Teetering On ‘The Pacific Rim’

Teetering On ‘The Pacific Rim’

I don’t know why I have to sell anyone on this. That might be a bad way to start a review, but I feel compelled to say it because of certain iso-metric priests/assholes that have been proclaiming that the comedic cesspool known as ‘Grown-Ups 2′ has been tracking higher than this monster/robot mash-up and that’s just plain unacceptable. Hell, maybe that was a ploy from ‘The Pacific Rim’ team to mobilize their Neon Gensis Evangelion base. It’s a decent strategy if it is. Regardless, it’s a movie you should definitely see this weekend. See it in 3D even if it is a post convert (Not natively shot in 3D for the laymen and women). There’s still a great 3D groove to it. [Read more…]

Review: Wreck it Ralph

Review: Wreck it Ralph

Some of my fondest memories growing up are the times I spent at the local arcade. Hours upon hours shooting skeeballs, and wasted quarters in everything from The Simpsons Arcade Machine to Operation Wolf. Arcades, like many things, are unfortunately a thing of the past. So, when the trailers for “Wreck it Ralph” came out, I was ready to ride the nostalgia roller coaster to whatever story Walt Disney Animation Studios had cooked up for me.

Wreck it Ralph, much like Toy Story, starts with the idea that the characters in Arcade Machines have a life beyond being games people play with. Upon their creation, the characters in the game are there to do the task they were programmed to do, and when the arcade closes, they are free to fraternize, and even grab a beer in the Arcade Game “Tapped” (a beer pouring video game). Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, is the “bad guy,” in a game called Fix it Felix Jr. Ralph wrecks the residential high rise, and the player, controls Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer), to, “fix” the high rise, and eventually toss Ralph off the top floor of the complex.

[Read more…]

DVD Review: Tron: Legacy

When ‘Tron’ came out from Walt Disney Productions in 1982, must have been quite a sight. Mixing computer generated effects with live action in the scale of the first ‘Tron’ was a major step forward in the types of effects that are quite common place these days.

Does ‘Tron: Legacy’ live up to this standard? As far as anything mind blowing effects wise, I’d say we’ve seen what is at work here before. However, where Tron: Legacy excels is the same way Avatar did, it creates a world that feels very real, and pulls us, the audience in.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ‘Tron: Legacy’ is the continued story of ‘Tron,’ and focuses primarily on the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund).

Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron disappeared one night working late at his office, leaving Sam to grow up an orphan, but, also the largest single stock holder for ENCOM, his fathers company. Using his resources, he maintains his fathers legacy, but disrupting and causing trouble to make sure things at the company stay the way his father would have wanted him.

His fathers friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxletiner) comes to Sam to tell him that he received a mysterious page from the old arcade, where his fathers office was. Sam goes to investigate, and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the world his father always spoke of creating. The Grid is in major disarray, and his father, trapped by Clu 2, essentially a clone of Kevin.

If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. The film does a great job of making the story accessible to all ages (the PG rating helps as well). Also, do no not fret if you haven’t seen the original (or even if its been years). I think the last time I saw the original Tron I was in grammar school, but I was totally attune to what was going on.

The style and production design here is stellar. From the costumes and make up, the architecture of the world. Everything feels real, shots are composed at stark level angles, and the world just broods.

3D doesn’t always work for me, while it worked in ‘Avatar,’ it didn’t in ‘Piranha 3D,’ well the 3D here is great. Much of the real world is in 2D, and things only gain depth once you enter The Grid. I applaud that decision, much like in ‘Wizard of Oz’ when things only are in color in Oz, it separates the two worlds very well.

The music is composed by French duo Daft Punk, and fits the world to the T. I’d listened to the soundtrack prior to the film, but hearing it again in the context of the film was much better.

Garret Hedlund is entertaining and fit for the part of Sam, but the character I really fell in love with was Quora (Olivia Wilde). Wilde has been a favorite of mine for a while, and this film will only push her more into the limelight. She’s more then just a pretty face, Wilde has talent, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Bridges, and seeing him play both a young version of himself (thanks to fancy CG work), and today, was stellar.

The pacing of the film towards the middle was a bit slow, and action sequences were spread out. But this didn’t hurt any part of the enjoyment for me. At its core, this is a fun sci-fi adventure that is great entertainment.

Review: Tron: Legacy

Review: Tron: Legacy

When ‘Tron’ came out from Walt Disney Productions in 1982, must have been quite a sight. Mixing computer generated effects with live action in the scale of the first ‘Tron’ was a major step forward in the types of effects that are quite common place these days.

