins. The Cinematography is without a doubt the best of any Bond film, giving us amazing shots such as Bond’s shadow fighting another shadow in a tall building in the dark, or the shot seen in the trailer of Bond falling through some ice into a pond with a henchman.

I must confess that the ending, the very ending, gave me a Bondgasm. If the ending doesn’t make you smile then you are not a true fan of the series. I won’t tell you what the scene entails but I can tell you that it will get you excited for the next Bond film in a way you wouldn’t expect. However my favorite scene must be one that is somewhere in the middle; look out for the part where Bond has to try and shoot a shot –glass. I still like “Casino Royale” the best out of the Craig movies but this one holds up perfectly against some of my favorite bond movies like “From Russia with Love”, “Live and Let Die”, and my all-time favorite “Goldfinger”.

The film reminded me a lot of “The Dark Knight” even going as far as to have similar plot points (Or maybe “The Dark Knight” is similar to Bond movies?). There was also a fairly lengthy scene towards the end that played out like “Home Alone” and it that sense it strayed a bit from the Bond formula and that distracted me a bit but nevertheless it was enjoyable to watch.

If you are a Bond fan, do yourself a favor and watch this movie because to tell the truth this is the one you have probably been waiting for for over 20 years.

9/10

Tell me in the comments what your favorite Bond film is and what your least favorite one is as well. You know my favorite one but my least favorite is “View to a Kill” aka James Bond fights a villain who threatens his social security.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Star Wars film announced! Disney buys LucasFilm for 4.05 Billion


Yes the time has finally arrived for all nerds around the world to rejoice. LucasFilm has been purchased by Disney and is no longer under the hands of George “I only had 2 great films in me” Lucas. Let me break down what this means for us fans by giving you a bit of history on the subject.

George Lucas Directed “Star Wars” the movie that changed cinema forever. It became the highest grossing film of 1977 and the highest grossing film ever at the time, making 530 million dollars by 1982 Setting George for life. Not only was it a financial success but it was an immense critical success as well, having been nominated for 10 Academy awards including best picture and best director for Lucas, but ended up winning only 6 of them. The legacy that the film left behind was so massive it influenced pretty much every science fiction and fantasy film to come after it.

Then came the 2 sequels. The first hint to audiences that something was fishy about the situation should have been that Lucas didn’t want to direct. Fans ignored that red flag because as it turned out “The Empire Strikes Back” and ‘Return of the Jedi” where arguably even better than “Star Wars” itself.

The series ended and all seemed well; Lucas was a billionaire, we had 3 great movies, there was nothing but a legacy of great memories, action figures, and the highest esteem for a great trilogy. And then George decided that he wanted to make a bit of extra cash. “Let’s improve the special effects in the trilogy with computers and then make significant alterations to the story, the dialogue and the characters” (Han shot first dammit!) he said and so the “Special Edition” was born.

And then George decided that the money from the “improved” home video releases weren’t enough so he went and made the prequels. “The Phantom Menace” was to many (including yours truly) the John Wilkes Booth to “Star Wars” Lincoln. It disappointed fans and critics, but not Lucas’ wallet. “Attack of the Clones” was to many (Including me) the Lee Harvey Oswald to “The Empire Strikes Back” JFK; similar reaction as in “The Phantom menace” but solid box office performance nonetheless. Now I have to admit to myself that “Revenge of the Sith” was a decent movie and a lot of audiences and critics agree, however it was nowhere near as good as the original trilogy and didn’t evoke that nostalgia that the prequels where meant to evoke.

“The Clone Wars” was a truly abysmal film. Many people complained about the prequels being horrible but at the end of the day they where at least watchable. This movie though was a complete waste of time! The characters looked like they were made out of clay dough, if was full of plot holes and stupid additions that didn’t make any sense, and worst of all they removed the iconic music from it and replaced it with some crappy Middle Eastern sounding noise.

OK George you have done it; you have destroyed our memories, you have ruined the legacy that you helped create and you have turned a massive amount of fans against you, what do you have to say about that? “I am selling LucasFilm to Disney for 4.05 billion dollars.”

So what now? We all ask ourselves. Well first of all the first sequel to the Star Wars universe is confirmed with a release date in 2015. Aside from that there is little to no information and everyone is scratching their heads as to what they think about it. I myself have mixed feelings because it could go either way. We could get sequels that are a made by someone that thinks with his or her brain instead of their wallet, or we can get another stinker like “The Clone Wars”.

