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REVIEW – PACIFIC RIM

Pacific Rim

5.0 out of 5

 

Growing up I always loved watching the big Godzilla movies and have been a lover of Kaiju movies all my life.  I always still am a huge fan of giant robot animes so when I heard about Pacific Rim it sounded like it was going to be a dream come true.

One thing that did worry me though was the amount of marketing this movie was getting.  I’ve noticed over the years that most of the time when a movie is heavily marketed it usually ends up tanking, and this is something I did not want to happen to Pacific Rim.  My fears have been quelled after viewing the movie last night.

If there is one huge summer box office movie then this movie is it.  Pacific Rim brings everything that makes a big loud summer blockbuster to the screen and it does it in spades.  This has been one of the best experiences in the theatre in quite sometime.  First things first, the story.

Kaiju have been living in what’s known as a breach at the bottom of the ocean for millions of years, waiting for the Earth’s atmosphere to be right for coming to the surface.  Their purpose…to destroy humanity and claim Earth as their own.

The only means of fighting these creatures were the military from different countries, but the military just wasn’t strong enough to push back these beasts.  Thus the Jaeger program was built.  The Jaegers were large human piloted  robots that were the Earth’s answer to stop the Kaiju invasion.  It worked.  These Jaeger pilots were seen as rock stars and became household names and Earth was at peace once again.

Another breach is found and Earth is once again at war with the Kaiju.  It’s up to these skilled pilots to come back into action and attempt to put an end to these monsters once and for all.

Guillermo del Toro directed this beast and it really showed how much he cared for both the giant robot movies as well as the Kaiju movies.  He directs this movie with passion and heart and each frame is a spectacle to behold.  He makes you believe these things are real and for just over two hours brings out your inner child.  I’ve always enjoyed del Toro’s movies and this one is near teh top of his list.  It’s damn near perfect.  The pacing, the direction, the story telling and let’s not forget the monster sized battles.  He brings everything together with such finesse and timing that there never seems to be a dull moment.

That doesn’t mean that everything is nonstop monster battles, there are long moments of good story telling which brings you closer to the characters of this movie.   From the main character Raleigh, to his partner Mako, to their leader Pentecoste.  You are not bogged down with long stretches of character development but you are given enough that you become invested in them and care what happens to these people.  This has been rare lately in these big action style movies.  Pacific Rim delivers on both story and the battles it’s been advertising.

The acting is good as well.  Charlie Hunnam(Jax from Sons of Anarchy), plays Raleigh Becket, an ace pilot who used to take on these Kaiju with his brother Yancy, portrayed by fellow Nova Scotian(Diego Klattenhoff).  Hunnam is a talented actor and he not only brings guts and glory to the character Raleigh but also brings warmth and heart to the character.  Hunnam is great to watch on screen and definitely has great chemistry with Rinko Kikuchi(Mako Mori), his piloting partner.

Rinko Kikuchi from the TV series Moteki plays up and coming pilot Mako Mori, a Japanese girl who was left orphaned because of the Kaiju attacks.  Kikuchi has great onscreen presence and instant chemistry with he costar Hunnam and this makes the bond between the two believable and heartfelt.  a terrific performance all around from this talented actress.

Idris Elba, most will know from the BBC show Luther is a tour de force as Stacker Pentecost, the leader of Jaeger group.  He takes no prisoners and Elba’s strong presence really resonates through the character.  This character was made for Elba and his talents shine through and you begin to hang on each line he delivers.  Elba is always a delight to watch on screen and in Pacific Rim is no exception.

Charlie Day and Burn Gorman play Dr. Newton Geiszler and Gottlieb.  They are kind of like a little comedic relief in the movie but they work so well and are so much fun to watch.  Day’s character Geiszler is somewhat of a Kaiju Groupie and is hell bent on figuring out what makes them tick and how to stop their invasion.  Gorman’s Gottlieb is a very eccentric, whacky scientist that is all about the math of the situation and thinks he has figured out when and how many Kaiju will attack at any given point in time.  Both actors are so much fun to watch on screen and play very well off of each other.

