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Rating History

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim (2013)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Here's my review from my website, Haydenmears.com. Enjoy!

Easily one of the most gripping and explosive blockbusters to hit theaters in years, Pacific Rim, the latest directorial effort from Guillermo Del Toro, delivers on a visceral and emotional level, a feat that is becoming more and more uncommon in summer blockbusters. The special effects are top-notch, the characters are intriguing, and my God is the action spectacular. Who needs drugs when you've got a movie practically dripping adrenaline? Mr. Del Toro, congratulations! You've created a safe alternative to performance-enhancing drugs. Just pop this movie in before sending professional football players out on the field and you'll have a Super Bowl quality team in no time. And if this doesn't impress you, fear not: You've got a likable hero, an even cooler and more complex love interest, and Idris Elba, who is quickly climbing on my list of Blockbuster Bad-asses. If that doesn't sell you on this movie, then nothing will.

So, fast forward to the near future, when gigantic aliens(called Kaiju) rise out of the ocean and start leveling cities. In response to these events, humans create robots of matching sizes(called Jaegers) to send these beasts back to the depths. But when more beasts rise up out of the ocean, each one bigger and stronger than the last, it's up to a small team of skilled Jaeger pilots, led by Stacker Pentecost(Idris Elba) and his skilled pilot team Raleigh Becket(Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori(Rinko Kikuchi), to save the world from obliteration and stop the alien invasion once and for all.

Charlie Hunnam, the actor who takes on the daunting task as the film's protagonist, Raleigh Becket,delivers both as an action hero and as a relatable character audiences can like and root for. Haunted by tragedy and driven by an insatiable desire to prove himself, Becket is much more than a monster-bashing Jaeger pilot. He's a vulnerable human being who's in over his head, just like anyone else would be in this situation. And Hunnam does an excellent job conveying these emotions, his performance often taking audiences aback, especially those expecting a typical, flat blockbuster performance. Rinko Kikuchi, who brilliantly brings Mako Mori to life, delivers the most personal and most honest performance in the film. Del Toro cleverly connects us with her through well-placed flashbacks shared between her character and Hunnam's. These scenes pack quite a punch, and Kikuchi delivers surprising emotional resonance with a knockout performance. And now we come to Idris Elba, whose thundering battle cry, "We are canceling the apocalypse!" will be echoing through viewers' heads long after the credits role. Those who thought Elba kicked ass in Thor or The Wire will be floored by his studly performance here. Ron Perlman and Charlie Day, who play a black-market dealer and an enthusiastic scientist, respectively, add much needed humor to the film's bleak chain of events, with the line, "Where's my goddamn shoe!" still inducing chuckles every time I think about it.

As the trailers indicated, the movie packs quite a wallop in the action department. Every blow exchanged between Kaiju and Jaeger sent a jolt of adrenaline shooting down my spine, and after each smackdown, I looked down to find my hands gripping the armrests so tightly my knuckles were glowing in the dark. For those itching to see a film chock-full of breathtaking action, Pacific Rim goes above and beyond in delivering the best fight scenes a movie ticket can possibly buy.

The main problem I found myself grappling with while watching the film was that it suffered from "Transformers Syndrome" on more than one occasion. It was impossible to tell what was happening during a good chunk of one of the movie's key fight scenes, something that might take away from the experience for some. For those choosing to go the 3D route, this issue proves to be even more glaring. While this may seem like a minor quibble, it is something that detracts from the sense of spectacle just enough to be distracting.

While the character development is great, I would've liked it if Del Toro had delved a bit deeper into really who these characters are and not just their motivations. Again, this is a minor complaint, but it's something I'd like explored in a sequel, spin-off, or wherever the filmmakers decide to take this idea next.

