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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 LONE RANGER

The Lone Ranger

1.5 out of 5

 

I may not have been a big fan of the Western genre growing up but there is one character in that genre that always struck a chord with me, that was The Lone Ranger.  I remember growing up and watching old re-runs of Clayton Moore riding to the rescue of John Reid, aka The Lone Ranger.  Growing up I was always a fan of the show and the movies, even the 1981 move Legend of the Lone Ranger.

Here we are in 2013 and Hollywood seems it would be a good time to dust off the hat and the mask an revamp The Lone Ranger for a new generation.  Was this a good idea?  Not by a long shot.  If you have no clue who The Lone Ranger was and/or haven’t seen the show or read the stories, this incarnation is not the place to start.

John Reid was a strong character in the original tales and made a strong hero in the character of The Lone Ranger.  In the 2013 movie this character is reduced to a bumbling fool.  Tonto, his partner in crime takes on more of a bigger role than companion or sidekick, but is mainly used for comedic purposes.

The story for this re-telling goes as follows.  John Reid takes on the tole of a Texas Ranger to help his brother Dan and his troop to hunt down and bring Butch Cavendish to justice.  They are betrayed and Butch kills the lot, along with John.  Death doesn’t keep a good man down and a spirit horse directs Tonto who to bring back from the dead.  At least this time it worked better than it did in Pet Semetary.

Tonto resurrects Reid and thus The Lone Ranger is born.  Both of them want Cavendish stopped and so they form a bond and go out in search of this flesh eating man.  Yes the villain has a taste for human flesh.

Sounds for like an interesting story that should be fun to watch.  One would think so.

Gore Verbinski, director of the Pirate of the Caribbean movies, comes back to direct The Lone Ranger.  The strange thing it, this movie feels and acts just like Pirates.  The directing style is the same, the story telling is the same.  At some points some of the action feels lifted right from those movies.  The comedy thrown in kills the feeling of seriousness that should have been there and the fun of the action as well.  Verbinski really is feeling like a one trick pony with his movies lately and this one is no better.

Armi Hammer would have been great as John Reid, if he wasn’t playing the bumbling idiot.  There were times near the end that felt like The Lone Ranger should, only if they kept the whole movie with that feeling.  I do like Hammer’s acting ability but outside of The Social Network, he seems to be typecast of the bumbling fool.  This is not how The Lone Ranger is and shouldn’t have been portrayed that way.  I have a feeling there will be sequels, and if they are I hope they put a more seriousness, adventure to it and lessen the comedic side of things.

Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack…or sorry I mean Tonto.  Tonto you could say is Jack Sparrow toned down.  He does a good job though as The Lone Ranger’s partner and is rather comical at times.  It seems though as of late, Depp only seems to be channeling Sparrow, which is sad in a way, because he has been an open slate actor, one who seemed to be able to play anyone.  Now it’s just the same ol, same ol.

The pacing of the film is all over the place.  The editing is so up and down that the movie almost becomes a chore to watch.  It is a long one too, clocking in at two and a half hours.  It actually feels though longer than that.  The film at times seems to have an identity crisis, not really knowing what type of movie it should be.  Nothing is ever consistent in it.

The ending battle sequence seems to go on and on and who’s idea was it play The William Tell Overture on a loop throughout the entire ending battle scene.  Yes it’s The Lone Ranger’s theme, but man, what feels like 20 minutes of music, that doesn’t even go along with the scenes just was too much to handle.  The music felt shoehorned in at the end, almost as if to say, ‘gee I think we forgot to fully use the overture’.  A funny way to put it in, a tip of the hat so to speak, would have been to have the band start up theme before they come crashing down.  A missed opportunity I think.

Overall I can not recommend this movie at all.  If you desperately want to see it, wait for a second run theatre or Netflix it when it gets up on there.  This movie was a horrible mess, and it was one of the summer blockbusters I was looking forward to.

I give this movie 1.5 stars out of 5.  Only because Depp was fun to watch as Tonto, even if the comedic scenes went on for way too long at times.  The Lone Ranger should have been a serious, romantic adventure, not a road trip comedy with some action filler.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel

4.5 out of 5.0

I’ve always held the Donner Superman films close to my heart.  Christopher Reeves was Clark Kent aka Kal-El aka Superman.  Though things went a little down hill with Superman III and then completely flat with Superman IV.

Then in 2006 we get Superman Returns.  A flat retelling of what is pretty much I and II combined.  I had hope for this one but once I saw it my hopes were dashed of seeing the Superman movie I had hoped for.

