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Posted on 6/19/14 06:33 PM
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a different film than its predecessor which is a good thing. Sequels should bring new things to the table and never try and imitate the first film too much. With that said, this sequel doesn't do much with the new material and what we get is an average final product. Spoilers ahead.
So let's get started. The first issue is with the poorly executed story. Many events that happen feel rushed and certain action scenes and reveals are given hardly any room to develop. Before we know it there is this huge war that seems to have come out of nowhere. The politics behind the battle aren't even interesting (due to lack of development) so I found it difficult to care.
The villain is about a cliche as can be. Evil name, scars, creepy voice, dark appearance, he has it all. Aside from that, the dude is just boring. I felt that his backstory was lazily executed and his motivation weak.
Minor characters are given even worse treatment, offering some terrible humor. All of Hiccup's companions mostly take part in a strange love battle and that's about it. What we knew from them in the first film is forgotten about; it's as if the director didn't care about them but had to find some use for them.
Stoick... where to begin with this guy. I feel as if I don't know him as a character at all, probably because he hasn't changed much. In the first film he was mostly an antagonist and it still feels that way in the sequel. The dude is just unlikable, even with that singing scene which was a clear attempt to backpedal and give the guy some redeeming features. So when he died, I wasn't sad even with the director trying so desperately to make it emotional. Not nearly on the same level as Mufasa's death, or even Barbados from Antz.
There are some really annoying plot conveniences and I will discuss the one I dislike the most: the baby dragons. So the Alpha can control all dragons but the baby ones. Hiccup says that's because babies don't listen. So if they don't listen, how are you even riding them? It's clear that the writer was stumped on how the hell Hiccup was going to save the day, so what we get is a really pathetic and silly plot convenience.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 tries to be different but fails. I wish the story would have flowed better and that certain characters had more development. The film had potential with all the right ideas, but the execution of those ideas did not work well.
Posted on 6/15/14 07:33 PM
The film started off good showing Belfort build his empire from the bottom, thought that was interesting. Then once he's successful (30 minutes in the film?) it's nothing but two hours of nonstop sex, drugs, violence, and so on. I don't have a problem with this content, but it doesn't do much to move the story along. We get it, they like the party, but must it take so long to get the point across?
I know it's sacrilege to say this, but Michael Bay got it right in Pain & Gain. Another film with lots of sex, drugs, and partying, but it moves the story along more efficiently. For example, when Paul Doyle (the Rock) gets addicted to drugs, he loses all his money which then causes the group to execute another illegal operation. It advances the story and presents us with another conflict.
In The Wolf of Wall Street, there's really no major conflict. The FBI is involved but it feels too much in the background as Scorsese wants all the partying to be the main focus. This then makes the climax feel rushed (if that silly boat scene was the climax). Although, I did like Jordan going undercover and found those parts to be interesting.
Seeing more of the inner workings of the corrupt side of the business would have been nice, but what we get is way too brief. Another issue is that all the characters lack depth, maybe aside from Belfort. It's not that they are unlikable, but that they are uninteresting and don't change throughout the film. Everyone is boring as hell.
There's no substance to the film and overall it's a waste of time. I wanted a story with better conflicts and stronger character development, not a bunch of endless nonsense that really equates to nothing. All the partying isn't even related to the corruption of his business and the FBI involvement, which is where the focus should have been. "We're coming after you because you party too hard!" Also, how about showing us the victims of Belfort's operations, showing us more of what he did? The film doesn't know what it wants to be. A big pointless party? Or a crime film like we somewhat got in the last 30 minutes or so? The latter would have been nice, but instead we mostly get nonsense.
Posted on 4/06/14 10:39 PM
We live in the age of superhero films and recently I've been getting kind of tired of them. Fortunately, Captain America: The Winter Soldier presents us with something new. It changes up the typical formula in superhero films by not being so obvious with who the villains are and where the story is going. It's exciting, complex, and fueled by excellent action scenes and unexpected twists. One of the best comic book films I've seen and also a great film in general.
The best thing about The Winter Soldier is that it's unpredictable. In many superhero films a bad guy shows up, destroys things with some lame motivation, and you just know the hero will beat the villain in the end. This film brings a new dynamic. Who can we trust? What is really going on with the conflict? Things are more mysterious and it keeps us guessing. There's no obvious villain who shows up and says: "I'm here just to blow things up and irritate you!" Which is really what happens more often than not.
So let's talk about one of the villains known as the Winter Soldier. He has a great design and he poses a threat. He's also a character with a lot of mystery around him and it builds up to an excellent twist; there were many gasps when his identity was revealed. It's a lot better and more interesting than other twists I've seen in some recent comic book movies. Anyway, he adds more depth to the film and makes it more emotional and personal for Cap. It's one of the best ways I've seen a villain handled.
