Friday, July 27, 2012

A Goofy Movie (Kevin Lima, 1995) Review

So Goofy get's his own movie and not Mickey or Donald? I'm fine with that. Goofy is easily my favourite out of those three so it's fine with me. I was actually surprised that this was released theatrically but it was definitely the right move as it would only increase the popularity of this film. I'm guessing that's down to the fact it's a more modern Disney film (IT HAS A HOT TUB!) and it's basically an embodiment of the nineties. Why? Let's find out.

On the last day of high school, Max (Jason Marsden) pulls off a prank against the principal (Wallace Shawn) by dressing up as the pop music icon Powerline (Tevin Campbell) in order to impress Roxanne (Kellie Martin), a girl he has a crush on. When he and his friends, P.J. (Rob Paulsen) and Bobby (Pauly Shore), are caught, his principal calls up Max's father, Goofy (Bill Farmer), and tells him what happened. After 'advice' from his friend Pete (Jim Cummings), Goofy decides to take Max on a father-son bonding fishing trip but Max has actually managed to get a date with Roxanne. In order to cover up going fishing, he lies to her and claims he's going to go see Powerline's concert live while the other kids are watching it TV. So it's a 'road to' movie with twists.

This isn't your usual Disney film. Sure it's hand drawn and it has songs (and some damn good ones at that) but isn't like the other ones. It's a modern setting (well, the mid nineties) so there are things you wouldn't usually see in Disney films like the aforementioned hot tub, pizza or an RV. If you're going to introduce someone into Disney films (why you'd need too...I have no idea) since both you and that person can affiliate themselves with certain characters. You would be Goofy as you know what to expect and you arrange everything and the other person would be Max because they would be confused and annoyed by all the stuff that you are showing them until they ultimately come to appreciate it...and if not then they're a lost cause. It is all about the relationship between father and son and ends up becoming a very heartwarming film. Maybe I should have done this on Father's Day. You feel sorry for Goofy, trying to connect with his son, yet you can also sympathise with Max since he just wants to hang out with his friends and get on with his life away from his incredibly embarrassing dad. The development of these two characters is what brings this relationship out. Goofy is easily the most developed out of the Mickey, Donald, Goofy trio while Max has grown up since Goof Troop and has gone through a lot (especially after this). I was actually surprised at how mature this film was. There are quiet moments in order to let certain things sink in and it really works!

And then you remember it's still a Goofy movie. It's funny. Really funny. The thing is though is that there is some mood wipe lash since there is usually something hilarious but is then followed by quote a dramatic moment of scene. I am impressed Disney. I tip my hat to you for taking a goofy character like...Goofy and taking a very mature take on it. Still, there are lots of funny moments to take from this film, and it is a memorable film. If you've seen it, you will remember some things...even if you don't want to. It is loosely based on Goof Troop, one of the cartoons from the early nineties featured with the likes of DuckTales and Darkwing Duck (which of the three mentioned is the odd one out?). I say loosley because lots of things are missing. Pete's wife Peg and his daughter Pistol aren't seen or even mentioned despite Pete and his son P.J. making an appearance. It's a good film nonetheless.

A Goofy Movie is an excellent Disney film. No. Scratch that. A Goofy Movie is an excellent film. I HAVE SPOKEN! I guess we share a connection since we're the same age. Yeah! 1995! It was much better than Disney's animated classic of that year (Pocahontas). Considering they made Pauly Shore ACTUALLY a decent character (something I thought was an impossible feat), I would say this is a great film. It would defintely be in my top ten Disney films...top ten lists...hmm. Maybe later. Anyway, if you haven't seen this film, it's better when you watch it with someone who has. It's a 'buddy film'...or something. I highly recommend it as anyone can enjoy it.

Verdict:
8/10
A heartwarming father-son film. One of my personal favourite Disney films that you WILL remember.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) Review


Oh good, an Oscar winner. We should be fine then...right? It's not like it's a silent film or anything...what's that? It is? Huh. That's innovative...sort of. I guess that because it's a silent film from...nowadays then that means this is a special film. If this was released in the age of silent films then this would just be another film. Nothing special...but it wasn't. It was released last year. Let's take a look.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent film star at the top of his game who everyone adores such as director Al Zimmer (John Goodman). Whilst waiting outside of a movie premiere, film fan Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) accidentally finds her way out of the crowd and in front of Valentin who creates a photo opportunity by planting a kiss on Peppy's cheek. This moment gets Peppy noticed and decides to follow in Valentin's footsteps and audition for film roles. She slowly begins to be a hit and is escalated to the top. Her success affects Valentin who's career goes the opposite way and ends up becoming a failed actor since he won't act in talking films which have recently start to occur. 

This was a silent movie? I couldn't tell (not literately, it was clearly silent but I'm trying to make an impact here!). It has such as great plot that really reels you in but it's the execution that really works. This is an action powered film...thing. There is dialogue but, like most silent films, it's told through text boxes. It truly creates the feel of being in the silent era. I even saw this in a classic cinema which truly enhanced the experience. There are a few moments with ACTUAL sounds that convey the situation well but they always come as a surprise and actually made me jump. The music is great but considering that's all the here...mostly...it comes as no surprise.

Was I the only one surprised by the cameos from random actors. I really mean random. Malcolm McDowell has a good scene and he does very well. He looks like he belongs in silent films...when he's not creeping the hell out of me in The Clockwork Orange. Another cameo I spotted was Bill Fagerbakke as a policeman. Who? The voice of Patrick Star...weird I know. This won loads of Academy Awards such as Best Picture and Best Leading Actor. You can see why after watching this...obviously. Jean Dujardin does a very good job of playing Valentin and this is probably one of the best films of last year so I can see how it did win best picture.

The Artist is a great film that does what a film is supposed to do: tell a story. The execution is fantastic and the music and acting further enchances it's quality. The only problem is that it may be hard to watch again since it was SO GOOD the first time around. Plus it may not be for everyone...especially people who think CGI blockbusters like Avatar or Prometheus are "DA BEST FILM EVERZ! OMG DEM GREPHICS!" since the idea of a silent film may put them off. It didn't put me off though and I'm glad I saw it in the cinema...it probably won't be as good on DVD so it's an experience that HAS to be in the cinema.


Verdict:
9/10
A cinematic treat. The execution of a modern silent film is great and the narrative and acting really make this film stand out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift (Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, 2012) Review

If the Ice Age film series existed in the nineties then this one would definetly be 'direct to video'. Seeing as companies no longer do this and decide to milk a franchise for everyething it's got, they decided to go all out and do their best! Seriously. I was impressed with this one. I thought that four was too many and, considering how good the third one was, I thought this wasn't going to be as good as the others. Was I right? Let's find out.

After some more of Scrat's meddling, the continents begin to drift apart. This causes Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid's granny...Granny (Wanda Sykes) to be seperated from Ellie (Queen Latifah), Crash (Seann William Scott), Eddie (Josh Peck), Manny and Ellie's teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) and her friend Louis (Josh Gad). After drifting on an ice burg for a while, the protagonists are picked up by a pirate ship led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) where he proposes that they join his crew. After escaping his grasp and destorying his ship, the heroes leave him and his crew behind as they continue their venture. Now Gutt wants revenge on Manny, Sid and Diego while they try to get back home.

Ice Age is a good franchise but there was one thing it was missing throughout all the films: a classic villain. The first villain was boring, the second was forgettable, the third was cool but it was just a giant dinosaur. No motive, no character. Now we have Captain Gutt and he is brilliant. Peter Dinklage does a fine job of providing the voice for this character and it really suits him. He's clearly designed after Blackbeard from Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. Villains seemed to be missing from the Ice Age series and it's great to have one that's up there with Disney villains. The other new characters are great too. Shira (Jennifer Lopez) is Gutt's right hand...woman and offers as the love interest for Diego. About time he got one...even if she is a femme fatale. Her development is a bit all over the place but it's more of a subplot. Peaches was only a baby at the end of the third one but is a teenager now. I love how they made her not part of the cool crowd. She and her friend Louis are outcasts but Peaches does try to fit in though. She learns a pretty damn good moral and her development as a character is well written.

