Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Halo meets The Animatrix in legendary fashion.
On the surface, Halo Legends may seem like a stupid mistake by Microsoft and co. to bank on the popularity of Halo in the wrong way. After all, how many people are fans of anime? Prior to watching this release, I had been hearing a lot of ill talk about Halo Legends, and I was not eager to watch it. However, from the moment the stories began being told, I was instantly blown away.
Halo Legends is a collection of seven short films with six of them taking place within the canon of the Halo universe. The first story is "Origins," which takes place after the events of Halo 3. The Master Chief is still in cryosleep, and Cortana muses to him the events of the Forerunner/Flood War, and the Human/Covenant war. The second story, "The Duel," is a samurai-themed story where one elite refuses to follow the way of the Covenant and a rival Elite who wishes to challenge him. The Duel is one of the most visually unique of the collection at hand in Halo Legends, as it is constructed in the fashion of a Japanese watercolour painting. The third story, "Homecoming," exposes the hidden scars of a Spartan-II that were left in their psyche when they were abducted and forced to train at a young age. The fourth story, "Odd One Out," is a short that definitely feels like an out of place film for this collection. Instead of having a serious tone like all other Halo tales, this story has a heavy humorous tone. This tale focuses on Spartan-1337 who has a severe ego and terribly bad luck. He's basically the Bizarro-Master Chief. Odd One Out starts off with Spartan-1337 falling out of a Pelican Dropship, and must face a genetically modified Brute. The story is over-the-top, slapstick, and is similar to Dragon Ball Z. Thankfully, they decided to consider this tale non-canon, so just enjoy the craziness for what it is. Next up is "Prototype," which shows the story of another Human world falling to the Covenant, but not before a broken marine Sergeant named Ghost, makes a final stand to save the lives of his comrades by using a heavy armour suit that could go toe-to-toe with Iron Man. The second last film, "The Babysitter," tells the episode of four Orbital Drop Shock Troopers and Spartan Cal-141, who are tasked with going deep undercover into a Covenant occupied world to assassinate a Prophet. Finally, "The Package," is a CG-action flick that features five Spartans; John-117/Master Chief, Frederic-104, Kelly-087, Arthur-079 and Solomon-069, who must infiltrate a Covenant fleet and rescue Dr. Catherine Halsey. All of these short films kick ass, and the final three especially are filled with tons of action. The Package though, is the one that will definitely interest the most of the Halo Nation out there.
The score is all Halo baby, and it never seems out of place. Each tale at each moment, whether it is high-octane action or the terrible feeling of losing someone close to you in war, all works perfectly well with the signature Halo music that has been heard again and again over the years.
Halo virgins will surely have a tough time grasping the material that is at display in this collection. And even if you have only played the Halo games, don't expect it to be just like the Halo games. There are very different art styles in each short film from some of the best anime artists out there, so if you don't like anime, then consider yourself warned. Also, it is too bad that these stories aren't longer. I wanted to learn more about these characters and their experiences throughout the Human/Covenant War, and 5 to 20 minutes is not enough to get me to realize their importance in the Halo universe.
The Bottom Line:
Halo Legends is one of the best anime film collections I have ever seen, and because of this accomplishment, Halo has put its foot in another type of entertainment to expand the ongoing saga. Everything here is beautifully written and drawn, and it is worth checking out by those who have the mindset to grasp the material and style.
"You're just jealous, because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!" - The Penguin [to Batman]
A darker film than its predecessor, but Batman Returns also comes with absurdity and the signalling of the fall of the original Batman film series.
The Joker's reign of terror in Gotham City has ended thanks to the caped crusader known as Batman (Michael Keaton). Gotham, still a corrupt and crime filled city, is getting prepared to celebrate the Christmas season. But this is not going to be a holiday season filled with happiness. The Red Triangle Gang, secretly led by the criminal known as The Penguin (Danny DeVito), begins a new reign of terror in Gotham City on the night the city begins to officially start its Christmas celebration. Batman returns to the streets to bring justice and deal with The Red Triangle Gang. But Batman also has others foes to deal with now. Business Tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) has publicly allied himself with the Penguin and is pushing the Penguin to run for mayor so that Shreck will have more political power in the city. In addition to this alliance, a femme fatale has sprung up in Gotham City. Her name is Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), a woman who transformed herself into the being that was the only thing that made her happy and at peace in life. While donning the costume, Catwoman steals, creates destruction, and brutally beats people to a pulp with her bare hands to satisfy herself in the world that has treated her unfairly. Despite being outnumbered, Batman is not afraid to stop these faces of evil and will go to great lengths to bring the criminals and the corrupt to justice.