Does ‘Tron: Legacy’ live up to this standard? As far as anything mind blowing effects wise, I’d say we’ve seen what is at work here before. However, where Tron: Legacy excels is the same way Avatar did, it creates a world that feels very real, and pulls us, the audience in.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, ‘Tron: Legacy’ is the continued story of ‘Tron,’ and focuses primarily on the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund).

Kevin Flynn, the creator of Tron disappeared one night working late at his office, leaving Sam to grow up an orphan, but, also the largest single stock holder for ENCOM, his fathers company. Using his resources, he maintains his fathers legacy, but disrupting and causing trouble to make sure things at the company stay the way his father would have wanted him.

His fathers friend, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxletiner) comes to Sam to tell him that he received a mysterious page from the old arcade, where his fathers office was. Sam goes to investigate, and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the world his father always spoke of creating. The Grid is in major disarray, and his father, trapped by Clu 2, essentially a clone of Kevin.

If that sounds complicated, it really isn’t. The film does a great job of making the story accessible to all ages (the PG rating helps as well). Also, do no not fret if you haven’t seen the original (or even if its been years). I think the last time I saw the original Tron I was in grammar school, but I was totally attune to what was going on.

The style and production design here is stellar. From the costumes and make up, the architecture of the world. Everything feels real, shots are composed at stark level angles, and the world just broods.

3D doesn’t always work for me, while it worked in ‘Avatar,’ it didn’t in ‘Piranha 3D,’ well the 3D here is great. Much of the real world is in 2D, and things only gain depth once you enter The Grid. I applaud that decision, much like in ‘Wizard of Oz’ when things only are in color in Oz, it separates the two worlds very well.

The music is composed by French duo Daft Punk, and fits the world to the T. I’d listened to the soundtrack prior to the film, but hearing it again in the context of the film was much better.

Garret Hedlund is entertaining and fit for the part of Sam, but the character I really fell in love with was Quora (Olivia Wilde). Wilde has been a favorite of mine for a while, and this film will only push her more into the limelight. She’s more then just a pretty face, Wilde has talent, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of it. Also, I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Bridges, and seeing him play both a young version of himself (thanks to fancy CG work), and today, was stellar.

The pacing of the film towards the middle was a bit slow, and action sequences were spread out. But this didn’t hurt any part of the enjoyment for me. At its core, this is a fun sci-fi adventure that is great entertainment. Tron: Legacy is a film that can equally be enjoyed by young and old, and definitely a summer popcorn popping blockbuster in the midst of the winter season.

Review: Clash of the Titans

Review: Clash of the Titans

It’s sometimes hard to be a fan of big movies.  In many cases, you end up being an apologist for popcorn flicks when you say things like, “It’s ok to turn your brain off and enjoy the flashing pictures for 2 hours.”  You not only sound like an idiot who’s cool with letting the light behind your eyes dim while stale popcorn grease slowly dribbles down your chin, but you’re also extending a nacho salt-crusted hand to others, inviting them dim their watts down to 30 and let the airhead shenanigans unfold before them as well.  But the fact of the matter is: fun movies are fun!  And part of what makes some films great is that they’re just fucking entertaining.  There’s no call to dissect scenes, motivations, camera angles, lighting, whatever.  There are just fun conversations like, “That thing got blowed up real good!”  So yeah, big movies can be fun, despite their albatross of supposedly pandering to the mindless.  Unfortunately, every time we apologists take a step forward with a film like Iron Man, Hollywood knocks us back a few paces with films like Clash of the Titans.

I’m not one to throw around the phrase “cash grab”, but after dropping my 3D glasses into the recycle bin outside of the theater hosting Clash, I can’t think of any other reason that this film exists than to grab my cash.  For those living under an Olympus-sized rock, Clash of the Titans is a remake of a Harry Hamlin film that I watched in 6th grade as we younglings were learning about the Greek gods.  Sorry, let me restate that: Clash of the Titans is a bad remake of a Harry Hamlin film that I watched in 6th grade as we younglings were learning about the Greek gods.  The original Clash wasn’t a great movie by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, outside of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion work, I can’t really remember anything about that movie other than the robot owl and Harry Hamlin in a toga.  So my ire for this Clash doesn’t stem from some sort of soft spot for the original, kind of a “how dare you touch this holy grail of a movie!”  No, my ire for this movie comes from the fact that the producers, and probably through trickle-down effect, the director and writers, think we the audience are total, complete idiots who will gladly fork over $13 grubby dollars to watch this in poorly rendered 3D fart on a reel.  And based on the opening weekend box office numbers, we are.  Yay?