Enter 2013 and now Zack Snyder has taken the helm as Director of Man of Steel, a new retelling of the classic origin story.  I’ve always enjoyed Snyder’s work, yes even Legends of the Guardians was a rather fun romp, he has gotten a little bit of a bum rap with some mis-steps such as Sucker Punch.  When I first heard that Snyder was going to be directing the next Superman movie, thoughts were a little shaky at best.

While I was viewing Sucker Punch I could almost see a Superman movie in there, though with much less slow motion fighting, which is something Snyder is known for.  Well it wasn’t too long after that we now have a new vision and platform for the Man of Steel.

The movie starts off on Krypton and we see Jor-El, played wonderfully by Russell Crowe, as he delivers his son Kal-El.  The first natural born birth on Krypton in quite sometime.  After the birth Jor-E meets with the council of Krypton with a plan that will save their race long after Krypton has died.

Enter General Zod, played by Michael Shannon.  Shannon is evilly vicious as the war torn general.  He is not so much of a mad man but a man lusting for power, and once he reaches Earth to reclaim Kal-El, he is a general with no army to lead.  Power hungry Zod will soon be sent with his comrades to the Phantom Zone.

Now once Kal-El reaches Earth we flash ahead to where he’s a grown man on a fishing boat.  He’s trying to be a ghost, trying to blend in an lead a normal life.  We see some of his early life through flash backs, which are properly used when Clark is thinking of how he handled situations when he was younger.

This is not the Donner Superman’s and really shouldn’t be compared.  This is a new retelling, a much sterner, darker retelling and I feel it really sets the bar high.  It’s a great way to re-launch the Superman movie franchise and Snyder has hit all the right notes with this one.

David Goyer wrote a great screenplay and I loved how he worked in charm, some wit and sarcastic humor into the mainly dark story.  This definitely updates Superman to the style we have seen with Nolan’s Batman movies.  They definitely take a more serious tone with this new Superman incarnation.

Is this a bad thing?  Depends on how you like your superhero movies.  If you like snappy one lines, and lots of quips you may be disappointed that there isn’t much of that style of humor in this one.  I always felt DC was always more serious than the Marvel stories, and this version of the Man of Steel really keeps to that tone.

It’s a wonderfully paced film that is beautiful to behold.  My eyes never left the screen as the 2 and a half hours passed by in record time.  The CG worked very well, especially on Krypton where we finally get a full scope of what it was like on the planet.

The costume design for the film were magnificent,  from Superman’s costume, right down to the Kryptonian suits of armor.  Everything just looked fantastic.

The battle sequences were huge and the fights were as epic as one would expect from superhero battles.  Metropolis gets shattered in this movie and the battles have a take no prisioners kind of mentality.  You really get to see what it would be like to have the two juggernauts, Zod and Superman got head to heard in a no holds barred fight.  The damage is massive and clean up will take a long time.

Amy Adams takes on the role of Lois Lane, reported for The Daily Planet.  Adams brings new life to the role and makes it her own.  She plays Lane as a no nonsense kind of lady and can be tough when need be.  She’s not afraid to get into the fray and get her hands dirty if work calls for it.  She gets first hand experience with Superman and wants the Planet to run her story but they won’t so she takes it to an internet blog site.  She has a story to tell nothing will get in her way.

Laurence Fishburne plays Perry White, chief editor of The Daily Planet and Lois Lane’s boss.  Perry White as compassionate as he may be, shows that he a man of integrity and Fishburne brings it as Perry White even though he doesn’t have quite a lot of screen time.  When he is on the screen though he makes every minute count.

Kevin Costner brings humility and heart to Johnathan Kent, Clark’s Earth father.  He is also in top form even though he doesn’t get many minutes on screen.

Diane Lane plays the tender Martha Kent, Clark’s Earth mother.  She brings the right amount of strength and heart to the role as well, though her screen time is limited as well.

Snyder really was able to get a solid cast who gives it their all as they give top notch performances.  Hats off to Henry Cavill who takes on the role of Clark Kent/Superman.  There is no mistaking about it, Cavill is Superman.  He fits the bill and gives off a damn fine performance of Kal-El of Krypton.

Hans Zimmer’s score hits all the right notes and works very well through the halls of this film.  Every theme seems to fit well with what is happening on the screen and never overpowers what is happening.

I feel this is the Superman movie fans have been waiting for.  This isn’t a movie for critics.  They seem to be raking the movie over the coals and are not liking it one bit.  Fans on the other hand are eating it up left right and centre.  This is definitely the movie of the Summer and probably one of the best of the year.

