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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.

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 – WORLD WAR Z

World War Z

4.0 out of 5

I am a huge fan of the Max Brooks’ novel World War Z.  It’s a great read, made up of interviews of people who survived the events of the Zombie Apocalypse.  It was a brutal look at the world, if indeed the dead had arisen to reclaim the World as their own.

When I first started hearing a movie was going to be made based on this novel, I was skeptical.  the novel felt more of a set piece for a TV mini-series.  The format just didn’t feel like it would play out well on the big screen.  Then I started to see the first trailers.

What I noticed is that it looked nothing like the book.  Fast zombies, lots of action sequences that were definitely not in the novel.  It looked like it lost the interview style pace of the book.  It left a bad taste in my mouth as it did with many fans of the book.

We also have to remember that this was a movie that was plagued with issues during production.  Real guns being kept on set which got  them in trouble in Hungary.  The writers not being able to come up with a good ending so others were brought in to fix it.  It felt like this movie may not get finished.

Fast forward to June 21st and it’s time for World War Z to be launched in theatres.  A movie I finally decided to see and just cast away any notion of the book itself and see if this movie can stand on it’s own as a good zombie flick.

The story is simple.  Gerry Lane is called back into action with the military when an epidemic breaks out turning the human population into these raging zombies.  His family gets to have refuge on an aircraft carrier while Gerry is out globetrotting looking for answers and hopefully a cure to end this.

This movie is pretty much action from the get go and doesn’t let up much through out the movie.  The action is intense and at times horrifying.  With every good zombie movie there should be jumps and scares throughout and World War Z does not disappoint in that department.  There were plenty of times that the audience were jumping and letting out screams.  This is a good sign when you’re sitting watching a zombie movie.

One thing to note about the film is the omission of gore and blood.  This goes to say that gore and blood doesn’t make a movie scary and one can have a decent zombie flick without the gory mess.  They wanted to have as little blood as possible to keep this a PG-13 rating, though the novel is definitely an R rated gorefest.

The director Mark Forster, known for Machine Gun Preacher, Quantum of Solace, The Kiterunner, hits all the right notes in an all out action zombie flick.  Forster paces the action almost perfectly and sets up some pretty intense moments.  He is able to intertwine some emotional moments as well throughout the movie. Some work nicely, others at times fall a little flat, but that doesn’t deter from the enjoyment of watching the Zombie Apocalypse go down.  The director gets decent performances out of his actors, though I think the best acting in the movie is done but the secondary performers.

This is Brad Pitt’s vehicle.  He stars as Gerry Lane.  An ex military man who gets thrown into this battle to seek out answers as to why this is happening.  Lane left the military to be a family man and lead out his life as such.  He fights tooth and nail not to go back, but in the end they make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Pitt is good in the action scenes but in some of the more heavier emotional scenes he came off a little amateurish.  He didn’t have that emotional punch to drive those scenes home and at times felt like he was phoning some of those lines in.  Though when push came to shove in the action he was right there hitting all the right notes and making those scenes seem believable.  If there is one thing World War Z taught me is that if you are going to survive some death defying situation have Pitt with you, that man survives events that no one ever should, but this is where the land of make believe comes into play.  It’s a movie, and when you’re in that playground, anything is plausible.

Mireille Enos from The Killing, plays Pitt’s wife Karen.  She does a good job ofr what time she has on screen.  Her role is a very emotional role and Enos portrays a protective mother and a wife who’s one an emotional roller coaster not knowing if her husband is going to come out of this alive.  Enos is a strong actress and shows it in this movie.

The other supporting players were top notch such as Ludi Boeken, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, who plays the creepiest, craziest military prisoner I have seen in a while.  A good job at casting for these roles, because this is one movie where I felt the supporting cast carried the picture.

After the movie was over, there were some scenes that stuck with me that ended up not going anywhere.  I’m not going to spoil anything but there were a few scenes that seemed like they were going to be building blocks for things to come later on but were totally forgotten throughout the movie.  I don’t know if they were to play out later and were cut when re-writes came, but it felt like the writers were going to be taking these building points somewhere but didn’t.  In that aspect part of the movie does fall a little flat in that regards.