I know that getting your hopes up about a movie is dangerous but I am inclined to give Disney my full confidence because they understand what it is like to create memories (“Beauty and the Beast” “The Lion King” “Aladdin” “Iron Man” “The Avengers”) they should be able to handle the material well. I think the best director to take over for the series is James Cameron; when I saw “Avatar” I immediately thought of “Star Wars” because of how much imagination the film had and how much of a fictional world Cameron created with the picture. James Cameron is a man who knows how to handle his special effects without forgetting his characters and who will do the best job directing the next in the series. But that happening is about as likely as me pulling a hundred dollar bill out of my but, so my next choices would be J.J. Abrams (“Mission Impossible III”, “Star Trek” 2009, “Super 8”) or the Wachowskis (“Bound”, “The Matrix”, “Speed Racer”).

But who do you think should direct the next Star Wars? Tell me who you would like to see even if it is unlikely. Also tell me if there is anything else that you would like to see from Disney now like a new Indiana Jones film.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kurt Russel is an Alien!!! "The Thing" Review.


We have had a string of bad movies haven’t we? “Troll 2” “Twilight” “Transformers” “Blade Runner” and “Batman and Robin” make 5 in a row! I think it’s time I reviewed a good movie.

 John Carpenter has a talent for making films that look and feel like B movies but just happen to be entertaining and clever. “The Thing” is a well written film that works because despite its goriness and explicit alien violence, it relies more on suspenseful speculative dialogue between the characters to be thrilling and interesting.

Kurt Russell and David Keith give some truly fun to watch performances that carry the film nicely. The idea is that some sort of alien type creature has the ability to kill someone and then transform into the victim fooling everyone else. So the film works out as a sort of “Reservoir Dogs” style mystery where the question is “who is an alien and who is a human”. That is where the success of the film lies.

Carpenter has a great imagination and is a true man’s director. If you are a woman and like his films then I can tell you that you are beyond my comprehension. His films are tailored for men and I am ok with that. Another film of his, also starring David Keith, “They Live”, which is probably his most famous film, is I think a quintessential guy film, and “The Thing” follows the same formula.

The movie never gets boring and you never have to look at your watch, but it is a bit short of a 10 for me because I wasn’t blown away by it, and some stuff seemed a bit cheesy for me to get past. I’m sure most would agree with me not giving it the full 10 because it just seems like one of those movies that are good but fairly unremarkable, meaning that you will either dislike it or you will think it’s fun but not great. There might yet be a small group of people that are really into these types of flicks and for those few I can tell you now it is at the top of its niche.

9/10

Tell me what you thought of the film in the comments below. Soon I am going to start a new system where I tell you what movie I am reviewing next time so you can vote on it. That will probably start next year when I make a bunch of improvements to the blog so for now let’s stay the way we are shall we? Come back here tomorrow for my thoughts on the deal between Disney and LucasFilm.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Its Arnold Schwarzenegger's birthday! "Batman and Robin" Review.


“Batman & Robin” aka “The movie that brought nipples to the Batsuit” is commonly named as the worst movie of all time when the subject comes up (Of course the people who say that obviously haven’t seen Troll 2). Those claims are not without basis though; this film is actually pretty dire but it’s also interesting in a ridiculous kind of way.

George Clooney takes over as batman with about as much suitability for the role as Jackie Chan would have if he played Bill Clinton. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Mr. Freeze and he only talks in puns “Let’s kick some ice!” “Allow me to break the ice” etc which makes me want to do this entire review in Mr. Freeze puns as well.

I’m not going to describe the plot to you because to be honest nothing about it is worth telling, other than the fact that at some point during the film we get to see nipples on Batman’s suit. Perhaps the nipples were already there in the other movies but we never got to see them because it wasn’t cold enough, but have Mr. Freeze show up thought and -Tada! - Nipples.

Icy what director Joel Schumacher was trying to do with the movie though; he wanted it to be a bit more faithful to the old TV series that was as ridiculous as this movie was. And you really can’t blame the guy because you can tell he really is trying to make a good movie instead of make money, the movie he is trying to make is crap but at least his intentions are good. I mean some people call him an ice hole because he ruined a franchise. I actually am somewhat grateful that this movie exists because without it the Nolan Batman’s wouldn’t have been necessary.