This is not only a story about Superman, but a story of how one copes in life when he knows he doesn’t belong or feels like they don’t fit in.  Clark isn’t like the others and he knows it, though he perseveres and becomes accepted into society which makes him stronger.

Did the movie have any flaws.  It did, I’m not going to lie it isn’t a perfect movie, but then again what movie is.  There were a few shots, espeecially of Superman’s Kryptonia mother that were very blurry and almost seemed dated.  It was a little jarring to go from beautifully clear footage to a close up shot that looked like it was films 30 years ago.  Some of the CG is one of the fight scenes was a little dodgy but never really took you out of the action.

Can I recommend this movie?  You bet I can.  This is a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen.  It’s massive is scope and feel and just begs to be seen in the theatre.  When the action heats up it heats up fast and never lets go.  Not only do you get one of the most exciting superhero movies but you get a movie that has heart, something the other critics said it doesn’t have.  Sometimes I feel they see a different movie than whats actually playing.

Overall I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.  Easily one of the best movies of the year and definitely in my top 3 superhero movies of all time.  Snyder has done right I think with the fans bringing them the Superman movie they’ve been longing to see.  This one sets up the second one nicely and if you pay attention in the movie you will find some Easter Eggs as well as a few nods to the Donner films.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – V/H/S 2

VHS 2

3.75 out of 5.0

It’s been a short bit since the last time I sat down and watched a found footage movie.  This time it is the sequel the very well made anthology V/H/S, properly titled V/H/S 2.

The main story this time around plays out better than the last one did.  Instead of a bunch of hooligans going to steal a tape we have a private investigator looking for a missing kid when he and his girlfriend stumble upon a room full of televisions and VCRs with some tapes to watch.

Instead of 5 stories this time we get 4.  Does it make for a better movie?  Yes and no.  Three of the four are very well put together and make for a very intense, graphic, terrifying ride, but the second story in the anthology just falls flat, and in some ways I wish it wasn’t included.

“Phase 1: Clinical Trials” revolves around a man who lost an eye in a car accident and gets a bionic eye implant.  This eye performs like a regular eye but also transmits back what the person is seeing back to the doctors for data analysis.

After returning home this man starts to see strange events in his home.  He soon finds out that he is now able to see spirits and they are not at all happy.  A girl comes to visit him who had a procedural done to her ears when she was a child and she can hear the ghosts but can not see them.  She comes to warn him about what is going on.  This story makes for a very chilling supernatural story and plays out very well, especially in the audio department.  It’s a good start to what appears is going to be another fulfilling anthology of horror.

We now move onto story two, “A Ride in the Park”.  This is where we start to take a tumble.  This is just an average zombie story, which really doesn’t go anywhere and serve any purpose.  It’s graphic in nature but definitely not scary or terrifying.  I felt as if I was watching a bad student film and couldn’t help but laugh as this story went on.  This story really didn’t need to be in there and felt that it soiled what was a great anthology.

Story three was “Safe Haven”.  Think of this one as a Indonesian horror take on Waco.  This was a very unsettling story and terrifying.  Great use of sound and the acting was very well done.  This added to the intensity of the story and the full build up of what was to come.  Basically we have a man who is like an Indonesian David Koresh.  He has build a compound where he and his wives and children live.  He has promised them that Paradise awaits for them after they give themselves to the almighty.  He also said that when they pass into Paradise they will receive the blessing of immortality.  What plays out is a freaked out horror show, not only shocking in nature but shocking in the visuals.  This was a very chilling story and one of the best between both anthologies.

The last story of the anthology was “Slumber Party Alien Abduction”.  It’s pretty much what the title states.  Kids are having a slumber party and aliens show up.  The manner in which it happens is intense and also terrifying.  From the loud noise of the space craft, to the flashing flights, the tall grey aliens.  Everything starts off nice and fun, but soon turns bad quickly.

Timo Tjahjanto, the director of “Safe Haven” should be commended on doing an excellent job at making one of the best stories between the two movies.  He really knew how to work the camera and get the emotional responses needed from his actors.  Safe Haven I do have to warn is very hard to watch at times.  The graphic nature of the story is I think the most graphic of all the V/H/S stories.

The main story that plays out through the movie was called “Tape 49” and follows the private investigator team as they look for the missing student.  In the end they find out where he is and what has happened by watching a video on his laptop.  This story ties everything up nicely.

I was a big fan of the original V/H/S and this one ranks right up there with it.  Was it better that the first?  It definitely had more intense scares than the first but A Ride in the Park just brought it down some.  If that story wasn’t included it would have made the movie better than the first.