Did you like Buck in the last film? You did? And you want him back? Too bad. Cameo only...and that's for people who were paying attention. He was what made the third one so great and the best in the series. Take that away and you only have the second best in the series. Gutt is an okay replacement. Don't get me wrong, he's great but just not as good as Buck. Those mammoths that Peaches is trying to fit in with...OH MY GOD are they annoying. GAAAH! I hate people like that. They did a good job of portraying bratty teenagers well. What? That was Nicki Minaj? THAT explains a lot. Thank God they didn't make Peaches like this or I would have lost faith in this franchise. Thank you so much!

Ice Age: Continental Drift is the second best of the Ice Age films. There is a lot here but I mostly love that Ice Age now has a great villain in the form of Captain Gutt. Peter Dinklage, I salute you. The character decisions were good ones and the CGI graphics have really improved. They look fantastic. There are more furry characters this time and this offers chances for more fur textures that look amazing. Well, that's the Ice Age series...hilarious as I would consider it to be a heat wave outside. Keep thinking cold thoughts, keep thinking cold thoughts. All in all, it's a good series and, while it isn't solid series (thanks a lot, Meltdown), it still has great moments. You know, it didn't clarify that this is the last one...I wouldn't actually mind a fifth one considering that the third and fourth ones are superior to the first one. YEAH!


7/10
A fun animated film. The villain is a good addition and the visuals are just stunning!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier, 2009) Review

Okay, so apparently Ice Age was good enough to get a whole trilogy dedicated to it. Ok..I'm fine with that if it can hold up. I was disappointed with the last one and thought that it was very forgettable. Now it's time for the third film in the series, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Aww yeah! Everyone loves dinosaurs! With a prehistoric franchise it was inevitable that dinosaurs would be used eventually so it's good to finally see them. Without further ado (adieu?), let's take a look.

After the melting of the ice and snow, our heroes have now coped with the change in climate (it's like science or something). Ellie (Queen Latifah) is now pregnant and Manny (Ray Romano) has already become a over protective father even before their child is born! Sid (John Leguizamo) grows jealous of their little bundle of joy and finds a few eggs which he adopts. A couple of days later, the eggs hatch and it's revealed they are dinosaur eggs. When the mother breaks out from under the ground, she kidnaps Sid and takes her children back. Now Manny, Ellie, Diego (Denis Leary), Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) have to travel down below and get Sid back with the help of a crazy weasel called Buck (Simon Pegg) who lives with the dinosaurs.

The characters have really improved since the last one. Every film seems to add new main characters and this one brings in the best of the bunch. Buck is an excellent character. He's funny, he's developed, he has a back story and acts as an importance to the plot as he's their guide in the dinosaur world. He is a very likable character and I think his voice has something to do with that. Simon Pegg is great as Buck and helps add to the comic relief due to his high level of insanity (he uses rocks as a phone and is married to a pineapple...yeah). He really makes this film. The rest of the characters are basically the same but Manny's new character of 'over protective father' suits him. The use of characters is really where this film shines. Sure, the setting is good and the dinosaurs are cool but Buck...it's his film. He's what you will remember and that's a good thing. There is also the relationship with Scrat (yeah, remember him?) and his new rival Scratte which is basically Scrat x2 as they fight over the acorn as always. 

Is there a dinosaur expert here? I know one but he's not here at the moment. I'm not a... palaeontologist (I believe that's correct) but I thought dinosaurs came before the ice age...again, I'm no expert. It is justified as the film basically says that the only living dinosaurs are stuck under the ground. I dunno but now I'm just trying to find problems just because I probably can't except that, and I truly believe, this is the best Ice Age film in the entire series. There are problems but, then again, what film doesn't (except the ones I already said are perfect...errrrr).

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the best of the series. No questions asked. The new characters are great (or...new character...) and the plot is actually relevant to the narrative of the whole series because of Manny and Ellie's baby for plays a big part in the next one. The underground setting looks really good, the use of dinosaurs is really awesome and the Scrat/Scratte relationship is hilarious and offers the best of Scrat. Most people have given up on the Ice Age franchise by this point and that's sad seeing as they gave up right before it got good.

8/10
The best film in the series. New settings, characters and plot points are great and help the series progress.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ice Age: The Meltdown (Carlos Saldanha, 2006) Review

Don't act surprised. Ice Age was a popular animated film and therefore gets a sequel. That's fair, right? You can probably assume that the sequel is not as good. You'd be right. Sure, there are many reasons why it's not as good as the first Ice Age but...it's a sequel. What are you expecting? A masterpiece (other than the fact it looks better and brings in new characters that stay in the series as regulars)? Let's dive in...now.

Having bonded after the events of the first film, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) are now friends but their lives are threatened when the ice age begins to come to an end as the ice and snow begins to melt. Not a problem you say? Didn't you notice the MASSIVE GLACIER next to them? A group of vultures claim that they have built a boat that can save everyone from certain death but what they don't know is that they secretly are waiting for them to drop dead...they're vultures. While on the journey to the boat, Manny learns that he isn't the last mammoth alive! He encounters another mammoth named Ellie (Queen Latifah), who thinks she's a possum as a result of being brought up by a family of possums, and is accompanied by her possum brothers Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). Now, not only to they have to survive the *ahem* "meltdown", they also have to convince Ellie she is a mammoth.

This is a forgettable film. I can barley remind myself of what happened while writing this. This is a 'bridge film'. Don't get it? A 'bridge film' is a certain film in the franchise that, basically, bridges the gap between films. A good example would be The Dark Knight. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises work well together while The Dark Knight only exists to bring in the Harvey Dent plot line. They don't really need to exist (but I'm glad The Dark Knight exists) but they normally bring in at least one major thing (in this case, Ellie, Crash and Eddie). The vultures are never mentioned again, the meltdown doesn't really have an inpact on the franchise and this film contains the most 'one-shot' characters that don't influence the plot. Everything's forgettable and that's probably the reason. The whole film only exists for Manny's romance and that's it.

The animation has improved greatly. My biggest criticism of the first film was that the animation looked dated and hasn't aged well. The animation is better now and pretty much sets the standard for the rest of the series. The characters that have lots of fur, like the mammoths, look really good. The fur textures in the first film were sort of stuck to Manny's model but now it looks like each hair was individually modelled like in Monsters Inc. A lot went into this film, visually, and it certainly pays off.

Ice Age: The Meltdown isn't the best film int he world. It's a worse film than the first but the much improved animation and CGI models is enough reason to come back. The story is okay...the new characters are...okay. All around it's an okay film. Really, it's nothing special but is by no means a bad film. It's just...average...okay ABOVE average because the voice acting is also great and, like I said, the animation is top notch.

6/10
An above average film that, while it isn't as good as the first, it looks good and bridges the gap between the first film and the third film.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ice Age (Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha, 2002) Review

Well this was a risk. Why? Because I just watched the fourth film which means that this one probably hasn't aged well...mainly the animation. Aw well. Lots of people have fond memories of this film (I know I have) but people have probably given up on this film as well as the rest of the franchise just because it's over three films long (most people I talk to gave up on the third film). It was a clever idea and it showed that they have done their research by bringing lots of prehistoric creates (the majority of the creatures seen were real) so there is a reason to go back to them. Well then, let's take a look at Ice Age.

When a pack of sabre tooth tigers attack a group of humans trying to survive the ice age, they end up wiping out the entire camp expect for one woman and her baby. She manages to escape from the sabers but dissapears after giving her baby to a wooly mammoth. This mammoth is called Manny (Ray Romano) and, when finding himself stuck with an annoying sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo), now has to deliver the baby to the surviving members of the human tribe. It gets worse when Soto (Goran Visnjic), the leader of the saber pack, sends Diego (Denis Leary) to try and get the baby back. Diego manages to join Manny and Sid in an attempt the finish off the baby.

It's a simple plot of getting from point A to B but, as with most A to B films, it's about the journey and I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this. It's a good film, nothing special but it's a nice treat. It's clearly a kids film as evident with characters such as Sid and Scrat (you don't need an introduction..if you've heard of this film then you know Scrat). Sid sometimes borders on the annoying but I can't say that Scrat's scenes are overly long. They are usually funny and good to look forward to. There are some clever things that happen in the movie and the backgrounds look great. Being in the ice age there would obviously be snow everywhere but the ice caves and glaciers look really nice and it adds to the world of this movie. The characters are great. I already mentioned Scrat and Sid but Manny and Diego are also good. Diego goes through some great character development and Manny is the typical stoic, closed off character. Ray Romano does well to capture that part of his character.