The first Batman film directed by Tim Burton was a critical and box office success, and it still remains a classic of the superhero film genre. Batman Returns has Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, Michael Gough, and Pat Hingle reprising their positions and roles. Batman Returns also features two villains this time and it had all the elements necessary that could have made it a sequel superior to its predecessor. Sadly it doesn't, but it is still an enjoyable film to an extent. Most people blame Joel Schumacher for the downfall of the original Batman film franchise. But the real person who started the downfall of the series was Tim Burton. The reason why this film didn't have the same success as its predecessor is not because it was darker, but it was because of the fact that there wasn't enough screen time given to all the characters, there wasn't enough Batman, and the stupidity bar was raised (i.e. an army of penguins). Tim Burton had the right idea in the first one, but his film style and storytelling got the best of him in this sequel and the director has never since directed any film as professionally as the first Batman film - in my opinion.
Michael Keaton, one of the greatest actors to ever play Batman, still looks like a bad ass in Batman Returns. Yes, Batman kicks ass all over the street of Gotham. He drives the Batmobile and a Bat-watercraft. And he has a relationship with Catwoman instead of Vicki Vale in this go-around. But what was missing from this character this time was ample dialogue. The character doesn't have the same level of complex dialogue like what was seen in the first Batman film. The Dark Knight was still entertaining to see in this film, but the character was missing that necessary dialogue and he thus felt incomplete.
Catwoman/Selina Kyle is played extremely well by Michelle Pfeiffer, and the very look of the cat-suit is one of the best ever in the comic book film genre. Selina Kyle starts of as a struggling secretary who works for Max Shreck, and when she snaps, she snaps like a mad dog. She wrecks her home, and recedes into her only element of her life that please her; a cat. Danny DeVito as the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot is also another well played villain in the history of the lore. The look of the Penguin is very similar to the look of the character in the comics, and the addition of oil gushing from his mouth is grotesque and a nice addition. The Penguin was abandoned by his parents at a very young age because they could not stand having such a deformed child in their lives. The Penguin was abandoned to the sewers beneath the Gothm Zoo, and it was there that he was companioned by penguins, and later, circus freak-shows who wanted revenge on society. And who can forget Christopher fucking Walken as Max Shreck in this movie? Walken is a pure entertaining facet and a smart casting movie for the story. But what I would have like to have seen was a bit more of a backstory to the character or a deeper reason as to why he became the man who he is in this film.
Gotham itself is much darker than it was in Tim Burton's last Batman attempt. However, at numerous times during the film, the injection of an army of penguins, giant cat faces, circus entertainers, and the like into the story, ruin the setting and makes the viewer not connect with this city that is suppose to have real criminals causing havoc and injustice. Danny Elfman returns with a slightly tweaked Batman score that is based on the score from the first Batman film. There is no music by Prince in this Batman film baby, it's all Danny Elfman!
The Bottom Line:
Too often, Batman Returns pushes for the viewer to believe in the idea of far fetched comic book villainy to be a threat to the Gotham City Police Department and to Batman. Batman Returns is a story that the character does not deserve but still has its moments to deliver some laughs and cheap thrills. Batman Returns is a movie that's safe for all, but don't expect the same level of complexity seen in modern superhero storytelling.
"But when it comes down to it, who's holding the umbrella?" - The Penguin [to Batman]
"Winged freak terrorizes? Wait'll they get a load of me." - The Joker
The first great cinematic telling of the modern Batman.
Gotham City is a city filled with criminality, violence, and corruption. The citizens of this city are haunted day and night by criminals who are not afraid to take all that a person has whether it be their possessions or their lives. Years ago in this city in an alley simply known as "Crime Alley," a boy named Bruce Wayne was leaving the movie theatre with his mother, Martha, and his father, Thomas. The family was one of the wealthiest families in the world, and they loved each other very much. It seemed that the young Bruce Wayne was going to have the perfect life and have everything he could ever want. But Crime Alley is called Crime Alley for a reason, and that was the night Bruce learned the meaning of what crime can do to one's life. A mugger appeared to the happy family, demanding all of their money and jewellery. Thomas Wayne gave the man his wallet but wouldn't let the mugger take anything from his wife or son. The result of his vigilance to crime led to both him and Martha being shot to death right in front of Bruce's eyes. The mugger left the boy all alone in the cold, dark alley with his the two dead bodies of the people he loved. But at that very moment, Bruce Wayne became something more than anyone would ever be. He pledged to do all that he could so that this act of cruelty would never happen again in anybody's life in Gotham City ever again. Bruce Wayne spent the next two decades training his body to its physical and mental peak. His vast wealth allowed him to use the most advanced technology on the planet to create a war room in an underground bat cave below his mansion; a supercomputer that would assist him in his detective work; vehicles that would allow him to traverse any terrain; and a suit that would strike fear into the heart of criminality. An omen gave him the image of a bat to use in his crusade against Gotham City's heart of darkness. This caped crusader could not have started his mission in Gotham at a better time since a deranged and psychotic criminal mastermind known as the Joker (Jack Nicholson), has now begun a reign of terror in Gotham City. The Joker simply plans to create anarchy in Gotham in any shape or form, and he would surely love to kill everyone in town just to humour himself. But the Joker must now deal with the greatest and most fearless hero Gotham City will ever know: Batman (Michael Keaton).