And now, a list of evidence that Clash of the Titans is nothing but an attempt to pry dollar bills from us:

1.  Nostalgia cash-in:  This is sort of to a lesser degree as I’m not entire sure how much my generation has a soft spot for the original film, but the fact of the matter is, it fits the criteria for cashing in on our nostalgia for that magical bygone era known as “The 1980s.”  At this point, it’s a proven cash-in technique, thanks to films like Transformers, which proved that my generation is willing to get excited over the idea of something that we loved as a child is worth revisiting as an adult.  That movie really kind of did us in and we probably have it to thank for GI Joe, the upcoming A-Team movie, and Clash of the Titans.  Personally, I think I’m sort of tired of having my nostalgia played like that.  But I’m also fairly sure that I’m going to watch The A-Team.  My guess is I’ll be watching it wearily.

2.  Harry Potter-mania cash-in:  Harry Potter proved that people are willing to sit in theaters and watch movies that involve big action pieces surrounded with magic and magicians and such.  And who were more magical than the Greek gods?  The original magicians, the tricksters, a lightning bolt up your ass Zeus!  If it’s remotely magical, studios are pretty confident that a large audience will be entranced.

3.  It’s in 3D! cash-in:  Oy.  How Avatar has ruined things for us.  By now it’s relatively well documented that Clash of the Titans was a last minute rush job to convert what was supposed to be a 2D film into 3D.  The hasty work show:  people look like cardboard cutouts floating on the scenes, faces float off of bodies, and scenes are blurry and not at all blocked for a 3D representation.  I agree that a film like Clash of the Titans, with its big scorpions, swords pointing, debris flying, Gorgons slithering, could have been tailor made for an epic 3D event.  But director Louis Leterrier didn’t tailor make it for an epic 3D event.  I attended this movie with someone who had never seen a 3D movie before and was excited at the prospect.  You want to talk about being an apologist?  Try walking out of Clash of the Titans explaining how Beowulf was actually pretty good with the 3D stuff, even if it wasn’t that great of a movie to watch.  Yikes.

So yeah, the studio was clearly all about pulling your strings to get you to decide to spend $13 to see this movie instead of using those $13 for better things, like buying $13 worth of Nerds, having a Nerds-eating contest with yourself in your bedroom alone, and then throwing up $13 worth of Nerds for 3 hours, staring at the pink-brown mess accumulating in your toilet bowl while the sugar headache that is slowly pressing your left eyeball from behind gets more and more aggressive.  If their god-like trickery fooled you mortals into putting on the stylish 3D glasses, here’s what you got:

A bad, pretty action-less movie that has zero story, zero character development, and zero pacing.  The bland Sam Worthington dully plays Perseus, a boring fisherman whose family is killed by Hades, and so he somehow sort of becomes a unexciting leader of this army that he leads to, you know, clash.  With the Titans.  Except that he never actually clashes with Titans.  I think he sees Hades face-to-face twice but just sort of looks at him while Hades talks, he meets Zeus a few times but they just kind of rap with one another, the army sort of battles with these big scorpions  but that’s pretty quick and they mostly run from the danger, and for all of its hype surrounding the Kraken being released, the biggest thing that happens in the

The Kraken is pissed and is totally getting a new agent.

film with the Kraken is that it shows up.  I mean, it’s a solid 2 or 3 minutes of the Kraken arriving, so that’s

sort of action packed.  And long.  Sort of like watching a Suburban coming down the street and then parallel parking in Boston.  But man, talk about a let down.  For Christ’s sake, the Kraken was part of the film’s tagline until the studio decided to change it to “The Clash Begins in 3D!”  Maybe they did this because they knew the Kraken was quite possibly the film’s biggest non-event, so they decided to sell the movie on it being a Magic Eye that doesn’t work.  The poor Kraken.  It really needs to have a proper screen representation.  It almost had it in Pirates of the Caribbean, but writers Rossi and Elliot literally wrote its death off screen and had it just found lying dead on the beach and sort of explained away.  Now it gets this death, which I won’t spoil for you as Clash of the Titans does a good enough of job of spoiling it for you on its own.

I think I’m incredulous about Clash of the Titans because, for all of the self-made bigness surrounding it, it was clearly a bad movie that knew it was a cash grab and used a last-minute 3D conversion to horribly cloak its banal-ness.  The movie was propped up by sure-fire elements of a summer blockbuster, but rested on that, hanging the flimsiest of a story on its tent pole so that it was one minor step above watching a 2-hour reel of B footage action sequences that are usually found under the editor’s shoes.  Movies like this give the legitimately good, fun, mindless summer blockbusters a bad name, knocking us apologists back into our darkened rooms where we can unashamedly love our Terminator 2s without scorn.  Clash of the Titans is a wasted opportunity for a fun action movie involving gods, demi-gods, and man.  Even if the writers decided to ignore the amazingly rich and plentiful soil of stories that the Greeks spent hundreds of years writing to the point where it is one of the three most referenced pieces of literature (and they did ignore them), at least have the gods do something!  Nope, they just show up for about 5 minutes and don’t really set things in motion.  The only real godlike thing Zeus does is hook Perseus up with a chick that was dead.  A wasted opportunity.  You suck, Clash of the Titans.