There are still many problems with this film. The animation really has not aged well. It looks like what the animated series spin-off would look like (that may or may not have been a take that to the series based on Kung Fu Panda). The character models look at bit off. Sure you could argue that it was the animation at the time but Shrek came before and that looked great. I guess it was Blue Sky's first CGI film and Dreamwrok's first CGI film (Antz) looked...okay...but that was the ninties...this is the noughties. Oh well, I'm not a CGI expert...I prefer traditional animation (YOU HEAR THAT DISNEY? I ACTUALLY LIKE TRADITIONAL ANIMATION!)


Ice Age is a fun film. It's really nothing special but it holds up quite well. It could be worse. The characters are well written and developed and, while the character models are a bit off, the backgrounds look nice and there's a lot of visual humour. It's funny but it's clearly a kids film. This isn't a bad film and I would recommend you watch it. It could be considered a classic, I guess. That's probably just down to Scrat though...

7.5/10
A well written film with good characters but the animation is a bit off even though it's a good 'Road To...' film.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012) Review

Here it is. The finale of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy that I'm going to try an contain in a special, extra long review. In a word, The Dark Knight Rises is....wow. I couldn't walk after it had finished. The world can end right now, I wouldn't care because I have now seen The Dark Knight Rises and is the perfect send-off for the blockbuster franchise. The series separates itself from the previous films (from Batman to Batman & Robin) and, frankly, that's a good thing. It's a trilogy in it's own right that comes together well. Well, it's finally time to take a look at the cinema event of the year: The Dark Knight Rises.

Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has gone into hiding. His interest in the outside world is brought back after the mysterious cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) breaks into his house and steals his fingerprints. Bruce must now put the cowl and the cape back on in order to learn who needs his prints and why. Business rival John Daggart (Ben Mendelsohn) has Bruce's prints and has hired the mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) to use them and destroy Bruce Wayne in everyway (no, not anyway...this is Bane we're talking about) he can. Meanwhile, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is working on a new power source for Gotham City with the help of a new Wayne Enterprise executive Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and also, with Batman taking the fall for Dent's crimes, the only cops that still believe in Batman are Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who are trying to get Gotham to realise that they need Batman. So now Batman has to win Gotham back, defeat Bane, reason with Selina and save Gotham City once and for all.

My god. This film REALLY lived up to the hype. "Film event of the year" adverts boast and, yes, it is. I was worried that all the effort went into The Dark Knight but I was pleasantly surprised at how amazingly well done this film was done. The acting is incredible. Much better than the previous films. One of the problems I found with The Dark Knight was that Batman's voice had gotten worse from Batman Begins but now it's back to the way it was. It sounds much better. Christian Bale himself was great. I feared that, because of the much darker tone of the film, that we wouldn't get to see the playboy Bruce Wayne but we still did and he is still as great as ever. Tom Hardy had a lot to do for this film. Heath Ledger had set the bar for Batman villains but Tom Hardy is up there. He really is. Bane is a fantastic villain and a much better improved over what happened in Batman & Robin. Bane is now not only a muscle-bound mercenary but he is also a clever and elite strategist. I foresee an Oscar nomination for you, Tom. I had my doubts about Anne Hathaway as Selina and thought she would have made a better Harley Quinn but when I saw her in this, I was glad I was wrong. She is one of the best Catwoman ever seen on a screen (kicks Michelle Pfeiffer ass). I foresee an Oscar nomination for you, Anne...as well.

With the main three out of the way, let's continue with the secondary characters. A new character that I really like is John Blake. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I was excited when I heard he was going to be in this film and, I wouldn't be praising him if he didn't, he does VERY well in this film. Blake is clearly a Batman fan (yes, the character...and maybe the actor) and his history leads to him becoming a very well developed character. Good writing triumphs all. Marion Cotillard surprised me. Miranda Tate was an exceedingly amazing character. I honestly didn't expect her to be so memorable. Her relationship with Bruce is well written and is easily the most well developed character in the film. I foresee an Oscar...you get the drift. All the regulars of the franchise are as good as ever. Their roles are slightly smaller than before (especially Alfred) but even with this in mind, they are still great. Gordon (who is probably the only regular role that's bigger than last time) is fantastic and better than before, Alfred goes through some excellent character development and the seriousness of the film is reflected on Lucius as he does less wisecracking (but there's still a bit).

The writing is genius. I wasn't expecting any humour at all but I was surprising funny. The humour this time is mostly through the dialogue but that isn't a problem since I doubt they could do that in this film. Humour includes out of character moment (such as Bane listening to the child singing the American national anthem) or reactions (mostly from Lucius). There is more than the humour though. I'm not going into to much depth but, like the other films, there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot and actually work (unlike some films where twists don't work...right, Prometheus?). Let's not forget the Nolanisation (that isn't a word? It should be) of existing characters. This is the best Bane you will ever see. I always thought the Mexican wrestler look was bit out of place but Bane in this film looks great and sounds perfect (his voice isn't an issue, no matter what you say). I already mentioned that this film has one of the best Catwomen. The writing is full of tricks and red herrings. When I heard the name Daggart, I thought that Clayface would be an enemy as Daggart was responsible for his origin in the animated series. The writers should be very proud of themselves. I foresee...never mind.

The Dark Knight Rises is an excellent way to finish off the Dark Knight trilogy. Christopher Nolan has done the impossible. He's created a trilogy with no black sheep. They are three solid films and any of them can be someone's favourite without starting a flame war. EVERYTHING in the series is tied together well by the end of this one and no stone is left unturned. You HAVE to watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before watching this though. I would recommend that you watch them right before you go so you can remember them better and get the references. It's a long film (I was really numb afterwards) that answers all the enigma codes of the first two films (except what happened to the Joker due to respect for Heath Ledger's death).

The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best films i have ever seen and concludes one of the best trilogies (if not the best) I have ever seen. It's an emotional film. The amount of emotions this film can make someone feel is phenomenal. I laughed, was scared and even almost cried (which is rare for me with films...manly, I know). It brings the best of the franchise to the point I even forgot this was a comic book film at times. Three for three, Nolan. Good job. Thanks for joining me (if you did) for a whole week of Batman films and, if you haven't seen this one, watch it ASAP because it is unmissable. I doubt we'll ever get a movie experience like this in our life time again.

Verdict:
9.5/10
A phenomenal film that concludes a phenomenal franchise. A must-see that is top priority for EVERYONE.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Review


What can I say? Really! Practically everyone knows this film and if they haven't then they've at least heard of it. It's the first comic book film to ever win an actor an Academy Award and, since the Academy clear hate comic book films, that must mean this must be good. Yes. Yes it is. After the excellent Batman Begins, it was hard to believe the sequel could beat it considering the history of worse sequels in the Batman series. I was wrong. It did not only beat it but it blew it right out of the water. It is significantly better. Let's take a look.

After the defeat of Ra's Al Ghul, A new villain calling himself The Joker (Heath Ledger) is taking it upon himself to upset the status quo and spread chaos and destruction. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Gotham's district attorney, has becomes Gotham's 'white knight' as he is getting rid of criminals WITHOUT dressing up like a giant bat. Now Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) wants to throw in the towel and leave Gotham in the hands of Dent...except The Joker is still spreading chaos and has become the most feared man in Gotham. Now Bruce has to not only stop The Joker but also protect Dent's reputation from being soiled by The Joker.

Casting...Heath Ledger...what more can I say? Heath Ledger is incredible as The Joker. Everyone knows it and this was the Oscar winning role I mentioned earlier. Not only did he surprise everyone but he freaked the hell out of me and, for The Joker, this wins bonus points. Christian Bale is a much improved Bruce Wayne...not so much Batman. The voice. Everyone has mentioned it and, yes, it is a bit over the top. It was fine in Batman Begins but here it's just...wow. Aaron Eckhart is perfect as Harvey Dent. He looks the part, sounds the part and definitely acts the part. Maggie Gyllenhaal has replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes (don't know why...) but she does well to fill in Holmes' shoes. It makes her seem more mature which she is anyway so I guess it works out. The rest of the regulars are still great (maybe even better) but I still feel Scarecrow's (Cillian Murphy) cameo was a bit of a tease. He didn't get enough action last time and now I wish he had more...