Well, on to the action scenes. In The Winter Soldier they are mostly fine. I did get annoyed with soldiers not shooting at the Captain's feet, which they could have done in a few situations. I was also bothered by the shaky camera at times, but it never gets to the point of being incoherent. With that said, Captain America fighting others is a thrill to watch and we really see him at his full potential in this film. I think there is a very good balance between CGI and well-choreographed, grounded action.
The film knows when to use humor but it also handles the serious/intense scenes very well. I always get annoyed with the superhero genre trying to be overly serious by being extremely dark. The genre itself is silly and I think things work better when you know how to have a little fun. The Winter Soldier has some very intense dramatic scenes and I'd say it is one of the darker Marvel films, but it also knows that at the end of the day it's a superhero film; it never gets to the point of being pretentious.
That's about all I have to say. If you are looking for a solid film that is thrilling, unpredictable, and emotional, check this one out. It takes the risk of trying new things and it pays off, making the film all the more better. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a recent highpoint in the superhero genre and it will be tough to top.
Posted on 12/11/13 04:38 PM
Adaptation is one of the most intelligent and original films I've ever seen. Charlie Kaufman did a fantastic job with the script and it makes the audience think; this is something that not a lot of films do. All the acting is great especially by Nicolas Cage who convincingly portrays two people. I really liked the main character, Charlie, who is someone we can relate to. This is a film that leaves a lasting impact not only because it's so unique, but because of how emotionally powerful it is. One of my favorites.
Posted on 12/11/13 04:38 PM
A very interesting look into the life of street art. The film focuses on Thierry Guetta's life as a filmer and later as an "artist" under than Mr. Brainwash. He's able to achieve success with his art even though he lacks talent and it's funny (and also ridiculous) how he pulls it off. Some of the events in the film are outlandish and there has been speculation on if this is a true story or not. It's still an entertaining documentary with a good message that resonates most with artists.
Posted on 12/11/13 04:38 PM
Just a typical coming of age indie flick. It's got some great acting but the film lacks focus; it jumps around between too many conflicts without really having a story. There's also has an abrupt ending making it unsatisfying. With that said, I was never bored when watching the film probably due to the strong characterization. Nothing groundbreaking, worth watching, but it follows the same formula as most indie movies.
Posted on 10/15/13 10:12 AM
Gorgeous, intense, but lacking substance. Gravity suffers from a weak story and uninteresting characters and instead relies heavily on visuals. Well, luckily the visuals are great and it really feels like you're in space which makes it all the more terrifying.
Gravity felt very similar to the film 2012 where the main character just barely escapes from multiple catastrophic events in the nick of time... and that's basically the story. Apparently Gravity is a film that is only really good if you see it on the big screen. I think it should stand on its own no matter where you see it and that's not going to happen if your story and characters are forgettable. Don't get me wrong, it is a thrilling film in the sense that Space Mountain is a thrilling ride. I swear, so many people are like: "Ermahgerd! Gravity is like the bestest movie ever!" but in reality, to me, it felt like a typical blockbuster film.
I'd say a big problem with Gravity is George Clooney. He plays the same character he always does and delivers some very corny lines. He's really not a character at all and instead a cliche. Bullock does fine in her role though but overall her character isn't strong enough. There are attempts to add depth but they come off as forced and it doesn't really work. The film really gives you no reason to root for her thus making it difficult to get fully involved.
But Cauron makes sure that you are involved by using his visuals. Damn, I'll say it again, he really makes it feel like space (for the most part, apparently there are some huge scientific inaccuracies but that's a different story). To me it felt like I was up there with the astronauts experiencing space myself. It's an impressively shot film. But while nice to look at, after awhile it starts getting silly watching Ryan Stone survive so many over the top situations (she must have had God-mode enabled). It's an average thriller film, nothing too special.
So see it in theaters if you want, it's pretty cool. I'm really not that compelled to see it again. No characters grabbed me emotionally, there's really no story, which makes it a nearly forgettable film.
Posted on 8/27/13 10:04 AM
The World's End turned out to be an alright film but definitely not as good as anticipated. The entire concept just isn't funny and I found it ridiculous that hundreds of robots/blanks couldn't easily take out the main characters. This is mostly due to them being easy to kill which is another annoyance. There's also a few moments where characters will appear in places they need to be without actually showing how they got there (because in reality the robots would have seen them). So yeah, the sci-fi ruined the film even if it was meant to be used at a joke. It gives the film a B-movie quality and if it weren't for the nice visuals I would have guessed it to be a Syfy film.