Overall World War Z, though after seeing the movie Z would have been a cool title, is a decent summer, popcorn flick zombie movie.  It’s intense, terrifying at times, and it a good fun romp.  Is it deep and insightful?  Nope.  It’s a movie that you can sit back, get ready for some action and just have fun.  Isn’t this why we go to the movies anyways?  To  have fun and to escape the real world for a couple of house and get taking on a ride no matter how far fetched it may be.

I give this movie 4 stars out of 5. I know, I know it sounds crazy.  But like Han Solo once said.  It may not look like much but it’s got it where it counts kid.  ‘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 — EVIL DEAD

Evil Dead Poster

4.5 Out of 5

This is perhaps one of the most talked about horror movies to come along in sometime.  Even if you are not a fan of the original Evil Dead series chances are you definitely heard about this one.  Me being a huge fan was very nervous when they announced that a re-visioning of the original was in the works was it given to a first time director and film maker.

Now I know we all must start somewhere but I can’t imagine being given something that has this much of a following and are told to run with it.  If it fails it can sink your career, but if it rises, expect more work quickly.

Most of all know the story of Evil Dead by now.  Group of adults go to a cabin in the woods and there they find a strange book.  The book is opened and passages are read and thus releasing evil upon the group.  This time around we are actually given a reason as to why these said adults are arriving at the cabin.  They are there for an Mia’s(Jane Levy) intervention.  The cabin belonged to Mia and her brother David(Shiloh Fernandez) parents and it was a place they always used to come to up until their mother’ death.

Once there they find the cabin needs some cleaning up and it looks like someone broke into the place.  While searching they find dead cats hanging in the basement and that’s where the book is found.

Their friend Eric(Lou Taylor Pucci), who is a teacher, takes it upon himself to study the book which ultimately leads to the releasing of evil.

The first that is noticeable about the film is the tone.  The original series always had a campy, comedic fill to it but this re-visioning is pretty serious.  It takes itself seriously and definitely no punches are pulled.  That’s thanks to the wonderful direction of Fede Alvarez.

He is a first time film maker that had the daunting task of bringing this film to life and he pulls out all the stops.  He takes his time with scenes and lets things play out building the tension surrounding the group, which is rounded out by David’s girlfriend Natalie(Elizabeth Blackmore) and their doctor friend Olivia(Jessica Lucas).  The movie picks up the pace once the terror arrives and the blood starts to flow.

Alvarez also tips his hat to the original Evil Dead in how a couple of the scenes are shot and edited.  It was a real homage to the series and the audience clapped when these scenes arrived.  The only small place where Alvarez falters is with the pacing.  It gets a little uneven at times, most of which I think is because of the tight running time the movie has being just above 1 hour and 30 minutes.  If the movie was a bit longer Alvarez would have had a bit more time scenes to play out better.  Does this make this movie a bad movie?  Not in the least.

One thing that you have to give Alvarez props for is the use of practical gore effects.  Buckets of prop blood, prosthetic limbs, old school make up effects. The director did not want to use CG for these effects if it could be helped and that really pays off.

This film has a lot of very extreme, brutally gory scenes and is definitely not for the squeamish.  If you hate the site of blood and severed limbs you may want to bring a pillow or bury yourself if your partners shoulder.

Is the movie scary?  It had a very jump scares in it but it feels more terrifying that scary.  It’s not stuff that will haunt your dreams but there are scenes that will stay with you long after the curtains fall.

The acting in the movie passes the grade with all the actors hitting their marks, giving honest performances.  The character David could have used a bit more life, he seemed a little bored through out the movie, other than that they were fine.   Fans of Suburgatory will notice Jane Levy(Mia) as the daughter from the hit show.  She becomes a total freak show later in the movie.

Fans of the original and newcomers to the show should enjoy it thoroughly.  It definitely was one hell of a ride and I’m hoping Alvarez comes back to do a second one.  This version is a gore lover’s dream and makes for some pretty unsettling scenes.  It was originally given the NC-17 rating and was cut to get the hard R.  You will probably find once it gets out on Bluray/DVD that there will be the Uncut version along with the theatrical version.  We shall see.

Overall I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.  It’s definitely worth full price to see in the movie house and then to buy to add to ones movie collection.  If you are a fan of the original or just a fan of horror in general, go, run, rush to see this movie.  It’s American horror done right.  Till next time my friends.