EVERYTHING IS IMPROVED! The camera in the fight scene is no longer shaking uncontrollable. You can actually see what's happening and you REALLY want to this time. The action is top notch, especially the truck chase in the middle and the climax (both have references to Tim Burton's Batman). Speaking of Batman, it would be unfair to compare the Jokers as they are both completely different styles. Nicholson is the classic, comic book style Joker while Ledger is a more realistic one (which is scary as hell now that I think about it) but the better Batman is still Keaton. Bale is good but the voice takes away points. It is also good to see my favourite villain done RIGHT this time. I have no idea was happened in Batman Forever but it wasn't him...now he's a tragic villain who actually uses the damn coin and leaves everything to chance instead of keep flipping it until it's the side he wants. It's a shame he isn't in it for long but I guess the narrative works well enough. Actaully, that's another improved thing...every second is relevant and it comes full circle. Last time, there were a few pointless moments but now everything ties together.

The Dark Knight is easily the best Batman film that improves on all the problems of Batman Begins. The new villains are fantastic and the best duo the series has seen. If you haven't seen this, you are missing out. You don't even have to like comic books because it doesn't have a single moment where you think "well that was silly" or "that's just like in a comic!". Well then, join me tomorrow for a world exclusive (maybe) review of the long anticipated movie event of the year: The Dark Knight Rises. I'm so hyped!!!

Verdict:
10/10
A much improved sequel and a contender for the greatest film of all time. A must see for ANYONE.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2006) Review

Yes! Here we go! A good Batman film. It's about damn time. Here we can begin Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Batman films known as 'The Dark Knight Saga' or 'Trilogy'...which ever floats your boat. After the epic failure of Batman & Robin, the Batman film franchise was a dead zone. No-one wanted to go there. Even Joel Schumacher's Batman Triumphant (with Scarecrow, Man-Bat, Mad Hatter and Harley Quinn as potential enemies) was cancelled. Apparently, Christopher Nolan saw hope in the Batman series and decided it was about time for a reboot which began with Batman Begins, naturally.

After the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) leaves Gotham City in order to find himself (it's deep). While in an Asian prison, he is let out by a man named Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) who claims to work for a man named Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). Bruce masters his training from Ducard and destroys Ra's Al Ghul's base, killing Ra's in the process. With the martial arts training mastered, Bruce returns to Gotham in order to bring justice in the form of Batman. With the threat of Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) and his Scarecrow persona, Batman must protect his childhood friend Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), Police Lt. Jim Gordan (Gary Oldman), Wayne family butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and Wayne Enterprise worker Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). Can Batman bring justice to Gotham? Will he stop Scarecrow? What is Ducard's secret? You should really know the answers by now...

Batman Begin was risky as hell. No-one wanted to go near Batman after Batman & Robin and it's clear to see why but Batman Begins really pulled through and restored the series to greatness. GREAT CASTING IS HERE! YEAH! Christian Bale is a great Bruce Wayne and, in this one at least, is a fantastic Batman (I'll explain what went wrong in the next film). Michael Caine is fantastic as Alfred, Michael Gough was good along side the previous Bruce Waynes so Michael Caine works well with the new Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale. Gary Oldman is better than Pat Hingle...that is all. Rachel is the best female lead in a Batman film up till this point. The other ones weren't very well developed but now we know that Bruce actually HAD happy memories as a kid and even a best friend. Thank you Nolan. Lucius Fox is just Morgan Freeman, and that's a good thing! Finally, the villains in this film are a MAAAAAJOR improvement from last time. Scarecrow was long overdue and Cillian Murphy creates a great role that makes me wonder if he's listening half the time or just lost in his head. Liam Neeson's character creates the whole 'I created you' villain as he was responsible for Batman's origin and practically created him.

There are still problems, it's by no means a perfect film but my problems are your problems. The camera in the action scenes is terrible. It is far too shaky and it makes it near impossible to see what's happening at certain points. It died down towards the end with the final problem but at the start...it's bad. Another things is, while this is 'if Batman was real' (mainly due to Nolan wanting to make Batman as realistic as possible), there are some things that are just a bit too far-fetched. I don't care how tough Batman's armour is, I doubt he could survive being set on fire and thrown out of a window or survive being pulled by a train. Also, I don't think we needed to see the origin of the Bat signal. Batsuit, yes. Batcave, yes. Batmobile, yes. Bat signal, no. Other than these, I can't find any other problems with this film. You done good Nolan, you done good.

Batman Begins was the start of a new era. It was the rise of Batman's popularity...again and it proved that even comic book films can be up there with the greats! It was a gamble to see if they can bring the good Batman back and it definitely paid off. It's good to see a Batman film that is FANTABOUSLY (that's a word now) amazing. It made the Batman universe great (I actually cared about Thomas Wayne/Bruce's Dad this time!) and, tomorrow, we dive deeper into what can be possibly be one the best films ever (look it up), The Dark Knight.

Verdict:
8.5/10
A great reinvention of the Batman franchise. Nolan did good. I can't wait for more (wait a second...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Batman & Robin (Joel Schumacher, 1997) Review

Huh...I should have figured this would happen eventually. Ohhhh...RAAAAAAAAAAH!!! This one is just...oh maaan...if you've seen this film or at least heard of it then you should know what happens next. To think that a film series as fantastic as Batman contains a film that can be considered the worst film of all time by some people. This is a bad one, folks. It's hands down the worst Batman film but...let's just get this out of the way.

A new threat...err...threatens Gotham City, Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Freeze is going around stealing diamonds to, not only power his freeze suit, but also use them to freeze over Gotham so he and his wife (who is in cryogenic sleep with an incurable illness) can live...I guess...I dunno it was cliché and boring. During all this, the partnership between Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell) begins to strain and is made much worse by the interference of a new villain, Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) as they fight for her love (like she cars...heh). Lastly, Alfred's niece, Barbara (Alicia Silverstone), comes to stay with him at Wayne Manor but, when he Alfred (Michael Gough) gets a life-threatening disease, Barbara becomes the new crime-fighting hero, Batgirl.

The title is wrong, it just is. Batman & Robin seems to suggest either the origin of Robin (which was LAST TIME) or them...you know...GETTING ALONG?! They hate each other in this film (and I wish Nightwing would have appeared) plus Batgirl's in it so...shouldn't it be Batman & Batgirl - Robin? That's not the only problem, oh no it's not, THE CASTING IS HORRIBLE. Mr. Freeze is supposed to be a tragic villain who is trying to get redemption...not a muscle-bound, Austrian, pun spewing guy with a big ice gun! What happened? This was after the Animated Series so Mr. Freeze had be reinvented to have his wife in cryogenic sleep so he was supposed to be a character that you feel sorry for, not get annoyed by. Mr. Freeze isn't the worst character here though since, to their credit, they did get the whole 'frozen wife' thing right and the scenes with her are actually pretty good. Bonus points to you, film! The worst is Poison Ivy. Oh dear God. Uma Thurman is an OSCAR NOMINATED ACTRESS. After watching this, I wouldn't have known. Uma Thurman does a horrendous job of acting. She's terrible, just terrible. One of the problems is the same problem as the Riddler from Batman Forever...their outfit. Poison Ivy and Riddler share this, they both appear for the first time in an outfit that suits them and is how they look in the comics...then they are changed to a terrible outfit that makes them look stupid. George Clooney is a great Bruce Wayne but a bad Batman because he doesn't change them. His Batman is the exact same as Bruce Wayne. Robin is ruined and is now a whiny kid for won't shut up!

This film still has many problems. What they did to Bane ins unforgivable. He is supposed to be a elite strategist as well as being very strong. Now...he's Ivy's henchmen whose dialogue consists of  "RAAGH!". Ehhh...at least Christopher Nolan is doing him justice. The effects are terrible. No no, not the CGI...the props. The rubber icicles wobble for pete's sake! Don't even get me started on the writing...but you have so i'm going to talk about it. The writing is worse then the casting (how were they to know an Oscar nominee was going to put NO effort into the role). This film features great films such as "Chicks dig the car" (No), "I'll cancel the pizzas" (Really?) and "This is why Superman works alone" (No comment). Did I mention these lines were the first ones said in the film? There's more...lot's more. Oh man, please stop. There are also lots stupid moments such as the opening chase, the bat credit card (it didn't happen, I can assure you) and Mr. Freeze making his henchmen sing...whah?