There are some funny moments that made me laugh but there's definitely not enough humor to compensate for the film's weaknesses. It's not that the humor is too "smart" for me or that I don't understand British humor; I just didn't care for most of it. Now I'm not saying that I only like crude humor (I love Shaun of the Dead so don't think I'm against these films); I like funny humor, and there's not much of that in The World's End.
The best part of this film are the characters. They have depth and there's plenty of conflict between them. I think Gary King is a person that many people will be able to relate to in one way or another. Living in the past/not wanting to grow up is something that many deal with.
Well, that's about it. Not too funny, slightly entertaining, great characters, and stupid robots. I've really enjoyed Edgar Wright's films but The World's End doesn't deliver. Had there been a better concept instead of the robots I'm sure I would have liked it more. The ending also could have been improved. All in all, it's just a mediocre comedy.
Posted on 6/17/13 12:34 AM
Don't be fooled by how old this film is, it still holds up today. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is one of my all time favorites, and rightly so. It has amazing acting and a powerful story.
What you don't expect from this film is suspense, but to be honest, I was on the edge of my seat. Everything builds up to a certain point; tensions rise as the narrative reaches the end. It's mostly due to McMurphy (Nicholson) going back and forth with Nurse Ratchet (Fletcher). Sometimes the things that happen are funny, sometimes brutal. Each actor plays their role perfectly and it really brings the film to life.
I was surprised at how good this film is. It definitely is better than most of the crap released nowadays, and it should be viewed by everyone.
Posted on 6/09/13 10:36 AM
Peter Jackson's return to the world of Tolkien is rather weak. At first I was against the idea of such a small book being made into a trilogy. I still am. Many say not to compare this film to the far superior "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Well, it's hard not to considering Jackson has tried so hard to recreate the style of the original films because that's what the audience wants. But he fails big time.
The bizarre, unfunny, slapstick humor is painful. This involves snot jokes, burping, poop hair, and lame one-liners. Don't give me the "it's based on a children's book" crap. Sure, the source material was written for children but I'm talking about the movie. Adding all this stupid humor really messes with the tone; it doesn't feel like it belongs in the LOTR universe which "The Hobbit" is trying so hard replicate. The film will go from trying to be epic to pathetic gags. It doesn't work. I don't mind a little humor occasionally but this is just overdone and it makes the film feel very unbalanced.
Now to the pacing. Many say the beginning is slow but they're wrong. The entire film is slow! Radagast's involvement is pointless and his bunny sled is ridiculous. We also get to see Saruman and Galadriel in a boring scene that has absolutely no relevance to the main narrative. Wait, what exactly is "The Hobbit" about again? Apparently Jackson is trying to make connections with LOTR, but "Fellowship of the Ring" already explains past events pretty well. Seriously, all the LOTR fanboy pleasing scenes could have been left out (including Frodo). But no, we need them in order to have enough material for the trilogy. Not good.
And I understand that Jackson is taking material from the appendices of LOTR. I wouldn't have a problem with this if all these extra scenes actually advanced the plot. But the White Council just talks and they never decide to act on anything. Also, that scene has NOTHING to do with the dwarves reclaiming their homeland. At least in "Fellowship" the plot makes major advancements but in "The Hobbit" the story hardly goes anywhere.
Let's discuss the action. It's like watching a video game. The main orc villain, Azog, looks fake. Everything is CGI overload; there's no tension. Characters survive unbelievable situations. Compare the ending orc scene in this film to the one in "Fellowship." Huge difference. Unfortunately everything in "The Hobbit" is cartoonish. Not to mention most of the action has no impact on the story whatsoever.
Now to the characters. Gandalf is great but that is to be expected. Martin Freeman does fine as Bilbo but his transition from weakling to hero happens a little too quickly and feels unrealistic. Thorin is your typical warrior like character; I didn't care for him too much. Bifur is probably my favorite of all the dwarves (hold on, I just Googled his name and realized I got the wrong one, his name is BOFUR, my bad). All the other dwarves are just there and if you were to ask me to name them and describe something about their character, I couldn't do it. And I'm sure you couldn't either.
But the film does have some good. We get to see Smeagol and Bilbo interact in an iconic scene. The finding of the Ring is also significant and is really the only scene that should have any connection with LOTR unlike Galadriel, Frodo, etc. And that's about it. Honestly, nothing really happens. While watching "The Hobbit" you kind of forget about the main adventure because of all the padding. Then at the end you're like, "Oh yeah, there's a dragon." Maybe the second film will improve.
It's such a shame that "The Hobbit" ended up being a drawn-out, bloated, boring mess that lacks compelling characters and an engaging story. I really wanted to love it but it's hard not to ignore the many problems. I couldn't wait to return to Middle-earth but now I'm not sure if I want to go back to this new cartoon version. Hopefully improvements will be made in the sequels but after witnessing this my hopes aren't too high. All these years of anticipation and this is what we get...