Before The Dark Knight, and before Batman Begins, the best Batman film was always considered to be Batman, directed by Tim Burton. With Tim Burton directing, and Michael Keaton cast as the caped crusader, nobody expected the film to be amazing. Everyone's expectations were blown away by this dark, multi-layered, and action packed tale of the classic DC Comics superhero. Tim Burton and co. certainly had the right idea on what direction to take Batman in storytelling, and as a result, this film is an inspiring legacy. In modern times, there are numerous filmmakers who try to take a comic book character into a dark story telling setting, because the more darker the setting is, the more realistic the film can be and the more believable the character can be.
The acting for the various characters in this film is well suited for the late eighties of filmmaking. I find it unfair to compare the major characters in this film to Christopher Nolan's films because there is such a big time gap for when these films were made. Up until this film's release, Michael Keaton's best known role was as the title character in the 1988 film, Beetlejuice, and nobody was convinced that he could portray the complex character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. He proved everybody wrong by delivering a great performance as the character in his all-time best known role. Prior to Christian Bale taking over the mantle of Batman, Michael Keaton was considered to have delivered the best Batman performance to date. Another great performance in this film is done by Jack Nicholson as the psychotic clown prince of crime, the Joker. Again, comparing Jack Nicholson's Joker to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is like comparing apples and oranges. They are two different, but awesome, performances from two different time periods of the superhero film genre. Suffice to say, Jack Nicholson's Joker is classic, and you truly get the sense that this guy has been disturbed and twisted his entire life.
The supporting cast features Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, a photo journalist and Bruce Wayne's love interest; Robert Whul as Alexander Know, a news reporter and friend of Vicki Vale; Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon, a role Hingle would reprise for the next four Batman films; Billy Dee Williams (aka Lando Calrissian) as Harvey Dent, a role which Williams wanted to reprise in future Batman films so that he could portray Two-Face but the studio wouldn't allow it; and finally Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's trusted butler and a role which Gough reprised for the next four Batman films. These supporting actors do their job well in this film and they all supply good dialogue, excitement, and laughs for the viewer in this film.
The look of Gotham City is, in one word, dark. Most of the buildings are solid gray/black, and crime is at an all time high. Tim Burton's Gotham City also inspired the style of Gotham City in the Emmy Award-winning television series, Batman: The Animated Series.
The music in this film is legendary and done by Danny Elfman. The opening theme song is one of the best themes for a superhero film ever, and it feels like a war theme for Batman's war on crime. In addition to Danny Elfman's score, music artist Prince supplies many cool beats for the Joker and they suit the character well. The action scenes are very well done for the time, and Batman makes use of many of his gadgets and vehicles in the battles. The Batmobile from this film and its sequel, Batman Returns, is considered by some to be the definitive Batmobile.
This movie is a classic and it helped made Batman the dominant superhero character in movies in the 1990s. This film has many classic scenes such as the Joker seeing his face for the first time after reconstructive surgery, Bruce Wayne saying, "You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts!", the climactic battle between order and chaos at the film's end, and the many cool quotes that can still be heard in popular culture today. The film has received recognition over the years from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Golden Globes, and the American Film Institute. In AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, Michael Keaton's Batman was placed as the 46th greatest hero and Jack Nicholson's Joker was placed as the 45th greatest villain. Finally, in 2008, this film was selected as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time by Empire Magazine.
The Bottom Line:
Batman is a film that is far superior than the Adam West Batman of the 1960s and the Joel Schumacher disasters known as Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Batman, like many other superhero films, are not the as in depth or as serious as Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. Still, this film is a classic and has much in it to be enjoyed by all movie fans.
"Now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives. But remember, as my plastic surgeon always said: if you gotta go, go with a smile." - The Joker
"If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. - Klaatu
A decent remake with intriguing questions and views of humanity, but not a classical masterpiece like the original.