If you are one of the people that think that he had snow business directing movies you should give him some slack because he even apologized. I suppose though that everyone was looking for someone to blame for the bad quality of the film and once one person had the guts to point his finger at Joel, then the rest snowballed down.

If you think I am defending the film then chill out! I am not suggesting that it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. Of course I think the movie is rubbish but when there are movies out there like “Troll 2” or “Manos: The Hands of Fate” you have to appreciate that it is more of a bad drawing your son made rather than a complete mess.

2/10

How many Mr. Freeze puns can you count in the review? Post a comment below giving me the answer. Don’t just give a number, quote the pun directly because next week I’m gonna highlight them and if you get them all you will win a chance to guest post on my blog.

P.S Today is my 21st birthday and I had my first legal beer in the US. It turns out I’m a Blue Moon guy. What beer do you guys like?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harrison Ford is Retiring!!! "Blade Runner" Review.


Back in my review of “District 9” I made up the term “Social Fiction” a combination of social commentary and science fiction. “Blade Runner” is a perfect example of that genre; it questions the nature of humanity, it challenges what preconceptions about the future we may have, and it gives us something to think about when it comes to science fiction.
Sure this film has a fair amount of flying cars, robots, and futuristic looking skyscrapers, but they are all presented in a very pessimistic and dark way, making L.A. look very much like a noir film with Harrison Ford being the detective with the trench coat and the hat, except without the hat. It also reminds me a lot of the film “Taxi Driver” because of the showcasing of the city in such a grim way making it a character within its own right.

Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, and his job is to find replicants (robots) that humans have no more use for and retire (kill) them. The word retirement is cleverly chosen to avoid giving the replicants human traits since killing someone assumes that they were alive to begin with and that is a characteristic that should be reserved for humans and animals. Deckard is assigned to find and retire 4 replicants Roy, Leon, Zhora, and Pris. The job isn’t easy and certainly requires more than just shooting the replicants in the face.

I couldn't tell you that much more because I frankly didn't understand much of it. The script, although very intriguing and thought provoking, forgets to entertain on the most basic level. Ridley Scott is certainly the right director for this kind of subject and does a terrific job but it just isn't enough. Ford also does a great job as always somehow managing to balance 3 iconic characters without them blending into each other; Deckard doesn't have any Han Solo or Indiana Jones in him.

This film is a great example of an idea gone too far. The movie is too much subtext and not enough text, there are too many ideas and concepts of humanity and where we are headed, for us to handle, and we get lost in this amazingly designed, beautifully filmed, astonishingly imagined, but undeniably boring piece of cinema. I’m not going to say that this is a polished turd because I don’t believe that the film is actually bad while appearing good, no this film is actually magnificent, I just didn't enjoy watching it. I recommend watching this film at your own risk because some of the ideas in it are very hard to swallow but in the end you won’t regret watching it.

5/10

Tell me what you thought about the film in the comments below. I really really really want to hear your opinion.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Transformer ate my Octopus. "Transformers" review.


My last review on the blog was primarily aimed towards delusional teenage girls who thought that “Twilight” was a good movie. Now it’s time for the boys. “Transformers” is the ultimate dumbed down version of and action flick, showing so much stupidity and lacking any sense of excitement. Sure the special effects are terrific and mesmerizing but they are devoid of any reasonable justification, imagination, or logic.

Here is the deal; good giant robots fight against bad giant robots, somewhere in the fight is an annoying kid played by Shia Labeauf, and a porn sta… I mean prostitu… I mean crack wh…  I mean an attractive female sidekick played by Megan Fox. Some explosions happen, robots hit each other, and then Octopus Prime Rib recites some Shakespeare.

Of course the plot usually doesn’t matter in pictures like this does it? We just want to see big chunks of metal crash into each other and explode right? Well sure, and I have no problem with that, but when you have been leading up to the grand finale for 2 hours and it finally comes and looks like it was cut together by a seizing elephant and directed by Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings, it is a major cop out. The whole movie looks like a gigantic episode of “Mythbusters” without any of the realism, the science, or the humor, just explosions.