Overall though I give V/H/S 2 3.75 out of 5.  It does come highly recommended and if you do plan on seeing it, turn out the lights and turn up the sound system, you’re in for a treat.  Will there another V/H/S?  If they keep up the quality they have been putting out I do hope so.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – AFTER EARTH

AFTER EARTH POSTER

0 out of 5.0

I don’t what it is that gravitates me to go to the latest M. Night Shyamalan but I always end up in the dimly lit room watching what unfolds on that gigantic white screen.  I loved Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and even saw promise with Lady in the Water.  Since then it has just been a downward spiral.  With his latest incarnation, After Earth, could this be his comeback.  One word will describe that…NO.

The story behind After Earth is that from disasters, to wars, Earth has become uninhabitable and people now live on Nova Prime.  This is not a story of the destruction of Earth, but the bonding between a father and his son after they crash land on the planet and must work together to light the beacon which will bring in the rescue party to save them.

This should be a touching sci-fi, which is something we haven’t seen in some time and don’t get me wrong the story as promise but what brings it down is the execution of the sum of all parts.

Will Smith stars as Cypher Raige, the hero of the war, he has the ability to ghost in battle meaning that by controlling his fear, he almost becomes invisible to the enemy giving him the upper hand in battle.  Cypher is as stern as they come and definitely is a military man first and a father second.  It’s a different role for Will Smith.  Smith plays it very close to the chest and turns off his natural charisma which he is know for in his roles.  This, along with the direction makes him come off very wooden in this approach and almost seems robotic at times with his dialogue delivery.  I normally like Smith in his various roles, even dating back to Fresh Prince and we seen him in very dramatic roles before, Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, and was tremendous in those. But in After Earth his performance just wasn’t compelling enough to make you care for his character.  Yes you can see he loves his son and his family but there was just no emotion to be seen and almost makes the character Cypher Raige seem heartless and cold.

Smith’s real life son Jaden Smith plays his son Kitai Raige, an up and coming military boy who did not make the rank of Rangers this season.  He wants to feel like he fits in with his father and was hoping to make him proud that he be a Ranger like his dad, but has the hardship of letting him know he didn’t make it.  Jaden really is the one who needs to carry this movie through out almost the entire running time.  This is can be a difficult task for someone with little experience and is one of the downfalls of the picture.

Was he good?  There were points in the film that showed Jaden may have the talent if he works on it.  Most of the time he just falls flat and again comes off wooden and stiff during deliveries that should be echoing a sense of emotion and power behind them.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot also falls on the directing and terrible screenplay, and at times it felt as if George Lucas himself wrote and directed this.

Kitai is a character that is battling emotion of a boy who really doesn’t want to be military but wants to do well and succeed to get the approval he is looking for from his father.  Kitai is somewhat of a lost soul and Jaden just doesn’t have the chops yet to fully convey this to the audience.

M. Night Shyamalan directed After Earth and was one of the writers of the screenplay.  Shyamalan does try to do right in the movie business but just can’t seem to make it work.  Some call him a flash in the pan director and film maker and maybe he is, but some think one day he will come back to form.  After Earth isn’t it.  He was brought on to direct the movie through and idea Will Smith came up with about the story.  Will had a big scope of what this story could be, and don’t get me wrong it is a good story, a very good story, but poor directing and writing crumble what could have been something big.

One of the problems with his directing in After Earth is holding onto shots.  There are many strings of shots that are just held onto for seconds too long and it makes you want the pacing to quicken a little.  This ends up hurting the high end action sequences which should be pulse racing, heart  thumping big scenes, but instead these fall flat because of the very slow pacing that leads up to them.

By the time these action sequences hit you are so tired out from the pacing that these scenes just don’t have the bang needed to carry you through to the next long, dragged out sequence.  Also to note that some of these action scenes are short and seem to be over before they start, another hitch to the pacing of the movie.  It seems that Shyamalan fault with his films isn’t necessarily with his ability to tell a story but his ability to properly pace one out on screen and put emotion and heart into what we are watching.  Maybe his next movie should be a smaller budget film with smaller scope to get his creative juices flowing again.

The effects in the movie are a mixed bag.  Some things look brilliant, like the giant bird creature and the monkies.  Other things like the dead pilots in the trees looked terrible and very CG.  It’s too bad because the cinematography was well done for the most part giving us a very different looking Earth but most scenes end up falling flat because of poor CG that takes you out of the moment.  One of the tricks of CG is to add to the experience of being transported to a place that doesn’t exist or to add to the environment you are witnessing.  When it pulls you out of that moment it’s not utilized properly and there are many cases where the CG looked deliberate and fake.