Numerous scientists are gathered by military personnel who explain to them that an unidentified object is going to collide with Earth in New York City's Grand Central Park. The object is moving so fast and with such precision, that it is difficult to tell if it is an asteroid, and it is nearly impossible to intercept it with a missile. However, as the objects enters Earth's atmosphere, it slows down drastically and arrives at its intended location. It is not a space rock of any sort, but it is a massive sphere emitting dazzling rays of light. Dr. Helen Bensen (Jennifer Connelly), one of the key scientists at the site, is the closest one to the orb and is the first to see an extraterrestrial lifeform emerge from it. It has a humanoid body, but its skin is unlike anything on Earth. There is mass confusion as this being is walking out of its ship, and this confusion leads to a bullet being shot at the creature. The alien collapses, and in a matter of seconds, a giant, 28 foot sentinel emerges from the massive orb, and begins to paralyze all humans and their technology in the vicinity. But the alien who is shot tells its protector to do no harm to the humans. The alien is taken to a medical facility, where it remains in stable condition and starts shedding its skin. What appears next is a fully developed male human being, but this being is not human, it is only a fake alien attempt to create a human creature of Earth so that it may survive on the planet to complete its mission. The alien, calling itself Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), states that it is here to save the planet. The U.S. government is highly untrustworthy of the creature and its giant protector, and decides to interrogate the creature for information. Klaatu states that only its body is human, that it represents a group of civilizations, and after escaping the interrogation and being befriended by Helen Bensen and her son, Jacob (Jaden Smith), Klaatu reveals that his mission involves saving the Earth, but not the human race from destruction. Humanity does not deserve to inhabit planet Earth anymore because of its reckless destruction towards themselves and the environment. Humanity must pay the price for its actions, and witness in horror that that there is nothing they can do against these alien beings but stand still and wait for the inevitable.
This film is a remake of the 1951 classic the bears the same name. Unlike the 1951 version that was about Cold War themes such as nuclear warfare, this film is updated with the issue of humanity's continued damage to the environment of planet Earth.
The film stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, who is an alien messenger in human form. People will complain extensively about Keanu Reeves in this movie because he isn't being emotional enough and is showing the same expression that he would on a movie poster. Well in my opinion, Keanu Reeves does a good job of showing me a being that knows so much of the universe and looks down on humanity as just another species that is not better than a cockroach. People must realize that this alien would be expressionless and would have no idea about love that makes humanity good. As a Keanu Reeves fan, I'm glad he got the role for this part in the movie. There is no film genre kinder to Reeves than science fiction.
Jennifer Connelly stars as Helen Bensen, an astrobiologist from Princeton University who has a son named Jacob Bensen played by Jaden Smith (aka Will Smith's son). Connelly does a good job at displaying her character on screen. Jaden Smith on the other hand, is annoying in the film and now he's going to be everywhere because his daddy can pay his way into any film. I felt the Bensen issue in the story was never convincing enough to me to have in this film and this whole part of the film should have been thought out much more thoroughly.
The real star of this film is Gort, an acronym for "Genetically Organized Robotic Technology." This giant robot is the guardian of Klaatu and only reacts when it senses violence. Klaatu and he arrive in a sphere in Grand Central Park in New York city. The Americans try extensively to destroy/understand Gort, but their efforts are useless. Gort should have been given much more screen time. Some of the best moments in the film are with this 28 foot goliath that can not be stopped by any weapon humanity wields.
The score of the film is done by Tyler Bates. Overall, it suits the film well but will not go down as a memorable musical note in film history.
The director, Scott Derrickson, directs an interesting, yet flawed, science fiction film of an apocalyptic punishment for man's continued destruction of the environment. The film is too rushed in at the starting for the arrival of the extraterrestrials. Much more mystery and suspense should have been used for their impending arrival. The special effects are done well for the film but it is nothing groundbreaking.
The Bottom Line:
If this film is going to be seen, see it on the biggest screen possible and crank up the volume. The visual effects are interesting but the family aspect and acting of the story will keep this film held back from being a memorable science fiction remake. Only consider watching it if you are a fan of science fiction.
"History has lessons to teach us about first encounters between civilizations. As a rule the less advanced civilization is either exterminated or enslaved. I'm thinking of Pizarro and the Incans, Columbus and the Native Americans, and the list goes on. Unfortunately in this case, the less advanced civilization is us." - United States Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson
"All that you know, is at an end." - The Silver Surfer
Superior than the first film of the series, but this one still has it's share of problems.