Then there is Ron Pearlman.  What can be said about Pearlman that hasn’t already.  A powerhous and always entertaining actor to watch, no matter what he is in.  In this, he plays Hannibal Chau, a black market Kaiju parts dealer.  He’s a sinister kind of character but his presence on screen makes you love him, no matter how shady he may be.  Pearlman always has that command of the screen whenever he is on and in Pacific Rim he is in command whenever the camera is on him.  The scenes between him and Day and priceless and make up for some funny scenes.

ILM stepped in and handled the effects in this movie and I have to say, this is some of the best special effects I have seen in a movie in a very long time.  Nothing looked greenscreened, nothing looked like it was on a set.  Everything looked natural and as realistic as possible. 

Hats off to ILM and the other effect houses that worked on this movie.  If this doesn’t get an Oscar for at least Best Special Effects something is wrong.  Every scene and every frame is a wonder to behold, specially when the mechs and Kaiju are on screen.  One thing that del Toro always brings to the screen is a unique visual style and with Pacific Rim he has brought it, and brought it big.

Ramin Djawadi composed the music for Pacific Rim.  Wonder what else he has done?  Look not further than to Game of Thrones, Prison Break, Flash Forward, Fright Night.  His work in Pacific Rim is top notch and is one of the better soundtracks in the last few years. 

The themes will stick with you after leaving the movie, which lately hasn’t been happening with orchestral works.  I”m hoping at the very least he get’s nominated for Best Original Score come Oscar time.

Make no mistake, this movie is one to be seen on the big screen.  It is one hell of a ride and clocking in at just over 2 hours, it seems over before it starts.  Definitely a movie that will not bore you.  So far Pacific Rim is the best film of the summer.

I can easily recommend this movie.  Pacific Rim is the movie to see this summer.  I give it 5 stars out of 5.  Turn off your mind, sit back in your seat and be prepared to be amazed. Gipsy Danger for the win.  ‘Till next time my friends.

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REVIEW – THE HANGOVER III

The Hangover III

3.6 out of 5.0

I remember not so long ago sitting in the theatre and laughing my butt with the insane ridiculousness of The Hangover.  That was spot on random comedy.  Next came The Hangover II, which was much of the same but this time in Bangkok.  It was funny, but felt it never reached the levels of the first one.

Fast forward to 2013 where we now have The Hangover III, the closing of the comedic trilogy, but there was something that was missing from this incarnation…the full on funny.  Did it hurt the movie?

Some think it did.  Though the funny thing was that The Hangover II got flack because it was too much like the first one, that the filmmakers needed to take the series in a different direction.  This time they did and still more people did like it.  I have been holding off on this one since opening day but finally broke down and gave it a gander.  What I found surprised me.

The story this time is one of a more darker tone.  The Wolfpack go on the hunt for Chow, who has gone missing and also ripped off a big time gangster of half of his 42 million in gold bars.  This go wrong and Doug gets kidnapped for collateral, just in case the boys don’t find Chow, Doug dies.

This definitely isn’t your typical Hangover movie.  It’s a darker, grittier movie with less of the crazy comedy scenarios and more action type set pieces.  Does this trade off work?  It kind of does in a strange way.  I think what pulled me into the movie deeper than I was expecting was the change of tone and pace.  Now we have the pack on a mission to apprehend a madman of sorts and get Doug of of a life threatening jam.  That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have it’s funny moments.  It’s a different type of comedy though, not so much of the HA HA that was hilarious style,  but more of the ‘wow that is dark’ style.

The acting is what you expect in this type of movie.  I think the show stealer was John Goodman, who plays the terrifying gangster who just wants his gold back.  Ken Jeong is crazy as ever as Lesley Chow, Zach Galifinakis plays a more somber Allan this time, an Allan who still has issues but seems a little less crazy.  Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms round out the rest of the Wolfpack while Justin Bartha as Doug remains relatively safe off camera for most of the movie.  All the actors do well in reprising these roles and seem to pick them up nicely after the break since The Hangover II.