Batman & Robin is infamous for being a bad film. I can see why it's a bad film but there are some redeeming factors such as Mr. Freeze's wife, Clooney's Bruce Wayne and the introduction of Batgirl who isn't a bad character. It's watchable and is nowhere near the worst film ever, not even the worst comic book film ever. It has aged surprisingly well because of what it is and should not be taken seriously. Ah, now that's out of the way we can enjoy an excellent Batman film tomorrow. Why? Because this film bombed and killed the franchise which required a reboot...and we got one in the form of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. I'm so excited to review a good film! Yeah!

Verdict:
4/10
The worst Batman film ever. The good bits are drowned in a sea of bad bits.

Did anyone else notice the voice actor for the Riddler in the animated series was the mad professor in this? Weird, isn't it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Batman Forever (Joel Schumacher, 1995) Review

IT BEGIIIIIINS!!! The downfall of Batman. Tim Burton was kicked off directing duties and was left supervising. Now filling in for director was Joel Schumacherwho has proved that he can do some very very good films. One should note that ALL the darkness is gone. I mentioned in my review for Batman Returns that the darkness was slowly leaving the films...well...now it's gone for good. Hope you liked it because you're not going to see it again for a LOOOONG time.

Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) is terrorising Gotham City and Batman (Val Kilmer) is out to stop him in his tracks. After invading the circus, Two-Face and his henchmen completely wreck the place but manage to kill a group of performers known as The Flying Graysons...all but one, Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell). Dick is left with Bruce Wayne as his legal guardians but eventually learns Bruce's dark secret - HE'S BATMAN (Read that in Christian Bale's voice)! Dick now takes on the role of Robin and becomes Batman's sidekick since he wants revenge on Two-Face for the death of his family. Meanwhile, Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) wants recognition from Bruce Wayne, his boss. He finally decides that he's had enough and wants to rule over Gotham in order to gain respect and becomes the great villain known as The Riddler. Now Batman and Robin have to take down Riddler and Two-Face (a villain each, I guess).

Let's talk about the villains. First things first: Two-Face. Ooohhh...mmmyyy...gooodd..WHAT HAPPENED?!?!? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED WITH TWO-FACE?! Ohhh...I initially thought that Tommy Lee Jones was a very good choice since he can do very good and very serious roles that would work for a tragic and serious villain like Two-Face...I'm sorry did I say tragic and serious? I meant it's the Joker. Basically, he's a VERY silly villain. Not the Two-Face I want...at all and since he's my favourite character, I feel hurt. As for The Riddler, again, I thought Jim Carrey was a good pick but he ALSO ended up just being the Joker. They must have written it for the Joker in mind and then picked the villains afterwards. It's the only explanation. Now, to their credit, Riddler and Two-Face are VERY funny and the actors are clearly enjoying themselves. The film gets points for being entertaining as well.

The film features ALOT of things that do ruin it. The extras are TERRIBLE. They are some of the worst extras i've seen next to Spider-Man 2 (seriously, what happened there?). The worst is definitely the guy in the vault at the beginning due to the fact he was doing a terrible job of acting..ehhhh. Batman is about darkness (his other name is THE DARK KNIGHT) so when you take that away, what do you get? A mediocre film with some questionable acting. Val Kilmer was a good replacement for Michael Keaton but he just isn't as good because his Bruce Wayne is so forgettable that you'll forget him instantly (I'm having a hard time remembering him while typing this!) but Robin saves this because they actually made Robin cool! It's hard but it was done but he is clearly there just for the kids. That's another reason it fails in comparison to the other ones, it's aimed at kids. Why? Why are comic book films like this. The darker the comic book film, the better the outcome as proved with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight.

Batman Forever is not to be taken seriously. Don't run into this thinking it's another dark Batman film like Burton's ones. It's not. The villains are too over the top and just WRONG (Two-Face still hurts, Schumacher!), the extras are terrible, the plot is a bit too cliché, Bruce Wayne is forgettable and I have no idea what's with the costumes (bat nipples....really?) but the amount of humour in this film is enough to keep me coming back. This is a guilty pleasure because it's funny and, while they did screw up the villains, they are my two favourite villains so it's the thought that counts...I guess. Right then...what's next? *sees schedule* No...no...Oh God no.....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Verdict:
6/10
A decent film that should not be taken seriously. The humour keeps bringing me back to this film.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992) Review

SEQUEL TIME! After the very successful Batman, it was only right that it should get a sequel so now Tim Burton presents you with Batman Returns. Great name, I know. We all now the classic Batman villains and, with the Joker out of the way, we need to deal with some more of the main villains. This time, The Penguin and Catwoman are the villains (The Riddler is coming, I assure you) and are reinvented to suit Tim Burton's mad style of everything (I don't want to see his mind...I really don't). With this in mind. let's look at the sequel of one of the best comic book films ever: Batman Returns.

It's Christmas time (no, seriously...this is a Christmas film!) and Gotham City is all set and ready to celebrate. and business owner Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) is ready to give a speech to Gotham (he owns department stores...or something) but just before things are finished, a gang of clowns attack Gotham and raid the place (I assure, the Joker is dead by this point so it's not him...)! Naturally, Batman (Michael Keaton) is on the case. After Gotham recovers, Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito), who goes by the name of 'Penguin' because of his deformed appearance and being brought up by penguins (context), manages to win over Gotham so he can set up a scheme to get revenge for his abandonment as a child. Meanwhile, after being 'let go' (if that's what you call it), Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) decides to get revenge on her boss who *ahem* 'let her go' by taking on the persona Catwoman.

I'll just throw this out here, Batman Returns is not as good as the first one. I think what I love about the first one was Jack Nicholson as The Joker and, while I give the next villain a chance to try and be better, the Penguin just isn't as good as The Joker...in ANY form. It's hard to top The Joker (Good luck Bane). This isn't a problem though since he's a new version of a Penguin, never seen before (no more of the top hat wearing RAH RAH RAH Penguin) and it's good to see Burton do his own take on things. Catwoman is great in this film. That's all. I just anticipate to see how well Anne Hathaway does. Again, Michael Keaton is still great as Batman and is arguable the best around. The relationship between Batman and Catwoman is great because they both have their secret identities and the great scene in the ballroom where their the only ones NOT wearing masks is well done.

The reason this one isn't as good as the first one is because it pinpoints where the series started it's decline into child friendly...ness...as alot of the darkness from the first film is taken away. Sure, it's still dark (my God, the final battle was violent) but things such as The Penguin riding a giant duck (errrrr) or using clowns as henchmen (WRONG VILLAIN, GUYS!) but really, this was expected with The Penguin seeing as he is a somewhat childish villain (a short, fat guy who uses umbrellas and penguins to kill people) but in forms of media such as this, the animated series and Arkham City, he is made more mature and it's a good thing. Is that a dark scene I see? Get used to it, they'll be gone until 2005 by this point...

Batman Returns is the last great Batman film until Batman Begins so give it credit for that even if you didn't like it. Batman was a tough act to follow but it did alright. Sure it wasn't as good but it was still holds up as a good film that recreates characters like The Penguin but a lot of the darkness was taken out and was starting to turn the Batman film franchise into a more child friendly series. See you tomorrow for Batman Begins. Yup, that's the next one. There totally wasn't two other films that were critically panned because they destroyed the franchise and almost killed it once and for all nor did they feature three of my favourite villains and ruin them....HEEEEEEEEEELP!!!!

Verdict:
8/10
A good sequel that, while not as good as the first, still holds up as a good film that recreates classic characters very well.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Batman (Tim Burton, 1989) Review

Every great film franchise has to start from somewhere, right? You all know Batman, I'm sure (and if you don't...where the hell have you been?) but this was actually the first time Batman went truly dark. Sure there were times before but I'm certain more people watch the films than read the comics (I started at New 52...bad mistake) but this was when Batman got dark. Considering that this is from the brain of Tim Burton, I'm not really surprised. Let's take a look at the film that started it all: Batman.

Criminals fear the night as this is when the masked vigilante Batman (Michael Keaton) a.k.a Bruce Wayne strikes to protect Gotham City from crime. Batman's most recent case takes him to Axis Chemicals (I assume that's supposed to be Ace Chemicals) where a group of criminals are planning to steal files that could soil the career of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams). In the police raid, one of the criminals, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) falls into a vat of chemicals. Assuming he is dead, Batman and the police clean up and leave. What they didn't know is that Jack is very much alive but leaves the planet with white skin, green hair and red lips becoming the insane criminal genius known as the Joker. Now Batman has to stop the Joker and also try to balance his life as Bruce Wayne so he can win over photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).