Vatche Reviews: Avatar

Vatche Reviews: Avatar

AvatarHaving been forced to wait over a week to see it, it’s been hard for me not to be influenced by what other people had to say about it. Universally, the consensus from my peers has been, see this movie.Now.Up until then, I’d avoided every single piece of promotional information, review, and no opinion greater then 140 characters. A daunting task considering ‘Avatar’ is probably the most hyped movie since the new Star Wars trilogy.

So what did I think? (Note: I seriously recommend you just see the movie and not read this review, I’ll try to keep the detail to a minimum)

‘Avatar’ tells the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former Marine who lost his legs in the line of duty, and his adventures on Pandora, a world that takes six years to travel to from a [what is suggested to be] a dying Earth. Jake is taking the place of his dead Brother, who had trained to control through a “mind-connection” a genetically engineered Na’vi, the 10-foot tall blue indigenous population of Pandora. With little training, and a lot to prove, Jake takes on this task with one thing in mind, to prove everyone wrong.

Which he does, by earning the trust of the Na’vi, through Neyti (Zoe Saldana). The Na’vi decide to train this foreign warrior in their ways. The humans looking to take over Pandora to mine it for their own personal gain see this as an opportunity to learn what the Na’vi want in exchange for allowing the Humans to mine for their ore. Others, like the hardass Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephene Lang) see this as an opportunity to learn the weakness of the Na’vi, and exploit it if they need to.

James Cameron has fully succeeded in creating a world that feels incredibly real, a culture of creatures that make you question whether or not what you are looking at is actually CG. The detail in the Na’vi down to their teeth made me wonder how long it must have taken to individually animate each one of these characters. The detail in everything, from the moss on the trees, to the individual pieces of splintered wood, this movie looked amazing. The CGI at work here is leaps and bounds beyond anything we’ve seen in the past decade, and its ironic that it comes at the end of it.

The story is essentially Pocahantas, Dances with Wolves, and Fern Gully all tied in-together, but honestly, I have no qualms with that. Cameron makes you so familiar with the world you are in, that you buy all of it. Performances were as good as they could have been all around. Sam Worthington is excellent, say what you will about this guy, I dig him, he was the best part of Terminator: Salvation, and he shines here.

All-in-all, I loved this movie, right down to its very core. So in short, what is ‘Avatar?’ It’s a journey, an enjoyable one, and a journey I recommend everyone to embark on. And please. Only in IMAX 3D.

Review: Avatar

Review: Avatar

ENT HOLIDAY FILMS

With the pre-release rumblings and talk before the release of James Cameron’s latest movie, it’s hard not to walk into “Avatar” without having some thoughts about what you are about to watch. [Read more…]

‘Dawn of the Dead’ in 3D

‘Dawn of the Dead’ in 3D

DotDWhen there’s no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the Earth…in 3D! Now joining Tim Burton’s ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ as a standard film converted to 3D for theatrical release will be George Romero’s zombie classic, ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ This seems like somewhat of an odd choice to convert to 3D as, if memory serves, there’s nothing particularly “jump out at you” about this picture. But I tingle with excitement at the prospect of being able to see my favorite entry of the original trilogy on the big screen. And if the 3D enhances it, then all the more power to them. Still, bizarre choice.

Anyhoo, read all about it here!

Look Out! That Pirahna is 3-D!

Look Out! That Pirahna is 3-D!

pirahna.jpgJoe Dante’s 1978 classic film about flesh-eating piranhas is set to get the remake treatment, this time in 3-D.

The Weinstein Company has signed Alexandre Aja (‘The Hills Have Eyes’) to direct the film, as well as co-write the script.

Piranha 3-D will be one of the few R-rated 3-D films currently in development. Personally, I’ve never seen the original, but I’m not sure 3-D will make Piranhas any scarier. Anyone else excited about this project?

Spielberg Goes Anime

It was announced a few months ago that Leonardo DiCaprio would be adapting one of the most famous pieces of anime film, ‘Akira.’ Now, one of Hollywood’s biggest players, Steven Spielberg, is following suit, having snatched up the rights to another Japanese anime classic. Dreamworks will be adapting ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ with Jamie Moss set to adapt the story into the screenplay. The current plan for the film will be a live-action, 3-D take on the animated story.

No word yet on whether Spielberg will be involved with the picture as director. Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul have been listed as the producers.

See the whole story here!