It has been two years since the diabolical Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) was stopped by the superhero team known as the Fantastic Four. The team, consisting of Dr. Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), Susan Storm aka Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm aka The Thing (Michael Chiklis), are enjoying a spotlight filled, but happy life. Reed and Sue are due to get married, Ben is living happily despite his disfiguring condition, and Johnny loves being Johnny. But all that the Fantastic Four and the world knows is about to come to an end. A herald, known as the Silver Surfer, who comes from a distance galaxy, has arrived on planet Earth and has sent a message to his master Galactus, the devourer of worlds. Once Galactus arrives, the being will devour planet Earth's energy and leave it destroyed. To stop this threat, the Fantastic Four must work with the U.S. Government and ally themselves with a highly intelligent, but dangerous man - Dr. Doom. Despite all of their resources and powers, the Fantastic Four know that they are going to need power greater than they can comprehend if the Earth is going to survive Galactus' onslaught. The Fantastic Four will witness the rise of the sentinel of the spaceways; the hero known as the Silver Surfer.
20th Century Fox thought they could have the same success with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer that they did with the first Fantastic Four film by having the same director return, Tim Story. Yes, this sequel is better than the first, but the painful mistakes that were seen in the first Fantastic Four film have been transferred over into this film, which resulted in this movie not making as much money at the box office as the first one did.
The main cast of this film has some strengths and some major weaknesses. Ioan Gruffudd is a good actor and he portrays Mr. Fantastic quite well. Jessica Alba on the other hand, delivers yet another painful performance as Susan Storm. She blew it in the first film, and she has not learned from her mistakes. Her character looks hot, but is dumb, emotionless, and weak. Chris Evans as the Human Torch is funny, but at the same time, his jokes come at inopportune times, which drag the story down. Don't get me wrong, Chris Evans is a good actor at delivering characters who are in shape, tough, and funny, but here the writing just didn't treat the character with enough respect. Michael Chiklis' Ben Grimm is good and bad at times. What this character suffers from, along with pretty much the entire cast, is bad dialogue. The amount of times The Thing says "sorry" is ridiculous. Ben Grimm is touted in the series as being an ace pilot, but the story also degrades the character by making it seem like he has no brains.
The Silver Surfer, thankfully, is portrayed pretty well in this film. The character has good dialogue, moves gracefully and swiftly thanks to Doug Jones, and has a great voice given to him by Laurence Fishburne. This character could have been better and thus made the move better if we learned more of his backstory, where his homeworld is, and more interaction between him and Galactus. I also found it lame that the army personnel, lead by General Hager (Andre Braugher), never wants to learn about this being. All they want to do is destroy him and not even try to save their planet through him.
Dr. Doom makes a return to scene and is played pathetically yet again by Julian McMahon. If Julian McMahon put more oomph into his voice and was given better dialogue, the character may have turned out not bad. Sadly, McMahon's voice just makes Dr. Doom look like a wimp and the character is never portrayed in an in-depth way. He is a two-dimensional villain who is an idiot and disregards everything else just so he can get on the Silver Surfer's board, which he doesn't have for very long. The character's costume is slightly better here than in the first film, but still needed a lot of improvement.
Another major blunder the studio did with this film was the portrayal of Galactus. The character has no personality, no dialogue, and no physical manifestation besides smoke, fire, and whatever else can go inside a tornado funnel. Galactus, a powerful and menacing cosmic giant in the Marvel comic book world, is nothing more than a cloud of smoke that is seen very rarely in the film. This movie had a decent budget ($130 million) and if it was spent wisely, perhaps Galactus could have been seen on film. Instead, we get a boring fume of smoke burned into our brains and makes the world laugh at the franchise once again.
Another blunder the writers did with another character was with the female soldier known as Captain Frankie Raye (Beau Garrett). This character appears as a nobody in the movie, but she actually becomes a notable character in the Marvel Universe someday; the character known as Nova. Nova is another wielder of the Power Cosmic, which is the power the Silver Surfer has. Frankia has no emotion and maybe 10 lines sof dialogue. Thanks again 20th Century Fox for screwing up yet again!
The film is scored well by John Ottman, once of the more competent composers in Hollywood. The special effects are pretty good and are edited with excellent detail throughout. A lot of the action scenes involving the Silver Surfer are pretty cool. The only problem with the action scenes is that when the Fantastic Four are in action, they can look stupid from time to time thanks to their constant arguing, Sue fainting for the 5000th time, and Ben Grimm saying "sorry" for the 10,000th time.
The Bottom Line:
Once again, this film is better than its predecessor, but not by a longshot. The film has many problems that will annoy most movie viewers. This film is really only recommended for fans only.
"Treasure each moment with her and tell her she's right, we do have a choice." - The Silver Surfer [to Reed Richards]