Director Todd Phillips, who also helped writing the screenplay for this, did a solid job bringing a new flair to the trilogy.  It was nice to see a change of pace for the film and bring it into a different light so to speak.  As bad as it seems to be doing, critic wise, I feel that it’s not getting the respect it deserves.  Did Todd Phillips do an amazing bang up job with this one?  No, it’s not the be all end all of movies, but what Todd did was bring a very entertaining conclusion to the Wolfpack trilogy.  He did what he set out to do and for what it’s worth it was a decent time at the theatre.

I don’t have a hard time recommending this film, especially to fans of the series.  Should you pay full price?  That would depend on how much you feel you need to see it.  It definitely worth the price of a matinee admission and will be a movie that I will be adding to my collection when it comes out on Blu-ray and DVD.  Just know what you are getting into when going to see it.  It’s not all funny, it’s more of a dark action thriller with comedic elements.  It’s definitely different in tone from the other two movies, which I felt was a good thing.

If you are expecting high octane comedy then you may be more than a little let down.  This movie I think deserves 3.6 stars out of 5.  It’s not the worst of the series and if you are going to see a movie in the theatre you could do worse.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – OZ GREAT AND POWERFUL

Oz Great and Powerful Poster

3.8 Out of 5

Now I have been a Wizard of Oz fans since I was little and read the Oz books.  The world really fascinated me and kept me interested all these years, as well as the 1939 version The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland.

These books and the movie really stand the test of time and give us all a world that we can get lost in.  A place of wonderment and the fantastical.

Jump 74 years later and we have Oz The Great and Powerful.  This time we learn the background of the man who would go to the land of Oz and become the great and powerful wizard that we all know.  His road is not one of kindness and caring but one of greed and self indulgence.  The man behind the curtain isn’t a nice man at all but one who only cares about one person in the world…himself.

Throughout this journey though he learns things about himself and the trip to Oz becomes a self discovery of sorts of Oscar as he is bestowed with the task of killing the Wicked Witch of the West and restoring faith and cheer to the merry ol’ land of Oz.

Is this the Oz movie we have been waiting for?  Is this movie great and powerful?  Well I thought it was a good start to refresh the franchise and Disney definitely is taking it in the right direction but I feel that it fell short of being a great Oz movie.

Such as prequels go it’s a starting point and for the most part, things work well enough through out the story.  Even though it runs just over 2 hours I actually felt the movie may have done better if it was actually a little longer and expanded on some of the backgrounds of the characters.  Instead we are thrown into their lives knowing very little about them and not getting enough time with them to know them as we should.

Directed by Sam Raimi, who gave us the ever popular Evil Dead series and the Spiderman trilogy, as well as others, takes us back to the world of Oz and really tries to engross us in the lives of the people from this far off land.  It is striking and everything looks absolutely stunning, especially the 3D, Raimi really used 3D well and it really shows in some scenes.  I feel though where he stumbles is slowing things down a bit.  The pacing I felt was a rushed, especially at the beginning.  It’s great that he did that section in B&W and in 4:3 ratio like the original but rushed it to get to Oz quicker.  Once in Oz we were zipped along from location to location with hardly a minute to catch our breath.   If Sam does the already greenlit sequel, which looks like he may not, I hope he takes time to let things unfold.

The score by Danny Elfman was well thought out and gave a whisper of the themes of yesteryear, but I wished they used less score during the opening moments. I  think that would have given more of a feel of a classic B&W movie than with the score always being booming in the back.

The acting was good, not great, a little over the top but got the job done.  James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the man who will become Oz, and plays him with an over the top at times, charm that has evil undertones.  You know by the way he carries himself that he’s only there for one person and no one else.  Franco does look like he was having fun in the role and he grows on you throughout the movie.

Mila Kunis plays Theodora, a witch who isn’t on anyone’s side.  She just wants peace in Oz and everyone to live and be happy.  Her sister Evanora, played by the wonderful Rachel Weisz is a little more darker than Theodora and has a hard time believing that this man who showed up is the great wizard that has been prophesied about.  Michelle Williams takes on the role of Glinda the good witch and she’s the one that starts Oscar on the road of self discovery and makes him believe that even though he isn’t a wizard that with some help can over take the Wicked Witch and bring peace to Oz once more.