Can I wholeheartedly recommend this movie?  No.  This is a movie best not to waste money to see.  Should you wait until it’s out to rent?  If you have Netflix and really want to see this movie, wait until then, no need to throw away money on another Shyamalan failure.

I think this may be a first in my reviews but I am giving this movie 0 stars out of 5.  After running it over and over in my mind I couldn’t find anything at all redeeming about it and giving it at least 1 start would have meant I liked something about it.  Maybe I did, but not enough to warrant that.  ‘Till next time my friends.

REVIEW – GI JOE RETALIATION

GI JOE RETALIATION POSTED

2.0 out of 5

I’ve always been a huge GI Joe fan when i was a kid.  Never missed the cartoon, well at least in the first two seasons, when it was good.  Lately there has been a resurgence in the franchise with the new animated series  GI JOE: RENEGADES, which is what part of the plot of Retaliation is base on, and the new movies.

I loved the first movie.  It was over the top, fun, and I thought it brought the right amount of cheese to the battle, just like the comics and the cartoon.  We do have to remember that this franchise of movies is based off a toy, comic, cartoon line that is just as cheesy.  I loved the characters in the first movie Rise of Cobra and I liked the direction it was taking.

Jump to 2012 which is the year Retaliation was supposed to be released.  It was delayed due to the audience wanting more Channing Tatum as Duke, so it was delayed and more scenes were added.  Now that Retaliation is finally released we can sit down and take a look at how it stacks up to the first one.

Before we do that let’s recap at what the story is about.  The Joes are called in to disable and take away nuclear weapons.  Snake Eyes is caught for murder and is taken to the subterranean prision to be held captive where Cobra Commander and Destro are being held.

There is an attack on the Joes while they are waiting for extraction and the President of the United States declares the Joes are no more.  They are turned on by the country because of Cobra, which is where they borrow a little from the cartoon Renegades.

This time around we have Duke, Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint and Mousetrap, as well as Jinx and Snake Eyes.  The characters all work for the most part and at the first part of the movie, it was a good and fun time by all and started very enjoyable.

The director this time around is Jon M. Chu, director of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and two of the Step Up movies.  This is where the movie really falters.   Chu just doesn’t seem to know how to properly direct action sequences, and there are a lot of them.  He piles on poorly choreographed scenes that are not only directed poorly but also poorly edited to a point where some of it can be hard to follow.

Though what these scenes are really lacking is the fun the first movie had.  The battles Chu wanted to be more grounded in reality, which make them out of place in such a fantastical world.  That’s why the battles in the first one worked so well was because they were over the top and were fluid.  These actions scenes just seemed stiff and didn’t flow well, which once the movie gets going makes for a long sit.

The best part about the movie was the interactions between Duke(Tatum) and Roadblock(Dwayne Johnson).  Their chemistry worked very well and they were a delight to see on screen.  The acting was good for the style movie, though the sparse and terrible dialogue left a little to be desired.  I know it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare, but at least have some fun dialogue that could possible seem like it works.

This time we have a proper looking Cobra Commander with his shiny faceplate mask with the Cobra insignia.  He really looked cool and felt the part of the leader of the Cobra Organization, though he wasn’t a whimpering fool like in the cartoons.  Destro is nowhere to be seen except for in the prision.

The rest of the story is Cobra trying to take over the world with it’s new Zeus weapons.  Satellites locked on to countries which can be obliterated at the push of a button.

What ultimately brings down the movie is the poor directing teamed with terrible editing.  It throws the pacing all over the place and really kills what should have been BIG action set pieces.  The effects this time were better but some scenes (avalanche on cliff) looked  terrible in the wide shot and if the shot was tighter would have played better on the eyes.  One thing that did bother me is that the other characters with masks, Storm Shadow and Firefly kept taking them off.  Why keep a mask if you are just going to keep taking it off, which is something they didn’t do in the show and should have carried over to the movie.

Will it do well this Easter weekend, I think it will.  My wife and I were there for the 9:30 showing and there was a line up and the theatre was pretty packed.  Does it have the legs of the first one? It probably doesn’t but with Dwayne Johnson it should have some big pull at the box office.

One more thing, Bruce Willis is in it, but doesn’t have a lot of screen time.  Though when he is on screen has some of the better one liners of the movie.

I have to give this movie 2 stars out of 5.  The interactions between Duke and Roadblock made it fun, which is what it should have been through the rest of the movie.  If you really must see this film in theatres wait until a matinee to save the money, otherwise wait for the DVD/Redbox/Netflix treatment.  It definitely not worth the full price of admission.  Now you know…and knowing is half the battle.  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.