Despite those shortcomings, Pacific Rim is every bit as electrifying and exciting as the previews promised, and then some. Guillermo Del Toro has brought us another winner, and it'll be interesting to see what he whips up for us next.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is finally here, after months of fevered anticipation, and it is possibly one of the year's finest films. Darker and more violent than any of the previous entries in the series, 'Deathly Hallows' is a much more adult film and deals with adult themes, and therefore is very different in tone.
The war against Voldemort and his villainous Death Eaters continues, and the forces of good are beginning to suffer heavy losses. Disappearances are a daily occurrence, and murders are just as common. Harry Potter knows that the only way to defeat Voldemort is to find and destroy his Horcruxes, which are pieces of his soul that are contained in everyday objects. The problem is, neither Harry nor his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley know where to start looking for the Horcruxes. Harry, Ron, and Hermione strike out into the wilderness, pursued by Voldemort's followers, and attempt to locate the nearest Horcrux. Even if they do find a Horcrux, the question remains as to how they are going to get rid of it, which is not easy to do. But time is running out, for Voldemort is searching for a magical object of incredible power, and if he finds it, all is lost.
Throughout the film, there is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness hanging over Harry and his companions, for they have no idea where to start looking for Horcruxes, and Voldemort is growing stronger by the minute. On top of that, several characters who were introduced earlier in the series are killed off in quick succession, adding to the sense of loss that is felt throughout the movie.
The main problem with this movie is the pacing. Everything feels so rushed, and it ultimately takes away from an otherwise entertaining film. Another thing that was mildly disappointing was the fact that Alan Rickman got so little screen time. His past performances in the role of Severus Snape have been memorable and fun to watch, and it is a shame that he didn't play a big part this time around. Other than that, this film is fun, action-packed, and exciting, and the acting, as usual, is top notch.
While it does have its flaws, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a well-executed film that manages to please the legions of fans that eagerly awaited its release and set up the final movie perfectly.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy (2010)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Arguably one of 2010's most anticipated films, Tron Legacy is a fairly entertaining sci-fi adventure, but doesn't quite succeed in delivering the spectacle that was promised before its release.
Garrett Hedlund plays Sam Flynn, the son of video game designer Kevin Flynn(played by Jeff Bridges), who disappeared when Sam was a child. When a 27 year old Sam investigates his father's mysterious disappearance, he is sucked into the video game world in which his father has been trapped for years. He is thrust into a dangerous digital world ruled by Clu, a monstrous digital being who will stop at nothing to find and destroy Kevin Flynn, who is hiding somewhere in the video game world. Together with the beautiful Quorra, Sam must find his father and escape from this deadly world before Clu captures and destroys them all.
What really hurt the film was the startling lack of emotion, especially at the end of the movie. The climax of the movie is supposed to make audiences feel a sense of loss, but instead it is devoid of any emotion whatsoever.
Garrett Hedlund is usually very good in any role he plays, but as Sam Flynn he is bland and unexciting to watch. Jeff Bridges is the best actor of the bunch, and I didn't have a problem with his performance. He did a decent job, given the fact that the script was poorly written and the dialogue was corny at best. Olivia Wilde is attractive, but her performance left a lot to be desired. Her character, Quorra, spoke little and didn't have enough screen time, which was disappointing considering how heavily marketed her character was.
The movie had so much potential, but it didn't turn out as entertaining as I would have liked. The plot was something we've all seen before, and the characters were, for the most part, one-dimensional and boring to watch. The only exception was Jeff Bridges, who played both Clu and Kevin Flynn.
Now on to the positive. The visuals in this movie were breathtaking. Sure, they were not quite as spectacular as the special effects that Avatar boasted, but they were still amazing. It's lucky that this movie delivered in terms of visuals, because that's what the film is all about. The action sequences were great, but they would be nothing without the superb visual effects.
Overall, Tron Legacy is a mediocre film that would fail altogether without the great special effects that it boasts. Eye-candy is about all you're going to get.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I walked into On Stranger Tides with high expectations. All year we've gotten clips, trailers, and ads that have promised a fun, swashbuckling adventure. What we get instead is a mess that doesn't quite know where it wants to go. I don't dislike the movie, but I do recognize that it could have been much better.
Captain Jack Sparrow sets out on a quest to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Along the way, he gets caught up with the ruthless Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica, who want to find the Fountain for their own selfish reasons. Meanwhile, Hector Barbossa, now working for the English, has a score to settle with Blackbeard and wants to find the Fountain because he believes it will lead him to his mortal enemy. The Spanish, also searching, seem to be one step ahead the entire time, which complicates things for Jack and the others.
The movie suffers from too many twists and turns, just like the previous two films. A lot is thrown at us, but none of it seems to come together by the time the credits roll. The film just comes across as a jumbled mess, and it never really comes together in a coherent way. It takes a plot that has potential to be engaging and interesting and makes it overcomplicated and disorganized.
While the film had its flaws, I still found it enjoyable. Johnny Depp, as usual, shines as Jack Sparrow, and as I watched his performance onscreen I realized how much I missed his character. It is never clear whose side Jack is really on, and that is one of the reasons I like him as a character. Geoffrey Rush returns as Barbossa, and I enjoyed his performance. The last time his character played such a large role was in the first Pirates film, where he was the primary villain. This time around, Ian McShane plays the film's antagonist, Blackbeard, and he pulls off the role brilliantly. When he first steps onscreen in his pirate garb, both his crew and the audience are struck dumb. McShane does so well playing a pirate that I am beginning to think he sails the seven seas as a second job. Penelope Cruz did not perform nearly as well in her role as Angelica, and I found myself not really invested in her as a character.
Overall, On Stranger Tides is a satisfactory entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, although it could have been better if the filmmakers had spent more time making sure the plot was engaging and presented clearly. On a positive note, the acting is top notch, the various action scenes are exciting, and several characters from the previous films make a welcome return. However, a fifth film might not be such a good idea.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Have you been searching for a film that is worth your time and money? Look no further. There are only a handful of films that I would label amazing, and this second installment in the thrilling Lord of the Rings trilogy is definitely one of them. I wasn't sure if this film could top its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring, and it didn't. But it was a very close call. The Two Towers is one of those rare sequels that rivals its predecessor in quality. But that's just it. This movie is a rarity. At the moment, I can't think of a better movie, save for The Return of the King. But that movie simply can't be topped. But The Two Towers hold its own, and that is quite a feat. It is a direct continuation of The Fellowship of the Ring, picking up right after its climax. I had not read the books when I first saw this movie, so I was anxious to see what became of the characters who survived the events of the first one. The point of view changes every now and then, which I thought was appropriate given the fact that the major characters are in different parts of the land facing different challenges and meeting new characters. Many new faces are introduced in The Two Towers, some good, some bad, and others who don't have major roles. And some characters introduced don't have any significant roles until the next installment (Eowyn is a prime example.) But all of them have some relevance to the story and therefore are important enough to keep in the film. Some characters from the book were left out completely, so anyone who hasn't read the book will have no idea that those characters even exist. Now, on to the plot.