I'm not going to compare this to The Dark Knight. Just getting that out now. The casting for this film is almost perfect. It really is! When I think the Joker (before that other film) I think Jack Nicholson. He steals the show and is very memorable. After The Shining, Jack Nicholson managed to create the perfect role for insane people who can still have a good laugh, that sums up the Joker! Michael Keaton is fantastic as Batman. He might just be the best Batman to hit the big screen. His Bruce Wayne isn't the best but this is overshadowed by Batman. My only problem with the cast is Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon since he isn't the Gordon I imagine but this was fixed by that other film. Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent isn't bad but I'm sure he would have been a better Two-Face (yeah, he isn't in this one) than a certain Two-Face on the horizon...oohhhh noooo....

I can't really think of any problems with this film. It's hard. There are some great moments and it doesn't seem TOO dark like Nolan's ones (I'll get one those though). It seems like what Batman should be somewhat like the animated series or the Arkham games. Batman's origin is recreated very well (even though the shooter isn't Joe Chill for some reason...don't worry the change is relevant to the plot) and everything comes full circle by the climax (by the EPIC climax) which means that everything is tied up well. It's like it didn't need a sequel...but it did anyway! YEAH!

Batman was a great way to start the Batman film franchise off. The cast is great, there are some epic moments and the blend of action, darkness and humour make for some memorable scenes. Yeah, this is a funny film mainly due to the inclusion of the Joker (put him in and you're bound for some laughs). This film is a must see especially if you've seen the Nolan films. You can clearly see where Nolan got inspiration from (there are scenes recreated in The Dark Knight) and it's good to make connections. It doesn't distance too far from the source material (one or two changes were made but that's it). WATCH IT NOW!

Verdict:
9/10
A fantastic adaptation of the famous comic series. A great blend of action and humour accompanied by great casting.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shrek Forever After (Mike Mitchell, 2010) Review

WHAM! It's over. The Shrek franchise is over. They mean it this time since the tagline for this one was The Final Chapter and the ending pretty much becomes a retrospective of the franchise. Unlike Ice Age 4 which opens the door for a fifth film, this is definitely the end (excluding Puss In Boots). It's time to take a look at the last of the Shrek films: Shrek Forever After.

Shrek (Mike Myers) is now having a mid-life crises. He wishes he could go back to the days where he was feared by men and was known as a terrifying ogre. After ruining his kids birthday party, he encounters Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) who can grant people's wishes in return for something else. Shrek gives up a day in his life and is sent back to when he was a rampaging ogre. Naturally, he loves it. He realises something though...Rumpelstiltskin has taken over Far Far Away, Donkey doesn't recognise him, Fiona rules over a group of ogre freedom fighters and Puss is now pampered and fat. Shrek then learns that Rumpel has taken the day that Shrek was born from him and the only way to fix everything is to get true love's kiss. Now Shrek has to remind everyone who he is and defeat Rumpel.

After the disappointing Shrek The Third, I didn't watch this film for quite a while but when I did...I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is great and makes many references to the first film that makes for some excellent moments that fans of the first film should appreciate. It seems that even the creators have ignored the third film considering that the quality is much improved. It looks much better, the great humour is back and the new character (yeah, only one this time) is excellent. Rumpelstiltskin is one of the best villains in the Shrek franchise!

Sure, it has it's problems such as wasted potential of characters (The version of Gingy in Rumpel's world is great but in it for about three minutes) but it's justified because there is more focus on Shrek and the people around him. The last one focused on two many things and it could be hard to keep track (I didn't after mind training from not being confused with Inception (why does everyone say it's confusing...that's for another time though)) The plot is fresh and it's good to see some slow, quiet moments in a Shrek film...the last one was in it for laughs...not this time.

Was I the only one surprised that, not only is this a great film, but Dreamworks made three films in one year! It was a shame that Pixar only released one........which just so happened to be Toy Story 3. It kicked ass, I assure you. If only they released their films the next year so it could demolish Cars 2...then again they did anyway with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss In Boots. Dreamworks, you've done good. Shrek is done and it ended on a very high note. Congratulations!

Verdict:
7.5/10
An excellent send off to a great franchise. Bonus points for being such as pleasant surprise!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shrek The Third (Chris Miller and Raman Hui, 2007) Review

Here it is, the black sheep of the franchise. Every franchise has one (don't argue with it, EVERY franchise has one) and, annoyingly, it's usually important to the plot of the franchise. Shrek The Third is no different. It is the worst one in the franchise but does that mean it's a bad film? There's only one way to find out! Let's take a look at the third film in the Shrek franchise that's apparently to good for a simple "3".

King Harold (John Cleese) has died and left Shrek (Mike Myers) the heir to the throne. The problem is, he doesn't WANT to be the king. He then learns that there is one other heir that could take his place: Arthur (Justin Timberlake). Now Shrek, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) have to set out and find Arthur (Artie for short). There is more complication though, since Shrek is away, there is no hero to protect Far Far Away from a new threat. Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) wants revenge on Shrek for the death of his mother, the Fairy Godmother, and is now trying to take over Far Far Away and become King himself. Since Shrek is away, Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and the other princesses have to fight him and his army of fairy tale villains away.

Doesn't sound as bad as the other films does it? I didn't think so at first but something about it seems off. Prince Charming is a great villain, Artie is a pretty funny character that Justin Timberlake surprised me with and even other new characters like Captain Hook (Ian McShane) and Merlin (Eric Idle) are welcome additions to the franchise. What went wrong? Well...it was at this point Shrek had lost it's freshness and overstayed it's welcome. The jokes were starting to get less fun and the whole 'Donkey and Puss swapping bodies' thing was pointless and seemed unnessesary. 

Everything from the last Shrek film is still here: good characters, a great setting and it does expand on this to give more new stuff such as characters (which are still great) and a surprising addition to the cast. Ian McShane surprised me as Captain Hook since he seemed like quite a small role (he's second in command to Prince Charming) and Eric Idle, while good as Merlin, seems like wasted potentional and should have been in the other ones. There's a lot of good stuff here that should have been in the other films.

It's still Shrek though. Fairy tale characters everywhere and the characters are still great. It's by no means a bad film, it's just not as good as the rest and seems sandwiched between two other films. Yeah...there's one more. You heard right and it's the last one (excluding Puss In Boots) so I guess it's almost time to wrap up the Shrek franchise (even though I can see them doing a fifth one in the future).

Verdict:
6/10
The black sheep of the Shrek franchise. Not bad but is overshadowed by the others.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shrek 2 (Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon, 2004) Review

If an animated family film is popular, chances are it's going to get a sequel (Ice Age, Toy Story etc) and Shrek is no different. The thing about Shrek 2 however is that it did something that the other animated family film sequels did. I'm going to leave what that is till the end of the review although, if you've seen both Shrek films, you should already know what I'm talking about. Don't know? Then let's find out.

After Fiona's (Cameron Diaz) rescue by Shrek (Mike Myers) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy), they are now living happily ever after...except Shrek wasn't supposed to rescue her, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) was supposed to! Now that Shrek has met Fiona's parents, her father (John Cleese) has not taken a liking to him and wants Shrek gone. He goes to the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) to use her magic to get rid of him and also enlists the assistance of the mercenary assassins Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas). Now Shrek has to win over Fiona from the Fairy Godmother's magic and also the respect of the king (and Prince Charming fits in there somewhere...trust me).

The new characters are great! We all know Puss In Boots and we all know that he was popular enough to warrant his own spin-off (already reviewed...go look it up) which is probably a result of his badass attitude, being based on Zorro and his voice actor (considering that they GOT Zorro to do the voice) and, yes, he is my favourite character too. The King and Queen are great characters. John Cleese and Julie Andrews work really well together and are believable parent characters. Jennifer Saunders is excellent as the Fairy Godmother and is great follow-up to John Lithgow's Lord Farqaad (yeah, she's the villain...surprised?). One of the best characters in the series has to be Prince Charming just because of his personality in the Shrek universe. In the fairy tales, he's of course the knight in shining armour that was the dream of all the princess...he is still...but the question is whether he's interested in the princess...or any girls at that. Watch it for yourself...he's a great character.