Why am I being so harsh on this movie? Well the reason being is that I tried really hard to enjoy this film, I really did. I watched with devotion and high expectations, I even watched on a high definition screen with home cinema, and I still couldn’t get past it. At one point during the film I think I even started playing cards with my cousin because I was just so bored and tuned out. There might as well have been static on the tely after a while because I just didn’t care what happened, my eyes where looking at the screen while my mind was on “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

If you are able to enjoy it then good for you because it will certainly cure an action sci-fi craving, but don’t expect it to please anything but your eyes and maybe your genitals if you are in to Megan Fox. I didn’t enjoy it though and unfortunately they say it is the best in the series so there is not much hope for me and the sequels.

5/10

Tell me in the comments if you liked the film and its sequels. And then here is a question for you: What film that you enjoy a lot would you admit is fairly mindless and unintelligent? I really like “Independence Day”. Post a comment; I fixed it so that anyone can comment with or without an account.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vampires on the Titanic!!! "Twilight". Review


Twilight is the sort of movie that you can have fun with by watching it with the mindset you have when you watch a comedy. As I begin to dissect this movie keep in mind that if you are a female between the ages of 13 and 19 you are probably going to hate me for what I say about it but teenage girls, just like teenage boys with the transformers movies, need a reality check.

Kristen Stewart plays Bella; a girl than is so unlikable and yet everyone in the film seems to ignore that. She moves in with her dad, a walking talking stereotype of a cop complete with a thick mustache and an appropriate “Don’t touch my daughter” attitude. At her new school she meets Edward, who saves her one day from getting crushed by a car and so naturally Bella falls in love with him just like any normal person would do right? Well as it turns out Edward is a vampire and he just happens to look like Robert Pattinson. After a cool demonstration on how instead of dying he sparkles like Elton John when he is under sunlight, the cute couple starts dating. Oh and by the way did I mention that Edward can read everyone’s mind except for Bella? Yeah I guess not being able to read a woman’s mind is his fetish. Anyway the film then plays like the film “Titanic” only instead of having great characters, music, effects, costumes, and sets; we have Edward showing off by playing the piano for Bella and climbing trees.

The acting is pretty dire, the sets look super fake, the cinematography is bleak and disappointing, the dialogue is beyond atrocious, and every character seems to have the intelligence of a dead cat. All that being said however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the film didn’t suck, given all the bad reputation it has. It isn’t by any means a good movie but it is hardly the worst film ever made (No that honor belongs to the one and only “Troll 2”, my review of which you can find here).

In the end, this film is more about making money than it is about being a proper film. I haven’t read the books myself but the serious lack of any visual justification of existence on the big screen for this movie makes me think that the books are much better.

5/10

Im curious as to if I am correct about the books. Tell me are they better, worse, or equally bad? Click here to cast your vote.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tribute to Michael Clarke Dunkan


OK. So the big man is dead and I have a duty as a film critic to pay tribute to him. I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t a huge fan of his movies but credit should be given where it is due, the man could act. He might not have been in many great movies but no matter how ridiculous his role was or how absurd the movies premise was he always had the conviction required and always gave his character likeability.
As I said he hasn’t been in that many good movies in his career but some of them stand out, and I am going to talk about some of them.

“The Island” is a very entertaining film directed by Michael Bay, and has a very interesting premise: Pay enough money and you can have a clone of yourself made. It’s sort of an insurance policy because if, god forbid, you need a new kidney, a new liver, or a bone marrow transplant, you have a donor waiting for you to get sick just so they can give up their organs. It’s an exciting plot and is carried nicely by good acting but Michael Bay being the Antichrist to Steven Spielberg’s Messiah, goes and dumbs it down for the audience. Anyway Michael Clarke Duncan has a small but brilliant role in this film, and he can make you really scared about the stuff that happens in the film.

Duncan had another small but interesting role in “Sin City”, the black & white noir film based on Frank Miller’s comic book series of the same name. His role is pivotal in putting everything together and making the film whole. He is pretty menacing with his deep voice, his tall height, and his red eye (occasionally there are some colored objects in the otherwise black & white movie), and just the way he presents himself is very different from what he usually played.
And then of course we have the movie that defined his career. “The Green Mile” is known to make grown men cry, and not because that one guy steps on a cute mouse. Duncan is so tragic in the role, and it comes as a shock to those watching it for the first time because you wouldn’t expect someone that looks 7 feet tall and sounds like a gorilla, to be so sensitive and gentile. He is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the film and it is definitely worth watching for him alone.

Now I don’t want to rate these films because I am not really giving them full reviews, I’m just paying tribute to the big man and his legacy. R.I.P

What is your favorite M.C.D movie? Click here to cast your vote.
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