Two characters to take note of.  Finley, the flying monkey in the bellhop outfit and the china doll character really help carry the movie and will leave a lasting impression on you.  I felt that they were really well fleshed out and the most developed.

The visual effects were top notch and everything felt real and fantastical when you entered Oz.  They really did a great job making you believe you were actually in this magical place and nothing really looked out of place.  The 3D as I stated earlier was well used giving great depth to scenes and this was one of the first 3D movies I have seen that when something flew at your out of the screen it felt as if you needed to move out of the way.  I’m not one for 3D movies but the 3D in Oz worked extremely well.

Overall this movie I think is worth at least matinee prices.  If you are planning to pay full price then I would go for the regular version of the film than the 3D one.  The matinee pricing will help bring down the bill of the 3D movie.  It’s definitely a movie that should be experienced on the big screen for the first showing of it.  It really is a marvel to see on the big screen.  At that note that I feel the movie didn’t quite live up to the hype and expectation, but then again what prequels really do.  The main reason we do go to the movies though is to be entertained and this movie does that part well and makes for a good day out.

I give Oz the Great and Powerful 3.8 out of 5.  It could have gotten a 4 if the pacing was slowed down a bit and the makers gave the movie time to breathe.  Definitely a movie I will be picking up once it’s out on DVD/Bluray.  So if you haven’t gone out to see it yet, definitely see it in the big screen first at matinee prices.  Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – MOVIE 43

Movie 43 Poster

3.5 Out Of 5

From the moment I saw the first red-band trailer for this movie I knew I had to see it.  I’ve always had a soft spot on movies that seem to be on that border line of disgusting and over the top to see how far one can take something offensive and run with it.Movie 43 is no exception,  It takes the offensive ball and not only runs but kicks it out of the park.  I guess from what I have been reading about the movie there is two versions of it, one is Dennis Quaid plays a psychotic man trying to force a movie production house to buy his script which is about these 11 shorts that are outrageously perverse.  The other version is a group of kids decide to scour the Internet in search of the most obscene movie ever made and come across these shorts.  Needless to say the movie is pulled off with a very unsettling feeling in the theatre.

First off the movie displays a pretty heavy cast, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Terrence Howard, and the list goes on.  The movie gets pretty crazy fast and doesn’t let up and it’s surreal in a way to see these actors say and do the things you see and hear on screen.

There really isn’t much of a plot so to speak to get into but what is up there works for the most part.  Some “skits” seem to fall a little flat, the Batman and Robin one comes to mind, and the ever funny please poop on me because you love me skit actually made a group of people up and leave the cinema and not return.  You know your offensive movie is hitting the mark when people get so offended they actually leave for the night.

I’m not one that is easily offended so this movie didn’t bother me at all, though I do have to say a few sections can be a little rough to watch. Though the laughs do come and when they do you’ll not only be laughing but also wondering what the hell you are actually watching at the same time, and to me these types of movies should be making you question what exactly are we watching.

The shorts have a range of different writers and directors such as James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, and again the list goes on.  Each brings their own flavor of offensive comedy to each short which is good because each short feels very different from the others.  It runs at a brisk 97 minutes and never feels long or overly boring because it’s so over the top.

Is this movie for everyone? OH NO IT’S NOT.  Definitely not for children, though it got a 14 rating in Canada?  Really?  Should have been 18+.  It’s definitely not for the easily offended.  Though I tip my hat to the elderly couple that came and saw the movie and laughed through the whole ordeal.  It is funny, especially if you like offensive and sometimes sick humor.  It isn’t for the easily squeamish either.

Overall I give this movie 3.5 out of 5.  It’s not great my any stretch of the imagination but it does make for a fun night out at the movies.  Though I do suggest going during matinee prices.  If the theatre is not for you then definitely give it a rent on VOD or DVD/Blu-ray, even if it’s just to see the outrageous things these big name stars did.  Hugh Jackman, being one of them.  His character has an odd growth on him.  It needs to be seen to be believed.  Till next time my friends.