The Two Towers picks up literally right after the fight in the forest at the end of the first film. The Fellowship has split up, with the hobbits Frodo and Sam going one way and Aragorn, the elf Legolas, and the dwarf Gimli going after the other hobbits, Merry and Pippin, who were captured during the battle in the woods. Two members of the Fellowship are gone. One is killed by Orcs and the other falls(literally) in battle against a Balrog, a terrifying beast that dwells in the dangerous Mines of Moria. Frodo and Sam are making their way towards Mount Doom in the fiery land of Mordor so they can destroy the Ring of Power that Frodo carries. On their journey they meet the pitiful but dangerous creature called Gollum, who agrees to show them the way to their destination. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gilmi are hot on the trail of Merry, Pippin, and their ruthless captors, and they will not rest until they find their friends. New characters like the brave Eomer and King Theoden, and they each play a vital role in the battle against the powerful wizard Saruman, who causes a great deal of trouble for the film's protagonists. Aragorn and his companions meet up with Eomer, Theoden, and a character who was supposedly killed in Moria. Aragorn, Eomer, and the others gather at the ancient fortress, Helm's Deep, where they battle a massive army of Orcs sent by Saruman to obliterate them.

This movie is an instant classic. The director, Peter Jackson, is known everywhere for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he deserves every bit of praise he receives. Jackson is one of the finest directors ever in the history of movies, and he is definitely one of my favorites. He was very careful about who he chose for the major characters, and I'm glad he was. The acting was splendid, especially Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, and Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee. Every actor played their part well, and they each brought something special to their character. I enjoyed watching them interact on screen. Quite a bit was cut out during the transition from book to screen, but I didn't have a problem with it. In fact, I thought that the movie flowed better than the book. It is a very long movie, though, and it takes a pretty long attention span to keep up with the story and understand what is going on. There is plenty of violence and action, so it is not easy to fall asleep.
I thoroughly enjoyed the triumph that is The Two Towers, and I have always had a great time watching it.