Shrek 2 offers more than the first film. The location in the first didn't really expand on the Shrek universe that much (since they WALKED to Duloc) but the new location of Far Far Away is great. It offers a more lively background full of people. Plus the scenes where people see Shrek are hilarious. Actually that leads on to my next point, MORE FUNNIES! This film is much funnier than the first and that's a result of one thing...the Gingerbread Man is a much larger character (in more ways than one) along with other fairy tale characters such as the Big Bad Wolf and Pinnochio. What you loved about the first film has been enhanced (except if you're a fan of Dragon, Farquaad or Robin Hood).

Shrek 2 is a much improved sequel of a classic animated film. The cast is the same and the characters are great and the actors do well portraying them. The humour is improved and much funnier. The new location of Far Far Away offers great moments for more laughs. It is a great film that still holds up. The soundtrack is truly fantastic and the music leads to an excellent climax. YES AWESOME CLIMAX YEAAAH! Well, there we go...the two great Shrek films, reviewed! I fear for what's next...ooohhhhh....

Verdict:
9/10
A great animated sequel. The new characters make it all the better accompanied by a great narrative and soundtrack.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shrek (Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, 2001) Review

Yes, yes we all know Shrek. He is practically Dreamwork's mascot after four films and a spin-off. The films are modern classics...well...the first three....er....first two...*cough* but anyway they are memorable films and somewhat ground breaking too considering that practically everyone knows these films and has at least seen the first two because of how great and funny they actually are. The premise is that they take classic fairy tale characters and give them a twist such as Jack and Jill being famous outlaws or Prince Charming being an ambiguously gay mommy's boy. Let's take a look at the first film.

Shrek (Mike Myers) is an ogre and, naturally is feared by the humans around him but, being an ogre, loves the fear he sends through people. Things go bad for him though when the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) sends all of the classic fairy tale characters to live at Shrek's swamp. Naturally, he is angry about this so, with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) from the classic fairy tale...something...he sets off to Duloc to see Farquaad. When they beat all of Farquaad's men, he sends Shrek and Donkey out to find Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and bring her to him. Now Shrek and Donkey set out to find the Princess and bring her back in order to get his swamp back.

The twist on some of the classic fairy tales are great. Characters such as Pinnochio and Robin Hood make appearances but the most memorable is probably the Gingerbread Man who everyone seems to quote like hell. That's another great point is that a lot of the quotes of this film just because it's a very funny film. The humour in this film is basically pointing fun at the fairy tales. It's good to see that, while it is technically a parody, it holds up (enough for five films apparently) and the humour feels fresh.

The characters in this film go through some great development. Shrek starts as a stoic jerk who relishes terrorising places. By the end, he has opened by to his new friends and even got a new love interest who goes through development as a result of having a dark secret. Donkey starts off annoying and, while he does stay annoying yet funny, he has structure and even a reward by the end...a WEIRD reward but a reward none the less. Lord Farquaad is a great villain that, while there isn't much development, he doesn't dodge the hilarious moments and is one of the best characters in the film.

Shrek was the start of a big franchise that made millions for Dreamworks. There's a good reason as to why that is and that's a result of great humour, well written and structured characters and some great action scenes. It comes together as a great animated film and is a good start to Dreamwork's career of CGI animated films. Sure it wasn't as good as Disney's (until How To Train Your Dragon) but it still had great moments.

Verdict:
8/10
A modern classic. Everyone knows it and everyone loves it. A great twist on the fairy tale classics.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Super Mario Bros. (Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton and Dean Semler, 1993) Review

No. Oh No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! If there ever was a prize for the worst adaptation of all time (and I'm sure there is)...this would be a candidate. Maybe even the winner of that prize. If you've seen this then you should know what i'm talking about. If you haven't seen this...then you are a very lucky person. Just thinking about this film makes me want to stomp on someone like a goomba...something that DOESN'T happen in this film...let's just get this over with.

In Brooklyn, New York (at least they got something right), Mario (Bob Hoskins) and his brother Luigi (John Leguizamo) are two plumbers running their own business. Things are normal until Luigi meets Daisy (Samantha Mathis), an orphan who is Luigi's age and his trying to find dinosaur bones under the city. They hit it off but things take a turn for the worst when Daisy is kidnapped by Iggy (Fisher Stevens) and Spike (Richard Edson), henchmen of the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) and is taken to another world where dinosaurs continue to exist. Now Mario and Luigi have to venture to the city and rescue Daisy from the villainous Koopa.


You may have noticed something wrong in my summary. I mentioned Daisy rather than Peach (or I guess Princess Toadstool by this point). If you're going to make a Mario film how about getting the characters right, huh? To it's credit, they did match Luigi with Daisy so they did get something else right but I would have expected Peach instead. Another thing is King Koopa (who should really be called Bowser since it's an American film) is human. I would have imagine that there would be some CGI used if he was the PROPER Bowser. There is also NO Mushroom Kingdom as far as I know. While this explains Peach's absence, that doesn't explain Toad's (Mojo Nixon) appearance...at least Yoshi's appearance is justifiable. Don't even get me started on Mario and Luigi's surname (I guess the name does offer a clue...it's still stupid).

So you may have guessed that this film has little to nothing to do with the games. If it weren't for th efact it was called Super Mario Bros. it wouldn't have been a terrible film. The CGI isn't bad, the actions decent and the characters aren't terrible...it's just the fact they ruin the source material. If it weren't for that then this film wouldn't have been as bad as it was...it would still be bad...just not as bad.

Super Mario Bros. shouldn't exist. It just shouldn't! It takes the fantastic ssn't use it...very well.  years later) and doesn't use it...very well. If someone were to do it again, please follow it closly. "How can Mario have a film based on simplistic narrative?" I hear you ask...either Mario Galaxy or one of the RPGs. They would make great films if they were made by Nintendo with a similar graphic style (obviously much better looking). Ignore this film an pray for a more accurate adaptation.

Verdict:
3/10
Takes the source material and destroys it. Only gets points for some decent moments... especially it you haven't heard of Mario

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cars 2 (John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, 2011) Review

*sigh* I brought this on myself didn't I...I just had to go and review Cars and forgot that there was a sequel. It wouldn't be such as problem if it weren't Pixar's 'dud' film. What do I mean? It's the runt of the litter of Pixar films and is easily, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst one. There are plenty of reasons why this is the worst Pixar films (and the only one to get a rotten rating over at Rotten Tomatoes) so let's drive in (again...I apologise).

After the events of the first film, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) does a lot less racing now and has learnt to slow down. This was fine until a new grand prix sponsored by the natural oil Allinol created by Sir Miles Axlerod (Eddie Izzard). When Francesco Bernoulli (John Tuturro) challenges Lightning to join in the Grand Prix, he accepts and he and his pit crew (made up of Mater, Sarge, Filmore, Luigi and Guido) head around the world to compete. Meanwhile, a British spy named Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) is trying to uncover a secret plot created by 'lemon' cars headed by Professor Z (Thomas Kretschmann). Accompanied by rookie spy Holly Shiftwell (Emily Blunt), they mistake Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as an American spy and recruit him to help stop the 'lemons' from their plan of ruining the Grand Prix and killing everyone powered on Allinol.

You may have noticed that their are two plots this time. The racing half is really great. Lightning and Francesco's rivalry is fun to watch and the actors work well with the characters. The other half...feels off. Mater is given the lead role this time, over Lightning, in order to focus more on the spy adventure. This is the problem. The spy parts are great and all but I can't escape the feeling that I would rather watch the racing. I said in my review for Cars that it was for racing fans...not this time. The racing sections are pushed aside to make way for the spy adventure. You can guess that this is a bad thing. I came here for racing and I only got a bit of racing.

This is definitely the most uncalled for film in Pixar history. Of all the films they could have seen get a sequel, Cars was the one that really DIDN'T need a sequel. This film didn't need to exist and, frankly, shouldn't. It isn't a terrible film...only by Pixar standards is it. Sure it's funny and it does lead to a pretty entertaining conclusion, it's just not enough to justify the rest of the film. It's the first Pixar film in a long time to not be nominated to an academy award and after Toy Story 3 and Up, this is just unacceptable.

Cars 2 is the worst Pixar film. It doesn't hold up on it's own very well and it's a real shame that they even made this film. They could have done Brave last year instead and that would mean we would have Monsters University this year but nope, we got this above average film instead. It's worth at least one watch because they are some great moments and it is funny but, again, it isn't enough to justify the rest of the film.

Verdict:
5.5/10
An above average Pixar film. It has some great moments and is funny but it is hands down the worst Pixar film yet.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cars (John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, 2006) Review

Pixar. I don't think they really need any introduction. They are one of the best animation companies around and there's a good reason for it. They make nothing but masterpieces (well, until 2011) so I thought it was about time I looked at one of their films. I might have to save the best ones for later (like Toy Story and Up) so I thought I would look at one that was as well received but is still pretty decent. Let's dive into (or should that be drive into...I apologise) Cars.

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is an arrogant rookie racer who, when racing against rival Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) and champion The King (Richard Petty), manages to draw against them. On the way to the final race, Lightning's carrier truck, Mack (John Ratzenberger), loses him. While trying to get the race on his own, Lightning ends up trapped in a small town on Route 66 called Radiator Springs. While in town, he ends up destroying the main road through town. Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), the mayor of the town, orders Lightning to fix the road or else he can't leave. Now Lightning has to fix the road and get to the race in California in order to beat his rival and win the title of champion.

Let me just throw this out. Excluding sequels and remakes, this is definitely one of Pixar's worst films. It just doesn't feel as good as the others while watching it. I think "Man, I could really watch Finding Nemo or Monster's Inc. right about now". Sure it has a great cast of characters and actors and the racing scenes are fantastic to watch (probably the high point of the film) but the story is a bit cliché and it just feels a bit off. It doesn't mean it's a bad film by any means...just not Pixar's best.

Cars does have a lot of good qualities going for it. I already mentioned the racing scenes which are fantastic. The character development that Lightning goes through as well as the moral of the film is pretty well done and is believable enough to stand well. It is definitely more of a kids film than previous Pixar so it's harder to enjoy at my age. I would rather watch another Pixar film.

Cars is one of Pixar's worst films but it can be enjoyable especially if you are a racing fan. My dad loves racing an the really enjoys this film. It's a specialist subject type film thingy. Cars is a decent enough Pixar film but it isn't as bad as that film Pixar made in 2011. Luckily that is unrelated to this particular film. Wait a second......oh noooooo....

Verdict:
6.5/10
A decent film that does have a decent moral and some great racing films. Shame about what comes next...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sonic The Hedgehog: The Movie (Kazunori Ikegami, 1996) Review

What? Confused? Yes, there is a film adaptation of Sonic The Hedgehog but, and this may surprise you, it is actually a faithful and actually pretty decent adaptation of the popular game series. Most films based on video games are usually absolutely terrible and can be considered some of the worst films of all time. Some of the worst offenders are Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter. Is an animated film better than live action when it comes to game adaptations? Let's find out.

On the island of South Island (which we can assume is in the south...somewhere), Sonic The Hedgehog (Martin Burke) is relaxing by the sea while his friend Miles 'Tails' Prower (Lainie Frasier) is testing out his new surfboard. Suddenly, an old owl called...Old Man Owl (Charles Campell) arrives on the scene in order to inform Sonic and Tails that Dr. Robotnik (Edwin Neal) has kidnapped the President and his daughter, Sara (Sacsha Biesi). Sonic and Tails intervene but are tricked by Robotnik to enter is land. There, they are accompanied by Sonic's other friend, Knuckles The Echidna (Bill Wise) but also have a run-in with Robotnik's latest and greatest invention, Metal Sonic (Gary Dehan). Now Sonic, Tails and Knuckles have to defeat Metal Sonic, return home and rescue the President and his daughter from the clutches of Robotnik.

I mentioned earlier that this is an accurate adaptation. It is. This is rare in a game adaptation as it generally tries to turn the game into a modern film. Super Mario Bros. proved that this is a bad idea by turning Bowser into a human and making Goombas seven foot tall lizards. Accurate, I know. Sonic The Hedgehog: The Movie clearly has the same characters and they act just like they do in the games (then again, this was before they were given proper personalities in Sonic Adventure). I have to give it points for making my favourite Sonic character (Metal Sonic) a badass personality and giving him a Terminator 2 style send-off.

The cast of the film (at least in the English dub) are one of the films lower points. When most people think about the cast of the film, the think of Lainie Frasier and how she gave Tails a pretty damn annoying voice and sounded too much like a girl (hilarious in hindsight if you ask me). While this is true, the voice actors for Knuckles and Robotnik are actually pretty good. Sonic sounds too much like Dee Bradley Baker (look him up) if you ask me and it just doesn't suit him...but I have to remember this was before Sonic Adventure so it's justifiable. Metal Sonic has one line in the film and I would be lying if I said it wasn't out of place. 

Overall, Sonic The Hedgehog: The Movie is one of the best adaptations of a video game to film ever. It's up there with Animal Crossing but I still have yet to see Prince Of Persia and Ace Attorney so I can't say it is the best. The voice acting may turn some people off (in that case, watch the original Japanese dub) and it even got a way with ALOT of rude moments (I pretty sure I saw an intentional middle finger in there somewhere...and Sara calls Metal Sonic a pervert...context) but it comes together as a very good film adaptation of a very good game series (expect 2004-09).

Verdict:
7.5/10
One of the best films based on a video game ever. The voice acting takes off a view points but overall, is a great film.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, 2012) Review

I lied! WHAHAHA! Big was just a trick! Here's the film you were expecting...right? I could sum up the the film right here, right now...a clue to how good it is is in the title. You know, 'amazing'. I was as reluctant as the next person when this film was announced. It was too soon, the new cast didn't look as good but I am glad I was wrong. Oh so very glad. Why? Let's find out.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), while being looked after by his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and his aunt May (Sally Field) after his parents go missing, is a nerdy highschool student as well as an accomplished photographer. While researching what happened to his parents, he discovers that his father worked with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a scientist working for Oscorp. While there, he ends up bitten by a radioactive spider. He later discovers that he has new abilities such as strength, spider sense and the ability to climb walls. Meanwhile, Connors is experimenting on a way to cross lizard DNA so that humans can regrow limbs like they do. When he tests it on him self in order to grow his arm back, it doesn't quite work as he planned and ends up becoming the ferocious Lizard.

Yes, the film does reenact certain scenes from the Sam Raini Spider-Man trilogy such as Uncle Ben's death (don't act surprised, it happens every time) which is taken to a tear jerker level. The film is much darker that the last and certain scenes like that really show the change. In contrast, some scenes are made much funnier as well. The scene where Peter discovers his new powers is just hysterical. I was laughing throughout the entire scene. The film does a great job of balancing funny scenes and sad scenes together. It's helped by the new rebooted Peter Parker. When he's Spider-Man, he is a wisecracking smartass. That is how he was in the comics and that's how he should be. That was one of my biggest complaints in the old trilogy and I am glad it's here.

The actors in this version are much better. Of course, Andrew Garfield is compared to Tobey Mcguire...he's better. Don't argue, Garfield is much better because he is more accurate to the comic. Mcguire was good but he was a better Peter Parker than he was a Spider-Man. Can't compare Emma Stone to Kirsten Dunst because they are different characters. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is the RIGHT love interest to start with which always bugged me that Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) was in the last films before her. Rhys Ifans blew me away. For someone that generally does British comedies, he really pulled through as Connors and creates an excellent Jekyll and Hyde character (better than Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man). Martin Sheen does an excellent job as Uncle Ben and greats a much more developed character who you actually feel remorse for when he dies. While I didn't think Sally Field would make a good Aunt May, he surprised me and is a really sincere character. It's the little things. Captain George Stacy's (Dennis Leary) best quality is his rivalry with Spider-Man and you can feel the tension when he's talking with Peter. There's some great acting involved in this film and it's much better than the last...and there's no J. Jonah Jameson. Sad, I know. I guess if I had ONE major issue that stops in from being truly amazing is that the world is way small. It's full of coincidences and moments of 'just so happens'. Hopefully the sequels will expand the world...and maybe so J.J. Jameson, huh?

The Amazing Spider-Man is a much improved reboot of the last trilogy. Many people say it wasn't needed but I disagree. It improves all the problems with the last film and the new cast is fantastic. The writing is a lot less silly and it's more believable...except one small detail: would a nerdy highschool student like Peter use Bing? No...he wouldn't. Bad product placment. When the worst part of the film is the search engine the protagonist is using, I'd say that this is a damn good film. It also features hands down the best Stan Lee cameo to date. These details are important. The Amazing Spider-Man is everything the last films should have been!

Verdict:
7.5/10
A well needed reboot. I'm impressed one film can be more enjoyable than a whole trilogy.